Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Sound of Laughter by Peter Kay

Okay, so I guess it's been forever since I last reviewed something. And seeing as I'm reading quite a bit and have quite a few books to review and read soon - Jellicoe Road came yesterday, thank you Lanna. I'll review it once I've read it! - I figured I should review the book I've not long finished heading.

Right, so here we go;
I'd heard really good things about Peter Kay's biography. Hilariously funny, really relatable, and heart warming. And I found Peter Kay quite funny when on tv.
But his biography was an utter disapointment. Far from being funny, or 'side splitting' as I'd heard it described, it was full of poor jokes and long boring descriptions.
Did I really care about the long process of his poor education around nuns? No, not really. And ditto to his ongoing battle with getting a good driving instructor. I expected his entrance into the comedy scene to be quite a large part of the book, but as the book continued and Kay droned on about his childhood filled with nuns, poor results in the academic field and obsession with recording conversations and the family's new VHS system, I started to doubt whether his profession would be featured whatsoever in the book.
As it happened, it did - on the last few pages.
I found only two things funny during the entire book, which I won't say just in case I ruin the book for any of you who decide not to heed my warning and pick up the book that actually had me fall asleep before 12 o clock every night I read it.
I wouldn't reccomend it to anyone but an insomniac.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Contest Winners.

Yup, winners as in... plural. I'm in a good mood so I decided to choose two winners instead of just one - one from the US, and one out of all the international entries (because I know how annoying it is that most of the contests aren't open to people outside of the US).

So, anyway, I had my best friend Roo pick random numbers and the winners are:

Yan (from the US entries) and Nia (from the International ones).

So yeah, both of you email me with the address I've to send the book to and also mention which book it is you want out of the list. :]



Later.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph


Title: Shrinking Violet
Author:
Danielle Joseph
Summary: High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out -- doing mock broadcasts for Miami's hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into confident, sexy Sweet T -- and to everyone's shock, she's a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ's awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest -- and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize -- Sweet T's dream could turn into Tere's worst nightmare....

Thanks to this book, I've thoroughly messed up my sleeping pattern (again), which is a good sign - I couldn't put it down and stayed up all night reading it, it was awesome.

All of the characters just seemed so real, especially Tere - I am freakishly shy, it's practically a disability and just, the way she was in the book just described that crippling shyness perfectly and things that made her panic in the book or cringe-worthy things that happened to her because of her shyness have happened to me too and it was just... awesome and she was so easy to relate to.

People who aren't quiet or shy really don't get it, it's hard for them to understand how horrible it can be and they seem to be under the illusion that shy people are boring or have nothing interesting to say because we don't speak much, but that's not true, they just need to give us a chance to open up (in my last year of high school, I became proper friends with someone I'd technically known for years and one day in class she actually said to me "Alanna, you're surprisingly funny!" - she was genuinely shocked, it was quite hilarious and I found it even funnier that she took so long to notice such a big part of my personality because I was too shy to show it before).

Seeing a character written, describing exactly how I have felt pretty much all my life was great, I was just thinking "wow, someone actually gets it! I'm not a total freak!" and I think maybe it'll make non-shy people understand what it's like too, if they read the book.

I loved the whole radio aspect of the story, I've always thought it seemed really fun to be a radio DJ but I doubt I'd have the guts for it, and this book totally made me want to be on the radio (I'm not even kidding - now, I know that'll probably never happen, but I'm so going to try doing a podcast or something, just to see what it's like).

I'm not sure if I have the same taste in music as Tere does in the book, but her love for music and just the way she describes it and how it's such a huge part of her life, I loved that and I totally get it because I'm that way too, I'm practically surgically attached to my iPod (no joke, my family enjoy taking the piss out of me for it - they find it particularly funny that it's become such a habit that I can now figure out what they're saying even when I can't hear them properly over the music).

The other aspects of the book were awesome too - the romance part (although I knew what was going to happen from the start, it wasn't one of those surprising twists, but it was still great), the friendships, her relationship with her mum, all of it was good. Oh and being inside of Tere's head was really amusing at times, I laughed out loud quite a lot.

