Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sweet Peril

Title: Sweet Peril (Sweet #2)
Author: Wendy Higgins
Genre: YA
Rating: 5/5
Cover: 8/10

I literally pounced on Sweet Peril when it showed up on my doorstep today (yes today. And yes, it's 370 pages long. Don't judge me, please) because the end of Sweet Evil was just plain mean. I wasn't even sure what I wanted to do with Kai: throttle him, or kiss the living daylights out of him.
For those of you who haven't read Sweet Evil, here's what you need to know: young, sweet, innocent maid (in the old sense of the word, please) Anna, meets dark, dangerous boy, Kai. She finds out she's the daughter of a demon, and so is he. Kai is the son of the demon of lust. Need I say anymore? Stuff happens, it's a bit Romeo & Juliet-like, but without the deaths at the end. You should read it.

The good (or bad, because I missed him so much) thing was that he didn't show up till about halfway through the book, so by then, I was just so happy to see him again, I forgot all about wanting to kill him.
In all seriousness, though. What I really liked about Sweet Peril is that Anna and Zania are clearly shown as strong female leads. And yes, in Zania's case - and sometimes in Anna's, too - that means that they kick ass. But mostly, they are shown to be perfectly able to save themselves. They are damsels. They are frequently in distress. They can handle it.
Yes, the boys do get to swoop in every now and then and play the knights in shining armour to them, but Anna doesn't spend half the book wishing Kai was there to help her get out of the problems she gets herself into. Yes, she wants him there, but because she loves him, not because she wants him to save her. I also particularly enjoyed Blake calling Kai 'her man' instead of her always being 'his girl'. It was a refreshing change.
And even though the book starts out quite tame, boy oh boy, by the time we hit the halfway mark, the action has escalated so much, it's amazing. It skips a few months, which I thought would bother me, but really didn't, and didn't disrupt the narrative in any way, so don't get too freaked out about that. And a few chapters after the halfway mark, the heat gets turned on to a sizzle. After so long between books, and without Kaidan in this book for so long, I'd forgotten how those two got when they were around each other. All I can say is, hot damn baby.

Fans of Sweet Evil, definitely read. Kai doesn't disappoint (well... maybe a bit. At first. But he makes up for it later on, promise!). And if you're looking for an easy summer read, definitely pick this up. As mentioned previously, I finished it in one sitting, which I hand't been able to do in quite a while. It was wonderful to start doing it again with Anna and Kai and the rest of the gang.

Also, can I just say that I think it's fabulous that the winner of the cover contest was called Anna? That was so funny to read! :D

Confessions of a Book Worm #3

Yesterday, I heard someone on a podcast (I'm not going to name names here, 'cause I don't think that's cool) talk about how they thought Hunger Games was a 'soft' dystopia, for those who didn't have the guts to read the 'real stuff', i.e. Battle Royale, etc. They went on to say how ridiculous it was that 40-year-olds were taking Hunger Games seriously.

