Sunday, 29 September 2013

Showcase Sunday #35

Inspired by Celine from Nyx Book Reviews, I've decided to combine several weekly wrap-up memes into one post. Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Stacking the Shelves is hosted at Tynga's Reviews, and Sunday Post is hosted at Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Letterbox Love is a special British book-haul meme hosted by Lindsey at Narratively Speaking.

Last Couple of Weeks:

Image from Elana's Pantry
I didn't do a Showcase Sunday last week, so this is for the past two weeks. It's been a busy time, but still managed to get in some fantastic books recently! Autumn is definitely here; there are orange leaves lining the roads, and it's starting to get a bit chilly now. That means it's time to start thinking about colourful scarves and jumpers, pumpkins, the Goose Fair, my husband's birthday, then my birthday eleven days after that, then Halloween ten days after that, and this year I'm going to World Fantasy Con Oct 31st - Nov 3rd, which I'm very excited about, and then after that... Christmas is on its way! I love this time of year. :-D

Recent Posts:

Book Review - All is Fair (Split Worlds #3), by Emma Newman

Book Review - The Lives of Tao, by Wesley Chu

Book Review - Model Misfit (Geek Girl #2), by Holly Smale

Booking By Numbers - Want to come peek at my bookshelves? :-)

New Goodies:

For the Fantasy Faction science fiction book club (October's read):

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

From the library, and already watched (brilliant movie!):



Friday, 27 September 2013

Model Misfit - Book Review

Model Misfit
by Holly Smale

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.”

Harriet knows that modelling won’t transform you. She knows that being as uniquely odd as a polar bear isn’t necessarily a bad thing (even in a rainforest). And that the average person eats a ton of food a year, though her pregnant stepmother is doing her best to beat this.

What Harriet doesn’t know is where she’s going to fit in once the new baby arrives.

With summer plans ruined, modelling in Japan seems the perfect chance to get as far away from home as possible. But nothing can prepare Harriet for the craziness of Tokyo, her competitive model flatmates and her errant grandmother’s ‘chaperoning’. Or seeing gorgeous Nick everywhere she goes.

Because, this time, Harriet knows what a broken heart feels like.

Can geek girl find her place on the other side of the world or is Harriet lost for good? (Synopsis from Goodreads)

I absolutely loved Geek Girl, and so have been really looking forward to its sequel, Model Misfit, while at the same time a little nervous about it – would it live up to the awesomeness that was Geek Girl? Well, yes it did!

Harriet is just as funny, observant and naive as ever, telling the story in her unique Harriet voice, interspersing it with weird and interesting facts, and her quirky interpretations of events and behaviour. Her overdramatic narration and outbursts are brilliant, and you can really feel for her even when laughing and shaking your head in despair at her latest mishap. I remember how world-changing the simplest things could seem when I was that age too, and I think Holly Smale has done a good job of capturing teenage drama. I still loved all the same characters as before, particularly Nat and Annabel, and Harriet’s dad. Harriet’s father doesn’t feature so prominently in this one, which is a little bit of a shame as he is such a fantastic character. However, Wilbur is back with his many hilarious Wilburisms, and I warmed to him even more in this book as we get to see a little deeper into who he is and what makes him tick.

Harriet travels to Japan to do some modelling for Yuka’s secret project, and so spends the summer away from her family and friends. New characters are introduced in the form of her flatmates in Tokyo – another English model called Poppy, and a Japanese model called Rin who I loved. Both of these perhaps hovered a little too close to stereotypes at points, but then again, pretty much everyone in the Geek Girl series is larger than life and exaggerated in some way, which is what makes it such a fun and colourful read. Having said that, I do think Toby has crossed the line into too creepy now. I think he’s due his very own speech from Harriet about respect and dinosaurs and how we are all part star/T-Rex. Sidenote: this is the best speech a girl has given a boy in any book I’ve read. Poor Nick! :-)

It was really nice to see Harriet step out of her comfort zone again in this book and gain some more independence and confidence. There are a lot of people protecting her just a little too much, and this story is really about her finding her own feet. This is quite a common theme in YA and it’s done really well here. Harriet slips up (a lot, often literally) along the way, providing plenty of funny and bizarre incidents, but she’s always brave and always battles through. Harriet really is a great model – she’s someone readers can look up to.

