Saturday, 26 July 2014

Top ten (well, eight) characters I'd want on a deserted island with me

Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish :) 

1) Jem Carstairs from The Infernal Devices because I could stare at him all day, and he could play a violin crafted from the wood of a coconut tree or something, to pass the time of course. We could have deep philosophical talks. Plus, you know, he's a shadowhunter so he's pretty practical at the whole surviving thing.

2) Katniss from The Hunger Games because duh. She's probably on everyone's list and if she can survive The Hunger Games she can survive an island - plus she's pretty loyal so I wouldn't have to worry about her disappearing on a one person raft without me.

3) Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments because he could probably just zap us out of there efficiently. Unless it was a deserted island in hell or something. This holds true for a myriad of other magical folk, as well.

4) Cas from Anna Dressed in Blood because he's pretty badass and I feel like we'd get along. He could talk to me about the woes of loving a dead, vengeful spirit etc. Plus if any demons just randomly showed up...

5) Jacon Portman from Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children because hopefully there's a loop on the island that we can disappear into, and of course I discover that I too am in fact peculiar.

6) Katsa from Graceling because she's one kick-ass female character and I feel like she could teach me to defend myself. We could all work together to build a raft and get off the island.

7) Fred and George from Harry Potter because if I'm going to be stuck on a island it may as well be hilarious. Plus, you know, the whole wizard thing might be helpful.

8) Viola from The Chaos Walking because she's one of my favourite YA female characters and she survived crash landing on a scary new planet, so I'm pretty sure we could survive on a measly island.

And I've run out of other people I'd want there, knowing me I'll probably think of a couple later. :)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Currently reading!

These babies finally arrived; can't wait to get stuck in! 

If You Find Me - Emily Murdoch

Title: If You Find Me 
Author: Emily Murdoch
Published: March 2013
Publisher: Indigo
Length: 312
Rating: 4 and a half stars

"Happiness is free, Mama says, as sure as the blinkin' star, the withered arms of the tree thrown down for our fires, the waterproofin' on our skin and the tongues of wind curlin' the walnut leaves before slidin' down our ears." p.3

Okay, so before I launch into the review, I have to say I've been on a pretty good streak regarding the standard of books I've been reading over the summer. Can't say I've come across one yet that I haven't been impressed with.

I was especially impressed with this one, it has to be one of the most powerful books I've read in a while, possibly ever. The way that Emily Murdoch writes just hit me right in the gut, she's astoundingly good at weaving her way through words and images - I was in love.

The story itself was brilliant, it hit off right at the get-go and I learnt to love Carey as a character so much. She was strong willed, intelligent, and dead set on protecting her little sister, Nessa. She develops so much throughout the novel, into a strong young adult, despite all odds.

Both Carey and Nessa grow so much once they are deposited into the hustle and bustle of normal urban life, away from the stand-still of the woods. They have to deal with the truth about their Mama, a new family, and learning to 'fit in'. The novel for me was about family, love, protection, and truth - with a smidgen of romance thrown in halfway through.

The story plays host to a great variety of characters and Carey's often mixed feelings regarding them. This is especially highlighted in Delaney's role - sometimes I thought she was a bitch and the next I was thinking about all she's had to deal with and how the impact of one thing ripples.

The novel tackles and grapples with some sensitive topics, which left me a bit teary eyed to be honest. Drugs, rape, kidnapping are just a few of the most obvious ones throughout the novel, but I felt like the were talked about honestly and maturely. This was a story of accepting the past, though not necessarily forgiving it, and embracing a brighter future.

If there were any points that kind of put a damper on it for me, it was perhaps the fact that Carey is 'the most beautiful girl anyone has ever seen ever' because of course she was gonna be a hidden bombshell. This didn't bother me overly much though. Also, some of the apparent teenage slang used by Delaney - hey, though maybe those words are used by American teenagers, I don't know.

Anyway, one of my favourite reads of this year, I'm very glad I read it and shall probably be picking it up for a re-read at some point.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

Author: Mark Haddon 
Published: May 2003 
Rating: ****

Just another quick read plus I picked this up for a bargain! Although this post will be less of a review than just a discussion considering it's an internationally acclaimed, best-selling novel/stage production - it hardly needs any more positive reviews

I decided to pick up this book after reading Wonder and though definitely a different novel about different things it still had the same feel to me, in that it deals with potentially difficult situations and themes. 

I really did enjoy this book, I felt like Christopher was fantastically portrayed and though he does things that some may find strange or disconcerting, the fact that it's a first person narrative really helps to put the reader into his mindset. His interaction with other people is also really enlightening because I could see them through his eyes: those that understand and know Christopher against those that don't know how to act around him or completely misunderstand him.

