Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Here are Five Reasons Why You Should Join a Book Club

Full disclosure, I'm not a member of a book club right now, but I have been a member of one, and I would definitely join one again. 

(And you would willingly enter a social situation why?)

Usually for food. Sometimes to be dramatic. Occasionally to tease, troll, and annoy.

But mainly for books.

1. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

If you're in a book club, everybody gets a turn at choosing the book. Everybody. You can be reading zombie fiction one week, and walking through the streets of Elizabethan Britain the next.

2. Spread the Love

Which, of course, means that you sometimes get to pick. You can literally force people to read your favourite books. Do not tell me that this does not appeal to you.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18665033-the-gospel-of-loki?ac=1&from_search=true
My pick was deemed "weird" for some reason...

3. You Know that Feeling When You've Read an Awesome Book and Have No One to Discuss it With?

Book clubs were created to combat it. You get to talk in great length about what you liked/disliked without anybody telling you to shut up or changing the subject. And, even better, you are not just rambling aimlessly. They have read the book, so they know what you're talking about.

4. Get Out of the Book-Cave

Unfortunately, humans do need to have a certain amount of contact with other humans. Joining a book club occasionally forces you out from beneath your collapsed TBR pile and into conversation.

5. Where Else are You Going to Find the Other Main Characters?

When you inevitably fall through a portal into another world/discover your headteacher is demon spawn/run into fairies in the middle of town, you will not want to be in it alone. 

(Unless you're the designated loner.)


Ivy has her personal story all planned out. Though I doubt she plans to join up with the heroes later.

(They'll only slow me down with their silly moralising.)

Don't be like Ivy. Join a book club and ensure that, when your town turns into a dystopian wasteland overnight, you have some red shirts to throw at the zombie horde.

Tell me about your book club. Would you sacrifice them to whatever supernatural terror is secretly living among the people of your town? If you're not in one, would you like to be?

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Looking back on June! (Sunday Post #4)

http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/the-sunday-post-meme

Sunday Post is run by Kimba at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

News from the Blogging Front

I'm home from uni, so I've actually managed to stick to my schedule over the last couple of weeks.

(Hallelujah! Miracles do happen.)

Most popular post this month: Sunday Post #3 - Summer Reading 

I can't say I'm surprised, link-ups always seem to be more popular than everything else...

Least popular post this month: Percy Jackson and the Greek Heroes (or Your Own Personal Odyssey)

...And reviews always seem to be less so. 

 News from the Reading Front

I've added two more books to my TBR.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23357071-frozen-charlotte?ac=1&from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24934065-rebel-of-the-sands?ac=1&from_search=true


















Let it never be said that I have impulse control.

This month, I've finished four books (click link for review).

The Masked City - 5 Stars

A Darker Shade of Magic - 4 Stars

Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes - 4 Stars

Merlin: The Poisoned Chalice - 3 Stars 

I'm approaching the climax of Daylight Saving, so you can expect a review for that within the next couple of weeks. 

News from the Writing Front

http://campnanowrimo.org/campers/midnight_dragon

For July, I've decided to write Something Rotten, which I originally came up with as an excuse to play around with Gothic tropes. You can find the synopsis here. My goal is 31,000, so 1000 words a day. It will be easier to meet the goal than it will be to fight off the shelved story that constantly vies for my attention whenever I start anything new.

News from the Net

22 Struggles That Are Way Too Real For Jane Austen Heroines - Whilst procrastinating on my packing, I found this excellent link I thought I'd share with you. 

So that was June. How was yours? Read any good books?
 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Beautiful People - Childhood Mistakes

http://paperfury.com/beautiful-people-18/

As always, Beautiful People is hosted by Cait at Paper Fury, and Skye at Further Up and Further In.

This month's Beautiful People is not actually called Childhood Mistakes. It's just called Childhood, plain and simple. Unfortunately for the characters of my July Camp NaNo story, the plot rises and falls on mistakes they made back when they were far too young to understand the gravity of their decisions. 