The plot itself is fun and fairly simple. I could see many of the events and twists coming, but this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. There's more going on behind Harriet's modelling disasters than she thinks, and it seems she may have a new enemy to contend with. This was set up well, with clues laid earlier in the novel, but I did feel like a certain character's motivations were very weak here. However, friendship and family are once again strong themes, which I loved, and the romance storyline is a bit more prominent here too, with Harriet trying to manoeuvre the complex minefield of the break up while Nick suddenly seems to be everywhere she is. I’d forgotten how much I liked Nick! His interactions with Harriet are brilliant, and it soon becomes clear how well they work together.

This is such a fun story, with all the great characters and the same fantastic writing that made the first book so good. Holly Smale is a genius for finding just the right metaphor, or just the right slightly odd description of something that clicks perfectly. I laughed out loud many times, and tore through the story in less than two days. Can’t wait to see what Harriet gets up to next!

Thank you to Harper Collins and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Booking By Numbers

Want to have a nosy at my bookshelves? :-)

Jess from Jess Hearts Books recently posted a fun Q&A and invited other bloggers to take part as well. I noticed a great response from Kat on The Aussie Zombie, and thought it would be fun to have a go too!

Here are Jess' instructions:

Put the number of books on your bookshelf (or if like me you have hundreds of books break it down to 50, 70, 100 - however many books you’d like to play with) into a random number generator this could be via Random Org or simply by pulling numbers out of a hat. For each question draw a number and apply that question to the selected book from your shelf (or wherever you like to store your books.) For example if you pulled the number 11 you’d count across your shelf to the 11th book. It’s as simple as that!

Okay, on to the questions:

My books (and nick-nacks). I decided to limit it to 500 for this survey.

Q1) Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

Book No. 156 - A Storm of Swords (Part 2: Blood and Gold), by George R. R. Martin

I have read this! I loved it. This is the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series; the book is split into two parts, and this is the second half. A lot of very unexpected and shocking things happen in this one (including the Red Wedding, I think, if I've got my books right), and the scale of the whole thing just seems to get bigger and bigger. I also think this is the high point of the series before it started to drag just a little, for me. Though, having said that, I am still really enjoying later books too.

Q2) Why did you buy this book? Were you recommended it? Was it a random purchase?

Book No. 10 - Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery

I didn't actually buy this one. My parents bought it for me ages ago, when I was a child. I loved it so much, and I read it every year for a long time.

Q3) Based on what you know about this book, which other book blogger would you recommend it to?

Book No. 136 - Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

Hmmm, tricky one. It's science fiction with horror elements, a bit weird, with a really different and interesting way of telling its story. I'd recommend it to people who already enjoy science fiction and like the idea of mixing up a few different genre feels in one story - a bit cyberpunky here, a bit space opera-y there, a bit military SF style there, etc. One thing to bear in mind, it tends to be sold as if it's a stand-alone, but it isn't really! I was really cross with the ending until I realised there was actually another book. It's definitely not complete without the second book (The Fall of Hyperion), so make sure you look out for that if you do want to read this.

Q4) Who’s this book's bookshelf neighbour?

Book No. 125 - Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Dracula's neighbours are The Night Watch, by Surgei Lukyanenko, and The Time Traveller's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. I imagine The Night Watch is either unfazed by Dracula's presence, or desperately trying to get his autograph. The Time Traveller's Wife is probably giving him the side eye and hanging up the garlic, though I'm sure if it came to it, Clare wouldn't go down without a fight.

Q5) How many books have you read by this book’s author?

