Monthly Archives

January 2015

Books, Vampire

Blood Shadows – Lindsay J. Pryor* | book review

January 30, 2015

This book gave me a hard time when I was trying to figure out how I felt about it; there were parts I loved and it was unpredictable for the most part, but in other places it was very predictable and felt a bit stale. 

VCU agent Caitlin Parish finds herself having to turn to Kane Malloy, a master vampire who she has been hunting for years, for help when she realises that her life is under threat and that he is the only person who has and can give her the answers she needs.

Kane on the other hand has his own agenda and needs her for something just as much as she needs him.

For about 50% of Blood Shadows we are alone with Kane and Caitlin as they go around in circles trying to get what they need from each other and that’s where the book gets predictable and slow at times. On a couple of occasions it begins to feel like the sex scenes are in there to keep your interest.

Which leads me to my next point: this book is absolutely adult and there are fairly graphic, steamy, sex scenes in it. Pryor doesn’t entirely fall into the trap of ramming the book (no pun intended) with sex scenes, though there are a couple of instances where it got a bit old. Perhaps that’s just me though because I tend to mostly read YA where a sex scene lasts two sentences at most and it’s entirely wonderful and there are unicorns.

Our two main characters are equally interesting and have detailed and complex back stories, which kept my interest. I couldn’t decide who I was rooting for most because I loved both characters and wanted the best for both of them.

When other characters re-appear around 60% through the book that’s when things begin to get really interesting and very unpredictable and I absolutely loved that and couldn’t put it down.

Blood Shadows is told from the perspective of both Kane and Caitlin and the switches in point of view are marked clearly so it doesn’t get confusing.

The last couple of chapters were brilliant and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next because I’m hooked.

From what I understand though the next book in the series, Blood Roses, follows new characters, so I hope the characters from this book make a cameo.

 

Blood Shadows Book Cover Blood Shadows
Blackthorn
Lindsay J. Pryor
Paranormal, vampires, urban fantasy, adult,
Bookouture
November 27th 2012
ebook
380

For vengeance - would you trust a vampire?

For justice - could you betray your family?

For love - are you ready to question everything you believe in?

Gifted with the ability to read the shadows of ‘third species’ beings, Caitlin Parish is the Vampire Control Unit’s most powerful agent. Despite that, her mission to hunt down Kane Malloy – a master vampire – comes with a death wish. Many have tried, but few have survived.

For Caitlin, tracking Kane is about more than just professional reputation. With her parents both mysteriously killed 7 years apart to the day, Caitlin knows that without Kane’s help she is next.

She has four days to make a deal with the wicked, the irresistible, the treacherous Kane Malloy. The vampire who despises everything she stands for.

Or die.

Life

I am still 14 years old in my head

January 29, 2015

On holiday in Tunisia when I was about 14. Note the Mega Lolz t-shirt – this was how ’emo kids’ recognised each other at the time.

This week I have done two, what I consider to be, very adult things: I bought new window wipers and completed my tax self-assessment and I don’t like it. 

In my head I am still 14 years old and I frequently forget that I’m actually 22. I think I might be having, what I can only describe as, an extremely premature mid-life crisis.

I wish I could go back to being 14 years-old, when my only real concern was how close to the barriers I could get at a My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy gig.

When I look back on my life so far I can’t help but wonder when I grew up, you know? I see myself as a kid wondering what it would be like to be 18 and free of all age restrictions and then suddenly I was a teenager (I don’t know when that happened!) and then I kind of melted into being an adult.

I know that age is just a number and that it’s about how you feel on the inside but how fast time goes is damn scary. It has been seven years since I left high school and that is terrifying because I could swear that it only happened a couple of years ago.

Time is flying so darn fast that I just don’t have enough time in the day to do things either and the thing that keeps me trying to fit all of those things into 24 hours is that I want more than this. I don’t want to be in the same job for the next 50 years, or however long it is I’ll have to work before I’m allowed to retire and then pay tax again on my pension. (I’m not cynical, honest.)

