Saturday, 29 October 2011

Follow Friday

It's that time again! Make sure you head over to Parajunkie's View and check out the humungoid list of fellow book bloggers!

This weeks Featured blogger is fabulous Ems and her blog of whimsy In Which Ems Reviews Books. Be sure to head over and check her out.

So (drumroll) this weeks question is:

Q: If you could have dinner with your favorite book character, who would you eat with and what would you serve?

Well my choice is easy but I doubt I could provide the amazing kind of food she seems to enjoy in the books! I'd totally choose Ai Ling from Silver Phoenix and Fury of The Phoenix cos that girl really appreciates food! Totally a character after my own heart, she follows delicious smells without thinking and wants to try absolutely everything! I guess I'd need to serve a massive banquet with lots of succulently sauced meats, jeweled rice, sugared fruits and fragrant tea.
But I reckon Ai Ling would be just as happy with some homemade scones with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Eye of the Beholder
For a title that's only available on e-readers this is one awesome cover. Certainly eye catching and pretty apt considering the amount of alcohol that's consumed in this book, I know I've had few morning afters where I truly believed Hell had set up shop on my tongue!

Take On Me
Abby Abernathy has a few rules she needs to stick to if she’s going to get through her college years at Eastern without her past catching up with her. Study hard, be good and above all stay away, far away, from the bad boys. A promise she finds difficult to keep after experiencing her first underground college fight and runs headfirst into the infamous Travis ‘Mad Dog’ Maddox. Shaved head, tattoos and famously free with his affections for the females, Travis is everything Abby needs to avoid lest her shady Vegas past drags her down again. But with her best friend from home, America (seriously that is her name) dating Travis’ cousin and roommate Shepley, he proves impossible to ignore. And when Abby foolishly accepts and loses Travis’ wager, she finds herself the roommate of Eastern’s most notorious bad boy for a whole month.

Mad About The Boy
I have no idea what possessed me to pick this little morsel up, I’m not usually a straight down the line romance kind of girl (although I do enjoy the odd smutty scene!). But it was a decent price, it was an ebook (so no waiting for the post) and it seems to be getting some high praise from the Amazonians so I thought what the hell. Man am I glad I read this book!

Firstly I totally loved Abby, she was self sufficient, practical but not above letting herself go with a bit of bad behaviour. Basically she was tonnes of fun and I wished she was real so her and I could totally go dancing together. She was pretty clueless at times as well (especially when it came to Travis) but never in that severely frustrating way where you swear the main character must be blind and stupid, I completely got that her reluctance to admit her own feelings was forcing her to ignore Travis’.

And Travis Maddox! What an awesome name for an incredible character. Travis is not your usual run of the mill bad boy turned good for the woman he loves (thank god cos those guys are boring) He’s already a pretty decent guy when they first meet, none of that smouldering sneery faced ‘treat ‘em mean’ malarkey. OK so he is a complete man whore and he is certainly less then civil to all of his conquests but once Abby has established that the two of them are only going to be friends, he only ever treats her with respect and, quite frankly, becomes adorably protective of her. Although he definitely takes ‘protective’ to a whole new level.
"Adam threw a scarlet square of fabric on Marek's limp body, and the mob detonated. Cash changed hands once again, and the expressions divided into the smug and the frustrated.
I was pushed around with the movement of those coming and going. America called my name from somewhere in the back, but I was mesmerized by the trail of red from my chest to my waist.

A pair of heavy black boots stepped in front of me, diverting my attention to the floor. My eyes traveled upward; jeans spattered with blood, a set of finely-chiseled abs, a bare tattooed chest drenched in sweat, and finally a pair of warm, brown eyes. I was shoved from behind, and Travis caught me by the arm before I fell forward.

"Hey! Back up off her!" Travis frowned, shoving anyone who came near me. His stern expression melted into a smile at the sight of my shirt, and then he dabbed my face with a towel. "Sorry about that Pigeon."
Adam patted the back of Travis' head. "C'mon, Mad Dog! You have some dough waitin' on ya!"

His eyes didn't stray from mine. "It's a damn shame about the sweater. It looks good on you" In the next moment he was engulfed by fans, disappearing the way he came. 
"What were you thinking you idiot?" America yelled, yanking my arm.
"I came here to see a fight, didn't I?" I smiled."
In a book that has bare knuckle fighting, indiscriminate sex and drunken shenanigans it’s a given that Abby and Travis’ relationship was hardly going to be all flowers, cookies and gushy feelings. Nope, they were way more interesting to read about, these two are constantly at odds and at times it’s became hearth wrenchingly sad to see them dig into each other. They sort of become that couple, the one you remember from school or University who were nothing but drama, everything was either amazing or downright awful and everybody had to witness their daily shout fests. Weirdly even though I found those couples insufferable in real life, they don’t half make for fascinating reading! Plus the adorable additions of America and Shepley help to ground the two, they were great secondary characters and never shied from calling out either Travis or Abby when they got a little dramatic.

In the beginning Beautiful Disaster is really just that familiar romance story in which the sneaky machinations of the hero are all in order to get the heroine to fall for him (or at least to not hate his guts). But this story goes way past that initial happy ending and shows you how hard it is to keep that perfect forever after, how’s it’s not just down to great sex or even love, it needs honesty and the acceptance that some things need to be let go. This epiphany didn’t even occur to me until a day after I finished the book! Up till then it was just a great fun story, but it has stuck with me and I’m so glad I took a chance on reading it.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Blue Shell
Is there such a thing as a perfect cover? One where it’s style, originality and relevance to the story come together beautifully into a tasty pile of scrumptiousness. Like combining pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, all delicious items of munch on their own, but together they are perfection. This cover is all that and glass of fruit juice.

