Thursday 16 April 2015

Introducing... The Book Addicted Girl Vlogs!

Yep.  I'm entering the Vlogosphere now.  It's exciting.  And terrifying.  This is my new YouTube channel: expect upcoming craziness...
Until then, enjoy my intro video!  And subscribe if you'd like! :)

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Top Ten Inspiring Quotes From Books

I've finally gotten round to joining in with Top Ten Tuesday again - finally! It's hosted by the wonderful The Broke And The Bookish - head over to their blog, join in with TTT and post a link to your post in the Linky widget... thing so everyone can see! Join in every week (like I plan on doing from now on!)! :D

Now, this week the topic is:
Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books (anything that inspires you, challenges you, makes you think, encourages you, etc.)
Since there are way too many quotes to choose from, this list might involve some minor cheats...  Oops!

These two (I know, cheating) remind me that everyone is a little bit bonkers and I should embrace my uniqueness:
1.       “We’re all mad here” from Alice In Wonderland and Luna Lovegood’s “Don’t worry.  You’re just as sane as I am”.
These two (another cheat) are about changing things.  The first inspires me to make a difference and the second reminds me that books have more power than most people think:
2.     “Fire is catching!  And if we burn, you burn with us!” Katniss Everdeen, from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.  And from The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, “One must always be careful of  books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
And this one reminds me nothing is truly impossible:
3.      “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,” from Through The Looking Glass
This one challenges me to think outside the box – it’s also so, so true:
4.      “Doors are for people with no imagination,” Skulduggery Pleasant, of course, by the wonderful Derek Landy
This quote inspires me to live every single day like it’s my last:
5.      “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities,” Hazel Grace from The Fault In Our Stars
This quote makes me smile and reminds me to have hope:
6.      “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light,” as said by the amazing Professor Dumbledore
These two (cheating again, I know) inspire me to confident and sure of myself – and not to feel self-conscious about Tweeting and telling people about my work:
7.      “Time to be awesome,” as said by Daemon Black from Lux by Jennifer L Armentrout, and “I don’t show off.  I merely demonstrate my abilities at opportune times”, as said by the wonderful Skulduggery Pleasant
This one reminds me that I have people who love and support me – and that I have people I love and support in return:
8.     “Take my hands…  And my strength too.  Whatever of it you can use to – to keep yourself going,” Alec from The Mortal Instruments
The next one makes me realise I’m always changing and so is everyone else.  It inspires me to always change and improve – but also to never let myself change completely and vanish.  It also reminds me that books can be as utterly devastating as they are beautiful:
9.      “Every seven years our bodies change, every cell.  Every seven years we disappear,” as said by Tessa from Before I Die by Jenny Downham, the first book that had me sobbing my eyes out whilst smiling
This quote reminds me everyone can be good and bad at the same time.  It encourages me to embrace the light and always try to be as good as I can be:
10.  “We’ve all got both dark and light inside us.  What matters is the part we choose to act on.  That’s who we really are,” Sirius Black.

So, those are my quotes!  Let me know what you think - and leave me a link to your TTT too! or just leave your choices in the comments! :D

Have a great Tuesday!

Happy Reading

Monday 13 April 2015

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

Series: Lumikki Andersson/Snow White Trilogy, Book One
Translated By: Owen F. Witesman
Publisher: Hot Key
Format: Paperback
Published: 7th August 2014
Number of Pages: 240
Book: For Review*
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Gritty Realism, Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller, YA, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol, Drug, Smoking and Sexual References

Lumikki Andersson is familiar with secrets and lies, but she also has a rule not to mind other people’s business.
When she discovers a lot of money – hanging, blood stained, in her school darkroom – that rule is put sharply to the test.
Lumikki is quickly drawn deep into the heart of Finland’s criminal underworld, caught in a dangerous web of corruption, deceit and murder.
She is no longer an observer, she is a target.  And she needs to out-smart a ruthless killer.
The first volume in a stunning thriller sequence from acclaimed Finnish crime-writer, Salla Simukka.

