Thursday, 30 June 2011

Wolf Blood by N.M. Browne

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Published: 4th July 2011
Number of Pages: 304
Book: For Review From Bloomsbury*
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Fantasy, Mythical, Magic, Action, YA, YA-Adult Crossover, YA-Child Crossover
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Considerable Violence, Death, Some Swearing
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Blog: N.M. Browne

It’s the first century AD and Britain is overrun by invading Romans an warring tribes.
A Celtic warrior girl escapes from the rival tribe which has enslaved her, straight into the path of two Roman foot soldiers.  She expects to be killed, but using her gift of second sight she sees that one of the soldiers has a secret.
Celtic blood runs through his veins too – and he is a shapeshifter... a wolf-man.  Their only chance of survival is to help each other. 
But what will happen when their extraordinary powers are combined?  And who will they choose to fight for?

A slave girl, former warrior and current seeress called Trista escapes from the tribe that captured her during war.  Disguising herself, she flees, knowing that the “shining men” will destroy the settlement before the night is over.  As she runs, she meets two Roman soldiers, one of whom is Morcant, a shapeshifter.  Staying with him could mean her own death, for she knows little about the wolfmen: only that when Morcant changes, the softness leaves his eyes.  But travelling without him is just as dangerous, and perhaps more foolish.  A war is brewing between the Celtic tribes and the Roman legions.  Could the two unlikely companions use their powers to protect their people?  Or, more importantly, can they even protect themselves?
What struck me most about Wolf Blood was the brilliant mythology.  A blend of Celtic and Roman legends made this the most original and intriguing werewolf story I have ever read.  The world was vibrant, real and absolutely superb, full of amazing shadow creatures, Druids, magic and many Gods.  Browne’s writing was also incredible: a perfect blend of descriptions and gripping, short sentences. 
Her characters were also remarkable.  The strong, brave Trista, who I liked instantly, is a seeress, but she is also one of the best warriors I’ve read about.  Her independence was the best part of her: you read so many paranormal books with a weak, helpless lead girl.  A warrior was really quite refreshing.  Well, then again, I liked the vulnerable side of her as well.  She’s been damaged by her time as a slave and the darkness of her visions, saying herself that “the gods bless me with knowledge of their darker intentions”.  Her travelling companion, the shapeshifter, (a Versipellum) was called Morcant.  He’s half-Celtic, half-Roman, who just so happens to share his soul with a wolf.  His personalities vary, depending on whether or not the wolf is awake.  So he goes from being a gentle, almost shy, man to being a warrior with fierce, animalistic instincts, and then to just pure wolf.  This in itself is a completely new take on the myth.  A shadow wolf: a smashing together of two lives, two worlds, two souls.  Just... phenomenal.
 Wolf Blood was split between the two’s POV, another thing I loved.  It gave me an insight into both their worlds, so different yet so entwined.  What was even better – and is even harder for an author to do – was that the voices of the two characters were unique and easily distinguishable.  There was no confusion over whose chapter was whose, even if it wasn’t specified.
Yet another incredible point of this story was the action.  Now, I’m not one for mindless, useless, badly written violence.  But when it’s set out and described as wonderfully as it is in Browne’s book... it is just breathtaking.  There was no needless killing, just pure, brilliant action that made the adrenaline pump through my body.  I could feel the sword, the power, and I knew then that this was a magical story.  The magic was made even more powerful by the creatures inhabiting the world.  Wild Weird, three-headed women... I can barely describe how marvellous all this was.  So... read it, find out for yourself!
I read this in a matter of days, and I really do recommend it to everyone who likes paranormal stories, and even those who don’t.  This is an incredible, new, outstanding take on a genre I love.  I just wish all stories were as magical and wonderfully built as Wolf Blood.  Or, failing that, for there to be a sequel!

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
 Warriors of Alvana by N.M. Browne
The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford
Gracling by Kristin Cashore
Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Fortnight of Guests: A Novel Paradise (Rediscovering Reading Through YA)