Sorry this review has been almost more about me than the book, but to sum up; the book was really good, you should check it out. :]

Later.

P.s. Reminder, the contest ends on Friday (22nd). It's awesome, I didn't think that many people would enter! :]

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Title: Someone Like You
Author: Sarah Dessen
Summary: Halley and Scarlett have been best friends for years, sharing secrets, clothes, and crushes. People know Scarlett as the popular, flamboyant one; Halley's just her quiet sidekick. Then, at the beginning of their junior year, the balance shifts. First, Scarlett's boyfriend Michael is killed in a freak accident; soon afterward, she learns that she is carrying his baby. For the first time, Scarlett really needs Halley. Their friendship may bend under the weight, but it'll never break--because a true friendship is a promise you keep forever and on top of all of that, Halley has to deal with the awkward new-found distance between her and her mom and a relationship with the mysterious and rebellious Macon.

With Sarah Dessen books, I never seem to know whether to love them or hate them - I usually settle on love, like with this one.

The thing that makes me want to hate them is that when I'm reading them, they always give me this weird sense of nostalgia, they make me miss people, miss the past and remind me of that feeling I'd always get when something good was coming to an end... like the end of a summer, the end of a weekend, the end of a friendship or that bittersweet feeling I got on the last day of school ever.

The reason her books make me feel that way is because they're so real and relatable, the characters and situations are so realistic - almost to the point where they're too realistic and reading them doesn't feel like an escape, which is one of the things I love about reading, you can lose yourself in someone elses world for a while, lose yourself in the fiction but her books deal with characters and feelings and situations that sometimes hit a bit too close to home and for some reason they always end up reminding me of just how short life is, how easily good things can end and how things change. And that's sad.

But in spite of all of that, I can't bring myself to hate her books - I love them for all those same reasons (and I just realised I'm rambling about her books in general instead of this specific one, sorry).

Someone Like You was awesome, I loved Halley and Scartlett's friendship most of all - Scarlett's character was my favourite. The one thing I kind of didn't like about the book though, was that there were quite a few loose ends left untied... now, I totally get why it was left like that and it sort of follows the pattern of Sarah Dessens style and it's another one of the things that makes the book seem more realistic, but there was one loose end in particular where I really wanted to know what would happen next - I really wanted to know what would happen between Halley and Macon.

There is a movie version of this book, called How To Deal - but it's a combination of two of Sarah Dessens books, this one and That Summer and it's different in a lot of ways and the characters are different because it's mixing characters and personalities from two books so some got changed or cut. I liked the movie though, I liked that in the movie the Halley/Macon ending wasn't left so open but I'm not sure that ending would've worked for the book characters cause like I said, they were different (especially Halley, I prefer book Halley but I think that might just have something to do with the way Mandy Moore portrayed the character).

Sorry, this review is totally ramble-y, but I loved the book and here's the trailer for the movie version, in case your interested (if nothing else, Trent Ford is gorgeous):


Later.

P.s. Oh & remember, the contest ends on the 22nd. :]

Saturday, 9 May 2009

The Vampire Diaries Books 1&2: The Awakening and the Struggle




Title: Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle
Author: L.J. Smith
Summary (stolen from Amazon): Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he'd kill to possess her.

Collected here in one volume for the first time, volumes one and two of The Vampire Diaries, the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

That summary is actually from the back of the book. Kind of pointless, but that's alright.

My opinion on this books is a very good one. It was an amazing book and if I was Elena, I'd have chosen Damon, personally. Became a vampire and been with him. Stefan is sweet and charming, but he's a bit too sensitive for me.

I like bad boys. <3

Short review, but that's really all I have to say.

Later.

Friday, 8 May 2009

CONTEST! (CLOSED)

EDIT: Contest is finished now, sorry if you missed the chance to enter. I'll try do another contest soon.

I've decided I want to do a contest now. :]

Thanks to all your feedback on the blog about contests, I've decided that this is going to be a "Pick Your Poison" type contest (thanks Miranda, I like that name for it) where I'll give you a list of prizes (books) and the winner gets to choose which one they want (which I'll have sent from Amazon).

