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29 Jan 2013

TTT - Top Ten Frustrating Characters

Is it bad that for this week's Top Ten Tuesday I could easily think of characters from books and televisions who frustrated the hell out of me? Maybe I do have a tendency to get easily impatient and irritated by people but sometimes a character just really does my head in. 
 
Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters EVER
 
***Possible Spoiler Warnings Ahead***
 
1) Edward Cullen (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer)

Sorry to anyone who is a Twilight fan but for me the brooding and moping just isn't a turn on and I couldn't stand it.  All the times that Edward moped about having no soul and how dangerous he was to Bella and others I pretty much wanted to slap him on the face and yell 'man up'.  Seriously, kudos to Bella.  I don't know how she could handle a whiner like that.  I couldn't.  I haven't got the patience for that.  I think if there had been more evidence of how dangerous Edward could be then I would have overlooked it.  But there wasn't and I just had to roll my eyes every time he sulked.

And I'm sorry but... this is the skin of a killer? No, that's the skin of a Labyrinth King.  Stop being so melodramatic Edward.  Somebody get him a spa day to chill out.

2) Bella Swan (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer)

I couldn't cheer for Bella in New Moon when she's taking on dangerous activities just to see an hallucination.  I thought it was dangerous and not handled very well.  It made Bella out to be dependable on Edward which isn't the message you really want to send out.  Every time she moped that she couldn't live without Edward I just wanted to shake her awake and yell that if she tried being single and depending on her friends then she'll be alright.  She doesn't need a guy in her life to feel worth and feel that she has a purpose.  And you definitely shouldn't feel that your life isn't worth living without that guy.  Trust me, Romeo and Juliet are meant to be deterrents.  Not idols.

3) Jace Wayland (The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare)

You've probably realised that if you're a guy and you brood over your past and you're also an arse to people because of said rubbish life I am not going to like you.  You're not bad ass, you're a crybaby who can't get over your issues.  Be lucky you have Clary, Jace.  Not all girls can stand the so-called Bad Boy image.  I much prefer nerd/vampire/Daylighter, Simon.  That's right.  I'd go for a guy who you consider to be of lower status.
 
4) Meghan Chase (The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa)

Now, she isn't the most frustrating on my list.  I did like her in The Iron King and I like that in the end she has to face the Iron King herself.  But when Ash comes along, oy.  It really messes with her brain.  A guy who she has known for such short time has her head over heels for him.  Even when he's telling her that he is going to kill her she's gushing and falling in love.

... I'm scared for this world.  I bet mass murderers and psychopaths are getting more fan mail and love letters than ever before if this is what girls go for these days. 

5) Dean Winchester (Supernatural)

Hypocrite.  Absolute hypocrite.  Dean is a very self-righteous character.  In his eyes he never makes mistakes and tends to have a go at his younger brother Sam for most of his decisions and blame him for almost everything.  The thing is the mistakes that Sam has made, Dean has made the same.  Sam trusted Ruby, a demon who did back stab them in the end and boy did Dean get miffed about that.  But now Dean sided with a vampire who could snap at any time and he thinks Sam is being unreasonable for not trusting this new ally.

When Sam was believed to be dead Dean started a new life with an old flame and her son.  That was Sam's wish.  But when Dean was trapped in purgatory Sam searched for a normal life and once again faced the wrath of Dean who claimed Sam was turning his back on his old life.  There is never a day when Dean isn't shouting and screaming at Sam when he's made plenty of mistakes before.  Talk about frustrating.  I'm waiting for Sam to just give him one.

6) Elena Gilbert (The Vampire Diaries TV)

Elena needs some development in the television series.  I liked her to begin with but after a while everyone and everything revolved around her while she did nothing.  Now as a vampire I was hoping to see her gain some independence and take matters into her own hands.  But she still turns to others for help which is really frustrating me.

7) Rebekah Mikaelson (The Vampire Diaries TV)

Another character from The Vampire Diaries TV series.  She's not the best villain.  Rebekah's nastiness comes from being your typical mean, teenage bitch.  She's more petty than true evil like her brother Klaus who I can grudgingly admire.  I just think Rebekah is a spoilt brat.  She was turned as a teenager and has always longed to be loved and not alone.  Okay, that I understand when she comes from the most dysfunctional family I've ever seen.  Jeremy Kyle would have a field day with this lot.