I don’t want to be worrying about money forever. I want to be able to spend time with family and I don’t want to be one of those parents who never sees their kids because they have to work so much – I guess no one wants any of that really.

And I sure as hell don’t want to reach 70 years old and find myself wondering where life has gone and wish I’d done more.

Some days I feel myself just going along with the rat race and others the weight of all of that seems to come at me like a freight train and I feel paralysed and panic.

How and when did I become an adult and get loaded with all of that? They sure don’t prepare you for that at school.

I think that’s enough of my mini panic attack to be sharing with the internet for one day and I don’t exactly feel better for it but this year I wanted to make my blog a bit more personal and less ZOMG THIS LIPSTICK IS AMAZEBALLS! (Not that I have ever said that word, until now.)

How old do you feel mentally?

Books

Love Hurts anthology – edited by Malorie Blackman*

January 28, 2015

The popularity of My True Love Gave To Me released for Christmas last year was undeniable and it was an enjoyable collection, so I was expecting the same from Love Hurts. 

Like MTLGTM I was expecting it to be a collection of original romance stories, but it wasn’t; the majority of the stories are snippets of books that have already been published. There are a handful of originals, which do stand out and, for the most part, are better than unoriginal stories because they work well.

The majority of the unoriginal stories don’t quite work well because you feel like you’re thrown into the middle of the book, you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t understand relationships and motives and it just doesn’t work.

I had only read two of the unoriginal pieces but I don’t think I’d be happy if I bought this book only to discover I’d read a few stories already.

I’m going to list each book and give you a brief review and let you know if it’s an original story or not.

 

Humming Through My Fingers – Malorie Blackman – 4 /5 – this short story has been published elsewhere before

This was a really sweet and strong opener. I was drawn in and I wish it was a bit longer so I could found out what happened next.

 

More Than This – Patrick Ness – 3 /5 – Part of a full story. 

This was very, very short but fairly good. It did feel like we were missing a bit of information.

 

The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle – 4 /5 – Part of a full story 

I really liked Myracle’s offering and felt like I was sat there next to the characters listening to their conversations. This is probably one of the better snippets from a full-length book in this anthology.

 

If I Stay – Gayle Forman – 3 /5 – Part of a full story 

The inclusion of this kind of annoyed me because I want to read this book and this snippet doesn’t seem to have been taken from the very beginning of the book so I’m a touch annoyed that I’ve already read part of it.

While the content of this snippet was good, the snippet itself didn’t work for me because it felt like too much information was missing.

 

Tumbling – Susie Day – 2 /5 – Original

This really confused me; Tumbling follows a Sherlock fangirl and there’s a lot of fangirl and Tumblr speak which I didn’t get, despite having watched Sherlock.

I preferred the parts of this story which were based on the main characters real life, the fangirling bit didn’t work for me.

 

Trouble – Non Pratt – 3.5 / 5 – Part of a full story 

The content of this snippet is good and I felt myself being drawn in but it doesn’t quite work because we don’t understand the relationship and history between the two main characters. That being said, it has left me intrigued to read the full story.

 

Rani and Sukh – Bali Rai – 3 / 5 – Part of a full story 

I liked the concept behind this story; I was excited to find out what would happen next for our characters and how their families reacted. The second half of this story though was a friend trying to get Rani and Sukh to meet and I lost interest.

 

You Against Me – Jenny Downham – 3 / 5 stars – Part of a full story

This was interesting and drew me in quickly but I always felt on the backfoot because I didn’t understand  exactly what was going on.

 

13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson – 1 /5 stars – Part of a full story 

This didn’t work for me at all. Ginny is visiting England (we don’t know why) and decides to buy all of the tickets to Keith’s show (again, we don’t know why). The pair go to a pub together and have an awkward conversation.

Nothing really happened and there was so much information missing that I couldn’t get into this story at all.

 

Junk – Melvin Burgess – 1 /5 – Part of a full story

14 year-old Gemma finds herself running away from home and squatting in a house with her boyfriend, Tar, and his friends. This was another one that I couldn’t get into because there’s too much information missing.

