Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Ink (Paper Gods #1)


Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun
Paperback, 468 pages

Published 5th July 2013 by Mira Ink

Shelves: arc-or-review, books-i-own, cover-appeal, cultural, magical-realism, read-in-2013, series-or-companions, supernatural, to-read, young-adult
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

A MAGIC MIGHTIER THAN ANY SWORD

A DESTINY THAT CAN’T BE DENIED


Katie Greene is lost in the wake of her mum's death. Sent to Japan, she meets gorgeous but aloof artist Tomohiro, whose tough attitude intrigues and scares her. Then things get really strange. When they're near each other, Tomohiro's drawings start to come to life…

Soon the wrong people begin to ask questions, and Katie and Tomohiro must risk everything to protect the truth.


As soon as I saw Ink, I wanted to pick it up, you can't deny that it has a beautiful cover. When I read the description of the book, I knew it was definitely something that I had to read, I absolutely loved the premise and with lovely artwork spread throughout, reading Ink was a real treat.

This is a book that's set in Japan and as I am quite interested in some aspects of Japanese culture, I thought that this would be a fantastic new reading experience which would possibly also teach me a few things along the way! I have to say that when I first started the book, the actual usage of Japanese language did seem daunting and I was flicking back and forth to the glossary - however, after a couple of times I decided against using the glossary which, for me, was a much better decision. I really felt as though I was with our main character, Katie, as she learnt about the country and grasped the basics of the language. Sun has done a great job of really allowing the reader to connect to the book through the protagonist. As Katie was introduced to new things, so were we, and as she became both nervous and excited, so did I.

The characters that we were introduced to in this book were all clear individuals. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and seeing all of the different aspects to their personalities and learning about their different hobbies. There is quite a mysterious background behind some of the characters, those who are part of the Kami (Paper Gods - those who are able to bring ink drawings to life) and the introduction to this group of people is really intriguing. This book really is only an introduction to these people though and it's definitely left me wanting to know more about the Kami and the history of them. 

Something that came through very strongly in this book was the sheer vividness of the descriptions. The setting, in particular, was so fantastically described - I yearned to be there with the characters, walking through blossom filled streets and soaking up the true atmosphere and culture of this Japanese town. Reading about the ink creations coming to life was also a magical experience - a real sense of power emitted through the pages and I think that these scenes would definitely appeal to those who enjoy action in their books.

Overall, this was a book that I really enjoyed. This is something different from your usual offerings on the young adult market and it is something special. If you're looking for a change and to even learn something about a new culture, this is definitely something to try. I am certainly looking forward to the next books in this series and learning more about the Paper Gods.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (60)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


I received one book for review this week and it looks very interesting - It has a very unique, different look to it and I'm looking forward to picking it up! 
The book is called Arclight

I hope you've all had a great weekend!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

From the Review Pile (61)


From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks!

I recently received the second book in this series for review, but I'm yet to read the first book, so I'm hoping to get around to reading this one sometime soon. It looks like it could be a fun read!


Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks
Paperback

Published 2012 by Electric Monkey

Sadie Nathanson spends her life trying to survive the excruciating embarrassment of simply existing. It’s hard enough being a bit of a shrinking violet within a loud and outspoken extended family, but the unexpected card from ‘Dad’ on her 15th birthday is the last straw.

As ‘Dad’ was an Internet sperm-donor, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is a bad joke, probably set up by her ex-best-friend Shonna. But it starts Sadie wondering – just who was her father? Is he the cause of her worry crinkle and wonky bum? What would happen if she tracked him down?
So she decides to do just that. With help from her nerd cousin Billy, his friend Nodding Tony and a regular dose of ‘Haironomics’ (Sadie’s own hairstyle-related philosophy system), they uncover a lot more than they bargain for... 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1)

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1) by Rick Yancey
Paperback, 460 pages

Published 7th May 2013 by Puffin

Shelves:  
arc-or-review, books-i-own, dystopian, read-in-2013, series-or-companions, sci-fi, supernatural, to-read, too-much-hype, young-adult
My rating:  3.5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
The Passage meets The Hunger Games in a gripping new series from Carnegie-shortlisted Rick Yancey. After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave. On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until Cassie meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and even saving herself. Now she must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. Cassie Sullivan gets up.


