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Mar. 23rd, 2011

book 1

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Fat Vampire by Adam Rex

Publisher: Balzer & Bray, 2010
Genre: Horror
Sub-genre: Paranormal, YA



Basically, I picked this up because my friendly neighbourhood crackdealer bookseller told me to. Honestly, I walked into the bookstore and the conversation went like this:

Him: "Anna, I found this book you have to read. It's about this awkward, overweight fifteen-year-old who gets turned into a vampire and STAYS an awkward, overweight fifteen-year-old."
Me: "Wait, so he isn't instantly beautiful and awesome? He gets to be horribly fifteen forever?"
Him: "Yup."
Me: "Huh."

Follow this finely-crafted link to the full review. Thrills and chills for all!

One of the things this book does that's interesting is introduce us to a very sympathetic character and then proceed to slowly transform him into something that isn't. While Doug doesn't instantly transform into hot, hot awesomeness, it does affect him. When he starts to think "hey, vampire = awesome, Doug = vampire, therefore Doug = awesome," he finds his self-confidence, but in a bad way. This isn't the standard YA novel where the outcast bonds with other outcasts and discovers he's not so bad in his own way.

Fat Vampire is very self-aware, and while that doesn't always work for me, it did here. In a lot of ways, the book is a subversion of every other YA fantasy/horror novel out there. It explores a variety of vampire myths and how they might co-exist, references other books in the genre (everything from Stoker's Dracula to Gaiman's Sandman) and pokes a bit at the expectation that the protagonist of the YA novel will always get the girl/guy. After having established itself as a novel that embraces variety, with teens of different races and sexual orientations presented, it has this to say:

Doug, for his part, didn't think he really had much of an opinion about gay people. He didn't know any. Except maybe Ophelia, now. If anything, he was possibly a little sick of them. They were always popping up in shows and movies and in the books he read. They used to be comic relief, but at some point it was like you weren't allowed to laugh anymore, and the gay characters were Very Serious. Their whole character would be about them being gay, and how serious and unfunny and also completely normal it was. In each new book, especially, there seemed to be one or two. Like the author wanted to prove what an open-minded, big-tent guy he was.

This paragraph is loaded with so very many things, it's hard to know where to start. First, it's a pretty honest dissection of the depictions of LGBT characters in popular fiction. It's also very much the author poking fun at himself. And it's an interesting look at the main character, who is growing steadily less sympathetic and likeable. A few chapters earlier, when faced with evidence that Ophelia was likely gay or bisexual, Doug and the rest of the teens in his social group were pretty non-reactive. "Oh, her hot date's a chick? That's cool." It's not until later in the book, when Doug makes his transition into jerkland, that he starts analyzing things and decides he's sick of gay people. There's actually a lot of that sort of thing going on in the book, where there's a lot more going on than would appear on the surface. The reference to Sandman, for example, is far more of an ingenius insertion than a mere throwaway mention.

Feb. 23rd, 2011


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Delirium by Lauren Oliver

The Blurb On The Back:

If you were told love was a disease, would you take the cure?


There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the ends of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found a cure.

Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable and happy.

But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable ...


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

The first in a YA dystopian science fiction trilogy, this book has a great premise and the writing is lyrical and packed with emotion. However the story itself is a bit too predictable for me and at times feels like a checklist of events that need to be ticked off. Also the pace itself sags at times and a key scene towards the end overstretched credibility. The cliffhanger ending is intriguing enough to tempt me to read on, but this isn’t a must-read book for me.

DELIRIUM was released in the UK on 3rd February. Thanks to Amazon Vine for the ARC of this book.

Cross-posted to bookish , books , bookworming , sf_with_bite and yalitlovers .

Feb. 14th, 2011


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The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

The Blurb On The Back:

Donna is a freak. An outcast. Branded with iron tattoos that cover her hands and arms, she is cursed with a magically-enhanced strength that she does everything she can do to hide.