“Once upon a time there was a girl who learned to fear.
Fairy tales do not begin this way.  Other, darker stories do…”
Lumikki Andersson is a Finnish-Swedish loner, though she doesn't mind being alone.  You see, she has rules – mottoes.  One is not to meddle – not to get involved.  Another is not to jump to conclusions.
But when she stumbles across thousands of euros of money, hanging up to dry in the darkroom, smelling of old blood, it's hard not to get involved.  Especially when she sees a classmate emerge from the room with a bulging backpack.
Soon, Lumikki is breaking all of her rules, as she's swept up in a dangerous plot involving the darkest areas of Finland's criminal underworld.  All the while trying to stay one step ahead of a vicious, merciless murderer...
As Red As Blood began with a bang and did not let up for a single moment.  I adore crime novels – all sorts in all shapes and forms – and I was so excited to read As Red As Blood.  Man, it did not let me down: it hooked me from the word go.  Sure, to begin with I was a little confused.  But soon everything was clear and I was addicted and then I was halfway through and still reading on, on, on...  Yeah, I love my crime books and this is the first YA thriller that has really, truly captured that gritty, razor-sharp edge I love so much in the adult versions.
Lumikki was a brilliantly different character.  She felt a little cold, a little distant for a while, but I quickly warmed up to her as we got to know her.  She was brave, smart, resourceful and calculating.  From what I could tell, she seemed like a natural at reading people – and a natural actress.  She was strong – so strong that she never asked for help, even when her life was in danger.  She just absolutely intrigued me.  And though she claimed not to be Sherlock Holmes, she certainly thought a lot like him.  And it is so frustrating and amazing that we still don't know her whole backstory.  I'm going to be reading the rest of the series ASAP, just so I can try to understand this fascinating, badass, genius, enigma of a lead girl.
The other characters were a little more meh – not nearly as interesting as Lumikki.  Tuukka and Kasper were kind of dick-like, actually.  But Elisa was so sweet – enthusiastic, a little naive and a little bit broken, but smarter and tougher than she originally appeared.  I also liked how she made Lumikki a little more human – a little more in touch with her emotions.
As for the villains in this book... well, I can't say much, can I?  Can't give spoilers!  All I can say is that they were gangstas.  They were intriguing.  And I have a bad feeling they will come back – the Polar Bear in particular...  
I can't tell you what the original version of this book was like – I don't read Finnish – but I really liked the translation.  Simukka really painted a picture before my eyes, including these awesome seemingly random details that later turned out to mean something.  And I can't quite explain it, but something about Simukka's writing really appealed to me.  She had a way of getting beautiful descriptions into short, sharp sentences – it was such an unusual combination, a formula that shouldn't have worked, and yet it totally did.
The plot... like I said before, I was a little confused to begin with – about how the threads of the story went together.  But soon it was all so brilliantly interlinked and utterly clear.  I liked that we followed different characters' stories, how we got to see into the minds of the good, the bad and the middlings - it worked so well once I'd gone past the first few chapters, once I knew what was going on.  And it was so addictive too!  There was so much build-up, so much suspense, so many teasers about Lumikki's past...  The ending felt a little abrupt, but it also sort of fitted with the story – short, sharp, hard, glistening like frozen snow.  And while this tale was wrapped up, I feel like a new fairy tale built in that last chapter, a new story is about to begin.  And I can't wait to read it.
I'm not going to lie to you, I was kind of expecting a fairy tale retelling, but actually there were just fairy tale references – like how Lumikki means Snow White, the park looked like the Snow Queen had gone through it and a fairy tale-themed party... I quite liked this subtlety – it's so different from all the other fairy-tale retellings out there, mainly thanks to the awesome crime-thriller plot and the fact that it's a key theme (to quote English Lit).  But also because, I think, Simukka took the darkest sides of fairy tales – the warnings that they once contained.  Bad things happen to little girls...  
I've read and enjoyed loads of crime books – including The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which As Red As Blood is a lot like.  But while I love The Dragon Tattoo, but I think I may have enjoyed As Red As Blood more.  Maybe it’s because the characters are nearer to my age.  Maybe it's because Lumikki is fascinating and solitary, not hostile (unless she needs to be).  Maybe it's because there isn't as much horrific violence all the time.  Maybe it's the brilliant vividness the fairy tale theme running through creates.
Or maybe it's because As Red As Blood is a brilliant, exciting and thrilling read that I truly enjoyed – so much so that I really can't wait to read the sequel.  If you're into rather dark crime thrillers with the most interesting lead character I've come across in contemp YA for ages, As Red As Blood is a definite must-read – not to be missed!

