Thursday, 31 January 2013

January 2013 Wrap Up

Hey! It's been 2013 for a whole month now and it's crazy! I've done exams, started controlled assessments and done loads of school work but I've still managed to fit in some reading and blogging too, which is good, even if it isn't as much as I'd hoped! I'm hoping to read more in February as we have half term and no more exams until June, so in theory I should have more time. We'll see! Here's what I read in January!

Legacy (Night School, #2)  Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles, #1)  The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, #3)

1. Night School by CJ Daugherty (reread)
2. Night School: Legacy by CJ Daugherty
3. Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
4. The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan
5. The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (half)

I was lucky enough to attend the launch party for Level 2, and it was great fun! There was cake and a photographer (guess which one I liked best? :P) and I'm happy to report that I really enjoyed Level 2 as well. Night School was a reread, so that I'd be all clued up for the sequel, Legacy, and I'm so in love with those books! I'm half way through The Indigo Spell right now and hope to finish it soon, and as expected from a Richelle Mead book, it's awesome. 

Number of pages read this month: 1671
Average number of pages per book: 334

My favourite book of this month was...

THE TRAGEDY PAPER by Elizabeth LaBan

The Tragedy Paper

This book surprised me. I had no idea it would be as awesome as it was, so I'm really glad I decided to read it, kind of on a whim! I feel like not many people have heard of it, and I want everyone to read it because it's so good! You can read my review here.

Here's what I'm looking forward to reading in February:

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #2)  The Hanged Man Rises  Sister Assassin (Sister Assassin, #1)

And here are some awesome new releases to look forward to! The three books above are also released in the UK in February. 

Geek Girl  The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, #3)  Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)
Infinite Sky  Dead Romantic  Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows, #1)

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments what you've read this month - what you liked, what you didn't, or which of the above books you think I should read first! 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Book Review: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

The Tragedy PaperTitle: The Tragedy Paper
Author: Elizabeth LaBan
Series: N/A
Pages: 305
Publisher: Doubleday
Date of Publication: 10th January 2013
Source: Publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: 
Tim Macbeth is a 17-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is, “Enter here to be and find a friend.” Tim does not expect to find a friend; all he really wants to do is escape his senior year unnoticed. Despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “it” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, and she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone finds out. Tim and Vanessa enter into a clandestine relationship, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

The story unfolds from two alternating viewpoints: Tim, the tragic, love-struck figure, and Duncan, a current senior, who uncovers the truth behind Tim and Vanessa’s story and will consequently produce the greatest Tragedy Paper in Irving’s history.


My Thoughts:
The Tragedy Paper surprised me. I never expected to love it as much I did. It had been likened to Looking For Alaska by John Green, which I enjoyed but didn't love, and I'd heard it would make me cry and really think so I was a bit wary, because whenever I read books like this, I always feel like I didn't really get them, that I missed the point that took it from being just good to being awesome. So I was sceptical, but I was still excited to read it because it really sounded good from the synopsis, and also it's a boarding school book so obviously I had to read it. (I have a thing for boarding school books...)

So, The Tragedy Paper is written in a dual narrative: Duncan's, who's at Irving now and is listening to Tim's audio CDs of his story from the previous year, which is the second part of the dual narrative, if that makes sense. (To put it simply, Duncan is listening to Tim's recount of his last year at Irving at the same time as he's living his.) It's a bit confusing! Anyway, I really liked that it was told in this way because we got to live through Tim's amazing story at the same time as Duncan did (although he knew what was coming and we didn't.) I loved the build up to the main event at the end of the book, and although it was frustrating that Tim kept referring to some 'accident' but wouldn't tell us what it was, it was great to anticipate it and try and work out what it was. There were some clues, but I didn't guess, which is good!