But now, the dark exiles of Faerie are coming and Donna must choose between saving her best friend – or betraying one of the world’s greatest secrets.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

The ideas underpinning this debut YA fantasy – specifically the legend of the Armless Maiden and the combination of faerie and alchemy promised a great deal and I really wanted to enjoy it. However the execution simply did not work for me – the text is exposition heavy, with the foreshadowing dropping like anvils and the characters too cosy to be completely believable. The book ends with a cliff hanger for the sequel but on the basis of what’s here, I won’t be rushing to read on.

Cross-posted to bookish , books , bookworming , fantasywithbite , urbanfantasyfan and yalitlovers .

Feb. 1st, 2011


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The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Blurb On The Back:

My name is Meghan Chase.

In less than twenty-four hours I’ll be sixteen. Countless stories and songs have been written about this wonderful age, when a girl finds true love and the stars shine for her ...

I DON’T THINK IT WILL BE THAT WAY FOR ME.


Meghan Chase has a secret destiny – one she could never have imagined ...

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fitted in at school ... or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar and her little brother is taken, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

She could never have guessed the truth. Meghan is the daughter of a faery king and a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will have to choose between a normal life and her magical destiny – and between her best friend and a darkly dangerous prince.

It’s time for Meghan to enter the faery world ...


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

What makes this YA take on the Seelie/Unseelie courts stand out from the rest is the introduction of a new court of iron – the depiction of which is both visual and visceral and had enough original elements to hold my interest and ensure I will read the next in the trilogy. Otherwise there’s much here that’s familiar, including the mandatory love triangle element featuring a dark and brooding male hottie with a tragic past. It’s not the best book I’ve read in this field, but it’s entertaining and breezily told.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the free copy of this book.

Cross-posted to bookish , books , bookworming , fantasywithbite , yalitlovers and urbanfantasyfan .

Jan. 24th, 2011


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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Blurb On The Back:

Cassie’s body was found in a motel room.

She called Lia 33 times before she died.

Lia never picked up.

Now the voice in Lia’s head tells her to stay strong. Keep control. Lose more. Weigh less.

Thin. Thinner. Thinnest.


Maybe she can make herself disappear altogether.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Laurie Halse Anderson’s YA novel about anorexia is a modern classic. It’s a powerful and unflinching read that at times is very hard to read and it looks at the disease from every angle, never forcing conclusions. Special mention should be made of the clever use that Anderson makes of the text itself and its formatting to get the story across as it never feels gimmicky and really helps get inside the main character’s head. In short it’s one of the best YA novels I’ve read in a long time and I have no hesitation in recommending it to teens and grown ups alike.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the free copy of this book.

Cross-posted to bookish , books , bookworming and yalitlovers .

Jan. 14th, 2011


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Taking Flight by Sheena Wilkinson

The Blurb On The Back:

”Beyond the fence everything is dark, but in here is our own lit-up world. Just me and Flight. Our breath snakes into the night like the aftermath of a firework.”


The only riding fifteen-year-old Declan has ever done is joyriding. When he’s forced to stay with his snobby cousin, ‘Princess’ Vicky, he’s shocked to find himself falling in love with horses. Vicky would do anything to keep Declan out of her already perfect life and away from her precious show jumper, Flight, no matter who gets hurt ...

Moving from a harsh Belfast housing estate to the glamour of the show jumping ring, Taking Flight is a fast-paced story full of conflict, jealousy and courage.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Although the story isn’t the most original out there (essentially a boy leading a life with little future discovers that there’s something more out there by looking after a horse), this is a well-written debut novel that kept me turning the pages and which is told with aplomb. The talent that Sheena Wilkinson shows in these pages mean that I will definitely check out her next novel.

Cross-posted to bookish , books , bookworming and yalitlovers .

Jan. 7th, 2011


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The Demon Trappers: Forsaken by Jana Oliver

The Blurb On The Back:

Riley Blackthorne.
Kicking hell’s ass one demon at a time ...