The winner can choose from one of the following books:

1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
2. Any of John Greens books (this includes Let It Snow and 21 Proms which he has short stories in or just one of his own books; Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns or An Abundance of Katherines)
3. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
6. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
7. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Those are all some of my favourite books, so I thought I'd use those for the first contest. :]

How to Enter:

+Leave a comment on this post and also mention whether you're in the US/UK/Canada/Australia etc.

For extra entries (tell me which of these you did in the comment):

+1 entry if you follow this blog/if you're already following.
+1 entry for linking this in the sidebar of your blog.
+1 entry for posting about the contest on your blog.

Contest ends 2 weeks from now (22nd of May?). Anyone can enter, including the other authors of this blog seeing as I'm the only one hosting the contest and the winner will be chosen randomly.

Later.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Ashes by Stefani Ellis


Title: Ashes
Author:
Stefani Ellis

Summary: Sidney Fox was your average seventeen-year old girl. She looked like everyone else, dressed like everyone else, harbored hopes and dreams...you guessed it, just like everyone else. After a long and uneventful winter break, Sidney returned to the stale hallways and cranky teachers to find a new addition: a mysterious new student named Cael, he seemed to immediately fall into the role of the most popular person to ever step foot on campus. At first, Sidney was repulsed by the gaggle of girls that hung on his every word, that is, until he explained that he has no control over the attraction others have for him, it's just one thing out of many that he is just as confused about as she is. Cael knows what he is, but he has no idea how or why. Their search for answers sends them across the world and forces them to go to extreme measures in order to get those answers.

Okay, I was debating whether or not to review this because generally I don't like to review books if the majority of what I'm going to say about them is negative (unless I feel the need to rant) - I told the author I'd review it, it's a self-published book and I really wanted it to be good because it was kind of a pain in the ass getting it (the author was going to give me an e-book of it to read, but I don't like e-books much so I bought the actual book and it took like 2 months to get here cause it got lost in the post the first time).

Anyway, on to the actual review - it was okay.

In the first half of the book, I liked the main character - she was entertaining and her thoughts made me laugh a few times, particularly how she would give her mum a funny nickname in her head each time she mentioned her... but that got old pretty fast and by the second half of the book, she kind of lost the parts of her personality that made her interesting. In fact, she got pretty annoying in the second half of the book and became more and more of a Mary Sue towards the end.

The plot - well, it had the potential to be quite good I guess, but the execution of it was pretty bad... it started off alright, a little rushed maybe, but not terrible. But once again, by the second half, it just went on a total downward spiral and it got ridiculous and parts of it were really, really poorly explained (you know how sometimes when you're reading the writing of amateur authors - like on fanfiction or fictionpress? And parts of the plot just don't make sense and are hard to get because it's like, the author just assumes it will make sense to the reader because it makes sense to themselves? It's like that).

The plot just didn't flow well at all... even in books that have a lot of unexpected twists and turns that come out of nowhere, it can still flow well but with every new plot twist that was revealed, it was like I had to force myself to continue reading it - like I said, it just got ridiculous.

Parts of the book were a bit Twilight-y, and I'm not talking the whole human/vampire romance thing, because that has been done before anyway... what I mean is, the way the characters act, the things they say and talk about and such, but it wasn't delivered as well as it was in Twilight (which is saying something, because Twilight isn't all that amazing).

The romance wasn't even remotely believable... not just because it happened so fast (seriously, if the romance in Twilight seemed a bit fast paced, this is worse) but because the two characters were severely lacking in any sort of chemistry, it was just one of those "they're soul mates, they're destined to be together" type situations where we're just supposed to accept that even when there is nothing at all to show why they should be together.

Now, my biggest problem with the book was actually the editing - there were a ridiculous amount of typos and not just that, but words used incorrectly where it's pretty obvious what the intended word should have been but the word used in it's place was just like "uh, wtf?".

