Friday, 31 May 2013

Exams are over - so time for a giveaway!

I've finished my exams! My first year of uni is officially over. This exam period has probably been the most stressful exam period I've ever experienced and you cannot understand the relief I feel that I no longer have to stay up all night trying to cram cases and remember what the mens rea of some offence is. I am SO happy. I probably failed all my exams and will have to retake the year, BUT I AM FINALLY FREE. So to celebrate I'm hosting just a little giveaway which will run for a week. You have the chance to win a book that I read a few months ago and really enjoyed - Insignia! The sequel is out soon so you can catch up before release. Good luck! Open to anywhere The Book Depository ships. Giveaway ends Friday 7th June 2013. Fill in the form below the book description to enter.

Side note: I know I have been terrible at commenting. I will be commenting more now I am not drowning in revision.

Insignia (Insignia #1)Insignia (Insignia #1) by S. J. Kincaid
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: August 2nd 2012
Find it on Goodreads

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.
(from Goodreads)

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Released: May 23rd 2013
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

It's been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain.

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back...
(from Goodreads)

Well. The journey has been long, my friends. I have read my fair share of angel books. Hush, Hush, Halo, Fallen...they all disappointed me. Then Unearthly and Angel came along, which I raced through, and I was finally starting to believe that perhaps angel books weren’t all bad after all. Recently, there was Hidden, which had so much potential but was a bit of a letdown. I was losing faith again. However, fear not, fellow book-lovers. Angelfall has blown all other angel books out of the water. I might even like it more than Unearthly, and I really liked Unearthly. And to think, had I not been sent this book for review, I probably never would have read it. I hadn’t heard much about it before a few months ago, and the thought pains me! All YA fans need to read this book. If you, like I, have had trouble with angel books before, then Angelfall is the perfect thing to restore your faith in them.

The first thing you need to know about Angelfall is that the angels in this book were not cutesy little feathery friends, or do-gooders sent to give humanity a helping hand. They were the source of mass death and destruction – they killed and destroyed and some even performed horrific experiments, seemingly just for the sake of it (though I’m betting we’ll get more explanation in the future books). They used humans like they were toys and didn’t give a damn about their lives. They weren’t just evil though. Much like humans, there was more to it than that. Half of them were carrying out orders, but they didn’t know why they were even on Earth in the first place. There seemed to be a divide in loyalties. Disagreements about what was going on. To be honest, the angel world was left a little bit of a mystery. But this being the first of five (or maybe even more) books, I’m not surprised. The angels were so intriguing because although they were much stronger and lighter and faster than humans, they weren’t completely separated, otherworldly, celestial beings either. They weren’t so different from us in some ways, as much as they would hate to admit it. I really want to find out more about them and where they come from (and who gives the orders, because I’m feeling there might be some kind of conspiracy – but then I tend to get carried away with things...I always think there’s a conspiracy...), but I guess I’ll have to wait for future books!

Penryn was just...awesome. I loved her. I really did. She had adapted to this new and dangerous environment so quickly because she knew she had to in order to keep her family safe. She loved her little sister so much that she was willing to do anything to save her, and in this book I had faith that Penryn really could save her, because she was actually really clever and had good instincts. She already knew how best to survive, even though she used to lead a normal teenager’s life. She also had a sense of loyalty to the people she cared about, which I admired. She stood up for herself – there was one scene with a despicable sexist horrible disgusting oh-my-God-I-hated-him-so-much man called Boden, and he really was a piece of work that had no trouble attacking people for practically no reason. I was so glad that Penryn was able to fight back and teach this guy a lesson – thank God she could. What scared me most was that there were plenty of people in that compound who weren’t as strong as Penryn and who had to live with that terrible man on a day to day basis. I felt so bad for them. Though I have to admit, it was satisfying to see all the shocked faces when Penryn won her fight – everyone thought she would lose. She earned their respect after that, but really, it shouldn’t have taken a fight to get people to respect her. It was sad in a way. However, Penryn’s sense of humour throughout the book helped make the gloomy scenes a bit more bearable, and her interactions with Raffe were just so funny at times!

Raffe was...ah. Can words describe him really? He was mostly a mystery, there was a lot about him left unrevealed. But he was essentially an angel who fought to destroy the dangerous offspring of humans and angels. Humans were really nothing to him at first, he tried to stay away from them as much as possible. But then he fell out of favour with some other angels and had his wings cut off. Enter Penryn and the start of their rocky relationship. I just loved the way their relationship developed. They started off really not giving a crap about what happened to the other. Penryn just wanted to find her sister, and Raffe just wanted his wings back. They argued and fought but eventually had to come to a reluctant alliance and work together. And as they got to spend more time together...well. It was complicated. Really complicated. After years of despising human-angel relationships, Raffe couldn’t exactly give in now. And Penryn was too preoccupied with saving her sister than to worry about weird feelings. Except there was this undeniable THING between them both and it was just...ah. I loved it. I loved how this relationship was written. No insta-love. No “love will make everything okay”. And the ending. The ENDING. It was... Brilliant. I mean, I loved the plot in general, the way things were unravelled, how the ominous and sinister lives the angels led were explored, how the humans were treated as mere toys for entertainment – it was disturbing and horrific – but then the ENDING. Oh my God. I don’t even know. I don’t know why. I NEED the next book I tell you, I NEED IT!

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book. And I am really, really desperate for the next one (why such a long wait, why!). Recommended to all YA fans (I know a lot of people have said the gruesome scenes may put people off, but guys, I usually hate horror/gore or anything like that, and while some parts in this book were unsettling, I still loved it overall), but especially to those who think the angel genre is a lost cause, because I am positive this book will change your mind.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #53


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Vortex (Insignia #2) by S. J. Kincaid
July 2nd 2013
Find it on Goodreads

The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.

Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.

Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?

Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III
Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship. (from Goodreads)

I loved Insignia so much. I haven't posted a review of it (yet) but trust me, it was awesome. And after everything that happened and everything they found out - ugh! I just need the next book now. Plus, the characters. I love them. I need to know what's going to happen to them! There's some complicated stuff going on with them all (I know this is so vague, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers :P) and I am very curious about how everything will pan out. Definitely recommend this series if you haven't started it yet!

What are you waiting on this week?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Released: April 11th 2013
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

London, 1894. Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself-working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumours about her father′s gruesome experiments. But when she learns her father is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations were true.

Juliet is accompanied by the doctor′s handsome young assistant and an enigmatic castaway, who both attract Juliet for very different reasons. They travel to the island only to discover the depths of her father′s madness: he has created animals that have been vivisected to resemble, speak, and behave as humans. Worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island′s inhabitants. Juliet knows she must end her father′s dangerous experiments and escape the island, even though her horror is mixed with her own scientific curiosity. As the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father′s genius-and madness-in her own blood.
 (from Goodreads)

I wanted to read The Madman’s Daughter because it sounded like it would be a creepy and disturbing tale of the search for the truth about Juliet’s father’s terrible experiments and their consequences...and creepy it was. I have not read The Island of Dr Moreau, which the book is a retelling of, but I do know the basic plot, so I was really interested to read a new take on the story. I do think some things let the book down, but overall, it was an enjoyable read, and I’m invested enough to want to find out what happens next in book two.

The beginning drew me in because there was a very ominous and creepy atmosphere that set the tone for the rest of the book. Juliet was working as a maid in the medical labs of a university, and was often watched by Dr Hastings, who was quite frankly a disgusting excuse for a human being and I’m glad Juliet did what she did, even if it meant losing her job. Losing her job however did mean that Juliet had no money and nowhere to go. If she hadn’t found Montgomery, an old assistant of her father, out of chance earlier, she would have been forced to the streets. Finding Montgomery also meant finding out that her disgraced father was still alive. She was determined to go with Montgomery to her father’s island to find out whether the rumours about his horrific experiments were true – she didn’t want to believe they were and she needed to see for herself. This is something that struck me as odd about Juliet. She was clearly an intelligent girl. She knew the rumours were likely true about her father. Her memories of her father never showed him as an especially caring or loving man – he was always consumed by work, and then he later abandoned her and her mother. Yet despite all of this, despite warnings from Montgomery not to go to the island, Juliet wanted to go to anyway. I didn’t understand what she expected – some sort of happy reunion? Despite this not fitting with anything she had heard about her father? It was only later when Juliet discovered the truth about her father that I begun to understand that she may have had another motive too – she was terrified that she would inherit her father’s madness, that the times when she often felt strange and too curious about morbid things were due to her father’s insanity. She was scared she would end up like him.

Juliet was not the most likeable of characters, but I could understand her for the most part. I felt she was often judgmental and slightly hypocritical – but she was raised a lady and was then forced into poverty after her mother died and she was left all alone so her cold and harsh attitude wasn’t surprising. What did annoy me about her was the way she flitted back and forth between Montgomery and Edward, the love interests in yes, the love triangle. Fair enough that she was attracted to and desired both of them. It’s not like she made any promises to either of them. But she kept changing her mind and it was so ugh. She claimed that she loved Montgomery, yet she never really showed it and spent half her time fantasising about Edward who she barely knew. She didn’t treat either of the boys well (though they had secrets of their own which were bad enough) and I was just kind of confused why any of them liked each other, to be honest. But the romance scenes were good (though oddly morbid in some ways...guess that suits the tone of the book), so I’m not too bothered.

Montgomery was a character who was hard not to like, despite all the things he had been manipulated into doing by Juliet’s father. He felt guilty about the things he had done, and thought he didn’t deserve someone like Juliet. He looked after those who had been experimented on, and in a way they were the only family he had. He knew what Juliet’s father was doing was wrong and yet he stayed because he did want to leave them behind. And he had been on the island so long, he really didn’t know how else to live life. I don’t know that I would have forgiven him so easily though, for lying to Juliet so many times. His attempts to protect her by shielding her from the truth reeeally didn’t work out so well. I have no idea what he was thinking, agreeing to take Juliet to the island in the first place. It must have been his desire to be with her showing, because I have no clue why else he would think it would be a good idea.

Edward was...okay. He got attached to Juliet too quickly in my opinion and it made me suspicious of him. He has secrets of his own and while he didn’t seem like a terrible person, he wasn’t exactly guilt-free either.

Plot-wise, I found the experiments to be disturbing and I think Juliet’s father’s obsession was depicted well – he refused to give up, refused the evidence in front of him, all so he could bask in the glory of his creations and go on to experiment further to create even “greater” things. He was so detached from the world and anything that didn’t involve his work that he’d lost all sense of how to interact with people and just deluded himself. He was just so heartless and sinister, I don’t know why Juliet put up with him for so long. His experiments weren’t really explained – there was no reason behind how they worked or what he did exactly, but then again, I’m not sure I would want to know. Some things were a bit repetitive at times but it wasn’t too bad. The mystery aspects I found a bit obvious – I guessed most of it, but I am curious to see how it will all be explored in the next book. I also hope we get to see more of Lucy, Juliet’s friend, who we only saw right at the start of the book before Juliet left England.

Overall, while The Madman’s Daughter was not without its flaws, it was engaging and worth reading. Recommended for fans of books with a creepy atmosphere and people who like retellings.
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