 

Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman – 5 / 5 

This is one of the best examples of snippets in this anthology. It drew me in and the snippet told me enough to get on board with what was happening and feel for the characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and found myself immersed in it and I want to read the full book to find out what happens next.

 

Gentlewoman – Laura Dockrill – 5 / 5 – original 

This was absolutely wonderful, by far the best original piece in the collection.

Gentlewoman drew me in instantly and I really felt for Danni and I could fell her anxiety and nervousness. I wish I was a full story because I would love to read more about Danni.

 

Heroic – Phil Earle – 3.5 / 5 – Part of a full story 

This was another story which pulled me in quickly and I felt myself worrying about the characters and I’d love to know what happens next.

 

Grasshopper Jungle – Andrew Smith – DNF – Part of a full story 

I struggled with this one, I couldn’t get a grip on it and most of it seemed pointless. That being said, I looked it up on Goodreads and it sounds interesting but I don’t remember any of what I read relating to the Goodreads description.

 

Miss Lucy Had A Steamboat – David Levithan – 3 / 5 – this short has been published in another anthology before

I liked that this short covered the whole length of a relationship and it was more than a story about a relationship; it was also about how Lucy had to hide being a lesbian from her Mother. I felt it was a bit long and dragged out in places but overall it was quite good.

 

I Am The Messenger – Marcus Zusak – DNF – Part of a full story

I was quite intrigued when I saw this in here because I’ve heard of the book and the author before, but I found it to be so confusing that I couldn’t finish it.

 

Echo Boy – Matt Haig – DNF – Part of a full story

We’re thrown into a battle scene in Echo Boy and without knowing who is who and what’s going on, it got incredibly confusing, incredibly quickly and I couldn’t figure out what was happening.

 

Forbidden – Tabitha Suzuma – 5 / 5 – Part of a full story 

This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for about a year now and I was worried that it would annoy me as If I Stay did but this snippet worked well.

I was sucked in quickly, I cared about the characters and I really want to read the rest of the book now.

 

Midwinterblood – Marcus Sedgwick – DNF – Part of a fully story

This really confused me and I couldn’t get into it or finish it. I looked it up on Goodreads and it does actually sound interesting but that particularly snippet didn’t echo that for me.

 

The Liar’s Girl – Catherine Johnson – 4 / 5 – Original 

It took me a few pages to get into this book because the narrative is strange and it uses ‘you’, as if the main character is telling the story to the reader. Once you get about 75% of the way through, you understand why the narrative is that way.

 

The Unicorn – James Dawnson – 4 / 5 – Original

I thoroughly enjoyed this; it drew me in quickly and I really felt the characters elation, pain and frustration.

 

Northern Lights – Phillip Pullman – 2 / 5 – Part of a full story 

I was a bit baffled about why this was included, to me it seems like including part of the first Harry Potter book because so many people have read it. The snippet that was included didn’t drag me in and I found myself skim reading really.

 

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart – 3 / 5 – Part of a full story 

I squeed when I saw this was included because I love this book. The snippet in here worked fairly well but I think the problem is that you need to know a lot more about the family to fully appreciate what’s happening and I don’t think you’d understand all the little nuances without knowing the background. And I think that’s the case for a lot of the stories in here which are part of a full story.

****

Overall, I wasn’t thrilled by this. I was expecting something on part with My True Love Gave To Me and it just wasn’t. The originals were brilliant, the problem was taking snippets out of books that already exist and trying to make them work as a short story.

I don’t really know that I would recommend this because I felt disappointed by it and I received a free review copy, so if I’d paid for it – I think I’d be a bit miffed. The shorts are really good though but I don’t think a handful of originals makes up for a higher number of underwhelming snippets.

You know what it feels like though? It feels like the publisher’s, or someone, saw the success of MTLGTM and wanted to try and replicate that for Valentine’s Day and didn’t have enough time to ask authors to submit original short stories. I can’t imagine why else you would pick a book which is mostly made up of snippets from full length books over a book full of original stories.

If this book had been full of originals, it would have worked well.

How do you feel about a collection including books that have already been published?