I found the story itself interesting, it unravelled itself quite gracefully. My heart-ached for Christopher when he found out the truth of the dog case, but  not only for him exclusively. I couldn't help be sympathetic of his mum as well as his dad, neither are perfect and they do screw up pretty spectacularly but I do sympathise. This doesn't excuse any wrongdoings but it's not a two toned world with only good and bad actions. 

I found the story on a whole really realistic as well as the narrative being straightforward (excluding the maths equations) and refreshing. Plus there were pictures! I rated this book four stars because whilst I found it overall an enjoyable read, it's not been my favourite read this year. Still a nice addition to my book shelf, though.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Wonder - R. J. Palacio

Title: Wonder 
Author: R. J. Palacio
Publication date: February 2012

Books like this don't usually catch my attention, so when this one did I don't know what I expected.

Firstly, I knew it wasn't aimed at my age range, but this did not hinder the impact this book had on me. It was thoughtful and thought provoking; it made me question the way that maybe I had viewed difference in the past. It's wonderfully written, with just enough humour and liveliness to make it perfect for younger readers.

It deals with issues that perhaps some may shy away from, but it does it in such away that emphasises the idea that these issues aren't 'taboo' - they need to be talked about. It encourages the reader to embrace difference and be understanding, because in the end difference is normal.

The focus of the novel was August, who is astoundingly mature for his age - though don't get me wrong we still understand that he's a child. He's remarkably good-natured and tells numerous jokes about himself. His situation is tough and Middle School is definitely hard, but how he overcomes this and the glorious way he brings out the best in the people around him make me love this character.

It's not just told from his perspective though, and I really felt like we got to know every character in this book, from August's friends Jack and Summer to his sister Olivia and her boyfriend. But also the adults; I kind of loved Mr. Tushman.

He's surrounded by a caring, and slightly overbearing, family, including his sister Olivia. I couldn't dislike her as a character, she has had to deal with a lot. She knows and understands her situation in school isn't necessarily as difficult as Augusts, but she still has to deal her own problems, as well as feeling like her mum doesn't care for her as much as August.

This story isn't just about August's face, it's also about children and young adults having to deal with growing up: school, friends, and family. It's a wonderful book written by someone who put a lot of care into representing the under represented in novels and life. I enjoyed it very much.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Heavenly Fire 
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments book 6
Publication date: May 2014

"You need to get a message through? There's always carrier kittens."
"You mean pigeons," said Bat. "Carrier pigeons."
Malcolm shook his head. "Carrier kittens. They're so cute, no one can deny them. Fix your mouse problems too." p.411

So, the eager wait for the finale of this series is over, and boy, did it go off with a bang...or several. In regards to how addictive is was, well, it had its moments where I was hard-pressed putting it down. But being probably Cassandra Clare's biggest book, in terms of length (geesh 725 pages plus extras) meant it wasn't a one night sitting kind of thing. For which I am glad because she had some serious wrapping up to do!

Any fervour I thought lost in the previous novels was headily regained in the finale, as might be expected of the last of a series. I have a friend that gave-up half way through the series, but I'm glad I didn't despite some tiny reservations. I just remembered how much I adored the first book and how excited I was. So, this book was some kind of a blessing. It had juicy bits, romance, and some intense fighting scenes/chapters. Sometimes all at once.

This story is action packed, but nicely spaced out by some much needed explanations and twisty-turns that make the heart race a bit, they do. I especially like the role of the faeries in this book (not just because of my obsession with them) but because it really upped the supernatural game. A lot of the downworlders in this book have some link that ties them to humanity, but how can something so removed from humanity have it, and should they be charged for sins according to humanity?

Plus, this book is ever more filled with kick-ass characters, some of which we're meeting for the first time; a pretty despicable, yet pitiful, villain, and slimy demons. Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle, and Alec really kick some serious demon (and non-demon) ass - which they've always done, but this time the odds are stacked very much against them.

And, I suppose, not to give too much away, the odds do over-stack a little towards the end. Which I liked, I'm not one for happy-endings and smiles, but like most of Clare's stories, this balances out. Which is actually my problem with this book. I know it's not all left resolved and new problems are ever looming on the horizon casting shadows and all that, but uncannily I get that 'it's all roses' feeling in regards to the main crew and all their lot. Not that they don't deserve them. It does avoid the rabid screaming of fans when they realise their favourite character didn't get their dreams, hopes, and desires. But personally, I like a bit more, dare I say, misery...? Maybe not the right word, I just like it when my expectations are dashed and changed, I find it invigorating.

On the other hand, the story is really put together well, with its usual sky-high level of snark and cheekiness. Do watch out for those tear jerking (ripping) moments thought, will ya? God knows there's enough of them.

So, bidding adieu to The Mortal Instruments and awaiting the birth of the next batch of shadowhunting, kick-ass, demon-slaying greatness, so I can get my fix.