I really liked Tim. I felt sorry for him at first, because he was albino and having trouble fitting in and making friends, and I could completely understand that because I'm going through a rough patch at school with my friends right now, (although I'm not albino). So immediately I could relate to him and that made me like him, so that's always good. I did feel that we didn't get enough time to get to know Duncan properly, but I guess he wasn't really the main character of the story even though it's his senior year at Irving that we're really in. Anyway, I would have liked to have spent more time with him and Daisy, his girlfriend, in the book.

My favourite character though, was Vanessa. It's characters like her that are my favourites I think, because I admire them so much. It's the way she was so nice to Tim, all the time, despite not knowing him and the fact that he was albino and everyone thought it was weird. She went against what everyone else thought and though she tried not to be seen in public with Tim she did have her reasons which I agreed with so I didn't mind. I'd love to be able to say that I would do that, but I'm not sure that I would - I'm working on it!

There is a love triangle in The Tragedy Paper, but I think it added to the story and I actually really liked it. I liked how because of it, Patrick, Vanessa's boyfriend actually talked to Tim and although he was nasty and definitely wasn't a friend, Tim didn't spend all his time in his room moping about how he has no friends and how he's in love with the 'It' girl that he'll never get. He got involved in things and actually ended making some real friends out of it so I was glad for him then.

Lastly, I absolutely loved the sound of The Irving School - it was absolutely brilliant. I'd love to go to a school like that, I really would. The setting sounds beautiful, and the idea of taking the English class that Tim and Duncan take and having to write my own Tragedy Paper sounds awesome. It sounds like a lot of work, but interesting too. I loved thinking about what you could base it on, and what you would write, and ah I'm kind of jealous of the students in the book who get to do it... Also, the Senior Game sounds awesome, as does being left a treasure at the beginning of your senior year... Aww I just love the sound of it! I think that's what made the book for me, in the end.

Overall, The Tragedy Paper was really, really brilliant. I loved it a whole lot more than I thought I would, and I could have easily sat and read it all the way through in one sitting if it weren't for my stupid revision for my stupid exams (which are thankfully over now so I can get back to reading and blogging YAY!) Anyway, I definitely recommend it if you're looking for something a little different that will make you think, has fabulously realistic characters and a beautiful setting.

*Thanks to Random House for sending me this in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the book. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Book Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles, #1)Title: Level 2 
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Series:  The Memory Chronicles, #1
Pages: 317
Publisher: Usborne Children's Books
Date of Publication: 15th January 2013
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads: 
"I pause to look around the hive – all the podlike chambers are lit up as the drones shoot up on memories… I’ve wanted to get out of here before, but now the tight quarters start to choke me."

Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in Level 2, the waiting room between Earth and Heaven, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend…and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her…

Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing in Level 2, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves. A choice that will change everything…

THREE LEVELS - TWO LOVES - ONE CHOICE


My Thoughts:
I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch party for this book last week, and it was great fun so I was excited to read Level 2. I hoped it would be awesome and it definitely did not disappoint. It's a great debut that starts up a series perfectly, one that I would definitely recommend!

I absolutely loved the idea of this book. In the book, once you've died, you go to a place where you can play back your own and other people's memories, kind of like you were watching TV, maybe. Whether it was a personal memory of your first date, or the memory of what someone was thinking and feeling while reading a book, you could play it back and relive it. Doesn't that sound awesome? I'd love to be able to read a book through someone else's eyes and be able to hear what they thought about it. Also, they could imagine something they really wanted, in their hand, and it would just appear! Being able to just materialise anything you wanted or needed, like nail varnish, or even a whole sofa, was pretty awesome too. That'd be nice!

There is plenty of action right from the beginning, and it didn't stop throughout the book. I loved that it was fast-paced and something was always happening, but at times it got a bit too fast and a little jumpy and I'd have to take a moment to work out what was going on. It also needed a little world-building at the beginning, just so I understood the world that the story was taking place in. It definitely did get explained as the book went on but a little at the beginning just to introduce the story would have helped, I think. Maybe that was just me not paying enough attention though? I don't know. It has been known to happen!