 

* I received a free e-copy of Love Hurts via Net Galley from Corgi Children’s in exchange for an honest review.

Love Hurts Book Cover Love Hurts
Various, edited by Malorie Blackman
Romance, young adult, anthologies, contemporary
Corgi Children's
29th January 2015
576

Malorie Blackman brings together the best teen writers of today in a stunningly romantic collection about love against the odds. Featuring short stories and extracts about modern star-crossed lovers from stars such as Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness, and with a brand-new story from Malorie Blackman herself, Love Hurts looks at every kind of relationship, from first kiss to final heartbreak.

Lifestyle

Blogging tips: Fixing missed schedule posts on WordPress

January 27, 2015

How to fix 'missed schedule' on WordPress

When I first switched to WordPress all of my scheduled posts missed their schedule and I know this isn’t an uncommon problem but thankfully there is a simple and free solution. 

The first thing to do is go to ‘settings’ and make sure your blog is set to the right timezone. You might be scheduling posts for 8AM UK time but if your timezone is 5 hours behind UK time, then it will be posting 5 hours later than you’re expecting.

If that doesn’t work, you will need a plugin to do the job. There are a few available but the one I use is ‘WP Missed Schedule‘.

It’s simple to install and it didn’t ask me for any extra information; all I had to do was press a couple of buttons to install it.

WP Missed Schedule works by checking your site every few minutes and if it finds a post that has missed it’s schedule, it will post it. This means that your posts should never miss their schedule by more than a few minutes, rather than hours.

I’ve been using this plugin for the past couple of weeks and I’ve not had a single post miss schedule since installing it, so this plugin does the job.

Life, Photography

Instax Mini 90

January 26, 2015

Instax Mini 90

Instant photos

I take so many photos on my phone but rarely do I get round to actually printing them so I was really excited when I received an Instax Mini 90 for Christmas.

My sister and I had a mini Polaroid camera for Christmas one year when we were kids and I loved it. I drove my Mum crazy though because I’d get through a pack of film instantly and I’d start nagging her for some more, and it was not cheap.

At some point I lost it and forgot about it.

Since joining a photography club about a year and a half ago we’ve been going out on photography adventures and I found myself wishing I had my instant camera again so I could capture that moment and hold the photo in my hands straight away.

There’s something about instant photos that I love. They kind of look like memories; they aren’t entirely perfect but they seem to have this nice glow to them.

With a digital camera you don’t get that eager anticipation as you wait to see how your photo turned out, you don’t have to stare at it as you wait for it to develop and you certainly don’t get to hold it in your hands straight away.

The Instax Mini 90 is fairly easy to use but trying to get the exposure just right without relying on an LCD screen is a bit of a challenge, a fun one mind you.

I took it to Edinburgh with me and after a lot of trial and error, I ended up with a handful of not quite perfect, but pretty good, photos. I don’t care about perfection truthfully because my SLR can take care of that, I just want to try and capture that moment.

Have you got an instant camera?

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Books

Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse

January 25, 2015

I know I don’t usually blog on a Sunday but I’ve got a lot of book reviews sitting in my drafts folder at the moment, so I will be posting on Sunday’s until I’ve got through at least all of the ones left over from last year.

After two strong books The Titan’s Curse floundered about like a half-dead fish and completely failed to live up to my expectations set by the first two books. 

The third book in the Percy Jackson series takes place in the run up to the winter solstice and the gang find themselves on a quest to save Artemis and Annabeth.

Unlike the first two books I struggled to get through this quickly. It was an easy read but it wasn’t as enjoyable as the first two books and I certainly wasn’t hooked, which really disappointed me.

There wasn’t much action, and the little there was ended quickly, and I think the biggest thing was that Percy seemed to lose his voice. He’s a cocky kid with a sense of humour, which comes across in the writing style, but it didn’t seem to be there in this book.

Everything that made the first two books so enjoyable seemed to either be lacking or severely muted in this book. The bad guys weren’t bad enough, the action was lacking and the banter was missing.