Book No. 262 - Imperium, by Robert Harris

I've read three books by Robert Harris: Imperium, its sequel Lustrum, and a stand-alone novel, Pompeii. These are all his books set in an ancient Roman setting - I LOVE ancient Greeks and Romans! I really enjoyed Imperium and Lustrum, and I think he's done a good job of catching the feel of the time and bringing history to life. Pompeii was fun, but not as good. It's more of an escape-from-the-disaster plot, whereas the other two are much deeper, with more memorable characters.

Q6) Do you have any special memories attached to this book? 

Book No. 479 - The Odyssey, by Homer

Yes, this was my first introduction to the literature of Ancient Greece, and I went on to do Classical Studies at university. I still love this story so much!

Yep, two copies of the Odyssey (different translations)

Q7) Is this book part of a series? If it is, are you up to date with the series?

Book No. 319 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling

This is really weird because Jess' seventh book happened to be a J. K. Rowling too, but under the name of Robert Galbraith! Yep, this is the final book in the Harry Potter series and I'm definitely up to date. I was up to date within a few days of each book coming out! :-)

Q8) Is this book something you’d typically read or is it out of your comfort zone? 

Book No. 85 - Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas

I haven't read this one yet, but I'm really looking forward to it! I think this is pretty squarely in my comfort zone - high fantasy, secondary world, female protagonist, magic?, assassins... yep, definitely my kind of thing!

Q9) Have you reviewed this book? If yes, then share a link to it.

Book No. 334 - The Case of the Good Looking Corpse, by Caroline Lawrence

I have! Here's the review.

The hardback wouldn't fit on the shelf with my other Caroline Lawrence paperbacks.
Need to do some re-ordering of shelves I think!

Q10) Where did you buy this book from?

Book No. 173 - Robots and Empire, by Isaac Asimov

I bought this from a charity shop. They were selling the whole collection of Asimov's robot and foundation books. :-)

Q11) Roughly how long have you owned this book for?

Book No. 381 - Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones

Ooh, I can't remember. It must be quite a long time! Let's say... 6 years?

Q12) Share the first sentence of this book.

Book No. 224 - Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett

"The Morris dance is common to all inhabited worlds in the multiverse."

Q13) What’s your opinion on this book’s cover? 

Book No. 463 - The Golem's Eye, by Jonathan Stroud

I really like this. It's a bit creepy, but also colourful and suggests a children's book. It hints at things in the book, and the fact that the atmosphere will be a bit darker in this one than the first one. I also like how simple this is - it's not an overcrowded image, but it is effective.

Q14) In a few sentences, describe this book in your own words.

Book No. 408 - The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

A boy called Nobody is raised by the dead. But the man who killed his family is still very much alive, and still out there...

Just noticed that The Graveyard Book is surrounded by poison!

Thanks Jess for the great idea! You can check out her answers here, and Kat's answers here.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Lives of Tao - Book Review

The Lives of Tao
by Wesley Chu

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well… (Synopsis from Goodreads)

This was one of the Fantasy Faction science fiction book club picks, and I’m glad it was chosen. I enjoyed it, and it seemed to go down well with the book club too.

Tao is an alien life form that needs to live inside a human host to survive. Its species is trying to use humans to help return them to their planet, but there are two factions that violently disagree on their methods in doing so. The aliens usually merge with humans who have military/secret-agent training and are aware of the aliens and their secret war, but circumstances force Tao to choose Roen as a host instead. Roen is an out-of-shape IT technician and a very unlikely secret agent. Tao has a lot of work to do to get him ready for his new life.

This is a really fun book. In many ways it reminded me of the TV series Chuck, but with aliens instead of the Intersect. There are some fantastic action scenes and the book is generally fast-paced, and though the plot is predictable at points, it does exactly what you want it to. There are plenty of funny moments, an easily likeable main character, and even a training montage that worked very well! Sometimes protagonists gain skills too quickly or easily in fiction; here, you can really see and feel how hard Roen has had to work for it.