Banana Bomb
It’s 2044, we’ve stripped the earth bare of most of her resources and wars are being waged over what‘s left, there is little to enjoy about life in the USA. Between scrabbling for food stamps and sharing a trailer with his hateful Aunt and 20 other desperate people, Wade Watts only has one good thing in this life: the OASIS. Created by the eccentric and reclusive James Halliday, a man obsessed with the 80’s of his youth. OASIS is a virtual online universe of infinite possibilities, where you can be whatever you want, go wherever you want and own whatever you want. Or at least you can if you can afford it. But for now Wade has to make do with the free limited access he gets to attend school on the virtual plain.
Something that will have to change if he’s ever going to going to be a serious competitor for the ultimate prize, a prize that will be awarded to whoever cracks Halliday’s final riddle and completes his hidden tests. Complete ownership of OASIS as well as the billionaire’s entire fortune.

But years pass after the Halliday’s death and still no one has made any progress unlocking the first riddle. That is until the fateful day Wade’s name appears at the top of the scoreboard for all to see. And not everybody after the prize is willing to play fair.

'I Defeated the Sword Master of Melee Island and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.'
If I was to write a list of the emotions my brain experienced while reading this book it would probably go a little bit like this: Excitement, Anticipation, Love, More Excitement, Fist Punching the Air, Trepidation, Love, Joy, Tears, Adoration, Oodles of more Excitement and finally Book hugging Love. But that doesn’t really make for an interesting review and it makes me sound like an excitable Chihuahua.

So I'll begin with the world, both of them. This is a bleak future that Wade lives in and it's the usual dystopian problems of limited resources, widespread poverty and crime so it's no wonder that the majority of the story takes place within the OASIS, probably the greatest virtual online platform known to fiction (I seriously would rate this even above the Star Trek holodeck, and I wanted to live there when I was a child!). It's structured like a multiverse of planetary systems and each planet can be fashioned in any way the creator chooses, it's virtual so there are no restraints. And the imagination Mr Cline has put into describing the places Wade visits is extraordinary. You would think that a world based solely on the fandoms of the past and present would somehow be limiting or that they would be employed as a sort of cheap nostalgic thrill to hook us nerdy lot in. Not so, the OASIS is beautifully realised and feels completely authentic, if it existed today (and goddamn it why doesn't it!) I have no doubt that it would resemble almost exactly what Mr Cline has created, this man knows how fans think.
“I’d designed my avatar’s face and body to look, more or less, like my own. My avatar had a slightly smaller nose than me, and he was taller. And thinner. And more muscular. And he didn’t have any teenage acne. But aside from these minor details, we looked more or less identical.”
And, more importantly, how we talk. The dialogue is charming, awkward and believable. Wade is a sixteen year old boy with an obsession, to crack James Halliday's final riddle. And his knowledge of the eccentric genius is encyclopedic, Wade is a human library on the games, movies, music and pop culture that Halliday loved and (like all serious fans) there's nothing he loves more then to discuss them. Which he does, at length with his only real (albeit virtual) friend Aech, the semi famous online arena fighter. The scenes between these two are hilarious and at times all a little bit too real for me (I have been known to take some movie/game arguments a little too far). And once he meets Art3mis, the avatar he's been crushing on through her blog posts, I really started to love Wade and his adorable round about way of flirting, despite the fact he knows full well that Art3mis could quite possibly be a 25 stone 40 year old man in real life.
“I watched a lot of YouTube videos of cute geeky girls playing '80s cover tunes on ukuleles. Technically, this wasn't part of my research, but I had a serious cute-geeky-girls-playing-ukuleles fetish that I can neither explain nor defend.”
Despite Wade's superior Halliday knowledge and the fact that he is the first to break the first riddle, he is still at a disadvantage when his sudden international fame brings him to the attention of the IOI corporation, the seriously bad guys in this story. They employ hundreds of experts, use top of the range equipment and all they want is to win that prize and take OASIS to turn it in to the money making machine it could be, and they are more then willing to kill for it. The IOI guys (or Sixers as they're known) were effectively brutal villains and their leader, Sorrento, is as charmingly evil as they come.

This is a book for anyone who has ever loved a movie or a game or anything so much they just wanted everyone else to love it as much as they did. And this is exactly how I feel about this book, it is currently my Favorite Book of The Year so far and I have already enticed four other people to enjoy it as well, usually by throwing it at them repeatedly until they relented, needless to say they thanked me later (and the bruises totally faded!). 

Do not let this book go unread!

Review is based on an advanced reader copy which was kindly supplied by NetGalley. My review is a honest account and absolutely no payment was received for it. I also then went and purchased a copy anyway as it was so freakin' awesome!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Follow Friday

It's that time again! Make sure you head over to Parajunkie's View and check out the humungoid list of fellow book bloggers!

This weeks Featured blogger is the lovely Kati and her spanking blog the: Jagged Edge. Be sure to head over and check her out.

So (drumroll) this weeks question is:

Q. If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

Had a good think about this while staring at my bookshelves. Firstly thought about Deryn from the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfield, cos lets face it, she's serving on a giant flying whale airship in an alternative WWI against humungous German robots! But she's a lot younger then me so I reckon that would be a bit weird (going through puberty once is more than enough for me!)
So I finally settled on the industrious and sharp witted Veronica Hobbs from the Newbury and Hobbs series by George Mann. I currently have a serious addiction for all things steampunk and Victorian and Mr Mann's series is the perfect antidote. She gets to battle clockwork zombies, foil insane geniuses, look after her clairvoyant sister and whip Sir Maurice Newbury into shape when he's feeling sorry for himself.   A pretty perfect heroine.