Rebekah met Stefan in the 1920s but he was compelled by Klaus to forget about her.  So begins an annoyingly long grudge where she does nothing but obsess over Elena and Stefan's relationship and antics, waiting for a chance to hurt Stefan because she was forgotten and bitch at Elena.  Move on, love. 

8) Lucius Vladescu (Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey)

He started out as funny with the author clearly mocking his upper class vampire nature as he awkwardly mingles with high school students and Jessica.  Aristocratic vampire life is very different to Jessica's Small Town American life where she'd rather ride horses and help on her vegan farm home.  But over the course of the novel Lucius seemed determined to destroy everything in his life.  He was letting himself get suspected of vampirism and giving up on Jessica, moving on to mean girl Faith where he acted carelessly.  He became very emo which just made me face palm through the rest of the novel.

9) The Mother (How I Met Your Mother)

Very different kind of frustration with this one.  It's been eight seasons and WE STILL HAVE NOT MET HER YET! I don't want any more teasing snippets of her hand or leg or yellow umbrella.  SHOW US THE MOTHER AND LET TED BE HAPPY!!!

Ahem...

10) Whitley Johnson (A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger)

Not my favourite of Keplinger FMCs.  I have to be honest there.  Whitley is a borderline alcoholic who sleeps with guys for one night stands, bitches about her mum and worships her absentee dad.  Keplinger deals with the idea of slut shaming in Whitley Johnson's behaviour, making points that people shouldn't be quick to use the term on fellow females.  I don't know if I was just being too hard hearted but Whitley uses guys.  She flirts with them, sleeps with them, and then just dumps them.  When the teenagers in her father's new home town spread her reputation about I can't help but think she did bring this gossip on herself and I got frustrated with her when she got upset over it.  Whether you're a man or a woman, no-one has the right to use and dump people like that.  Don't bring your issues onto someone else.  And if you're going to act easy and use guys then know that there will be consequences.  No-one will take you seriously.  I'll be reviewing this book in the future.

Check out more from The Broke and The Bookish.

28 Jan 2013

Currently

The currently meme has been swimming around bloggers for a while now and I thought it would be a handy little post to do for the end of the month to sum up.

Also... how fast has January flown by? I'm glad though.  January and February aren't the best months for those of us who work in education.  The Christmas hols have been and gone.  There isn't the magic of Christmas all over the classroom.  And with Winter setting in properly these two months are just a drag.

Loving:  My diet.  Okay, honestly it's a complete nightmare having to cut back on a few favourites and dear god I am seriously craving Lucozade (I haven't touched it in two weeks).  But it's been worth it.  I've definitely lost weight around my hips, a pair of size 12 jeans that I couldn't fit into for months feel less tight and I can wear them again, and another pair of jeans are baggy around my thighs.  The only downside to that is the bagginess doesn't look great so I may have to go get a new pair for work now.  I just need to keep up with my exercising and continue being good.  Two things that are really helping me are:


and these leaflets and books from Slimming World which tells you what you can still eat while dieting, what 'syn' you can treat yourself to depending on the options you choose and shows you what tasty things you can replace your everyday syns with.  Both are really helpful with some tasty recipes.

 Reading:

Watching: Misfits season 2 and Angel season 3.  Misfits is quite crude so I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who is uncomfortable with swearing and sex references/scenes.  But it's absolutely hilarious and it still amazes me how much I care about these five ASBOs.  They're quite rounded characters with their virtues and flaws.  And oddly enough I even have to like Nathan who to be honest is a complete twat but he takes the seriousness out of situations.  The actor who plays him is brilliant and I'm intrigued to see how Robert Sheehan does as geeky, nice guy Simon in The Mortal Instruments this year.  Simon is such a different character to Nathan.  Angel I'm absolutely loving because the characters of Angel, Cordelia and Wesley all seemed to have improved since Buffy.  Especially Angel.  He still broods but he's definitely more chilled out in Angel than he ever was in Buffy.  He even smiles!

Thinking about: Some SNIs.  One involving supernatural in the 80s and another with British superheroes/vigilantes.  These two ideas won't leave my head. 