What makes this book work so well is the interaction between Tao and Roen. Both characters are written so well that each maintains a distinct personality, even though Roen is effectively talking to himself inside his own head. Their conversations provide great background and comic relief, and I enjoyed finding out more about Tao’s past hosts, and about his regrets. Tao seems to care a great deal about each one of his hosts, even the ones who defied him, feeling personally responsible for all failures. He’s an astute and interesting observer of Roen’s life, helping him to see that he needs to stop dreaming and actually change things. Tao genuinely changes Roen’s life for the better, and becomes the best friend that Roen could ask for.

I think that last point is important because there is also a slightly creepy element to Tao and Roen’s relationship. Tao entered Roen’s body and mind without permission. He is using Roen, and there is no way to get around that fact. Tao needs Roen to train and to join in his cause, and at first it doesn’t seem like he’s giving Roen much choice. He sees everything Roen does and has access to his thoughts, and Roen will now never have a private moment again. He can even control Roen’s body while he sleeps. There were times when I thought Tao was not taking this into account enough and was a bit pushy with Roen. But, this is really the difference between the good guys and the bad guys here. Tao really does care about Roen, and Roen really does benefit from having Tao with him. Tao might be using Roen, but he gives back and lets Roen use him too.

Having said that, not all the good guys seem to act this way. The Prophus claim to be better than the Genjix, but both sides seem to value their alien lives over their human ones, and while the Genjix encourage an almost religious awe, this isn’t exactly discouraged amongst the good guys. Even Tao sometimes reveals this attitude a little – the Genjix can kill as many humans as they like, but the conflict does not become truly horrifying to him until the aliens themselves begin dying. I thought these issues of agency and the value of human life were explored well, particularly in one scene involving a hospitalised host, and it added a nice thoughtful note to an otherwise action-focussed plot. This is a fun book, but also one with plenty of interesting things to discuss!

There were some bits that disappointed me a little. I really loved the character of Sonja and wished that she could have featured more than she did, and I would also have liked to learn just a little more about one of Tao’s previous lives (his big regret). I also wasn’t entirely sure about certain aspects of the ending, in particular the ‘save the princesses’ element, though I did like that this was referenced as exactly that. Having said that, the ending was dramatic and moving, and I’m definitely looking forward to finding out what happens next.

The Lives of Tao is an entertaining, action-packed book, with some interesting questions beneath the surface, as well as great characters and humour.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

All Is Fair - Book Review

All Is Fair
by Emma Newman

WARNING – while there are no spoilers for this book, there are some spoilers for previous books in the series. I’d advise reading books and 1 and 2 before looking at this review.

William Iris struggles to keep the throne of Londinium whilst hated by his own court and beset by outsiders, while Cathy discovers the legacy of her former governess. But those who dare to speak out about Society are always silenced. Sometimes for good.

While trying to avoid further torments from the mercurial fae, Sam finds himself getting tangled in the affairs of the Elemental Court. But an unexpected offer from the powerful and enigmatic Lord Iron turns out to be far more than Sam bargained for.

Max and the gargoyle are getting closer to uncovering who is behind the murder of the Bath Chapter and the corruption in London and Max finds the gargoyle’s controversial ideas harder to ignore. Can he stay true to his sworn duty without being destroyed by his own master, whose insanity threatens to unravel them all? (Synopsis from Goodreads)


I love this series! This is the third installment in the novels about the Split Worlds and its characters, and I enjoyed it just as much as the previous two.

As usual there’s plenty of intrigue as Max and the gargoyle continue their investigation, and Sam is pulled deeper into the mystery surrounding his wife and Lord Iron. We get to spend more time with Max and the gargoyle, which I loved, and there are some truly moving moments between them as they seem to grow closer together. It felt a little as if the soul was beginning to rub off on Max, and I thought he came across as more human in this book. There’s also a scene at the end that brought a lump to my throat.