The 5th Wave has undoubtedly been one of the most eagerly anticipated young adult books of 2013. There has been a lot of superb reviews for this book and it's not surprising, it is certainly sure to please a lot of fans of popular books such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. I have true belief that this will become one of the next successful series, as it seems to have everything that a young adult novel needs.

The first thing that I noted about this book when I picked it up was that it was science-fiction, a genre that has certainly surprised me in the past, it's a genre that I usually enjoy more than I expect. Thankfully, this book was still very realistic and the sci-fi element was at a very understandable level. Yancey clearly has a good idea about the science in his world, how each wave happened and what is coming next, but thankfully he doesn't overindulge in descriptions and technicalities and we learn about it all at a natural pace. Even if you're not particularly confident with this genre, this would probably be a good starting place.

A main element of this book is aliens, so I was very curious to see how they were portrayed. The aliens in this book are called the Others and they're so very different from your stereotypical bug-eyed green men - they aren't all that different from your average human, in fact some of them are human and they can be very difficult to detect. I fully admit that I didn't have a clue as to who could be trusted in this book - as soon as you start to connect with one character, something happens which could totally turn you the other way from them.

The narrators are the book are very well written. I particularly liked reading about the relationship between Cassie, her younger brother and her father. As individual characters, they all stood as firm unique people but their relationship was, for me, the real strength of the book, even when they were separated. I was also very intrigued by Evan, a boy that we're not sure that we can trust. I found one of our narrators, Ben Parish, to be a little more difficult to connect with and would hope to find out more from him in the next book(s). The characters are the  most important thing for me in any book and I was very pleased with the ones that Yancey conjured up for this series - they definitely have a lot of potential.

The reason why I didn't give this more stars is simply because I felt it was dragging out at points. I also find action scenes a bit tiring to keep up with and with the mixed narration, it was difficult to pick back up and remember who was narrating towards the end. Of course, as aforementioned, there were definitely a lot of positive aspects to the book and for the most part it was enjoyable. I'd definitely not hesitate to recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the YA genre and will most likely check out the next instalment in this series.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (59)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


This week, I received five books for review, four of which are young adult and one which is an adult thriller. I am particularly excited about Vivian versus the Apocalypse and Linked which look like two books that I will really enjoy! The other two young adult books were The Thing About Wolves and The Glass Republic. The adult thriller which I received is a translated book, The Fire Witness by Lars Kepler.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

From The Review Pile (60)


From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase Gone Girl!

Gone Girl is a book that I've had my eye on for quite a while but I've only just got around to buying it. The premise doesn't sound like something I'd usually read - though it does sound like it would make a great TV drama. I do like the idea of it though and it's all of the five starred, rave reviews that have really made me want to read this one. 


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Paperback, 496 Pages
Published 3rd January 2013 by Phoenix

Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Blog Tour Stop: Ink


This month marks the UK release date of the first book in The Paper Gods series, Ink by Amanda Sun. This is a book that is sure to be a hit with a lot of you, it's new, quite different and has a great idea behind it. I always enjoy finding out a little about the author behind the books and as I also like listening to music, I thought it would be fantastic if author Amanda Sun could create an Ink playlist to share with us. I am so happy that she's managed to conjure up this playlist to share with us all. Here is Amanda's playlist and comments about her specially chosen songs:

The Ink Playlist

I’ll admit it—my music tastes are…varied, to put it nicely. Of my top four favourite bands, one is Japanese, one Korean, one Icelandic, and one Irish. So bear with me for the INK playlist—it’s a bit of an adventure. Hopefully you’ll discover something new here in this mix that you like. :)


Monster – Arashi
This was the original “theme song” of INK when I started writing it a few years ago. It fit perfectly with the book—a monster, trying to protect and become real for the girl…but she’s still afraid of him, because at the end of it all, he’s still a monster.

My favourite part of the song is when they sing:

“I am awakened by your tears, and so I drag you away into the dark night.” 

You know he’s trying to be more than he is and save her from her sadness, but he ends up being a monster that kidnaps her. So sinister! I love it. :)

Monster – BIGBANG
This song came out while I was editing INK, and it was just perfect for the story. I love how beautiful the song is with the piano, and yet so angsty and dark. This quickly became my second official “theme song” for INK. :)

My favourite lyric in this one is:

“I’m not a monster. You know me so don’t leave like this. If even you throw me away, I will die. I’m not a monster. I think I’m sick. I think I’m sick.”