Anticipating: Warmer weather.  The complete blanket of snow that appeared on Friday night/Saturday morning completely disappeared the next day.  I'm hoping that's a sign we'll have some warm-ish weather for a bit.  Also anticipating the Jorvik Viking Festival at York this February.  Events are looking good!

Wishing: That I could have more time to write.  I'm now at 59,073 with Inside The Broom Closet.  I'm hoping I can finish this in another 10k words.  The aim is 70K for this WiP.

Making me happy: Finished a chapter in my edits of Beast Inside last week while I was waiting for my driving instructor.  It's lead to a brand new scene that I'm excited to write after work tonight.

23 Jan 2013

RTW - Getting the Giggles

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
 
This Week's Topic is:
Good for a laugh: who is your favourite comedian or funny book and/or movie?
 
I love comedy.  I love to laugh and enjoy a bit of silliness now and again.  One of my top treats would be going to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival or getting tickets to see Live at The Apollo. 
 
I couldn't name my ultimate favourite comedian.  There are quite a few I love:
 
Russell Howard
 
I'm in a fit of giggles every time I watch Russell Howard's Good News.  He was originally a regular comedian on Mock the Week which is quite similar to the aim of his show: taking the news and mocking the hell out of it. 
 
 
John Bishop
 
One of the most down to earth comedians.  His comedy involves mainly hilarious anecdotes that have happened to him in the past, occasionally mocking aspects of married life and getting older.  For a couple of seasons he hosted John Bishop's Britain where he had a British theme each week that he'd turn into comedy.  I'm desperately waiting for another.
 


 
Dylan Moran
 
Black Books is genius.  It really is.  Teaming up with Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig the team of Bernard Black, Manny, and Fran usually spend their days getting into trouble and drinking wine than actually running a bookshop.  Dylan Moran's stand-up is just as hilarious.  This is one of my favourite clips where he discusses dance music:
 
 
 
For comedy fiction, the best person to turn to is Terry Pratchett, the King of Satire.  His Discworld novels take the folklore, religion, media, and books in our world and use them not just to weave his own world but to parody them.  My favourite has to be Carpe Jugulum where Terry Pratchett mocks the nature of these "modern" vampires who come to Lancre.  There's a whole parody about the nature of newer generation vampires who prefer to call themselves Tracey than the old-school vampire who had exotic names and were bloodthirsty counts.  Reminded me a lot of the change of vampires in fiction.  So long Lestat and Dracula where you liked to be regal and bloodthirsty, hello Edwards and Emmets who don't seem to connect to any vampire superstition at all. 
 
 
And my three top comedy films:
 
 
1) Murder by Death
 
A murder mystery that parodies the concept of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie with a cast of characters who also satirise famous fictional detectives.  Absolutely ridiculous but hilarious:
 

 
2) The Dream Team
 
Four mental patients are taken on a trip to see a baseball game in NYC.  Their psychiatrist ends up in hospital, bent police officers are on their trail, and the Big Apple has these four wandering about.  Cue the comedy.
 

 
3) Mickey Blue Eyes
 
I adore Hugh Grant and this is my favourite film of his.  Grant plays a posh auctioneer who ends up getting into trouble with his future father-in-law's mafia relations.  My favourite scene has to be in the restaurant where he tries to talk like a New York gangster.
 

 
Any comedians and films/books you find funny?



22 Jan 2013

Top Ten Settings

In this week's Top Ten Tuesday we've been asked to list ten settings that we'd love to see more of in books.  As a British girl, I don't usually see a lot of the UK in my reading.  A lot of people tend to stick to London and there's so much more to England and the rest of the UK than London.

So I'm sticking to Britain for TTT and these are my top ten settings that I would love to see used in a novel:
Photo credit
1) St Andrews, Scotland

St Andrews is a former royal burgh on the East Coast of Fife with historic buildings all around.  Home to St Andrews University and the ruins of what used to be St Andrews Cathedral, built around 1158.  The seaside town is still full of history and also golf.  Lots of it.  It's home to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the most frequent venue for The Open Championships.