Today, I'm going to introduce you to Jonah. He turns fourteen in the story so technically he's still a child. But I'm sure he'd refute that. When I first concieved this story, back before it involved anything remotely magical, he was a side character, and a minor one at that. Now he's the main character...or, at least, the side character had the same name.

(Do not even ask.)

What is their first childhood memory?

A flash of amber from above. He reckons he was probably lying on his back.

What were their best and worst childhood experiences?

The worst is a spoiler the size of Neptune. The best was either winning a butterfly race in a gala, or reaching the top of Mount Snowdon on a clear day.

What was their childhood home like?

He still lives there. It's small, and most of the furniture is cheap and patched beyond belief. It's been cluttered and half-decorated for a while, but it wasn't always. It has, however, always been rather messy.

What's something that scared them as a child?

As a very small child, he thought that he saw something at his window one evening and, after that, he wouldn't open his curtains. On his seventh birthday, he acquired a fear of storms (more specifically, thunder and lightning) that never went entirely away.

Who did they look up to the most?

Jonah was never really one for role models. He used to pick the doctor who'd dealt with him and his dad when he had to name one at school, but only because it was expected, and easy enough to explain.

Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?

Jonah's always loved milk, and he's never liked anything purple. Beetroot, eggplant... It's just not natural (even when it is). 

If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?

Where he went for his seventh birthday. But he's not going to have it again because, without his seventh birthday, I wouldn't have a plot.

What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious? 

Jonah was the hot-tempered little handful to Noah's timid little crybaby. Their dynamic is entirely different now that they're older.

What was their relationship with their parents and siblings like? 

He doesn't have any siblings, and he was always closer to his mother than his father. 

What did they want to be when they grew up? What did they actually become?

Though he'd never have admitted it, he wanted to be more like Noah. By which I mean calm, easy-going, even-tempered.

He became a liar.   



Who's ready for Camp NaNo? Link me to your Beautiful People posts!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

When One London Just Isn't Enough - A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

4/5

'"What sons our parents have," said Kell gently, "Between the two of us, we'll tear the whole world down."' - V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic, page 380

A Darker Shade of Magic is a tale of four Londons. The plot passes through all four, smuggling a magical artifact, a hero, and a heroine along with it. There's Red London, where magic runs freely through everyone's veins, Grey London, where George IV rules as regent king, White London, where magic corrupts and people kill, and Black London, which is dead. Incidentally, this Buzzfeed Quiz decided that I am a resident of Black London. God knows what this means for my health.   

Kell is an Antari, a person who can travel between worlds. He's considered a member of Red London's royal family, however, he's not a real member, and feels excluded as a result. Kell is a dynamic, sarcastic anti-hero. And he angsts a lot.

(So he's the best kind of anti-hero?)

Exactly. I love an angsty hero. Half of the conflict stems from his own stupid decisions, and the other half stems from his loyalty to Prince Rhy, his adoptive brother. After the first page, I didn't think that it was possible for me to like a character more than I liked Kell. I was wrong. Rhy is brilliant. Kell might say that he's more responsible than Rhy, but I honestly felt like they kept tossing the title of most responsible sibling back and forth between them. 

Of course, there has to be a heroine, and A Darker Shade of Magic has Delilah, or Lila, Bard. At first, I didn't like her at all, but she grew on me. By the end of the novel, I kind of wanted to be her. Lila is a street thief, a capable fighter, and a wannabe pirate. She's from our London - Grey London - and all she wants is freedom.

The world-building is brilliant. You can't mix the Londons up. They might share a name, but the people, magic, and culture are completely different. The story doesn't get bogged down in exposition, with Kell's initial trips to Grey and White London both setting up important plot points. 

Believe the hype. There's a good reason why this seems to be the fantasy series of the year. 

Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? And don't forget to take the quiz and tell me which London you belong in.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

I Changed My Mind About These Five Books

And I never change my mind. Never.

(It's just bad policy.)

Exactly. If you're going to be wrong, the least you can do is be consistent about it.  

1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

(I thought you just said -)

Ivy, for once in your life, shut up.