Hey everyone! My name's Felicia and I run A Novel Paradise, a YA book review blog. That sounds like I'm important or something but really, I'm just your average bookworm armed with a passion for YA (and an unfortunate talent for lame jokes). I read under my desk in class instead of paying attention, I visit the library more than anywhere else, and I just love talking books, even when my friends start playing deaf. So a big thank-you to Megan for giving me the opportunity to guest-post on your wonderful blog! (:
I initially intended to write this informative essay on how we can rediscover reading through YA, but in the end, I realised that what I really wanted do was to share my thoughts about how awesome books can be for teens. Or somewhere along that line, at least. Hope I'll be echoing the sentiments of teen readers out there!
I've been a bookworm pretty much all my life. Ever since I was a little kid, I chose to read over watching cartoons or playing video games like my brother did; I was completely mad over Enid Blyton books and The Boxcar Children series! While growing up, I had tons of interests, including scrapbooking, swimming, painting, name it, I did it. But reading is the only hobby that has stuck with me as I grew from a silly, giggly and talkative child to the moody, sulky and angst-ridden teenager I am today (LOL).
A huge part of the reason why I was able to keep up my passion for books has to be because of the diversity of Young-Adult and teen novels I have to choose from. What else can you read when your taste has evolved beyond children's fiction, but is still not yet mature enough for the world of adult literature? To me, YA books are the stepping stones for us teenaged bookworms. Some titles are more suitable for tweens, while others would appeal more to older readers in the demographic, but with the vast sea of books available in the market, there's ALWAYS a book for everyone. There are so many different genres to choose from that you will probably stumble upon something you like. Hater of contemporary? Move over to fantasy, or a whole new paranormal world. Tired of romance? Get yourself an edgy, creepy psychological thriller!
When I tell my classmates that I like reading, some of them would give me the "What are you talking about? Books? Isn't school enough?" look, like I was stuck in the dinosaur era or something. But I think they still haven't discovered The Book yet: the novel which will tug at somewhere in their souls and kickstart their love for books! My best friend's a real life case study right there; she used to hate reading when she was a kid because she just wasn't interested. But as a teenager thrown into the world of boys and dating...hello hot-male-love-interests-who-are-head-to-toes-perfect! That moment when I first saw my book-burning bestie burying her nose into Twilight was priceless.
That's why I believe YA literature has become a sort of life-saver for teens who have never liked reading, or are put off by books thanks to the monotony of textbooks. I'm sure there are tons of other people out there just like my bestie, which is why if YA were a person, I would throw my arms around him/her and plant a huge, wet kiss on the cheek. Because books are totally awesome (Well, to be fair, not all of them are. But that's not my point. Ahem.) and I would hate for anyone to miss out the experience of enjoying a great read! I just can't imagine life without books, especially when they've been there for me when no one else was.
So if you've got an addiction to YA, be proud of it! And if you're a teen who rediscovered reading through YA, know that you're a very, very lucky person (:
Thanks again Megan for having me here today; I feel so honored as this is my very first time haha. Hope you guys didn't fall asleep while reading my rambling! :D
No still wide awake!  ;)  Thanks for the brilliant post, Felicia!  And I completely agree: books save lives... from boredom.  :D

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Fortnight of Guests: Black Nailed Reviews (Ten Myths Only Bloggers Know Aren't True)

I'm Alisha from Black Nailed Reviews, a blog dedicated to all things books and movies. I'm a student at the moment, but am inspiring to become a novelist while drinking orange juice. Before I get started, I wanted to thank Megan for letting me apart of her Fortnight of Guests and dealing with my indecisiveness!

So, here is my list of myths that bloggers know aren't true:

1) Blogging is a part-time gig.
I think we've all spent that one all-nighter catching up on blog posts or getting ready for interviews, etc.
2) Blogging is a fad.
Blogging is something that let's people express themselves and talk about hot topics in society.
3) Bloggers get freebies.
Freebies are a privilege, so yes we do get freebies from time to time, but aren't entitled to them.
4) You have to be an expert in blogging.
Technology and the Internet is constantly changing, so the blogging world changes too which means you can't know everything about blogging.
5) You have to be professional (on your blog).
*looks around* I wonder who said that. As a blogger, you make your blog to fit you, so if you love to cuss or have tons of pink decorations on your blog, go for it! The more personal the blog, the more readers will remember it.
6) Blogging is a women's world.
Most of us are female bloggers, but we do have our male bloggers out there. Male bloggers are just as beneficial as female bloggers are and bring the male's perspective on issues.
7) Bloggers blog for a living.
Many bloggers have careers or are students or are stay-at-home moms/dads. We love to blog and blogging is a 24/7 job in itself, but we have lives upon that...that's why blogging gets stressful at times.
8) Bloggers are grammar police.
We don't all sit on looking up synonyms that go with books. It just looks like we have proper grammar because we abuse the Spell check button so much, we start seeing our own errors. Rereading your post always helps too.
9) You have to blog EVERY day.
Blogging is never quantity, but quality. If you have three blog posts and they all have tons of comments, that's what matters. You want your readers to take something away from your blog, not just let them see that you've blogged five times yesterday. But, that doesn't mean to wait three weeks to post another blog.
10) Blogging is a hobby.
I started BNR back in January 2010 and thought it would be a great hobby. Now, I'm constantly blogging or doing stuff for the blog. A blog is an unpaid career that teaches you so much. There's so much time and effort that goes into it that it's hard to just say it's a hobby.