2) York, England

This one is going to be the setting for a future project but I'd love to see more York in British books.  York is a walled city with a strong heritage that is celebrated annually with festivals like the Jorvik Viking Festival.  Each annual the Jorvik Viking Centre (one of York's museums) where different events ranging from re-enactments, academic, archaeological and markets celebrate the city's history with Vikings.  York is also the most haunted city in England.  Click here for my post on York as an inspirational setting.

3) Whitby, England

Another slightly ghoulish Yorkshire location.  This seaside town is split into two with the harbour and Whitby Abbey towers over the whole town, high up on a cliff (known for it's 199 steps that lead from the town to the Abbey).  Whitby is mostly known for it's literary history, especially famous for Dracula and in every shop you go in there will be merchandise celebrating that connection.  If you ever fancy reading Dracula you definitely wouldn't have to search high and low for a copy.  And like a typical seaside town all you can smell is fish and chips.  Here's a full post I wrote on Whitby.
Derwentwater
4) The Lake District, England

The Lake District is a mountainous region surrounded by lakes, mountains and forests as well as picturesque towns and villages.  These large lakes almost take up the whole Cumbria.  It's a real family spot where parents and their children come down to kayak, canoe, and sail.  If you have characters who love water spots or fancy making England a bit fantastical, The Lake District is perfect.  The town of Keswick has a gorgeous lakeside theatre that overlooks Derwentwater and people of all ages come there to swim as well and lounge around.

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5) Camden Town, London

Okay, London had to worm its way on the list somehow.  But nobody ever mentions Camden Town.  The crazy, alternative shopping area where you could walk around with a tutu and Prince of Wales mask on and nobody would bat an eyelid.  Camden was home for the goths, grungers, and punks living in London where you could roam the markets and find band clothes, corsets, and large, platform boots. 
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6) Windsor, England
Famous for being one of the royal family's residencies, Windsor Castle is practically in the centre of this town with shops and restaurants circling it.  Twice a day you can catch the changing of the guard.  Windsor also connects to Eton, famous for the prestigious Eton college by Windsor Bridge.  I was there in August 2012 where Eton still had bunting hanging from the streets so it looked incredibly British and proud.

7) Leeds, England
Photo Credit
Even though I live here I'll admit Leeds isn't the most beautiful of places.  It's a medium sized city but it's huge with all the suburbs around it.  And it is a mix of nice, family friendly areas and chavvy, rough areas that are high in crime.  But we have our fair share of museums with the Royal Armouries over-looking Clarence Dock to the magnificent Temple Newsam estate house with large grounds.  And people do have good manners here.  I always found Leeds friendlier and more polite than London.  There are also some areas that are becoming very multi-cultural and Leeds is known for having the third largest Jewish community in the UK.
Photo Credit

8) Cotswolds, England
A range of hills throughout the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire as well as extending into Somerset, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire.  Classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the area is full of little towns and villages like Bourton-on-the-Water and Chipping Norton.

9) Richmond, N.Yorkshire, England

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Richmond is a hilly, cobbled Georgian Market Town with independent and local shops surrounding the town centre. High above the shops the ruins of Richmond Castle stand, peeking out from behind the houses and shops around the town centre. The local source of entertainment can be found at the old Station railway that has now been converted into a small cinema, a number of cafes and an art gallery. 

10) Wetherby, England
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Wetherby is another market town, part of the City of Leeds metropolitan borough and stands on the River Wharfe where small cafes overlook the flowery river.  It's a quaint little town, home to Wetherby racecourse, perfect for fans of horses and horse racing. It's also home to a well-know fish and chip restaurant and take-away market, The Wetherby Whaler which has other restaurants located around Yorkshire, like Pudsey, York, Wakefield, and Guiseley.  It could maybe be an inspiration for sci-fi seeing as Wetherby also has it's own TARDIS.


And there are ten lovely settings that I'd love to see get noticed and used for British fiction.  The UK has it's share of rough areas but there are some truly stunning locations here that would be great to use in WiPs.
 
Check out The Broke and The Bookish for more settings!

21 Jan 2013

Back to the 80s

For Christmas I got Rock of Ages, a musical full of 80s tune which has had me inspired all Christmas.  It got the ideas bubbling, a playlist created and a potential SNI.  If there's anything that I love more than vampires and horror it's the 80s.  In all honesty I should have been an Italian girl living in the 80s.  This is totally the wrong identity for me.