Riley has always wanted to be a Demon Trapper, but it’s tough being the only girl in an all-guy world. It doesn’t help that three of those guys are making her life pretty complicated: Simon, the angelic apprentice who has heaven on his side; Beck, the tough trapper who thinks he’s God’s gift, and Ori, the strikingly sexy stranger who keeps turning up to save her life.

One thing’s for sure – if she doesn’t keep her wits about her there’ll be hell to pay ...


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

This YA book is an interesting mix of urban fantasy and dystopian future and the world building (particularly the depiction of a bankrupt and crumbling Atlanta) is carefully constructed and well executed. The first in a trilogy, the story is almost all set-up and at times it adversely affected the pacing for me. I’m also not a big fan of love triangles and that seems to be a major part of the overall story while Riley’s increasing specialness came close to becoming over-blown. However there are enough mysteries and twists to hold my interest and Oliver’s writing holds the promise of an interesting pay-off so I’ll be reading on.

THE DEMON TRAPPERS: FORSAKEN was released in the UK on 7th January 2011. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

Cross-posted to bookish , books , bookworming , fantasywithbite , urbanfantasyfan and yalitlovers .

Dec. 31st, 2010


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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

The Blurb On The Back:

In Ethan Wate’s hometown there lies the darkest of secrets ...

There is a girl.
Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head ... green eyes, black hair.
Lena Duchannes.

There is a curse.
On the sixteenth moon, of the sixteenth year, the Book will take what it’s been promised.
And no one can stop it.

In the end, there is a grave.

Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and, on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided.

Ethan never even saw it coming.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

An unusual YA paranormal romance that’s told from a boy’s perspective, there’s a strong Gothic feel to this novel and I particularly enjoyed the depiction of a small Southern town with its quirky characters and dark underbelly. However, Ethan comes across as a little too perfect while Lena is a little too bland and the book is overwritten at times, particularly with regard to repetition. Saying that, there was enough here to hold my interest and I will be reading on.

Cross-posted to bookish , books , bookworming , fantasywithbite , urbanfantasyfan and yalitlovers .

Dec. 28th, 2010


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The D.U.F.F.: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

The Blurb On The Back:

“You, darling, are the Duff. Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend,” Wesley clarified. “No offense, it’s not like you’re an ogre or anything, but in comparison ...” He shrugged his broad shoulders. “You have hot friends ... Really hot friends.” He paused, watching the action on the dance floor for a moment, before facing me again. “The point is, scientists have proven that every group of friends has a weak link, a Duff.”


Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’d the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff”, she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

This competent debut teen romance manages to tap into the insecurity that many teenage girls have about their appearance and the way in which many girls compare themselves to their friends to good effect. However there is an equal amount of soap opera cliché in terms of the main character’s background and personal problems, which ultimately dragged the story down for me. I’m interested in seeing Keplinger’s next novel, but hopefully she’ll go in a more original direction.

Cross-posted to bookish , books , bookworming and yalitlovers .

Dec. 19th, 2010


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You Against Me by Jenny Downham

The Blurb On The Back:

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right?


When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart.

If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you?


When Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel.

When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

This is a brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author of BEFORE I DIE. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love.


The Review (Cut For Spoilers):Collapse )

The Verdict:

Although I don’t think that this is as great a book as BEFORE I DIE, Downham’s skill in creating a credible voice for her teenage characters is second to none and it is the voice that carries you through this story. The topic of date rape has been done elsewhere but it’s interesting to see a novel that shows the effects on both the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim together with the strains it places on the respective families. Downham never patronises on the subject matter and while there is little mystery as to who is telling the truth, the journey itself is an absorbing one and one where you root for both Ellie and Mickey. As such, it is well worth a few hours of any reader’s time and I would definitely check out Downham’s next book as she is undoubtedly a powerhouse in teenage fiction.

YOU AGAINST ME was released in the UK in December. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC.

Cross-posted to bookish , books , bookworming , and yalitlovers .

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