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Dark Eyes by William Richter
Street Duty by Chris Ould
Empty Coffin and Vengeance by Gregg Olsen

Happy Reading

* This book was received from Hot Key in exchange for an honest review

Saturday 11 April 2015

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Publisher: Orion Children's Books
Format: Paperback
Published6th November 2014
Number of Pages: 448
Book: For Review*
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Action-Adventure, Contemporary, Gritty-Realism, YA, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol, Drug and Sexual Assault References
Author's Site: Ryan Graudin

“There are three rules of survival in the Walled City:
Right now, my life depends completely on the first.

These streets are a maze.  They twist into themselves – narrow, filled with glowing signs and graffitied walls.
DAI traffics drugs for the most ruthless man in the Walled City.  To find freedom, he needs help from someone who can be invisible…
JIN LING hides under the radar, evading the street gangs as she searches for her lost sister…
MEI YEE survives trapped in a brothel, dreaming of escape while watching the girls who try fail and die.
Damaged and betrayed, can these three find the faith to join forces and escape the stifling city walls?

“Hak Nam Walled City.  A recipe of humanity's darkest ingredients - thieves, whores, murderers, addicts – all mashed into six and a half acres.  Hell on earth, he called it.  A place so ruthless even the sunlight won't enter…”
In a city full of violence, correction, death and abuse, run by a vicious and all-powerful gangster, three teenagers try to find a way out...
Dai has been trapped in the Walled City, smuggling drugs, whilst he attempts to clear his name of a crime he did not commit so he can finally go home.  And he is running out of time.
Jin Ling knows that girls cannot survive in Hak Nam, and so she disguises herself as a boy, stealing to survive, doing her best to seem invisible.  She is searching for her sister, who was sold by their father and is being used as a slave in a brothel.  All Jin Ling wants is to save her sister.
Mei Yee is Jin's lost sister, trapped in a brothel.  She knows that to attempt to escape will get her a fate worse than death – but that doesn't mean she doesn't dream of freedom.
Alone, these three teenagers stand no chance of escaping the Walled City.  But can they make it out together...?  With just eighteen days left...?
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up The Walled City.  Certainly not just how brilliantly dark, dangerous and addictive it turned out to be.  From the moment I began The Walled City, I was just hooked.  I was thinking it would be a dystopian, a fantasy, but it was just... real.  Too real at times.  And that was just so gripping, so shocking.  And so utterly original.  I've never read anything like The Walled City before – and that's saying something.  I've read a lot.  It might not be for everyone, but it was absolutely addictive and amazing and stunning and eye-opening for me. 
Jin Ling was brilliant – clever, brave, fast, caring.  I loved seeing her with her cat, Chma, and with Dai, loved when she thought of her sister, who she protected as best she could.  She was just such an amazing character, one I truly rooted for, from the very beginning, because Jin was fierce, loyal and fearless.
Dai was an enigma – to begin with.  And then... I got him.  And I loved him.  He was brave and solitary and clever and caring.  He was haunted, like everyone in Hak Nam, desperate to get out, but he knew how to save himself, was willing to sacrifice himself for others.  He was, in short, a hero – just as Jin was a heroine.
Mei Yee was perhaps the quietest and subtlest of the heroes, the one who was doubly trapped.  She wasn't badass like Jin and Dai, but she was brave in her own way.  She may have started out as the typical damsel in distress, but she wasn't helpless.  Mei Yee was clever and brave and strong – stronger than she thought, than I thought.  
There were few other characters in the book with large parts – after all, the second rule is to trust no one – but the minor characters all felt so real to me, even the ones that were just memories.  But none were as vibrant and alive as our three narrators.
Because the writing was just... wow.  I love multiple perspectives – like love them to death.  And I adored getting to read from Jin, Dai and Mei Yee's points of view – it made everything so much more vital and intriguing and gave the book more depth.  And Graudin had a way of writing: dark, gritty, suspenseful, addictive.  It utterly put me under a spell and kept me hooked from the very first line to the very last.
The plot was just nonstop: always running, always fighting, always hiding, always sneaking...  It was relentless and so addictive.  And the way Graudin wove these three people together, wove their lives and chances for escape together, was nothing short of genius.  And the action – the running and hiding and fighting... It was like a blockbuster movie put into words.  Like reading a gritty thriller movie, watching it all play in my head...  And yes, some might be... disappointed by the ending.  But I, personally, loved it.  So... there.
This world... it was stifling, oppressive, so very dark and bloody.  I can't believe that this city really existed once, where children are just...  It’s horrible.  And it's still happening, isn't it?  All over the world, so many children are at risk – and this book is, as Ryan herself says, inspired by children who are invisible to most.  It's the dark, hidden world no one wants to admit exists.  Maybe The Walled City is a dystopian, set in a dystopian world inspired by this city that once existed.  But, to me at least, it felt too damn real to be dystopian.  So real and so brutal.  I can't say it's a world I loved reading about, but it was amazingly crafted – and made the three teenagers feel all the stronger for simply surviving in it.
I've read few books that feel utterly original and utterly amazing.  That leave me speechless, leave me reeling.  Leave me... different.  But The Walled City... it was one of those books.  It took my breath away, had me utterly hooked from the very first line.  The Walled City...  It's probably the most original thing I've read for a long time and it was stunning.  
I will say that The Walled City isn't for everyone.  It is dark.  It is brutal.  But it's the kind of book that makes you think – without forcing a message down your throat.  It shows a city based on one that once existed.  It shows a city ruled by corruption, gangs and violence.  It shows you how hard children have to fight to survive, what they are forced to turn into when confronted by the hopelessness and death around them.  It shows you survivors, surviving in their own way, and it makes you feel like you're besides them as they fight.  It's an amazing book that is hard to read at times, but all the better for that fact.  
The Walled City blew me away: it is deep, dark, pretty damn near perfect – I was left speechless for days, unable to say anything but 'My god, READ IT' to all my friends.  The Walled City was simply stunning – I literally can't find the words to truly do it justice.   It put me under a spell, an enchantment, and has left me breathless, needing, absolutely desperately needing, Graudin's new book, Wolf By Wolf.  
And so I conclude this review by pointing out that dystopian worlds don't have to be the same – with revolutions and warriors.  They can be set in a world that is dreadfully real, following three amazing characters as they try to save themselves.  You can write storylines worthy of films or comic books as YA novel, show the darkest sides of the world and create something that is utterly unique, utterly amazing and so freaking brilliant.
I know I'm rambling.  I'm sorry.  But can't you see?  This book, The Walled City, is worthy of my rambling.  It is worthy of nonstop recommendations.  I just...  Ugh, I still don't have the right words.  Just, if want to think whilst being thrilled, if you don't mind darkness and violence, and if you want brave, real characters, read The Walled City.  You will not regret it.  Trust me.  Trust the rambling.  Read The Walled City now. 