Instead of it being a weekly inspiration it has been almost two months of inspirations and here's a few things for you to get that 80s feel:

 

 

Not forgetting the insane, scary fashion.  The bigger the better in the 80s:


 The shoulder pads which have to be one of THE scariest 80s fashion trend.  But if you're writing about the 80s the shoulder pads will have to be mentioned.


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That and the hair.  Again, the bigger the better with hair and almost everyone seemed to succeed in adding extra volume to their locks whether they were male or female.

There are tons of 80s inspiration I could find.  Articles, photographs, events.  Part 2 maybe?

17 Jan 2013

Book Review: The Future of Us by Jay Acker and Carolyn Mackler

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.


I have to admit that I feel a bit 'meh' when it comes to this book.  I didn't hate it but it's nothing remarkable that I'll remember.  The premise was interesting but I felt it was still lacking.  There were plot lines that could have been explored more but was pushed to the side in preference to Josh and Emma with their possible futures and "relationship" drama. 

The premise makes the book sound like this obsession with finding out about your future gets out of control.  The conflict was barely there with Emma fretting and fussing over who she was married to in the future.  A couple of peeks, a little worrying, plus a bit of future changing and that was that.  I was expecting this facebook discovery to affect family and friends around her.  That she was so obsessed on having the perfect future that she would end up almost destroying herself in the process. 

Kellen's future didn't exactly seemed resolved in the end so it was unknown if she was leading onto the same path Emma saw or whether she had helped her friend in time.  Josh's brother was another unresolved plot.  Both their fates left me wondering as a reader and wished there could have been a bit of development there.

I can be the type to accept what I see.  After all, I watch Doctor Who and I've learnt to not question it at times.  But I would have liked a bit of background or explanation on this AOL CD that mysteriously transports Emma into the future via Facebook.  Just a little explanation, please. 

While the 90s references made me a tad nostalgic I thought there was too many of them.  References that felt like they were being shoved in your face, begging to be remember.  It did feel like the authors were desperately trying to convey the 1990s.

This wasn't the greatest read for me of 2012 unfortunately.  There was a spark missing and even though I didn't go into with high expectations I was still disappointed in the overall plot.


16 Jan 2013

RTW - The Dream Bookshop

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
 
This Week's Topic is:
Imagine you get to open your own bookstore. What would it look like? What kinds of books would you sell?

Bernard Black is living my dream
I don't know if this is just a writer thing but as far as I knew almost everyone on my writing course (me included!) dreamt of owning our own bookstore.  I still have that dream.  I think it would be awesome to open one up and be surrounded by the smell of new books and wood polish all day on like the old libraries. 

Back in London we used to have a couple of awesome old libraries.  Unfortunately one of them got modernised and was built almost out of glass.  But Jubilee Gardens library and Greenford Library were these old buildings that had wooden shelves and smelled of dusty books and wood polish.

Greenford Library (photo credit)




I'd like a little corner bookshop, selling fiction and non-fiction, mainly fiction.  Maybe place it in small towns where there aren't any major brands around and more independent shops.  All age markets and genres would be sold although I wouldn't make a large paranormal romance/dark fantasy section like they do in the big brand bookstores.  I'd also be really tempted to make a little study in the back where I could write on lunch breaks or after the shop is closed.  On the shop floor I'd have cosy chairs where people could sit and read if they wanted to.  A cosy real life nook. :)

Oh and could I have my own Manny and Fran too? =D

15 Jan 2013

TTT - 2013 Debuts

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is going to get those TBR piles up even more and I've already seen so many awesome books being published this year.

The top ten debuts I've come across that sound really interesting are:


1) A reckless wish taken from the darkest desires of the heart…

A bloody razor engraved with the names of the girls who turned to dust…

An endless cycle that feeds of loneliness and craves destruction…

Together, these pieces form a twisted puzzle that Annaliese Rose Gordon has to solve. Trapped in a body that isn’t hers—with no memory of how she got there—she must unlock the secrets of her past in order to escape the horrors of her future.

2) The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the saviour predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.