Actually, the whole song is perfect. Make sure you read the translation if you don’t speak Korean.

Falling Down – Ben Jelen
Another song where the mood and lyrics are perfect. This one’s in English, so needs less explanation. :) It makes me think of those darker times when Tomohiro just wants to give up.

“The simple truth is I’m falling, falling down, and I don’t want to drag her through the bottom.”

Tick Tock - U KISS
Another angsty song, this time a Korean band singing in Japanese. I like this one because it has the sense of running out of time, that things are going to get darker.

“Yeah this unavoidable destiny, just you alone, stay by my side. Final round going down.”


Sakura Sake – Arashi
(link: http://www.downvids.net/arashi-sakura-sake-pv-334662.html)
Here’s one that’s a little lighter! It’s all about the newness of the cherry blossoms blooming, and how we have the potential to shape the future into what we hope for.

“Don’t look back, because tomorrow isn't behind you. Go forward, go forward!”


You’re Beautiful – Chester See 
(link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVl5s1e0Oo4
Confession—I’m a huge Chester See fan. This song makes me think of the courage Tomo and Katie have to build up to tell each other how they feel.

"Cause even when you just walk by, Well I look around to seem occupied, ‘Cause I'm trying so hard to hide, Yeah, all of these feelings inside.”


Aitai – Yuzu
(link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYUycGj4CzE)
This song is both sad and grateful for the time spent with someone. It makes me think of Katie and her mom.

“I won't forget. Even now, you are still inside my heart. Thank you, thank you, I can't express enough my thought. Somehow, I want it to reach you.”


Big Bird in a Small Cage – Patrick Watson 
(link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpuZ-khasgA)
This song really speaks to Katie and Tomo’s situations. Neither of them asked to put into the position they’re in now, but all they can do is move forward with what they’ve been given.

“You put a big bird in a small cage and he'll sing you a song, That we all love to sing along, To the sound of the bird that mourns.”

Canvas – Ken Hirai
How could I not have this one on the list? With all its ink and painting imagery, this song is perfect for INK. This song is about the strong friendships we have with each other, and it makes me think of Katie’s life in Japan with Yuki, Tanaka, Diane, and Tomo.

“Even if things can't remain like this, and we are washed away by the future, it'll never change, it'll never become dirty, the canvas that’s only for us.”

------------------------------------------------------------
Many thanks to both Amanda Sun and Mira Ink for all of their time and for the hard work that's been put into this blog tour - don't forget to check out the other stops!



INK IS AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE NOW! 

Amanda Sun was born in Deep River, a small town where she could escape into the surrounding forest to read. Ink is her first novel and The Paper Gods series is inspired by her time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan.
Visit her at www.AmandaSunBooks.com and on Twitter at @Amanda_Sun.

Book available from Amazon: http://amzn.to/12FzSMN

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (58)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


This week, I received three advanced book copies to read. The books I received for review were the two young adult books, The Killing Woods, Crown of Midnight and one adult chick-lit book, Playing Grace.
Though I try not to buy many books when I have so many that I need to review first, I have had my eye on Gone Girl for a while and when I saw it in a charity shop, I had to pick it up!

I hope you all have had a sunshine packed weekend and are starting to pick up those summer reads!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

From The Review Pile (59)


From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase The Savages!

The Savages is one of those books that I wanted to pick up just by looking at the cover! It definitely has a bit of an eerie feel to it, as well as it looking a bit comical. I'm not sure if this book will be a little too 'young' for my liking, but I hope not - I have heard great things about it and it looks like it could be good fun!


The Savages by Matt Whyman
Paperback, 288 Pages
Published 6th June 2013 by Hot Key Books


They'd love to have you for dinner . . .


Sasha Savage is in love with Jack - a handsome, charming ... vegetarian. Which wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that Sasha's family are very much 'carnivorous'. Behind the family facade all is not as it seems. Sasha's father rules his clan with an iron fist and her mother's culinary skills are getting more adventurous by the day. When a too-curious private detective starts to dig for truths, the tight-knit family starts to unravel - as does their sinister taste in human beings . . .

