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A-red-lipstick-wearing bibliophile extraordinaire. Word nerd & Joss Whedon fangirl; Literature lover & book reviewer. Lady Libertine; Tea collector; Potterhead.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Review: A Clash of Kings

Well, George R. R. Martin has done it again.
From where we last left off, the allied lands have fallen into disrepair. King Joffrey reigns over a broken kingdom, alongside his mother and the newly appointed King's hand.
Robb Stark means to make war as the new, and self appointed King of the North, while Joffrey's uncles, Stannis and Renly, try to claim ownership of the Iron Throne.
Meanwhile, Daenerys plots to overthrow the usurpers and rule over the Seven Kingdoms, and Theon Greyjoy appoints himself as the next King of the Iron Islands. And if that's not enough to whet your appetite, Jon Snow and the rest of The Night's Watch ready themselves for some exploration across the Wall.
War is indeed brewing, and it's coming to claim them all, and soon.

A Game of Thrones simply blew me away in terms of sword and sorcery, and I knew I needed time before throwing myself into another 800+ page epic. It's needless to say that A Clash of Kings didn't disappoint, and it was definitely worth the wait. There was a bit more alchemy and magic involved in this seemingly never ending book of war, which I have to say I was really excited to see. I'm completely happy with all the 'sword' bits, but a little more sorcery can go a long, long way.

Unfortunately I'm at an impasse again when it comes to reviewing these books. There is so much information I would love to talk about but am unable to do so, in order to keep it all spoiler free. I loved reading this book though, as well as being disgustingly well written it was just a pure joy to experience, from beginning to end. The complexities of the Kingdoms was beautifully explained and thought out, usually I get confused with the endless barrage of words in stories like this but I found this a lot easier to follow.
I have to admit, it's not without it's faults- at times the plot dragged a bit, particularly with Daenerys. I found her to be almost insignificant in this part of the series, which is a shame as her storyline has potential to be one of the most interesting. It was one of those parts in the book that I wouldn't have missed, should they be removed completely. Although, I did feel that there was decidedly a lack of the Night's Watch in terms of moving  the plot forward. I would have liked to have seen more of it, and taken some of the war bits out. I'm hoping there'll be an improvement when I start the next book.

Even with the lulls, it had a way of pulling me straight back into the plot with no warning whatsoever. There were more 'Oh my God' moments in this book than I've had with any other. At some points I flat out refused the plot direction, it was an unhealthy reminder that Martin is an untrustworthy and malicious author who finds pleasure in ruining my life. He is like J.K. Rowling without the age restrictions. I've been trying  to stop some of the characters from worming their way into my heart, and failing, I don't know what their fates are going to be and it's making me miserable. I get to flex my masochistic muscle and love every detailed description of despair, which is wonderful in it's own messed up little way.

The end of the book, much like the first, just falls away and I'm left in limbo wondering what on earth is going to happen next. My mind was reeling with the sheer amount of information I was left with, and found myself almost drunk with it. The book hangover that followed the next day was awful.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Monday, 11 March 2013

Review: Pretties

** Warning! Contains spoilers! **

When we first meet Tally Youngblood in Uglies, she is living in Uglyville, waiting for the day she can join the land of the Pretties via mandatory beautifying surgery.
After going on the run and realising that actually, all the Pretties have lesions in their brains to make them complacent- Tally voluntarily undergoes the transformation in order to help find a cure.
In Pretties, we are introduced to the Pretty Tally, who has no recollection of her time in the wild or her dear beloved, David. Now she's all about the parties, the drinking and the beautiful people; the beautiful people.

There is so much wrong with this book, I'm unsure of where I should begin, so I'll start in the most obvious place, the language.
The Pretties like, have this dialect that they think is way bubbly, when in actual fact it's totally missing. It's like, zero milli-Helens out of a possible one whole Helen. I'm sure Scotty-wa didn't mean for it to be bogus, but it was just completely misery making. 
Apart from being completely distracting and ridiculous, it made the whole of New Pretty Town seem like they were extras in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. It was really a huge obstacle in the way of me actually enjoying the book, and it wasn't the only one.
The only redeeming quality in this book was the fact that there wasn't a blow-by-blow account of Tally on her hover board, Tally falling off her hover board and Tally being saved by her crash bracelets. I count it as a small mercy though, and not an all out win.

I'm well aware that sometimes in a series, books can follow the same formula; this happens a lot for example, in the Alex Rider series. However, Pretties has exactly the same plot as Uglies. Instead of wanting to be Pretty, Tally this time wants to be a Crim- her whole world seems to revolve around this clique and her quest to belong in it. Once she gets lost in the Wilderness, again; she finds herself in a love triangle, again. The same sequence of events takes the same overly long time to unfold, again. I really felt as though I was reading the same book but with additional irritating colloquialisms and some of the worst handling of taboo subjects I have ever seen.