3) Some say the seaside town of Echo Bay is cursed. They may be right. When a game of truth or dare spins out of control, three beautiful teen girls start receiving mysterious dares containing hints to dark secrets long buried. For artsy outcast Sydney Morgan; perfect, popular Caitlin “Angel” Thomas; and queen bee Tenley Reed, the truth is not an option.
This is no party game—it’s do or die.

And it’s their turn to play



4) It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?
 

5) Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not….


6) My darling daughter,

Know that I never would have left the Earth if it hadn't already been doomed. . .

The generation ship Asherah coasts through space, bound for a planet its passengers have never even seen. On the eve of their arrival, sixteen-year-old botanist Terra discovers that her orderly society has fractured. Walking home one night through the long-abandoned engine rooms, she witnesses the murder of an innocent man. Now, called on by the Children of Abel, a group of rebels intent on destroying the High Council, Terra must prove her mettle--assassinate the ship's rising captain. In order to carry out her task, Terra must betray her father, deceive her teacher, and challenge everything the Council has ever taught her was true.

The rebels think that Terra has nothing left to lose. But when she falls for Silvan Rafferty, the boy that she's meant to kill, Terra learns that "doing your duty" isn't always as easy as it seems.

 

7) Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

 

8) They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you...until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realises that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta
.

9) There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?
 

10) In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—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 he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

 

14 Jan 2013

You Can't Take The Style From Me

Getting back into book reviews I started on one book that I read back in June or July.  One dislike I had about the book was that the titular character had one of those ugly duckling transformations where she ditches the tomboyish clothes and is shown how she looks in lavish dresses.  All of a sudden she realises that she can be beautiful.

I used to read a lot of L.J Smith novels when I was a teen and in the Night World series especially there was a lot of ugly ducklings who realised their beauty.  It seems to happen a lot in YA where a so-called plain Jane girl undergoes makeovers to feel prettier and more confident with their sexuality.  I think reading these girls become beautiful made me feel worse as an insecure teenager because I knew that would never happen to me. 

Give up my 11th Doctor t-shirt? Not in a million years.
I know it can be a teenage fantasy to wish that you can have the makeover from heaven and suddenly find yourself transformed into a glamour model but how come these girls can only find their confidence after their outer appearance has been altered?

I wear make-up and I like it.  I love to get my glad rags on and look presentable for a night out.  But when I was a teenager I liked a bit of eccentricity in my clothes.  During college I came out of my shell and loved wearing my batman hoodie, I liked odd jewellery, and I carried a Beetlejuice bag covered in badges that said ridiculous things.  That was what I liked to wear and I stuck to it until I grew out of some things.  But I would have told someone to eff off if they said I dressed idiotic and hated it when my family told me I should wear dresses and colours.  I had my appearance issues (and still do) but I learnt to be confident through what I wore and what my tastes were.  I still like my geeky t-shirts and nothing can make me change that. 

What about those teenage girls who dress differently? The girls who have geeky t-shirts or like to wear converses or dress tomboyish.  When YA only seems to show that you discover your beauty through a make-over what is it saying to those girls who don't want to dress up to look pretty? I'm sure they look fine with a Firefly quote or a moustache on their t-shirt and they need to know that they don't need to change.  It's not compulsory.  Look presentable sure but I'd like to see more messages in YA telling girls that they're fine in what they already wear and encourage them to revel in their own styles.

Sorry if it turned into a rant. ^^ Any thoughts?
 


11 Jan 2013

Book review: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side - Beth Fantaskey

The undead can really screw up your senior year ...

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancĂ©. Armed with new found confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.


I didn't go into this book with huge expectations despite all the good reviews for it.  A lot of readers really enjoyed this book because it was dark but I still couldn't see past the girl-next-door gets hot vampire admirer. 

There were good points to this book.  I liked Jessica at the beginning.  She was her own person and you got what you saw.  She had a crush on a nice guy, had ambitions with her horses and was a totally logical and down-to-earth girl with a 'see it to believe it' motto.  Thinking about the possibility of vampires existing would have never crossed her mind and she would probably have laughed at you if you wondered about it yourself.  When she sees Lucius for the first time he's a freak, a weird fancy European boy who is more annoying than alluring. 