Ah, gotta say I believed in a fair few of these myths before I started my blog.  *looks guilty* I'm sorry.  ;)  Thanks for this amazing list of myths, Alisha!  It was great fun, and I even picked up a few tips!  :D

Fortnight of Guests: Supernatural Book Club (Book Review)

Greetings book fans! I'm Heather, also known as "Hey Lady!" from "Supernatural Book Club", which is a book review site and an actual book club that meets once a month to discuss a book we're reading and choose another. We're located in Texas, but anyone can read along with us and join in the discussion by stopping by our blog. Thanks so much to Megan at "The Book Addicted Girl" for having me here, I've enjoyed her site for a while and it's an honor to share a review!

 Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

This is the first book in the Morganville Vampire Series*

Summary: Claire Danvers is dealing with the stress of moving out of her parents house and living away from home. Claire is something of a prodigy, she is sixteen years old and already a college freshman. While Claire excels intellectual matters, she suffers in social skills and street smarts, leaving her painfully shy and out of her element at a new school, in a new town. And Morganville is no ordinary town. As Claire struggles to make her way in this new place she slowly begins to see that the people of Morganville are not what they seem. Being two years younger than the other college freshman, dorm life is already a struggle, but when the dorm's most popular girl focuses her wrath on Claire, life becomes unbearable. After being pushed down the stairs, Claire realizing that dorm life is just too dangerous and goes looking for somewhere else to live. Luckily for her, she sees a girl hanging up flier looking for a roommate, and she soon finds sanctuary at the house of Michael Glass and his two roommates, Eve and Shane. Once she moves into the Glass house, Claire learns that there is no human law in Morganville, that vampires control everything and everyone. The town is full of humans frightened into obedience and submission, and Claire and her roommates are not ready to obey.

Review: I originally read this book looking for something new and different, what I got was a simple, easy to read, fairly short adventure that immediatly made me want to buy the next book in the series. There are so many young adult books about teenagers in high school with vampire and human romance. Glass Houses is a nice change from that. To start with the book taking place in college, not high school. The vampire aren't persecuted, misunderstood creatures, they're powerful tyrants. The story being told through Claire's eyes makes it easy to relate to being a shy teenager (which I was), which is different from so many stories in which the main character is well-liked and popular (see Elena from the Vampire Diaries and Bella from the Twilight Saga). Through Claire we feel our way through strange and frightening new experiences, from dorm bullies, to oppressive vampires, to her first romantic encounters. It's a fun and quick read, I recommend giving it a try.

Bottom line: This book is truly a young adult novel in that it has very little sexual context or violence, as in, almost none. The book still manages to be entertaining without those elements. I give it a B.

*On a side note, for fans of the Morganville Vampire series, there's short story about how Eve and Michael's met in the anthology "Many Bloody Returns". It's the reason I picked up this series.

Oh, I have to read this soon!  I've been meaning to for ages.  Thanks for the review, Heather!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Fortnight of Guests!

We have our lineup!  I'm proud to reveal to you all our amazing guests, who I know have worked hard on their posts.  Thank you to each and every one!

Monday 27th: Sammee @ I Want To Read That
Tuesday 28th: Heather @ Supernatural Book Club
Thursday 30th: Felicia @ A Novel Paradise
Rediscovering Reading Through YA
Tuesday 5th: Alison @ Alison Can Read
Historical Fiction
Wednesday 6th: Franny @ Mind Reader
Thursday 7th: Mette @ Mysterious Books
Saturday 9th: Aylee @ Recovering Potter Addict
Sunday 10th: Rachel @ Parajunkee's View
Paranormal Creature "Best Of"
Monday 11th: Diana @ The Lovely Getaway

If you want to let your friends/followers know, there's a picture in my sidebar you can use!  :)

I can't wait to see all of this, can you? 

Fortnight of Guests: I Want To Read That (Cover Wars: US vs UK)

I Want To Read ThatHi!   I'm Sammee from I Want To Read That - a book blog for most things YA!  I have a major addiction / obsession with books and I have far too many!  But I kind of like that:)  I also spend my working life surrounded by books as I work as a Children's Bookseller for Waterstone's.
I'm really excited to be taking part in Megan's Fortnight of Guests and opted to do a post on one of my favourite things:  Book covers.  Hope you enjoy:)

I love book covers. I don't know why they have such an influence on me but they really do. A good cover can be the difference between me being interested in a title or dismissing it. There have been occasions when I have been really excited about a book release only to have that excitement die somewhat at the sight of the cover - and of course it works the other way too. I hear about a book and feel my anticipation for it build and then I see the cover and suddenly I MUST have that book!
One of the things that really interests me is the differences in covers in different countries or for different releases (such as Hardback and then Paperback). From this Cover Wars was born - a way to compare different covers for the same book.
When Megan asked if I do a guest post for her I jumped at the chance and I thought I could do something a little different - get you guys to vote. It's US vs UK, there are five rounds - who will win?

