Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Quarterly Challenge Update Post #1

This year I'm partipating in five reading challenges. So far I've managed the following...

                             13/30 read for the OTS Challenge
                             14/30 read for the ODY Challenge
                                     3/10 read for the EBC
                              8/12 read for the GVR Challenge
                            10/20+ read for the BSR Challenge

I think I'm going quite well. Finishing Uglies marked the completion of the BSR Challenge, so I decided to move to the highest level of 20+ books read from series - because the vast majority of the books I read are a part of a series, I think I can easily reach 20+ books.

Here's a list of the books I've read so far, and which challenges they count for: 

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth OTS, ODY, GVR, BSR
2. The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin OTS, ODY, BSR
3. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare OTS, ODY, GVR, BSR
4. The Great Gatsby 
by F.Scott Fitzgerald OTS, ODY, EBC, GVR
5. Ingenue by Jillian Larkin OTS, ODY, BSR
6. Carrier of the Mark 
by Leigh Fallon OTS, ODY, BSR
7. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor OTS, ODY, BSR
8. Wither by Lauren Destefano OTS, ODY, GVR, BSR
9. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross OTS, ODY, GVR, BSR
10. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel OTS, ODY, GVR
11. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer ODY, GVR, BSR
12. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl OTS, ODY, BSR
13. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre OTS, ODY, EBC, GVR
14. Uglies by Scott Westerfield OTS, ODY, EBC, BSR

Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review: Uglies (Uglies #1) by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies (Uglies #1) by Scott Westerfeld 
Release Date: 1st January 2006
Publisher: Baker and Taylor
Format: eBook 
Pages: 432
Rating: 3.5/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2013 OTS, 2013 ODY, 2013 EBC and 2013 BSR

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait for the operation that turns everyone from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to party. But new friend Shay would rather hoverboard to "the Smoke" and be free. Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn't very pretty. The "Special Circumstances" authority Dr Cable offers Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever."

Its been a couple of days since I finished this book, and I'm still not entirely sure what I think about it. I've spent the past couple of days trying to decide what rating to give it, and I've actually found it really hard. In the end, I have to go for 3.5/5 - this book wasn't particularly good, but isn't wasn't particularly bad either - it was an interesting read, but it was also predictable and there were no standout moments for me. 

Don't get me wrong, this book was very interesting. Its an interesting world that's presented, and at first I wasn't entirely happy with it. Obviously, that is the point - this is a dystopian world that we are supposed to identify as wrong in some way. But, the way the 'Rusties' were described at the beginning of the book - I just really didn't like it. The Rusties, a pet-name used to describe what I assumed was 21st century society, were seen as basically barbaric by Tally, and that just really rubbed me the wrong way. I don't know why though - what with Tally being told this her entire life, it's perfectly normal for her to think that why - but I just really, really didn't like it. 

Moving forward, the plot to this story is pretty predictable. You know what Tally's going to have to do when Shay runs away, and what will happen when Tally does reach the Smoke. I have to admit, I wasn't entirely sure what the ending was going to be, but when I found out, it made complete sense - I think it was the perfect way to end the book and clearly sets up what's going to happen in the sequel. Overall, this was an interesting read and I will continue on with the series at some point, but it won't be until some point in the distant future. 

UPDATE: Of course I figure out what else bothered me about the book just after I put up the review - the characters. A lot of these characters were annoying. Tally at the beginning, with her hopes and dreams of becoming pretty, was annoying. Shay, throughout the entire story, annoyed me - whilst she was supposed to be especially annoying at the end, I found her the most annoying at the Smoke, after a certain someone gave Tally a certain something (if you've read the book, you'll know what I mean). And Peris - I thought he was going to be much more involved in the story, but then he just faded into the background. Honestly, some of these characters..

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday (1)

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Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

Oooo this is new! I stumbled onto this meme just a couple of days ago, and since I have so many great books on my wishlist at the moment, I thought I would share some of them with you. 

This week I'm wishing for...

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor 

Summary from Amazon:
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is--and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?"