Lucius is your typical modern vampire.  Aristocratic, expensive clothes, and a little bit on the brooding side but his snobbish side is very much mocked by Beth Fantaskey in his letters to his family, usually highlighting exactly how hopeless he is at wooing Jessica and showing arrogant disgust at human life.

So while the humour at the start of the book was brilliant and actually gave me the giggles now and again, the rest of the story grew more intense and dramatic where the characters I was actually starting to like grew annoying and unattractive. Jessica always had her own mind but she didn't need pretty dresses and a make over to feel confident. She could have just done that easily with her bravery to speak up which I think should have been the focus of her development.  It can be a pet peeve of mine when female characters can only find their confidence through slapping a pretty dress and make-up on.  Jessica was a girl with a casual taste in clothes and didn't find the need to dress up.  I think I would like to see a new message in YA for girls.  That you shouldn't have to change and dress up like another person to gain confidence.  You need confidence in what you already look like and wear to start feeling better about yourself.  

Lucius, while hilarious to begin with, actually went into super Emo mode and set about screwing up and messing around with the hopes that he'd either die or grow cold and bitter. After a while I was screaming at Jessica to just give up on him and head back to nice guy Jake - why do all these nice guys get screwed over? - but she was always incredibly naive about the situation she was getting in. By the end I was really repulsed by Lucius and overall disappointed with the story.  He just made a downward spiral for himself and became just like every other supernatural boy in YA.  Broody, sulky, and threatens the girl.  He was becoming a danger and a problem and I would have liked to have something different to the 'girl attempting to save the supernatural boy and make him feel less like a monster' plot line.  Jessica was a character who I would have loved to have seen blossom independently without the need of Lucius. 

Overall it did end up turning into another ugly duckling story with the aid of yet another moody supernatural boy.  Another guy who I really just wanted to end up slapping and yell 'get over it' to.  Sorry but I don't do whiners who make things worse for themselves.  And I probably won't pick up the sequel either.

9 Jan 2013

RTW - 2013 Writing

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
 
This Week's Topic is:
What are your goals for the new year---for reading, writing, or other?
The Broke and The Bookish hosted a similar question for reading so if you're interested my reading goals are linked here.  As for writing there are three things I definitely want finished this year:
 
1) The edits for Beast Inside.  Even though I probably wouldn't query this project first (it has the v-word in it!) I would like it edited to the best of my ability before I go looking for betas and CPs this year.
 
2) The first draft of Inside The Broom Closet finished.  I've only got about 20k more left to write.  It's definitely near the end since I decided that the whole plot isn't going fit into one book.  That brings me to...
 
3) Finish the sequel (untitled at the mo) for the rest of my 100k in 100 days challenge.
 
4) Start editing Lapse, my NaNo 2012 novel.
 
5) Decide which projects to use for Camp NaNo and NaNo this year.
 
On the whole I've planned on doing lots of writing this year. :)
 
Any writing goals this year? :)

8 Jan 2013

TTT - Reading Goals for 2013

For this week's Top Ten Tuesday we've been asked:

 Top Ten Bookish Goals For 2013
 
This year my goals are:
 
1) Read 50 books this year.
 
2) Finish any books I didn't manage to get through on my past TBR lists.
 
3) Read On Writing by Stephen King.
 
4) Get through 2-4 books a month.
 
5) Read a romance.  Not usually my thing but I want to be more versatile this year.
 
6) Read another Discworld novel.  It's been ages since I read a Terry Pratchett novel. 
 
7) Catch up on my book reviews.
 
8) Buy more books for my kindle than my bookshelf.  I'm running out of space!
 
9) Read for half an hour in the morning after getting up to stay on top of reading.
 
10) Discover more new and amazing authors.
 
Check out The Broke and The Bookish for more goals! What are yours for 2013?
 

7 Jan 2013

Inspirational Settings: Richmond

On Christmas Eve I got to visit Richmond for the first time and went walking around the town and then down near the old Richmond train station.  It's a market town in North Yorkshire with a rich history.  Its situated on hills and cobbled street with a few well-known brand shops but Richmond has a lot of local shops.

The town has it's own castle, Richmond Castle, that peaks over the circle of shops and market area in the town centre, towering over local businesses and homes.  Unfortunately the castle was closed when I went so I'll have to return there at some point. 