Listening to that, I wanted to punch something. It reminded me of why I don't usually listen to podcasts, because stuff like this gets spewed out without real thought of what is being said. First of all, Hunger Games is dystopia, yes. Whether you think children being forced to kill each other brutally due to the government's power is 'soft' or not is, I suppose, up to you, so I'm going to hold judgment on that one. However, saying that it's ridiculous that people (even adults) take the story seriously is a whole new level of ridiculous in and of itself.
The world we live in is in chaos right now. Sure, the news channels are trying to downplay it to stop worldwide fear from coming through, but we have protests in Brazil, Greece, Texas, UK, Russia, Australia... We have people fighting for better education and welfare, and living in fear that their protests will result in a military dictatorship. We have women fighting for the right to own their bodies. It's a continuation of the fight for feminism, yes, but just as serious as the fight for the vote, or for equal rights, because guess what - we're still not equal. No one tells a rapist he needs to become an eunuch because he raped a girl and got her pregnant. And yet men want to tell women what to do with the result of the rape. We have have communities fighting for the right to love who they want to, without being called sinners, or being imprisoned for it.
This is a turning point in so many ways. And Hunger Games tells us all about a turning point that went south. We don't see too much of anti-feminism or anti-LGBT in Hunger Games, but the message about conforming to those in power comes through loud and clear. We see mothers being told what to with their children, wit no options. We see couples being broken up because of the government. We see unfair imprisonment. We see a young girl fighting with all she has for her life, her freedom, and her ability to marry who she wants, when she wants, and not be told she has to by the president.
Sound familiar?
So don't come and tell me that Hunger Games shouldn't be taken seriously. It should be taken very, very seriously. Not only because of the message the books sends about standing up for your individual rights as a human being, but also because what happens if this turning point we're at right now turns south too?
Don't even try telling me that no one would ever think of killing kids as coercion. It's been done before, thousands of times, throughout history, so what's to stop it from happening again? Because if this shit goes bad, it's going to be a free-for-all. Then, my friends, 'may the odds be ever in your favour'.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Title: Dusk 
Author: Eve Edwards
Genre: YA
Rating: 4.5/5
Cover: 9/10

I was a bit weary going into Dusk, because I assumed that, being a war novel, it could be a little too heavy for light reading. I'm happy to say that, while it captured the despair and sadness of war, as well as the danger and fear, Dusk still managed to be a fun, entertaining read that just flowed extremely well.

Helen is interesting in that she is very matter-of-fact in stating what she sees as her 'shortcomings' that would make her not be the perfect woman to her father. The mystery of why her sister isn't with her, or why she doesn't mention her sister more in the start intrigues us, as does the fact that, at first, it doesn't seem like the book focuses on a romance; it isn't until a few pages in that she finally mentions Sebastian. 

The interesting thing is that Sebastian mentions her almost instantly. This idea that his love for her is more on the forefront of his mind is echoed in the end of the book, when Helen runs and Sebastian goes after her.

Of course, like any good period romance, the requisite interfering family makes an appearance, trying to split up the couple. However, my favourite part of Dusk was the ending. Although it's open-ended, it doesn't have too big of a cliffhanger, and therefore isn't torture; but it's still enough of one to make sure I'll read Dawn when it comes out. I'd definitely recommend Dusk to anyone looking for a short, sweet book that ends with the promise of happiness.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Gameboard of the Gods

Title: Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: adult
Rating: 5/5
Cover: 8/10 (not sure what/how it links to the story, but the swirls are pretty)

I know I shouldn't; I mean, you'd think that after ten adult books and nine young adult books, I'd be used to it. An yet, this woman's ability to captivate me with her stories never ceases to amaze me. And honestly? I'm hoping it never, ever does. Because, boy do I love the crazy rides her increasingly crazy main girls take me on.