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Ice Cream Girls


The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson
Paperback, 452 pages

First Published 1st January 2010 

Shelves:  
adult-fiction, books-i-own, chick-lit, crime-thriller-mystery, movies-or-tv, mum-has, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction
My rating:  3 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

As teenagers Poppy Carlisle and Serena Gorringe were the only witnesses to a tragic event. Amid heated public debate, the two seemingly glamorous teens were dubbed ‘The Ice Cream Girls’ by the press and were dealt with by the courts.

Years later, having led very different lives, Poppy is keen to set the record straight about what really happened, while married mother-of-two Serena wants no one in her present to find out about her past. But some secrets will not stay buried – and if theirs is revealed, everything will become a living hell all over again...

The Ice Cream Girls is a book that has been sitting on my bookshelves for years. One of my mother's favourite authors is Dorothy Koomson and out of all of her books, this is the one that I thought sounded the most interesting, so I picked it up and put it aside. There it lay for a very long time, until I saw an advert for the drama adaptation of The Ice Cream Girls on TV - it was definitely time to dust down the cover and start reading.

Unfortunately, I didn't read quickly enough and I did watch the TV adaptation before I had finished the book. As I was watching and reading the two interpretations alongside each other, it was really difficult not to judge one from the other or to fully appreciate either. I do want to make it clear that it was my fault of taking in both together that lessened my enjoyment of The Ice Cream Girls. I would really recommend reading the book before or well after watching the TV drama. The comparisons started to become quite frustrating! 

Alone and un-compared, The Ice Cream Girls stands as a well written novel with an intriguing and somewhat mysterious storyline. Poppy and Serena were two teenagers branded as 'The Ice Cream Girls' whilst they were on trial for murdering  a teacher, Marcus. After the trial, Poppy was imprisoned for several years and Serena made a new life for herself. We meet both characters as Poppy leaves prison, determined to clear her name - Poppy didn't kill Marcus, so she must find Serena who she assumes was the real killer. 

Discovering the differences between the lives of the two girls was very interesting. Poppy has spent years in prison and found herself at a distance from her family. When released, Poppy doesn't have all that much to fall back on and seems alone in the world, her only friend being another woman in prison. I really loved reading about her friendship inside the prison and the letters that she received. There was something really raw about it, something very real behind the emotion of their communication. Though I found Poppy's relationship with Alain to be quite predictable, I did warm to them towards the end. For me, Poppy was the more prominent and more interesting character in this novel, the character that was easier to connect with. 

In contrast, to Poppy, Serena is certainly not lacking in companionship - she has a husband, children and gets on well with her sisters. Everything looks great for Serena as she is planning her dream wedding, but soon things change as her past life is brought back to attention. It is certainly the unravelling of her past life to her family which is most interesting to watch. I will admit that I found it a little unbelievable that her family (her husband and children) didn't know anything about her past, despite the apparent huge media-storm that had occured around the murder trial. Things don't go well when the connection is revealed and the reaction is also fairly written.

Despite their differences, Poppy and Serena also have a lot in common - they are both still haunted by Marcus. When Serena was a teenager, she fell in love with Marcus, her history teacher. At the same time, Poppy also met Marcus and fell in love with him. Despite what the press made of their relationship, Poppy and Serena were never friends, but they were in love with the same man. Marcus, a grown man, used and abused both Poppy and Serena, demanding things from them and abusing them at his own will. From what we learn as readers, it is clear that Poppy and Serena were victims, but the media never portrayed them that way, branding them both as killers. Marcus was written well, he was a conniving character who masterfully played with two vulnerable children.  

Overall, the book was well written and there was a good idea behind it. There was a twist at the end, which was different to the adaptation I'd watched and so it was nice to have a bit of a surprise! There was just something missing from this book for me - I'm not sure what it was, but it didn't completely grab me, it wasn't something that I was desperate to return to. I think that the book could have perhaps been more realistic - the media storm of the murder and then the lack of coverage on the release of Poppy or the ease that Selena had hiding the whole situation just wasn't believable. I also found that the ending was a bit too rushed and so again, unbelievable. However, for the most part, the book was an entertaining read. I would definitely like to read more of Koomson's books in the future as I can see a lot of potential. 


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