On the whole, the characters were good. I liked Felicia because even though she was completely hung up on Neil and she wouldn't trust anyone, I would have done exactly the same as her most probably so I felt like I could relate to her. I couldn't (and still can't decide) what I thought about Julian, hence the on the whole. He always seemed shifty and I didn't trust him, and now having finished it I still can't decide if I like him more than Neil, who I found was a bit wishy-washy - but we didn't really get to see him much so that'd be why. I did see his appeal for Felicia though, so he wasn't all bad, and I'm looking forward to finding out more about him in the next book.

Level 2 was a really great read that I couldn't wait to get back to when I wasn't reading it. It made my revision much more bearable as I was rewarding myself with a few pages everytime I got a question right... I know, I know, I'm really sad, but whatever! I'd really recommend Level 2 if you're looking for something a little bit different - it feels kind of dystopian but it isn't really, I don't think, there's some romance, there's some mythology, some action and adventure... There really is a little bit of everything! Also, I didn't realise before I read it but it's written by an awesome blogger, so that's pretty cool too!

*Thanks to Usborne for sending me this in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the book. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Letterbox Love #2



So I haven't done a Letterbox Love or IMM or book haul or anything for months now, and I used to love these posts so I thought I'd start them up again, especially as I've got some awesome books these last couple of weeks! I've only included the books I've received in 2013 and for Christmas, because I couldn't remember what I got before... :P


Apologies for the books not being in the centre of the picture. If that bothers you. It bothers me :P

BOUGHT

Night School: Legacy by CJ Daugherty
I absolutely love this series! This one was brilliant, my review's coming soon.
How to Save A Life by Sara Zarr (Not pictured; ebook)
Only 99p in the Kindle sale - looking forward to this one as I've only heard good things!

GIFTED

Ingenue by Jillian Larkin
This was from my parents for Christmas. My only book (unless you include the Doctor Who 2013 annual :P) but it doesn't matter because I'm sure it'll be awesome! Absolutely adored the first one so can't wait to read this!


RECEIVED FOR REVIEW

Dead Romantic by CJ Skuse (Chicken House Books)
Cannot wait for this one! Looks awesome :D Out in February.

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black (Bloomsbury Children's)
The cover for this one is absolutely gorgeous! It sounds really good too, so I'm looking forward tor reading this! Out February.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Random House Children's)
I read and loved If I Stay and Where She Went a year or two ago, so I'm looking forward to reading this romance in Paris! This one's already released.

The Hanged Man Rises by Sarah Naughton (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)
I asked for this one because it sounded good, and completely different to anything else I've really read before! It's nice and short so I might read this one in the week before my January exams, so I can read but not be too distracted because it's not too long! Out February.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)
AGH I am SO excited for this one! The cover's gorgeous, as the first one was, and I just can't wait to read more about Mara and Noah... They're great! I think I'll read it as a reward after my January exams. Out February.

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans (Usborne)
I actually was lucky enough to attend the launch party for this book, and met Lenore herself. She was super awesome and the event was great and I'm reading this now and even though I'm only on Chapter 2 I really like it so far :) Out 15th January.

Thanks to Lynsey at Narratively Speaking for hosting Letterbox Love! Let me know in the comments what you've received this week, or leave me a link to your post if you've got one :)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Book Review: Zom-B Underground by Darren Shan

Zom-B Underground (Zom-B, #2)Title: Zom-B Underground 
Author: Darren Shan
Series: Zom-B, #2
Pages: 203
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Date of Publication: 3rd January 2012
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Waking up in a military complex, months after zombies attacked school, B has no memory of the last few months. Life in the UK has turned tough since the outbreak, and B is woven into life- and battle- in the new military regime quickly. But as B learns more about the zombies held in the complex and the scientists keeping them captive, unease settles in. Why exactly was B saved? And is there anyone left in the world to trust?

DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU'VE NOT READ THE FIRST BOOK, Zom-B, AND DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED.