Besides, this one hardly counts. It was a 4-star read when I first read it, but shot up to 5-star when I realised that it had become my benchmark for YA.  

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23403402-a-darker-shade-of-magic2. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

At first, I hated Lila. Given that A, she has a POV, and B, she's the HEROINE, this impacted on how much I enjoyed the book.

By the end of the novel, I wanted to be her. Enough said.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8316309-the-double-edged-sword3. The Double Edged Sword by Sarah Silverwood   

According to my review, the beginning was okay, the middle was dull, and the main character was a little cliche. 

But the sequel is proving impossible to find, which, naturally, makes it a series I need to finish.

https://giphy.com/gifs/batman-dc-comic-RO9VDe4SULS7K
  
4. Spylets are Forever by Jill Marshall

The first time I read this, I did not understand it at all and thought it was an awful ending to one of my favourite childhood series.

A couple of years later, I reread it and thought that it was utter genius. Apparently, child-Rain never worked out that she was reading sci-fi.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25394092-the-raven-king5. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Please don't ask me to give a coherent opinion on this novel. My opinion on it changes daily.
  
Have you ever changed your mind about a book? 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Rumours, Romance, and Reputation - Easy A (15)

And now for something completely different. 


5/5
  
"Ironically, we were studying The Scarlet Letter. Now, isn't that always the way? The books you read in class always seem to have some strong connection with whatever angsty adolescent drama is going on." - Olive

Easy A (15) is basically The Scarlet Letter, if The Scarlet Letter was set in a 21st century American high school. Olive Penderghast is a brilliantly relatable heroine. By which I mean that she sings along to songs that she claims to hate, and wishes that her life was more like an 80's film. With it's own really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. She's also sarcastic, intelligent, and, of course, completely invisible to her peers. To get out of going camping at the weekend with her best friend, Rhiannon, she invents a date. On Monday, Rhiannon wants the details. Olive awkwardly makes a few things up, Rhiannon jumps to all the wrong conclusions, the extremely pious Marianne overhears, and it all just escalates from there... 

Easy A is a hilarious teen comedy thanks to Olive's dry wit, a metric ton of references, and it's determination to get Natasha Bedingfield's Pocketful of Sunshine stuck in your head.

Worst. Song. Ever.
Worst. Song. Ever.
However, it's also a film about double standards, the rumour mill, and the seesaw that is reputation. Anyone who has been to secondary school has dealt with rumours. Whether you've started them, spread them, or merely been the subject of them, rumours are the currency of secondary school. Most of them go away after a week or two to be replaced with new ones, about new people. The rumour mill never stops turning. Olive's reputation does a complete 180 as the result of rumours. She goes from invisible to notorious and universally hated.

https://giphy.com/gifs/emma-stone-easy-a-Sg0NDbQBlOmNG

(She has the worst best friend in the world.)

I know, right?
 

Of course, the rumours aren't true. This does not, however, stop several boys from using Olive's new reputation to boost their own reputations. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester 'bore her punishment in humble silence.' Olive, not so much. And that's why we love her. She doesn't shy away from all the attention. She encourages it, right up until she sets the record straight.


https://giphy.com/gifs/emma-stone-easy-a-olive-penderghast-ng1SKhEcxO9i0

Five out of five for a teen comedy that'll make you laugh and make you think.

Have you seen Easy A? Did you like it?

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman (or Another Excuse to Gush About The Invisible Library Series)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25761086-the-masked-city
5/5

"I was wrong, ran through her head. It wasn't a threat to us. It wasn't a threat to me. It was a threat to Kai, and I left him alone, and they caught him." - Genevieve Cogman, The Masked City, page 51


The sequel to The Invisible Library (my review - warning for excessive geeking and gushing) does not drop the ball. It takes it, dribbles it down the court, and scores the winning basket.

Irene (with Kai, of course) has taken up the position of librarian-in-residence in Vale's world. Everything is going swimmingly until Kai is kidnapped. To get him back, Irene heads to a Fae-infested alternate Venice. Alone. 