I will pick up the next book, The Battle of the Labryinth, because I loved the first two books and I need to know what happens next.

Have you read the Percy Jackson series? 

Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse Book Cover Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Rick Riordan
Children's, adventure,
ebook

IT'S NOT EVERYDAY YOU FIND YOURSELF IN COMBAT WITH A HALF-LION, HALF-HUMAN.

But when you're the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive...

Books

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) – Mindy Kaling

January 23, 2015

After catching a few episodes of The Mindy Project and hearing great things about this book, I promptly put it on my list to Santa. 

I didn’t know a whole lot about Mindy going into this book but I came out of it a fan.

This book was exactly what I was expecting it to be; it was conversational, funny and a bit random. It was like sitting down and having a one-sided conversation with a friend.

I enjoyed learning about her love for comedy, her early days and how she ended up on The Office, which I haven’t watch either the UK or US version.

Something I found really interesting was that in her early career she wasn’t deemed good enough to play herself in a show that she and her friend had written. Yet in 2012 The Mindy Project aired and of course, she plays herself, so I’d like to read another memoir from her where she talks about The Mindy Project and perhaps rambles about playing herself.

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the cover? I want the wallpaper and Mindy looks stunning.

This is a really nice, easy, quick read that I think would be perfect for a holiday read.

I’m totally feeling comedienne books right now, so if you have any recommendations let me know.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) Book Cover Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)
Mindy Kaling
Humour, non-fiction, memoir,
Ebury Press
Paperback
222

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: comedienne, actress, obedient child of immigrant professionals and, now, writer. With a blend of witty confessions and unscientific observations, Mindy writes about everything from being a timid young chubster afraid of her own bike to living the Hollywood life, dating, friendships and planning her own funeral - all executed with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls.

Books

Seeker – Arwen Elys Dayton

January 22, 2015

I’m slightly hooked on Scotland at the moment and when I saw that this book was set in Scotland I had to read it. 

Seeker is told from multiple POV’s but for the most part we follow our three main characters; Quin, John and Shinobu. The trio have spent the past few years of their lives training hard to take an oath but it turns out that all is not as it seems.

While we have three main characters, the books description led me to believe that Quin is the main focal point but I had big problems connecting to her and caring about her. She goes through some awful things during the book but I didn’t feel any of that and ultimately, I didn’t care what happened to her.

John and Shinobu also go through some terrible things but I found them much easier to connect to and I could feel their frustration, loss and want, which meant I cared for them and I was worried about what would happen to them.

Due to my lack of a connection with Quin, Seeker felt a bit disjointed. I thoroughly enjoyed the parts where we followed other characters but the majority of the scenes with Quin fell flat for me.

To be honest, I found myself thinking that Quin might have worked better as a secondary character, with John and Shinobu as main characters.

There is a bit of a love triangle in Seeker but I wouldn’t say it’s a focal point of the book and it wasn’t overwhelming or annoying.

Onto more positive things; the action. There is quite a lot of action and fighting in Seeker and those scenes were gripping and exciting to read. Unlike many fight scenes, it wasn’t confusing or over too soon.

The last third of the book was action-packed, really enjoyable and I didn’t really have an issue with Quin because there were so many things going on with the other characters that I was more interested in.

Seeker had me blind-sighted a couple of times. To start with, I thought that it would be set in Scotland hundreds of years ago, I’m not really sure why I thought that but it was a bit of a surprise to discover it was set in modern day. There are a handful of twists throughout the book which catch you off guard, which made for an enjoyable read.

Conclusion: As you might have gathered, the biggest problem I had with Seeker was a lack of a connection to Quin. I loved the scenes with John and Shinobu so if I’d cared for Quin I think this could have been a five star book all day long.

* I received a free copy of this via NetGalley and Random House Children’s Publishers UK (thanks!), but you guys know I would never let that sway my opinion.

Seeker review score

What do you do when you struggle to connect to a main character?

Seeker Book Cover Seeker
Seeker #1
Arwen Elys Dayton
Young adult, fantasy,
Random House Children’s Publishers UK
February 12th 2015

Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.

Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.