I loved the way Sam’s storyline evolved in this book – I really wasn’t expecting this, and I’m curious to see how it will affect the power dynamics in the Split Worlds. Cathy is pushing ahead with her plans to help the women of the Nether, and this soon extends to anyone oppressed by the conventions and rules of her society. When she finds out the manipulative and disturbing actions of the Agency, she is determined to stop it. She’s taking on some powerful enemies now, and it’s fun and satisfying to see Cathy steadily gaining confidence and respect, and stepping up as a leader. I was a little disappointed with the way she treated her sister at one point, but it did make sense, and I think the problems from their past is something that will take a while to resolve.

And Will... when did I decide to forgive Will? It's been coming on so gradually, I hardly know. But I believe I must date it from his buying Cathy a library full of every science fiction book ever written. *nods*

Oh Will, just as he takes two steps forward, he takes one back again. I think Will’s journey has been a very believable one. He’s been hurt by the patriarchy of his society too, but has never dared to question it before. He cares a lot about what others think about him, and about his perceived responsibilities. But he also cares about people, and about Cathy, and the difference between him and his brutish brother, for example, is huge. He’s not as brave as Cathy, but in this book we can see him beginning to really admire her. When these two start working together properly, they’re going to be a formidable team!

This is a fun book, adding more characters and different perspectives on the Nether and the Split Worlds, plenty of humour and excitement, and a few revelations. It answers a lot of questions and wraps up all the main storylines nicely, leaving the book without a cliffhanger but with plenty of hints of things to come.This felt a little like the end of a season in a TV series, which has been wrapped up so that it could be the end if it needed to be. I'm not sure if this is the case here, but I do hope that the series continues. I want to know more about the world Emma Newman has created, and I'm not ready to say goodbye to these characters yet!

Thank you to Angry Robot and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Showcase Sunday #34

Inspired by Celine from Nyx Book Reviews, I've decided to combine several weekly wrap-up memes into one post. Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Stacking the Shelves is hosted at Tynga's Reviews, and Sunday Post is hosted at Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Letterbox Love is a special British book-haul meme hosted by Lindsey at Narratively Speaking.

Last Week:

I had another short story acceptance this week! Hooray! :-D Other than that, I've been reading some brilliant books lately, and finished playing Bioshock Infinite. :-) And quite excited about the news about the new Harry Potter movie! Have you heard about it yet?

Last Week's Posts:

Book Review - Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie

The Wonderful Worlds of Diana Wynne Jones (Fantasy Faction)

New Goodies:

Just one this week, a kindle daily deal that looked fun:

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Best Served Cold - Book Review

Best Served Cold
by Joe Abercrombie

Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers and priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell, but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular – a shade too popular for her employers' taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Barbarian who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started...

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

I’ve been curious about Joe Abercrombie’s books for a while, and this one in particular has been recommended to me many times, so I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did! This is such a fantastic book – a great story, some amazing characters, and pretty much perfect plotting and pacing. This is definitely a new addition to my favourites shelf!

The story really centres around Monza and Shivers, two characters who are caught up in Monza’s revenge quest. There are other characters involved too (fantastic ones – I particularly loved the poisoner’s assistant Day, and Cosca, the drunken ex-mercenary), but Monza and Shivers are the two that most felt like this is their story. Monza is obsessed with revenge; she is set on killing the men responsible for her brother’s murder and her attempted murder. Shivers has moved to Styria from the north in order to be a better man. He doesn’t have a fixed idea how to go about this, just a vague notion that he needs to change his life, to get away from killing, and to have more faith in people. Ironically, he is almost immediately pulled into Monza’s revenge schemes, and he quickly becomes too attached to her to be able to back out.