I recently found out that there are going to be at least five books in this series so, whilst I currently think that this was a character-building book, it is entirely possible that the plot threads and villains introduced are going to be important later on. I say it's a character-building book, but it doesn't really build anyone up. Instead, it tears Kai down. We all love Kai, right? I mean, he's a cocky, badass [insert spoiler here] who manages to get his foot stuck in his eagerness to kick something to pieces...but the events of this book were guaranteed to do a number on him. For Irene, it's more about her loyalties, and the order in which they fall.


The Masked City also delves more deeply into both the worlds of both the dragons and the fae. The fae treat their lives like stories, acting as an archetype within it. In fae-infested Venice, Irene uses the language in a way that reflects this. And it is brilliant. And genius. And I'd like the next one right now, please.

Have you started this series yet? Are you ready for The Burning Page?

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of the Year

http://www.brokeandbookish.com/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html
It feels like ages since I've linked up with the guys over at the Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday.

(I assure you, it's not.)

Today, we're talking about our most anticipated releases for the rest of 2016. Most of my most anticipated releases are coming out in early 2017. Go figure.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29345916-the-burning-page 1. The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

The third book in The Invisible Library series. The last one left us on a little bit of a cliffhanger and having to wait for The Burning Page is causing me physical pain.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26874946-the-hammer-of-thor?ac=1&from_search=true2. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan


Sequel to The Sword of Summer. Thor is always losing his hammer in the myths. Usually, it's stolen. Usually, he's the one who gets it back. But, of course, the Gods of Riordan's world have heroes to do poxy little jobs like that for them. I would put money on one of the guys (Magnus. Magnus. Magnus.) having to disguise himself as a bride. 

(I know I'm going to regret asking this, but why?)

For totally plot-relevant reasons, of course.

https://giphy.com/gifs/thor-lightning-the-dark-world-Ch1zCx8tu6DQY
Lost: One Hammer. Return to Thor. Reward: Your Life.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29056083-harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

Here's hoping that the library will get this in...and that seven hundred people haven't already reserved it.

(Is that it?!)

Hey! I did say that there weren't many.
(Yes, but three? Three? How is it worth linking up for three novels. And not even three novels. The Harry Potter one's a play. I can't believe this! I mean, I can believe this, it's you, but still -)

...I think she's going to be going for a while.

Which 2016 releases are you still desperately waiting for? Link me to your TTT posts! 

Thursday, 9 June 2016

I'm Sorry, But the Love Triangle is a Zombie.

"Love is boring. Lovers even more so." - Joanne Harris, The Gospel of Loki

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18621194-half-badhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21936988-the-sin-eater-s-daughter?search_version=servicehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12885649-the-hunger-games

You hear it all the time. "Not another love triangle."  "It was good, apart from the love triangle." "Why does every story need a love triangle?" And, I'm not going to disagree. Frankly, love triangles seem to have become a box-ticking cliche in YA fiction. That's not to say that they cannot be done well. They can. 

(When they're not just bunged in because YA, that is.)

Well said. Unfortunately, love triangles are like zombies. They just don't seem capable of dying, or even going into temporary hibernation on Avalon to wait for their second coming.
You can find love triangles in...

Arthurian Mythology 

Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot is probably the most famous love triangle of all time. Not to mention Guinevere/Lancelot/Elaine, and Mark/Isolde/Tristan, which came before both of the above and is thought to have been adopted into Arthurian legend. All three of these end in death and, one of them at least, is reguarly blamed for the fall of an entire kingdom.

Classical Mythology 

Thousands. 
  • Menelaus/Helen/Paris is probably the most famous. It ended in the Trojan war. That's right, thousands died over a love triangle. And you thought implying that Bella should've ended up with Jacob was a bad idea...
  • Agamemnon/Clytemnestra/Aegisthus, and Clytemnestra/Agamemnon/Cassandra. Ended in murder. Also, it might never have happened if Agamemnon hadn't left to fight in the Trojan war. Nice going, Paris and Helen.
  • Hephastus/Aphrodite/Ares
  • Apollo/Hyacinthus/Zephyr. Ended in murder.
  • And so on and so forth... Pretty much all of them ended the same way. In tragedy. The Ancient Greeks hated happy endings.
Norse Mythology

Sigyn/Loki/Angrboda. Interestingly, the affair produces monstrous children (though that may have something to do with the parents being frost giants, this being mythology, and Loki being the father than anything else). The children from the affair are also the ones who get to survive (until Ragnarok, at least).