Round One: Fury by Elizabeth Miles
I really, really like the UK cover. If I saw it on a shelf it would catch my eye - but put it next to the US one and I automatically drift towards it. I think it is the gorgeous read hair! So my vote is US

Round One: Fury by Elizabeth Miles

Round Two: Forgotten by Cat Patrick
There is no contest here I'm afraid - my vote is UK all the way!

Round Two: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Round Three: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Like Fury, I do like the UK one but I LOVE the US one. It just really appeals to me - there is something haunting about it. And I have to say in this instance it doesn't feel like they are the same book. So, my vote is US.

Round Three: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Round Four: My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent
Okay so I love the US covers but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the UK ones - especially this one! So obviously my vote is UK

Round Four: My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent

Round Five: The Splendour Falls by Rosemary Clemment-Moore
I really like the new cover they produced in the UK but as soon as I saw the US one there was no competition! I absolutely adore this cover and am trying to convince myself I really do need two copies so I can justify buying it! Gorgeous - so my vote is US

Round Five: The Splendour Falls by Rosemary Clemment-Moore
So who did you vote for? US or UK?

Well, we'll wait and see who has the most votes in the end.  US or UK...  Thanks Sammee: that was great fun!  And such gorgeous covers!

In My Mailbox (#20)

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It's a perfect way to see who's reading and review what.  Awesome!

Guess what!  My first hardcopy For Review books appeared in my mailbox on Friday!  I bounced off the walls, and 'squee'ed a little (Sammee, you'll know what I mean!).  It was as big a milestone as my first ever eBook For Review.  Anyway, I'd like to give the biggest thanks to Bloomsbury and Bloomsbury-Ian in particular!  Thank you!
For Review:

Haunting VioletWolf BloodTempest Rising
The CardturnerFlawless
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey (Goodreads | Amazon)
Where The Dead Lead
The Living Must Follow
Yay yay yay!  I've wanted this since I first saw it!  I can't seem to stop grinning.  I started reading the moment I got it, and now I'm on page 130, or something equally ridiculous.  I love it! 
Wolf Blood by N.M. Browne (Goodreads | Amazon)
Now, this one I didn't even know about, but I'm loving it as well.  Think werewolves.  Then, think Roman-Celtic Britain.  Now mix the two together, add some amazing mythology and history, and viola!  You have the basic idea of what Wolf Blood is about.  It's an incredible take on the wolf lore that I'm loving to pieces.
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs (Goodreads | Amazon)
Surf The Wave To Love
I've seen this quite a few places recently, and I've wanted it since I first saw it.  Now... Yay!  I have it!  And it's as good as I hoped!  Gotta love mermaids, but Tracy Deebs' take: ah-maz-ing!
The Cardturner by Louis Sachar (Goodreads | Amazon)
I loved Sachar's Holes, and I can't wait to see what this is like.  I've seen excellent reviews, and I'm really look forward to it!
Flawless by Lara Chapman (Goodreads | Amazon)
Gorgeous Friend.  Shared Crush.  Big Problem
This was on On My Wishlist just a few weeks ago!  So I am soo happy to have it!  Ah, teen drama: love it!

Thanks again to Bloomsbury-Ian! 

Shock of all shocks, I didn't buy a single book this week!  Well, free kindle books don't really count do they? 
Ah, even if they do I'm too busy!  Fortnight of Guests is starting TOMORROW!  So keep your eye out over the next two weeks, 'cause I have some awesome guests!  :D

That's me,

What did you guys get this week?