I found both Monza and Shivers to be fascinating characters. Shivers begins with such high hopes about being a ‘better man’, and Monza scoffs at the sentiment. Monza has built such a thick wall around her that it is hard for anyone to see the real person and the real feelings beneath. As a mercenary leader, she has had to be tough, and has learned to rationalise any violent behaviour and to treat mercy as weakness. Through her cold pursuit of revenge, Shivers is sucked into this way of thinking and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ begin to lose meaning for him. On first reading, this could easily seem like Monza has ruined him, but I don’t think it is that simple at all. Shivers, underneath the surface, is a violent man. I think he is attempting to be a better person more out of an idea that this is what he should want to do, rather than out of genuine feelings of remorse or concerns about his choices. He seems very quick to accept Monza’s work, all too willing to continue on with her, and her protestations that mercy is a weakness seem to make a lot of sense to him. I got the feeling that he has been pretending, and that when Monza gives him an excuse to stop pretending, he is relieved.

Monza is also pretending. She is a better person than she believes herself to be, better than Shivers, but she has become so used to hiding this that she has begun to believe her own lies. In her quest for revenge, she still shows mercy and regret, and wants to avoid as much innocent suffering as possible. The gulf between her character and that of the poisoner Morveer, for example, is huge. When the inevitable collateral damage begins to escalate, she uses this pretence as a shield so that she doesn’t have to think about the consequences of her actions. It is therefore very interesting to see where both Monza and Shivers end up by the final chapter of the book. You could say that both have changed considerably, being led in completely different directions by Monza’s obsession with revenge. However, I believe that neither of them has really changed at all, but rather they have been shown their true selves, and come to realise who they really are and what they really want.

This is so cleverly written, turning what could have been a simple but enjoyable tale of revenge into something much deeper and quite fascinating. In amongst the fights and the schemes and the action scenes (very well written action scenes, which I can find a bit boring in some fantasy, but not here!) were comments on war, violence, power, addiction and obsession. Revenge is shown to be a never ending cycle that sucks in everyone around it, in a similar way to war and betrayal. Monza’s quest is going on against a backdrop of war and shifting loyalties that feels as inevitable as her own actions. Both seem doomed – fail or succeed, there’s no victory in either, not really.

If that sounds a bit depressing, remember that this is ‘grimdark’. Except that... well, I actually don’t think that it is. Weirdly, this is a very hopeful book, with an ending that suggests there is a certain amount of goodness in people. Yes, there is violence (a lot of it - this is quite a gory book), but there is also life and hope, and plenty of humour. I think Joe Abercrombie strikes the perfect balance here, actually. His story is realistic, brutally so, but also cheeringly so. In the real world, there is a lot of good swirling around with the bad; it’s messy, and it’s life.

Another thing the author manages to get spot on is the pacing and plotting. There were several times that I didn’t know how he was ever going to resolve something, or where he could go at a particular point in the narrative, and every time he surprised me, and every time it felt exactly right. The twists and turns, the betrayals, the character changes, the reactions, and the weird quirks of fate, are all perfectly handled.

Have I gushed about this enough? :-) I enjoyed this book immensely, and will certainly be reading more of Joe Abercrombie’s books in future. Highly recommended!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Showcase Sunday #33

Inspired by Celine from Nyx Book Reviews, I've decided to combine several weekly wrap-up memes into one post. Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Stacking the Shelves is hosted at Tynga's Reviews, and Sunday Post is hosted at Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Letterbox Love is a special British book-haul meme hosted by Lindsey at Narratively Speaking.

Last Week:

It was our wedding anniversary on Friday, and John surprised me by taking me to see the new Percy Jackson movie! :-) I really enjoyed it - it still wasn't as good as the book, but it was much better than the first movie, and I loved how they interpreted some of the monsters etc. Also, Anthony Stewart Head as Chiron is genius!

Last Week's Posts:

Book Review - Glitter and Mayhem, edited by John Klima, Lynne M. Thomas, and Michael Damian Thomas

New Goodies:

Review copy:

Shadows Over Innsmouth, edited by Stephen Jones
Thanks to Titan Books for the review copy!


 The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Glitter and Mayhem - Book Review

Glitter and Mayhem
Edited by John Klima, Lynne M. Thomas, and Michael Damian Thomas

Welcome to Glitter & Mayhem, the most glamorous party in the multiverse.