To those of you familiar with Richelle's other works, the only way I can describe Mae (and I won't even try to spell her surname. I'm still trying to tackle Danila's. One crazy name at a time, please) is like, quite literally, a grown up version of Rose if Dimitri had stayed Strigoi, and Rose hadn't broken up with Adrian. Now, that was never a future that appealed to me, because in Rose's case, Dimitri was in the picture, and really, there's just no question when it comes to those two. But with Mae, I was happily surprised.  The similarities between Jason and Adrian can be quite astonishing for those who know what to look for, but at the same time, they're intrinsically different. Still, it was quite a shock to find myself yelling in my mind for them to just get it on already. Of all the books to make me reconsider my feelings on indulging, vice-imbibing, asshole-inclined, superior-minded, arrogant pricks, this was not the one I expected. But it did. And god help me, I fell head over heels in love with Jason. The jury's still out for Adrian, though.
Even more interestingly, is Tessa. The best way I can describe her, if we're still going with the Richelle Mead book examples, is as a bizarre cross between Sydney and a pinch of Rose. And yet something else too, because she's endearing - and while I love both leading ladies mentioned above, neither can be called endearing.
So what's the book about, and what makes it so amazing, you may ask? Join those three characters above, add in some crazy magic/god action, sexual tension thick enough to give even Georgina and Seth a run for their money, politics that are actually, bizarrely, quite intriguing, a dystopian-like country, and top it off with the trademark Mead snark and fabulous dialogue, and you have your answer. And if that doesn't sell you on reading this, then you should just read it because it's a Richelle Mead book, and I've come to learn that that basically means it'll blow your mind.
One thing that was, at first, a bit of the shock, is the third person narration that I wasn't used to with Mead's stories. However, once the book gets going (around page 2, as usual), it only ever stood out again whenever I had to stop reading, and then got back to it. Otherwise, in the flow of the narrative, the story lends itself quite well to third person, and it actually helps to keep the tension up, and kept me curious about the backgrounds of Mae and Jason, making me want to read on even more.
Also, to any budding YA readers out there who want to read more RM stuff, but are weary of the adult content, this is a pretty safe place to start. Leave Dark Swan and especially leave the Georgina Kincaid books alone until you can deal with explicit scenes; Gameboard of the Gods is really quite tame considering the usual amount of debauchery I've come to associate with adult books, although I suspect that might change in the next book. No swearing either, so safe enough.
Otherwise, definitely worth a read to any lovers of Richelle Mead, and/or good supernatural books. With a hint of dystopia to boot ;)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The 5th Wave Giveaway!

That's right, my first giveaway!
If you live in this world and like dystopia, then you've most likely heard of Rick Yancey's new book, 'The 5th Wave'. In case you haven't, though, here's my review of it.

Now down to the fun stuff. I'm giving away a bran-spanking-new copy of The 5th Wave. You might well ask yourself why the hell I would do that? It just so happens that the copy I reviewed was an ARC, and so I got this extra one lying around. So I figured a great book like this should be read - and now you get the chance to do so, for free! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 03, 2013