My Thoughts:
Having read Zom-B and found it to just be okay, I wasn't sure what I was going to think of the sequel, Zom-B Underground. To be honest, I picked it up to read because it was the shortest book in my TBR pile and I wanted to cram in as many books as I could before the end of 2012... But anyway, I wasn't that excited for it after the just okay first book, but it surprised me how much I enjoyed it! Really, really good.

The plot of this book was much better. There wasn't really a single point in the book where I knew what was coming, which made it more exciting and meant that I powered on reading through in order to find out, which was different to the first book where we all knew a zombie attack was approaching but we didn't know when it would be. Again, as in the first book, there were a couple of twists that were very surprising, and of course, it ends of a nice, juicy cliffhanger that's left me waiting very eagerly for the next book.

I liked B in this one, a whole lot more than I did in the last. She stood up for herself and began to make her own decisions about things, instead of following everyone else like she previously had. She realised that what she was being made to do was wrong, and she tried to change that, which was pretty admirable seeing as trying to stop it meant that she was literally putting her life at risk. I wouldn't have done that, I'm sure!

I also think that the zombies were really well written. I liked how they have two different kinds of zombies - regular, brain-eating ones, and then the zom-heads, who can still think and act rationally. I liked the zom-heads in particular because they're not your typical zombies who only ever have brains on their minds. It was good that we got to find out about what they do, though it is a little gruesome... Or rather, a lot gruesome. That hasn't changed from the last book, and unfortunately was my one down-point to the book - there's a lot of gore and I just can't take it seriously! I don't know why, but I am just not good with gore. At all. That's just my personal preference though, it's still good writing!

Overall I was really glad that I chose to read Zom-B Underground when I did, because I'm not sure when else I would have got round to it and I'm really glad I've read it! I'm really looking forward to the next and one of the great things about this series is that I don't have too long to wait because they come out so regularly! I'd definitely recommend you start this series if you haven't already and are looking for something silly and gruesome and quite fun to lose yourself in for a few hours at a time. They're great!

*Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me this in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the book. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Reading and Blogging Resolutions 2013

Hello! It's been 2013 for a week, I know, but I've got some resolutions that I want to keep to this year to keep me motivated throughout, as I've kind of been bumbling along very slowly since about half-way through last year. So, here's what I hope to achieve in 2013 with my reading and blogging!

1. Read 100 books!
I've set my target at 90 as I only managed a (pitiful) 84 last year, but I really would like to read 100 again! I was so proud of myself in 2011 when I managed it, which is why I was kind of disappointed by only 84 in 2012... So 90 is my lowest target, but ideally I'd like to reach 100!

2. Blog more!
I know, I know, quality over quantity and all that, but I only posted once in December and that was kind of rubbish of me. I have a lot of school stuff to do, as I'm in my first exam year (boo!), but I think blogging is a good way to wind down and relax by doing something I love, so my goal is to blog at least semi-regularly throughout the year, with a good percentage being well-written reviews. I might also start with a schedule to keep to, to keep me motivated... Do you guys have schedules? Do they work for you? I need to be more organised with blogging so any helpful tips would be much appreciated!

3. Write reviews soon after finishing the book (same or next day)
I'm so bad this. I forget everything in between finishing and actually writing the review... I take notes though, which is more than I was doing this time last year, but still. If I leave it too long, writing the review is nearly impossible and extremely hard work that I'm far too lazy for, so I need to start writing them sooner.

4. Interact with more bloggers!
I used to talk to loads of people on Twitter, but now I tend to just talk to the same people all the time (not that I don't love you all to pieces (I do!), I just want to find new bloggers as well!) I love reading other people's blog posts so say hello down in the comments and I'll come visit if you're new! Also, COMMENTS. I must comment more! I can't expect people to comment for me if I don't comment much, so I'm going to aim for a couple of comments a day (and not just on memes), and we'll see how that goes.