Just outside of Richmond is the old railway station that opened in 1846 and closed in 1968.  As a grade II listed building it luckily has never been torn down and is now known as The Station, home to a cinema with two separate screens, an art gallery, food shops, and a cafe/restaurant. 

Richmond is also home to the local legend of the Drummer Boy. 

Around 200 years ago soldiers discovered an opening to a tunnel under the Keep of Richmond Castle.  They were too large to crawl into so they chose a small drummer boys, lowering him through a narrow crevice into a vault.  He was asked to continue along the passage and beat his drum so the soldiers could hear him and use the sound to track the route of the tunnel.

The drummer boy continued all the way from the castle to the River Swale and heading towards Easby.  But when they reached Easby Wood the drumming stopped.  The boy never returned from the tunnel and nobody ever found out what had happened to him.  In memory of the boy a stone was placed in the spot where the drumming stopped and is called the 'Drummer Boy Stone' by locals.  Today his legend is celebrated in schools where the children march through the town annually.

And legend also claims that on some cold nights you can still hear the faint sound of the drummer boy.

Unfortunately blogger doesn't seem to be giving me the option to upload so for pics and more info here's an online guide

4 Jan 2013

Blog goals for 2013

With the busy months of NaNo and December I had a small blogging break where I didn't post as much so I could concentrate on writing.  Now that those two months are over I'm back to my blog along with some goals for schedules and posts:

1) Stick with Monday for writing, Tuesday for TTT, and Wednesday for RTW.

2) Book reviews for Thursday

3) Save the weekend for a rest, catch up on writing, chores etc.

4) Take part in the 'Currently' meme for the end of the month and do a post on things to look forward to/goals in the next month.

Do you have any blog goals for 2013? :)

2 Jan 2013

RTW - Book of the Month

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
 
This Week's Topic is:
What's the best book you read in December?
 
December was a slow reading month.  Christmas and New Year are always filled with family get togethers as well as getting everything prepared for the holidays.  The only book I read in December was:
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor
 
The sequel to The Looking Glass Wars was a fantastic read, introducing a new villain that is possibly more dangerous than Redd with their mind games and manipulation.  I really liked the relationship development between Alyss and Dodge.  There's no messing about.  While they're not desperately trying to get together because of other priorities they are not shy to admit their feelings for one another.  It was nice and honest.
 
Alyss continues to be an active heroine.  She protects her kingdom just as much as her guards do and uses her power to battle which she manages quite well.  A very intelligent FMC which I appreciated a lot. 
 
What was your best book of December?


1 Jan 2013

TTT - Books for 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish and each week we're give a topic to answer.  This week and for the first TTT of 2013:

Top Ten Books I Resolve To Read In 2013

1) The Complete Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
I've only read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and I've been meaning to read the whole series for a while.  This Christmas my boyfriend bought me the whole series and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

2) Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard
I've still got this on my shelf *face palm* so I definitely need to get round to reading it this year. 

3) The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Again, another book I've had for a while that I really need to get round to reading.

4) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I'm in a real murder mystery mood at the moment and after seeing numerous retellings of the novel I'm interested in reading the original novel.

5) The Enemy by Charlie Higson
Another thing I'm into at the moment are zombies and I won this book from Miss Cole's British giveaway last year (so weird to be saying last year when it was only 2012 yesterday).

6) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I've seen so many adaptations and know the story well from the films but I've never read the book and had the opportunity to enjoy the story in print form.  This year I plan to change that and finally read the book.

7) Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
I've been recommended this by Colin and I still haven't got around to it.  I promise to do so this year.

8) Stephen King On Writing
Another book that I should have read by now but haven't.  This was being read by quite a few people at one point and reviews were fantastic.  I'm not surprised since it's the King of writing talking about creative writing.  I can't wait to read his thoughts.

9) Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I'm trying to make sure that I keep to a variety in my reading.  Contemporary romance isn't what I usually rush for but a lot of people seemed to have enjoyed this book and I'm willing to give it a shot.

10) Adorkable by Sarah Manning
I loved the sound of this character Jeane.  She seems like she's going to be quite geeky and it'll be nice to see a dorky girl for once.  That's usually given to the guys which I have no problem with (in fact I think we need more geeky guys) but let us geeky girls rule a fictional novel for once! =D