Another thing about the editing was, if this wasn't a self-published book and it had a professional editor, then it wouldn't just be typos, spelling and grammar errors and such that the editor looked out for - the editor would look out for plot holes, things that should be cut or added or things that didn't make sense... but because it wasn't professionally edited (I think in the acknowledgements the author said her mum was her editor) none of that stuff was fixed (take one plot hole that seriously bugged me for example - the characters got on a plane to europe without a passport, there is no way that at least one of them could have gotten one because they pretty much spur of the moment just jumped into the car and drove off without having anything with them).

A thing I'm kind of torn on is the POV's - the book changes POV's quite a bit and I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing... on one hand, it's interesting to see what the other characters are thinking, but then there's the negative - it pretty much removes a whole lot of the mystery and suspense from the book, if it had all just been told from Sidney's POV then I think it could've been more interesting and the author would've been forced to explain things better instead of falling back on having the other characters reveal everything.

I guess I should wrap up this review, I think I've said enough about it - to sum up, it was an alright book... not great, I've read worse. I'm being kind in saying it was okay because I think most of the problems I had with it are largely down to poor editing (and it has sort of put me off reading self-published books in future).

With the plot - maybe it just wasn't my taste, you shouldn't judge it just by what I've said in this review, because there are some books that I really didn't like while other people seem to love them (example being Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - although with that, at least I can see the appeal).

I'm not going to bother reading the sequels.

Check out the authors website (I think you can read some of the book on there):

http://www.stefanieellis.net/

Later.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

by Carrie Ryan.

the forest of hands and teeth | carrie ryan Pictures, Images and Photos


In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

You guessed it. Amazon.

Anyway.

I just finished this book a couple of days ago and overall it was pretty good. There seemed like a lot of nothing going on for a lot of it. A lot of waiting and running and then waiting and escaping. But I think I was just looking for another Hunger Games
which wasn't what I got.

I don't want to post any spoilers because the end rather surprised me. So read it and tell me what you thought.

-ltc

-stupid picture. I know it's small I just don't feel like fighting with it anymore.

The Hunger Games


Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Summary: Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives. In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death - televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

First off, let me start by saying that this review probably won't even begin to do the book justice, there's just so much I loved about it and could say about it that it's hard to choose what to say.

I think the reason I loved it so much was that it reminded me of things like 1984 and V for Vendetta - only with a different spin, it had all of that post-war, world-has-changed-for-the-worse, Big Brother type thing going on but it has a sort of Gladiator spin to it and I just really liked it.

It was never boring, being inside of the main characters head, the plot - there weren't really any boring parts for me, it usually bothers me when there isn't enough dialogue and the character is on their own, but for parts of the book, Katniss would be alone with her thoughts and it didn't bother me, I stayed hooked and didn't want to skim ahead (okay, I lie, sometimes I would flip a few pages to see if my favourite character would show up anytime soon, but it didn't mean the other stuff was boring - it just mean that patience is a virtue I am seriously lacking).

I fell in love with a whole bunch of the characters, too many for me to list, but the main three are Katniss, Peeta (him being my favourite) and Rue... I can't say the things I loved about the latter two without going into major spoiler mode, so I won't try, but as for Katniss - I loved her strength and maturity, I loved the fact that she was flawed and seemed real and not a Mary Sue and it's like... her personality and actions were believable, in the situation she's in and the life that she's had, it's completely believable how someone her age could be the way she is. I kind of wanted to hate her at the end of the book (if you read it, you'll understand why) but I just couldn't.

I really want Katniss and Peeta to be together! :]

I read the whole book in a few hours, I haven't done that in quite a while - read a whole book in one sitting, but I couldn't put this one down, I needed to know what happened or it'd be bugging me all the time... of course now I have to spend my time wishing for September 1st for the sequel to be released. Damn!

I have a feeling this review is getting a bit ramble-y, so I'll just sum up with; I loved it, it's awesome. Read it!

I made fan art for the book before I'd even read it (this is who I pictured as Katniss and Peeta before reading - because I had read things about the book and characters before the actual book - I still picture him as Peeta, and kind of her as Katniss, but not exactly):

And, just for fun, I really love this fan made trailer I found for it (and I love the song):


Later.

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