Why I'm Wishing for It:
I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone earlier this year and I absolutely loved it. That seems to be the way everyone else thought about it too, because I've yet to hear a bad review for it, and the movie rights were snapped up pretty quick. It was obvious to me that I would continue on with the series, I just haven't bought the book yet, but I definitely will (hopefully soon!) 

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Musing Mondays (18)

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Musing Mondays is a weekly Meme by Mizb @ Should Be Reading

This weeks musing asks...Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself/someone else, and why you chose that/those books.

I actually received a book I pre-ordered last year just a couple of days ago - Underworld by Meg Cabot. I read Abandon, the first novel in this series, late last year and I absolutely loved it, so last year at Christmas when I got some money from family and decided to use a portion to buy some books, I pre-ordered Underworld. I really hope this is a good follow-up to Abandon - I really enjoyed the twist on the Persephone and Hades myth, and where the second book was heading was established pretty well at the end of book one - it'll be interesting to see how it goes. 

What about you? Do you have any exciting pre-orders that you're anticipating the release of?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (George Smiley #1) by John le Carre

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (George Smiley #1) by John le Carre
Release Date: June 1974
Publisher: Random House
Format: eBook
Pages: 400
Rating: 3.5/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2013 OTS, 2013 ODY, 2013 EBC and 2013 GVR

Summary from Amazon:"The first novel in John le CarrĂ©'s celebrated and New York Times bestselling Karla trilogy featuring George Smiley, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a heart-stopping tale of international intrigue.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free deliveryThe man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement-especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla—his Moscow Centre nemesis—and sets a trap to catch the traitor."

This book was a bit of a mixed bag for me - some parts I really enjoyed, whilst others I really, really did not. For the first 2/3 or so of the book, I was just really confused - being an espionage novel, there's quite a bit of mystery, which is to be expected, but sometimes it just got way to confusing for me to actually follow the plot. There were so many characters in this novel, that at the beginning I found it hard to a) remember them all and b) discern which were integral to the main story. Ultimately all the characters played some role in the novel, but there were some that I really needed to pay attention too, and at the beginning I found it hard to figure out who these people were. I also found it hard to keep track of what the characters relationships were - at some points, I felt like I needed some sort of diagram showing me how all the characters knew each other.

But, once I started reading the last third of the book, things started to come together. Characters that were really integral to the plot became more obvious, the connections being made were easier to remember, the plot started to make sense, and the book just became more interesting. It took me about 3 weeks to read this book, but the majority of that time was dedicated to that first 2/3 that was confusing - once the book picked up, I flew through it in a couple of days. Overall, I can see that this book would appeal to some people, but it wasn't really for me - a tad too many characters, coupled with a plot that was a tad confusing led to a book that was just a tad interesting.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Just a quick little competition

Whilst transversing the blogsophere the other day, I stumbled upon this AMAZING competition for a Marissa Meyer, aka the author of The Lunar Chronicles, swagpack and I just had to share it, because I loved both Cinder and Scarlet oh so very much. Check is out HERE.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Musing Mondays (17)

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Musing Mondays is a weekly Meme by Mizb @ Should Be Reading

This weeks musing asks...Describe one of your reading habits.

One of the things I always tend to do when I pick up a new book is quickly flip to the back. Mostly I do this to see how long the book is, so I can gauge how long it will take me to read it. I can be put off by books that are over 500 pages long, and I'm more likely to leave those till when I'm on holidays, rather than tackle it during semester. What I used to always do was also quickly scan the last few sentences of the book. I have no idea what would possess me to do that - waaay too much potential of ruining the book (in fact I think I did ruin a book or two by reading the last few sentences) - luckingly I've broken out of that habit!

What about you? Do you jump to the end of a book before you start reading it?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Know Me Better (11)

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Know Me Better is a weekly Meme by Inspired Kathy
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

This weeks questions are...

What was the last thing that made you cry?
The movie Red Dog just last night - animals dying in films gets me every damn time. 

What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

I don't actually do many chores. It's 'highly recommended' to me that I give my bedroom a thorough cleaning at least once every 3 months, which basically means that my room gets striped, everything is dusted and every corner is vacuumed. 

What is your favourite form of exercise?
Walking, generally with my dog tagging along. 