Star Rating:
4¾ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
The Fearless by Emma Pass
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Street Duty by Chris Ould

Happy Reading

* This book was received from Indigo in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Black Horizon by M.G. Harris - On The Big Book Project

I loved Black Horizon - it get's four stars from me!  If you want to  see my full review, check out The Big Book Project!
“Caroline, Addison, Ben; welcome to Gemini Force One..."
When Ben Carrington's father dies, his mother decides to set up a mountain-rescue team, based in her homeland Austria.  But when disaster strikes again, she joins forces with a rich businessman and together they create the secretive rescue team named the Gemini Force.
All Ben wants to do is be part of the team – to save people.  But being at college, it's a little hard to convince his mother to let him take part…  
He'll just have to prove himself – while observing the heroic rescues carried out by the Gemini Force, of course.

But he has no idea what is waiting for him aboard Gemini Force One...
I remember watching old reruns of The Thunderbirds with my Dad and younger brothers.  I remember loving the action and quirky humour, even if the puppets and special effects were a bit odd for me.  I was so excited when I heard about Gemini Force One – a modern day Thunderbirds team written for teens?  Yeah, I needed to get my hands on that book as soon as poss.  And I must say, even with all the set-up, this book was truly exciting.  I mean, when you open with someone falling from a plane, a second pilot throwing herself from a second plane to catch him and a Countess and her son climbing out on a ledge of one of the highest buildings in the country to rescue the pilots, you know you're in for an adrenaline-pounding ride.  And I just know that the rest of the series are going to be a million times more amazing, now that the Gemini Force has been set up and established....

The Big Book Project

I'm part of a new Tumblr blogging group, made up of book bloggers and vloggers.  If you're interested in a wide variety of genres and reviewing styles, as well as some (soon to come) different kinds of posts, check us out!