Recommendations: Stephen King

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Shining
A classic place to start if you're new to King's work. Spine-chilling and disturbingly realistic, this will put you off wanting to stay in a hotel for a while and guarantees at least one nightmare.

Much tamer than some of his other novels - although particularly gory in some scenes - Misery is one piece of literature that will no doubt leave you thinking that something like that could actually happen, especially in today's celebrity crazed society.

Full Dark, No Stars
Perhaps one of King's darker pieces, this collection of short stories will have you simultaneously on the edge of your seat and wanting to put the book down. Jam packed will plenty of topics many try to steer clear of - rape, murder, revenge, and justice being but a few. Not for the faint hearted.

Ten Book Challenge

Friday, 24 October 2014

List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Do not take more than a few minutes, and do not think about it too hard. They do not have to be the "right books", or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Paste these instructions and tag 10 friends, including me, so I can see your list!

Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Not much of a surprise that this is first in my list. This book has been a constant throughout basically all of my life and I'm sure it will continue to be.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Again, not much of a surprise, given how much I talk about this series. The story has just completely stuck with me and I am eagerly awaiting the next book and TV series. Plus, it's the first adult high fantasy series I've read, and that has to count for something.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I don't think I could ever forget this trilogy and the effect it's had on my reading ever since. It was the very first dystopian I read, and while I don't totally love the genre, this book is a real gem.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I've had an interest in mythology for a while now, but it was this series that really got me interested in it and I just love how fast paced the story is.

Shift by Em Bailey
One of my absolute favourite books. I can't quite pin-point what it is about it that makes it so special to me, but it seemed to just tick all the boxes, and I can still remember the story now. So it definitely stuck with me.

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
I first read this a good few years ago and adored it, only I lost my copy as I changed bedrooms and my nan decided to have a tidy up. I never forget about it, though, and got my hands on a new copy last year and re-read it. And I still love it just as much.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
This has hands down got to be the best vampire book I've ever read, as well as just being one of the best books I've ever read. I devoured this and I am still not over it.

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
It's probably not very good that this has stayed with me, because it did cause me a bit of distress when I was reading it. But the stories were so powerful that I don't think I'll ever truly forget it.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Again, this book made me uncomfortable as I read it, but I didn't expect anything less from it. The message and power behind it really hit me because I'd never really read about more taboo subjects before.

The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath
Not only did this peak my interest in books relating to psychology and mental illness (and help me understand things a little better), it has also made me realise that adult books can be okay, and that I should probably start reading some more of them.

I have no idea who has or hasn't done this tag, so I tag anyone who wants to do it! Thank you to Paperback Princess for tagging me to do this.

Book Review: The Nixie's Song by Holly Black

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Nixie's Song
Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published: January 14th 2014
Pages: 162
Rating: 2.5 stars

Nick Vargas thinks his sucky life is being turned upside down when his father remarries. So when an expedition to a nearby lake turns up a nixie with a giant problem - it's up to Nick and Laurie (his new step-sister) to come up with a plan. Will they be able to stop the rampaging beast before all of Mangrove Hollow goes up in smoke?

The first book in the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles series was an okay continuation of the world, introducing new fairies and characters and a whole new setting.

It was interesting to read about the creatures - I especially liked the nixie - but I didn't really feel for the characters. I found Laurie to be even more annoying than Nick just because she was portrayed as being a bit of a goody two shoes, when in fact she was rather manipulative. Jules wasn't very developed and overall, everyone just felt a bit flat.

However, I would have been able to overlook that because I did enjoy the fantasy, fairy side of things just as much as (if not more than) the original series, but the inclusion of the author and illustrator really irked me. It ended up making me feel like the first five books were a bit of a joke and I didn't really see the point in it. It came across as a bit big headed and I would have preferred it if it had never been included.

That being said, I did really enjoy the art. DiTerlizzi's style really compliments Black's work, and the pair make a good team.

I just hope the next two books in this series are better than this.

Book Review: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Friday, 10 October 2014

Hollow City
Ransom Riggs
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Published: January 14th 2014
Pages: 396
Rating: 3.5 stars

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine's island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

While I did like Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I didn't really like it. It was good but I had issues with it. Hollow City wastes no time in jumping into things, starting exactly where the first book left off in a way that promised an action packed ride.

I liked how the pictures in this were more to do with the setting and surroundings than the peculiar children. I felt that they went with the story better and were more natural, and after reading Miss Peregrine's I knew how much attention to pay them in order to get the most from the story. Things also seemed to have taken a darker tone in the first few chapters and I really liked that, I think it reflected the situation and mood the characters were in without going overboard.

The characters were also a lot more enjoyable this time around. They had more distinct personalities that were unique to them, and their peculiarities felt more natural and developed - Jacob's especially.

I did, however, have a problem with the 'romance' between Emma and Jacob. I found it unnatural and weird, more so than in the first book where I thought nothing would come of it. The fact that she is - technically - a lot older than him, and was quite heavily involved with his grandpa just... doesn't sit well with me. I also found quite a few grammatical errors as I was reading, but that may be because the edition I read was still fairly new.

Overall, not a great book. A good sequel, just not amazing.

Book Review: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Friday, 3 October 2014

Deep Blue
Jennifer Donnelly
Genre(s): Fantasy, Mermaids, Young Adult
Published: May 1st 2014
Pages: 368
Rating: 3 stars

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be about reuniting with handsome Prince Mahdi, her childhood crush. Instead she finds herself haunted by strange dreams foretelling the return of an ancient evil, and dealing with the deaths of her parents as assassins storm the betrothal ceremony, plunging the city into chaos.

Led only by her shadowy dreams and pursued by the invading army, Serafina and her best friend Neela embark on a quest to avenge her parents' death and prevent a war between the mer nations. In the process they discover a plot that threatens their - and our - world's very existence.

Going into Deep Blue, I had never read another mermaid book before, so I was quite excited. I enjoy the mythology surrounding mermaids and sirens, and from the prologue I could tell that this would be full of it - because chants, italicised foreign language, and names with accents all over the place can't mean anything else.

However, I found that when the story started it was... boring. And confusing, and childish. It took a lot for me to get through the all the obvious explanations and weird names for things (I usually don't have any problems with this element of fantasy - I've read Game of Thrones, for christ's sake). All I can say is, at least there's a glossary.

Despite the confusion and annoyance I felt whilst reading, I do have to admit that a lot of thought and time has been put into creating such a complex world, for children and teens, no less. And the fact that this is the first in a series is admirable, too. There aren't many fantasy series for younger readers with this amount of depth, so kudos to Donnelly for giving it a shot.

After the initial introductions to things, the story did start to pick up. I enjoyed the action after Sera's Dokimi, and I can see how it started to set things up for later in the story, and maybe even the next book. The slow start and fairy tale-esque descriptions at the beginning masked what I found to be quite a good book. It was full of mermaid myth, a rich and detailed world, goo dialogue, and interesting characters. I understand why things got off on the wrong foot - things have to be established somehow - but I don't think I can forgive it for pulling the rest of the story down with it.

I will be continuing on with the Waterfire Saga, but I can't see it becoming one of my favourite series.
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