Step behind the velvet rope of these fabulous Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror tales of roller rinks, nightclubs, glam aliens, party monsters, drugs, sex, glitter, and debauchery.

Dance through nightclubs, roller derby with cryptids and aliens, be seduced by otherworldly creatures, and ingest cocktails that will alter your existence forever. Your hosts are the Hugo Award-winning editors John Klima (Electric Velocipede) and Lynne M. Thomas (Apex Magazine), and the Hugo-nominated editor Michael Damian Thomas (Apex Magazine). (Synopsis from Goodreads)

Glitter and Mayhem is a short story anthology with the theme of glamour, parties, nightclubs, drugs, sex and rollerskating, all with a science fiction or fantasy element. The stories are all odd, some more so than others, and there’s a wonderful mix of fun, tongue-in-cheek, scary, thoughtful and sad. An anthology with this kind of theme could have suffered from stories that are all too similar in style and feel, but here this is not the case at all; the editors have managed to collect a really interesting mix.

This collection is a huge amount of fun, but it’s also refreshingly diverse in the characters, lifestyles, relationships and sex it explores. The most obvious theme of the anthology might be glamour and parties, but I think its strongest themes are acceptance, identity, and loving yourself for who you are.

As always with anthologies, there were some stories that didn’t grab me as much as others, but overall it’s a really strong collection. There are funny stories and straightforward stories and some with very clever twists. There are fairytale themes, aliens, the supernatural, the fae, and plenty of rollerskating!

Some of my favourite stories were:

Sooner Than Gold, by Cory Skerry, in which a door could lead to anywhere, but you might not like what’s on the other side.

Subterraneans, by William Shunn and Laura Chavoen, an interesting take on body-swapping.

Such & Such Said to So & So, by Maria Dahvana Headley, which plays with language in a clever little story about drinking and addiction.

Bess, the Landlord’s Daughter, Goes for Drinks with the Green Girl, by Sofia Samatar, a very weird and well-written story.

Blood and Sequins, by Diana Rowland, an unconventional approach to the cops-take-out-the-bad-guys story.

Inside Hides the Monster, by Damien Walters Grintalis, which explores how a siren might have difficulty adapting to modern music tastes.

Bad Dream Girl, by Seanan McGuire, a really fun story about roller derby teams with some unusual members.

A Hollow Play, by Amal El-Mohtar, which asks what people might be willing to give up for what they love, and how much they really value those things.

A really enjoyable anthology with a good variety of stories and styles!

Thank you to Apex Publications for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Showcase Sunday #32

Inspired by Celine from Nyx Book Reviews, I've decided to combine several weekly wrap-up memes into one post. Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Stacking the Shelves is hosted at Tynga's Reviews, and Sunday Post is hosted at Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Letterbox Love is a special British book-haul meme hosted by Lindsey at Narratively Speaking.

Last Week:

I finished Bout of Books all revved up to have a week of reviews - I've got a lot of read books that need reviews now. But then the internet got very patchy, before disappearing altogether! So I haven't really had a chance to do anything on the blog, and there were no posts at all last week. It does finally seem to be working okay again... so, hopefully reviews should get started again next week, and hopefully the internet will decide to stick around! :-)

We also took a trip to Leicester last week so that John could do his Life in the UK test, and... he passed! :-D Yay!

New Goodies:

So, I could hardly go to Leicester without visiting their two-storey The Works, could I? And I found two books, each for only £1 on their sale! Hell to Heaven is book two of a series that I have the first book for, but haven't read yet. I don't normally like to buy second books before I know that I like the series, but this was £1!


Bioshock Infinite (I'm SO excited about this)
From the Library:
The Host (DVD)
The Folding Knife, by K. J. Parker (Fantasy Faction book club read)
From The Works:
Under The Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi
Hell to Heaven, by Kylie Chan

The Assassin's Curse, by Cassandra Rose Clarke