Once the Crims become aware of the lesions in their brain, they commence in a growing rate of destructive behaviour in order to gain brief periods of clarity, or in Pretty-talk: 'bubbly'. Such behaviour includes extreme and dangerous stunts, starvation and self-injury. If that wasn't enough to set my teeth on edge, the latter gave way to a separate group called Cutters- who were ritualistic group self-injurers.
I'm not opposed to subjects such as these being approached in literature but when it's done in a way that somehow makes it entirely justifiable and the right way to deal with things, is not okay with me. Nor does this shoddy attempt at being controversial blindside me in the sheer number of plot holes littered throughout this book.
The main source being Tally's knowledge. The book starts off with her being absolutely unaware of any history whatsoever; her time on the run and the boy she fell in love with were completely alien to her. When her memories started coming back, she was what only can be described as a medical miracle; suddenly she remembered ancient history like she'd just read it out of a book. With the simple explanation of, "Tally remembered from her lessons in school..." was the equivalent of putting a plaster on a gaping wound, considering in Uglies she didn't even know what a railway line was. As a reader, I was just meant to accept this and I wasn't having any of it.

When the author wasn't bombarding us with very obvious inconsistencies he spent the remainder of his time preaching about the passed and how awful it was. The 'Rusties' and the 'Pre-Rusties' were stupid, barbaric and awful. It seems as though Westerfeld wanted a platform to release every issue he has with the world and used his book to do so. The plot once again becomes lost in this Rustie-bashing, as there is no proof to say otherwise, I tend to forget why exactly we're trying to change the world back into the awful place it once was. The world just isn't believable, there's only a shallow explanation to how the world became the way it did, I would like to say Westerfeld explores more in the next two books, but honestly I wouldn't bet my life on it.

I tried to give this series a chance, even after the first book got less than favourable reviews on my part but after this debacle I'm hanging up my Pretty dress and beating myself into a bloody pulp with the ugly stick. It's time for me to re-enter the world of the Rusties you guys, and I dont think I'll be returning.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day to all!
I pretty much love any book related celebration out there! Especially ones that enables me to share my love of books to anyone who is willing to listen.

What I particularly love about World Book Day is the fact that it targets children to pick up a book and really enjoy themselves. The book tokens provided in schools will allow them to read outside of school. I also happen to know a teacher or two out there who are dressing up as characters today, so the whole experience is about good, clean, wordy fun!

I was taught to enjoy reading from an incredibly early age, and couldn't imagine where my life would be without it. In an age where technology and gaming pretty much rules the world, reminding children you can have the same kind of fun whilst reading warms my heart incredibly.

In the spirit of the day I thought I'd share some of my favourite children's books, if I've reviewed them the titles will be clickable. So without further ado:

1) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K Rowling: We all know the story here, 11 year-old orphaned boy discovers he has magic and is about to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Oh, and he's famous for being The-Boy-Who-Lived. So many people haven't read this series yet, and I urge you to do so, whatever age you are. There is nothing out there quite like it.

2) Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll: Young Alice finds herself falling down a rabbit hole and into a very peculiar world, where nothing is quite what it seems. If you want mind-boggling imagery with beautiful splashes of colour this is certainly the book I would point you towards. If you can, procure a book with the original illustrations- they accompany the rest of the book beautifully.

3) The Twits - Roald Dahl: Probably my favourite book by Dahl, which tells the tale of the horrible couple Mr and Mrs Twit who live in a brick house with no windows, have a family of pet monkeys and who hate each other so much, all they want to do is play pranks on one another. You can get nothing but laughs out of any book by Dahl, but I'd always recommend starting off with this one.

4) Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie: One of the most wonderful magical tales out there. Peter, the boy who wouldn't grow up, befriends the Darling children and flies them off to have an adventure in Neverland. The writing is a little hard to get your head around, considering it's publication date is 1911 but once you do, you discover there is a tale that has incomparable beauty.

5) The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter: The story of a mischievous Peter Rabbit who is chased around the garden of Mr McGregor despite being warned by his mother not to go there. A book recommendation for the very young here, but it doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed by any age, if you haven't had a chance to read it you most certainly should!

There are so many others out there, but these are the ones I love very much. A special mention goes to Percy Jackson and the Olympians; The Alex Rider Series and The Jimmy Coates Series. All of which I have started (or completed) reading and have more in depth reviews already written for them.

Thank you for taking the time out to read this, I hope I've added some titles to your shopping list. Enjoy the rest of your World Book Day and remember World Book Night  is just around the corner!

Happy Reading!