Gothic Fiction

Usually two or more per novel. After all, jealousy and revenge are such good excuses for committing terrible wrongs. There's Heathcliff/Catherine/Edgar, and Linton/Cathy/Hareton in Wuthering Heights. The Monk has Matilda/Ambrosio/Antonia, and Lorenzo/Antonio/Ambrosio. Of course, this is Gothic fiction, so it's better for your stomach if you don't trace any of their family trees.

Most Classics

Jane/Rochester/Blanche, and Rochester/Jane/St. John in Jane Eyre, one in pretty much every Austen novel, and let's not even get started on Shakespeare...

Actual History 

Unfortunately, this trope is based on real life. Mark Anthony/Cleopatra/Julius Caesar ended in death, and Catherine of Aragon/Henry VIII/Anne Boleyn started with divorce and ended with execution.

To sum up, this trope has survived the fall of Camelot, the Trojan war, Ragnarok, the sheer ickiness of Gothic love triangles, Austen novels, and millenia of real-life royals. It is not going to die simply because it's hit a snag. Sooner or later, it'll fall out of fashion and return to being a what it once was - a motive, pure and simple. A way for writers to foster jealousy and breed suspiscion. A way to topple kingdoms, and make good men turn their coats. Not just a way to drive a wedge between brothers.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18067050-unbreakable

The love triangle may seem like it's on its last legs, but it will undoubtedly rise again. Probably twenty times more powerful.

(Lord, help us.)

 What's the best love triangle you've ever read? What's the worst?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Percy Jackson and the Greek Heroes (or Your Own Personal Odyssey)

4/5

'"The Gods will be with us! We've come this far. We can do it!"
The crew didn't look convinced.' - Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Greek Heroes

Percy Jackson and the Greek Heroes is basically Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods, but with Hercules instead of Hera.  In typical Riordan style, the stories of twelve heroes from classical mythology are told. 
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26050542-percy-jackson-and-the-greek-heroes
  • Perseus - The one with the happy ending.
  • Psyche - The one with the wicked mother-in-law.
  • Phaethon - The one who drives worse than Thalia Grace.
  • Otrera - The original amazon.
  • Daedalus - The one we all remember from Battle of the Labyrinth.
  • Theseus - The one with ADD.
  • Atalanta - The one whose parents followed Spartan advice for what to do with unwanted children.
  • Bellerophon - The one whocouldn't do anything right.
  • Cyrene - The one who attracted two Olympians.
  • Orpheus - The dude with the lyre.
  • Hercules - The one with anger issues.
  • Jason - Bonus points for the gratuitous shout-outs to Jason Grace. 
 It's funny, sarcastic, and filled to the brim with anachronisms. It's also long

(517 pages to be exact.) 

Seriously, reading this book is like taking your own personal odyssey. I personally took it a hero at a time, treating each chapter like a short story. That said, Hercules is over 100 pages all by himself. This book is nothing if not thorough. It doesn't contain every version of every myth about every Greek hero ever -

(Thank God.)

- But it'll give you a good grounding. More to the point, it isn't all the same stories we've heard before. Sure, we all know about Jason, and Hercules has his own Disney film, for crying out loud, but who's heard of Cyrene? Or Bellerophon? I knew Perseus killed Medusa, but I didn't know that he married Andromeda. Unless you're a classical Greek scholar, there is no way on earth that you will come away from this book thinking, "That was a waste of several millenia," because there is no way on earth that you'll know everything inside it. 

Four stars for another awesome Percy Jackson book. This series is like a zombie - it just can't die. :)

Have you read this one? Do you have a favourite Greek hero?