Friday, 24 June 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Puffin
Format: Paperback
Published: 7th April 2011
Number of Pages: 352
Book: Bought
Genre: True-To-Life Fiction, Historical, YA, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Mil Violence
No Alcohol, Drug References

Synopsis From Blurb:
That morning, my brother’s life was worth a pocket watch...
One night fifteen-year-old Lin, her mother and younger brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away.  They are being deported to Siberia.
An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun.  Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or friends again.  But she refuses to give up hope.
Lina hopes for her family.
For her country.
For her future.
For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose...
Will hope keep Lina alive?
Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.
I finished this book and just sat there for around ten minutes, not entirely sure what to do with myself.  Emotionally, this is such a powerful story that it actually borders on overwhelming.  All the way through, feelings swamped me, battling with one another in my mind, each trying to be the most potent.  Love.  Hate.  Bravery.  Fear.  Happiness.  Despair.  Horror.  Beauty. Giving up.  Hope.  So strong that at times I almost felt like I was drowning in them.  And I loved every single moment.
Just as many people were during the Purges of Stalin’s reign, Lina, her mother and younger brother, Jonas, are taken from their home one night by the Soviet guards and thrust into cattle carts.  Lina doesn’t even know why.  And yet, her and her family are sent to a labour camp in Siberia.  Labour camps were many people are worked to death...
Lina... wow.  She was such an amazing protagonist.  Strong, brave, full of love and hope.  As an artist, she was constantly drawing on whatever she could get her hands on.  At the gulag (labour camp), speaking your mind means certain death.  So Lina speaks through her art.  And hopes no one there ever finds it...  Over the book, I completely fell in love with this girl.  She was so strong.  One of those characters you are just desperate everything turns out alright for.  And I did find myself hoping she’d be ok, that she’d get out alive.
All the other characters were equally amazing.  Her mother, Elena, burning so brightly with love and life, so smart and willing to do anything for her children.  Lina’s brother, Jonas, who must have only been nine or ten at the beginning of the story, who had to mature so much, so fast.  It actually broke my heart to see on so young stripped of their childhood.  Her father, who I never actually ‘met’, but saw through flashbacks and who I came to love too.  Andrius, strong and good; I loved him to bits.  And all the other members of the camp, who were only referred to as ‘the bald man’ or ‘the grouchy woman’, etc.  I never knew their names, and yet I knew them, their personalities.  How Ruta Sepetys managed I have no idea, but she did, and it was amazing.
One of the NKVD guards, Kretzsky, had a distinct personality.  He was by no means an angel, but he wasn’t as much of a monster as the rest.  Ruta let us have glimpses of the human beneath the hard exterior, allowing a brief look at the boy who knows what he’s doing is wrong but doesn’t know how to stop.  One again, I know not how she did it, but did it she did.
Somehow she created a book so horrible at times I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry for the characters, and yet so beautiful I want to read it over and over.  It was the reality that made this book so special.  Based on eyewitness accounts, I cringe at the thought of this truly happening to someone in real life. 
Between Shades of Gray shows both the worst and best sides of humanity, revealing the horror and beauty that exist in the worst situations.  Always have hope.  That’s what I learnt from Lina.  It can always be worse.
So thank you, Ruta Septeys, for such an amazing book that is now firmly one of my favourites.

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

Challenges It's Taking Part In:
Happy Reading

Follow Friday (#15)

I'm back!  I've been gone for ages, I know, but now I am back and I have 4 or 5 reviews on the way, including a few books not quite out yet...  Ah, I've missed blogging!  Ooh, and keep an eye out for the Fortnight of Guests, 'cause let me tell you, it's coming soon...

Follow Friday
is a fun way for bloggers to find new blogger friends!  It's hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View, and it's such an awesome idea!  
And the feature this week is:
I'm A Book Shark
And our question is...
"In Light Of The Summer Solstice. Also Known As Midsummer... Let's Talk About Fairies. What Is Your Favorite Fairy Tale Or Story That Revolves Around The Fae?"

Ok, easy peasey.  A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare.  It's my favourite play, and I just love the mischief, rhyming and general story.  All the magic and the fairy king and queen, the mistakes in love and the guy with a donkey head: ah, what's not to love?  The characters are brilliant too - Puck in particular.
 Midsummer Night's Dream: Oxford School Shakespeare
Which may be why my fave YA faerie series is The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa.  I am in love with the first book at the moment!  The NeverNever (I can't read that without giggling.  Shows just how mature I am), the characters, the writing.  Love it! 
As for fairy tales, I always loved Beauty and the Beast.  The orignial, by Jeanne-Marie le Prince de Beaumont.  Just the seeing beneath superficial looks to what someone really's like inside.  The most beautiful can be the ugliest on the inside, whereas beneath the looks of a beast there can be true beauty.  Poetical, beautiful; I love it.  'Course, watching the Disney film with all the catchy songs helps as well!  ;)
Beauty and the Beast

Well, that's me.  Nice odd variety for ya.  If you found me through FF, drop a link. (But it I don't comment, it's probably 'cause I can't.  Sorry!  My account's playing up, still.  Don't suppose anyone knows how to sort that out?)  If not, what's your fave fairy/fey tale?  :)

Have a great weekend everyone!