Confessions of a Book Worm #2

The problem with "that's misogynistic" in relation to books. Oh yeah. I'm going there.
See, I read somewhere quite some time ago that it was funny how, in the Victorian Era, when Jane Austen was writing, the girls in the books were portrayed as strong, independent women who knew what they wanted, and didn't let any man tell them what to do. Yes, they fell in love and married, but they didn't marry simply because it was what society expected them to do. And while it might be argued that really, Austen, the Bronte sisters and other women writers of the time were simply trying to out across the message that marriage wasn't all bad, we do have to recognise that very few women actually behaved like that at the time.
Even more ridiculous, this person thought, was the fact that, today, when women have, supposedly, gained equality to men (don't get me started on that supposedly. I could go on for days), the heroines in the books are Bella Swans, and Anna Steeles, who are only happy to let the man dictate their every move - the latter in a more... ahem, extreme way. This person believed that such books were a step back in the feminism fight, and were a disgrace to the world.
And this is where the problem lies. I'll be honest: I read Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Even more honestly: I liked them. The epitome of honesty: I would never, ever consent to a relationship like that. It's not for me. However, my main problem with Fifty critics is that they seem to be making a stink of the fact that the book is a Twilight fanfic, and must, therefore, be crap by default (since we're sharing, I'll admit to having been a Twilight fan. When I was 12. We grow up. When you're twelve, a perfect boy sounds... well, perfect. Today, if I met Edward, I'd likely kill him within the hour). Then they go on to call it "porn". I'm not very clear on what counts as porn in book terms. I only ever thought of porn in terms of movies before, so who the hell knows. Maybe it is. And guys buy those movies by the droves, don't deny it. So what's the problem about Fifty being porn, if that's what you want to call it? It might be because it became famous, and porn is usually considered something that should be kept hush-hush. But the main reason, as far as I can see, is that women are reading porn. God forbid! Women might be masturbating while reading Fifty Shades of Grey! The horror!
Yeah. Because, as a person who read all 3 books, I can safely say there are hot moments, even for a non-BDSM inclined person like myself. The thing is, there is also a solid character development, and interesting, if predictable, plot line. It's not just sex sex and more sex. So the comments about how Fifty is anti-feminist? Well. What exactly do people see in the book that is misogynistic? The fact that the man is the dom, and the woman is the sub? Just because a book about a dom woman and a sub man hasn't been written (or maybe it has - it's just not famous), doesn't mean it doesn't happen just as much as the situation presented in Fifty. In fact, if people had taken the time to read Fifty, they would know that in fact, there is such a relationship mentioned in the books. It's not in the forefront, but it is mentioned and acknowledged.
But if you hate Fifty on principle, let's look at other literary pieces. Richelle Mead's Dark Swan series have a really strong, independent and kick-ass heroine, Eugenie Markham. She kills the shit that gives you nightmares. She is badass. Feminist, right? Well. What if I told you she was in to bondage with her boyfriend? Does that instantly make her anti-feminist? NO. It makes her a well-rounded character, who likes things kinky in the boudoir. Nothing wrong with that. And there is no way in hell Mead can be called a misogynist.
Another example, and one which makes me even more incensed than the Fifty debacle: Harry Potter. I have seen and heard countless people say "it's misogynist, because the women are always secondary characters". Let me just point out that the series might be called 'Harry Potter', and Potter might be the Chosen One, but he would have died at the age of eleven without ever even knowing that it was Quirrell if not for Hermione. Ginny Weasley is the most powerful wizard in the entire Weasley family. Minerva McGonagall almost single-handedly decides to stand up against Voldemort in Deathly Hallows, and gives instructions to all other teachers about what to do. Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix. And Bellatrix herself probably kills more people than even Voldemort does. Personally, I'd be more scared if I met Bellatrix in a dark alley than I would be if I met Voldemort. Luna Lovegood is eccentric, but uncannily clever. Umbridge nearly destroys Hogwarts. I could go on. On the flip side, Ron is clumsy, Harry is dependent on Hermione, Fudge was too scared to face Dumbledore, so he sent Umbridge, who wasn't scared. The one thing the Weasleys wanted more than anything was a girl daughter.
So why, exactly, is it so easy for us to just turn and say "it's misogynist"? If you want a real example of misogyny, you should read Euripirdes' Medea. Misogyny is telling women they can't read a book because they might get aroused reading it. Misogyny isn't writing a book whose main character is a guy; it's treating the female characters as if they were not important simply because they're female. Misogyny is making women believe that wanting what they want and liking what they like - be it bondage, BDSM, vanilla, or becoming a nun - is wrong because they have to conform to men's expectations because they are the "fragile sex". Misogyny is demeaning women because they don't have a penis.
Misogyny does still happen, yes, but not half as much, at least in literature, as most people would have us believe.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Moon and More

Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA
Rating: 5/5
Cover: 8/10

I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into The Moon and More. Quite a few friends of mine have been Sarah Dessen (hi, Kim and Amy) fans for quite some time now, but I just never got around to reading any of her books.
I had quite the cheer team behind me while reading this book though, I can say that much. And since I love my friends and trust their taste in all things, including literature, I knew the book wouldn't be horrible.
But there's something about chick-flicks. Once you've read the first, it's quite safe to say you have more likely than not, read them all. The formula hardly ever changes, so it can be quite hard to be fully interested and invested in the story when you know how the story is going to end.
But I was happily surprised with The Moon and More. Throughout the book, I wasn't quite sure where it was going, and with who Emaline was going to end up with - and since that's usually the focus of chick-lit, this was a nice change. Usually, I can spot the HEA coming from miles away. Not this time. Which made reading actually interesting because I wanted to know, and not only out of morbid curiosity about how it would happen.
Also nice was the MC, Emaline, who is a spunky, takes-no-crap-from-anyone kind of girl which reminded me quite a lot of myself (except I don't have one boyfriend, never mind two guys running after me. Also, I don't live in a cute seaside town).
It was a wonderfully light and easy read for the half-term, and kept me highly entertained with Emaline's humour and snarky remarks to Ivy. Definitely worth a read.