6. Read more widely
I want to try new authors, new genres, new topics that I've not read about before, so that I'm well-read and don't get bored! Not that I would, but still, I want to try new things. It's a new year, so new things, right? :P

7. Read at least ONE classic
So originally I thought one a month, and then laughed at myself because that is NEVER going to happen. So I want to read at least one classic this year, because I think that's manageable, right? I read 28% of Alice In Wonderland last year, does that count? ;) I liked it, but I just had some other more exciting options... Anyway.

Hopefully these are all steps I can take to becoming a better blogger in 2013! I hope they're doable! Do you have any 2013 reading/blogging resolutions? Let me know in the comments! :)

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Book Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper ValentineTitle: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Series:  Standalone
Pages: 304
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
Date of Publication: 3rd January 2013
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads: 
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor's peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian's ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah's just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn't there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realises that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life - and it's up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.


My Thoughts:
I was excited to start Paper Valentine. Look at that cover! I think it's gorgeous, so I really wanted this book to live up to the awesomeness that is the cover. Maybe my expectations were a little too high? I don't know, but this book wasn't that awesome. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it because I did... I just didn't get what I wanted from it, which is exactly what happened when I read Brenna's first book, The Replacement. I wanted it to be creepy, and fast-paced, but actually, it was pretty slow at the beginning. 

The plot was good, and I liked how Yovanoff included Hannah's best friend Lillian as a ghost, as that made it different from all the other teenage girl murder mystery kind of books that there are out there. I liked how there was a murder at the very beginning of the book, but it wasn't the first one - there was a bit of back story which I thought added some depth to the story. The murders were interesting and I wanted to find out what happened to the girls and I wanted to try to understand the killer and find out why he was leaving the girls in the way he was, and what the paper valentine he left meant, so it definitely grabbed my attention and held it, even if it did take about 100 pages for me to get fully invested in the story. 

Once past the slow beginning though, the story began to pick up and I would sit and read 100 pages of it in just an hour or so (it's very well written in that it's very easy to read) and it didn't take me long to finish it after that (being only 300 pages long). I liked the way the story came together at the end, and the way the murderer was revealed, but I think that it glossed over that a little too quickly - it's a book about murder after all, so why not focus on the murderer and why he did it? I felt that there were an awful lot of unanswered questions at the end, and that if there were just another couple of chapters, everything could have been sorted out and I wouldn't still be left wondering things about the plot that I can't tell you or I'll spoil :P

On the whole, the characters were good. At the beginning, Hannah was a bit pathetic and annoying, and I actually much preferred Lillian, the ghost of her best friend who recently starved herself to death. Sounds morbid, I know, but I actually think that her death and her feelings and thoughts and explanation of why she did it was actually written very well, and was possibly one of my favourite things about the book. Anyway, back to Hannah. About half way through she grew up and finally managed to stand up to her bitchy 'friends', and I loved that. I don't like it when people can't stand up for themselves to their friends, even though I can totally understand why not and might even be being a little bit hypocritical right now... Anyway. She was pretty awesome in one certain situation, and that is where we will leave it.

Lastly, there was Finny. He was, um, pretty awesome. I loved him! He was mysterious and intriguing, and I loved that he could look past everything that happened between himself and Hannah when they were little and could realise that people grow up and change, often for the better (another pet peeve of mine - when people don't realise this.). I liked that he was mysterious and the idea of him being the murderer was kind of exciting (and I know I sound like a mad man here, but just overlook that...) because it meant that I didn't know what was coming next and the guessing kept me interested, and I really had no idea who was murdering the girls.

So overall, even though it wasn't amazing and it was slow in the beginning, I had some really good thoughts about it once I'd closed the book after finishing. If you're looking for a really thrilling, scary and unputdownable story, probably look elsewhere but I'd definitely recommend if you like murder mysteries that aren't too scary and you would still like to go to bed with the light off! Lastly, if you're a fan of books like The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, then this would be a good choice for you!

*Huge thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me this in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the book. 
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