What is your current desktop picture?
It's a collection of all the Lifescouts badges I've collected, Lifescouts being the adult version of boy/girl scouts . If you're interested in what Lifescouts is take a look here

You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where would you go?
Europe, hands down. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Movie News - Tris and Four are cast, DOSAB has a screenwright, and Mockingjay is split

It's been a while since I wrote a post concerning movie adaptations, because it's not often that I read a book before it's translated to the big screen. More often than not, movies actually introduce me to new books - The Hunger Games, The Mortal Instruments and The Caster Chronicles were all brought to my attention when I heard about the films or saw the trailers. BUT, I actually have some thoughts on some upcoming films which are based on books that I've already read - for once I'm ahead!

1. Divergent Casting
If you've been reading my book reviews, you guys would know that I absolutely loved Divergent when I read it earlier this year (my review here). And no sooner had I finished the book that news came out that it was being adapted for film. What with the success of The Hunger Games, dystopian films are all the rage right now. The film's currently in pre-production and will be released sometime next year, and only a little information about the casting has been made public - but we do have our two leads! 

Shailene Woodley was cast a little while ago as our female lead Tris. To be honest, I'm still not sure on this casting. Woodley didn't jump out to me as the perfect choice, not the way Jennifer Lawrence did with Katniss. But, Woodley can act - she's proven herself in Secret Life of an American Teenager and The Descendants. I'll be interested to see how Woodley goes - I'm still not convinced she's the absolute perfect choice for Tris, but she could prove me wrong. 

More recently we were told who has been cast as our male lead Four - Theo James. You might recognise him from The Inbetweeners Movie or Downton Abbey, where he had a small part yonkers ago playing Kemal Pamuk. Personally, James is an unknown to me, so I have no idea what his acting abilities are like. Again, I'll be interested to see how James goes.

Alongside Woodley and James, Kate Winslet is set to appear in the film, but what role she will play is still under wraps. It's been theorised that she'll either play Jeanine or  Tris' mother, both roles that Winslet could easily rock. Also, Zoe Kravitz - is it just me who thinks she is the perfect fit for Christina?!?

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
I was super excited when I heard that Daughter of Smoke and Bone is being turned into a movie. It's very early days yet, but we do have a screenwright - Stuart Beattie, who is responsible for Pirates of the Caribbean. I really hope Beattie is able to translate DOSAB well - I think it could be a bit tricky, but if it's done right, I've no doubt this movie will be amazing.

3. Mockingjay will be 2 films
The 3rd installment of The Hunger Games film franchise will be split into two films. Whether or not this is the right decision, I'm not 100% sure. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was split into two films and that worked out, but I think everyone can agree that one Breaking Dawn film would have sufficed. I think, if done right, splitting Mokingjay in half could work - I think there is just enough material in the book to fit into two films. Finding a place to stop the first film and start the second is probably going to be tricky, but I think that's always going to be the tricky part of splitting a story into 2 sections. The Hunger Games was an amazing film, so I think it's safe to assume that the sequels are going to be amazing too (at least I really hope so). And, one of my main gripes with the first film was that it cut out some important plot points - splitting Mockingjay into two films is sure to solve tihs problem!

What about you? Have you read Divergent? What about Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Are you excited for their upcoming movies?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures (The Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures (The Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Maraget Stohl
Release Date: 1st December 2009
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Format: Paperback 
Pages: 563
Rating: 5.0/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2013 OTS, 2013 ODY and 2013 BSR

Summary from Amazon:

"There were no surprises in Gatlin County
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
buy the book from The Book Depository, free deliveryThere was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything."

Ooooo did I enjoy this book. Let's keep this short and sweet. I really enjoyed basically everything about this book - the plot, the characters, the supernatural themes, the romance, the twists and turns. I really liked how the history and romance of Ethan Carter Wate and Genevieve Duchannes was intertwined with Lena and Ethan's romance, and ultimately their future. However, I did think that the ending was a bit of a cop out - it seemed like the easy way out that allowed the story to continue in more books. But, overall, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the sequal (and seeing the movie too, but I've heard mixed things about it - well, at least I hope it's good!)

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