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

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Review: Target (Jimmy Coates, #2)

Initially I just wanted to publicly request that Mr Craig no longer put my emotions through a meat grinder, but decided I am made of sterner stuff. I can deal with the Rowling's and Martin's of the world, so I can deal with this too. I think.

When we last saw Jimmy, he had escaped the clutches of NJ7, and was making his way to France with his family and friends in tow. All is not well in the world though, as his best friend's parents are still being held captive by NJ7, and it's up to him to figure out a way to rescue them.
Meanwhile in England, NJ7 are secretly plotting his demise, by means of a second assassin who is just like Jimmy. Except this one isn't as reluctant to become the killing machine he is destined to be.

We get to find out a little bit more about a futuristic Britain in a dictatorship, it has an air of dystopian future to it which I really enjoyed.
Jimmy also gets to understand his programming a little bit more, but with his advancing list of skills comes an ever present inner conflict. I love me some inner conflict with a helping of moral dilemmas, this takes me back to my days of obsessing over vampires with souls. (I'm talking the Louis' and the Angels of the world, none of this Cullen nonsense.) I'm not sure what it is about this boy, but I can't come to terms with the hurdles he has to jump through in this book. Once you begin to see him as a machine, Craig will throw in a curveball and remind us all that's he's still an innocent, and very young boy. Damn near broke my heart sometimes.

I loved Killer, the first in this series and it just gets better with the sequel. It's the same incredibly well written stuff, but it gets alarmingly dark sometimes. I had to remind myself that it is indeed a children's book, so nothing will get too crazy. (Says the self confessed Rowling fangirl.)
I won't lie, I sort of don't want to know what's in store for Jimmy; I'm of a sensitive disposition and don't think my heart can take it. However, I'll be lying to myself if I don't pick up this book as soon as possible. The imagination of the author has me hooked now, but honestly I'm just hoping things start to get better soon.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Remember to follow Joe Craig on Twitter, he's an immensely funny man. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

World Book Night!

Happy World Book Night/ St. George's Day and Happy Birthday to The Bard, Mr. William Shakespeare!

I rarely need an excuse to shamelessly promote reading to as many people as I possibly can. World Book Night is one of those occasions where I take my babbling off the screen, and out on to the streets of Birmingham.

I've been lucky enough to be a giver for the second year running, and this time saw me giving out 20 copies of 'Treasure Island' by Robert Louis Stevenson. (You can find my review for it here.)
Prepping for the evening is the least exciting bit of the process, but I found myself making little gifts out of the books. Which included little skull-and-cross-bones tags* (pictured), and small handwritten notes on the wrapping paper. Not tooting my own horn, but I would have loved to receive one of my own books this evening!

4pm came far too quickly, but I found myself more than ready to spread the word of literature like pixie dust. Conclusion: The people of Birmingham believe in books! We had the most perfect weather, and I'm sure that made people far more agreeable and open to listen to me. I found myself completely out of books in just under two hours! I still had more than enough time to have a nice conversation with a few of the people I spoke with. It was a beautiful thing, and has topped up my faith in the world of first time readers. And in my city of course.

World Book Night posted an interesting request via their social media pages, asking everyone to update their statuses to, "I love reading because..." At first I found it difficult to put into words just why I love reading, and literature generally.
I feel after my giving today, I feel more would say that I love reading because it's concrete evidence that magic exists in the world.

I hope you all enjoyed your World Book Night as much as I did in whichever way you decided to celebrate. I will now conclude off my evening with some light reading, followed by some heavier reading.

Be sure to follow World Book Night on Twitter, for information about their future events and how to apply to be a giver in 2014.

Happy Reading!
- Kaveeta

* The skull tags were made by my incredibly talented crafty friend Emma. She really is brilliant, if you love these tags, I would strongly recommend checking out and liking her Facebook Pages, here and here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Book Event: Eoin Colfer

If I had to make a book cocktail, by which I mean a cocktail that would create an ideal book- it would contain the following things:
  • Magic
  • A little bit of Sci-fi, not talking time travel here, but time travel helps. 
  • A painfully funny/inventive author penning the works
  • A character, ideally a villain who I can potentially, albeit inappropriately view as sexy and;
  • Some fast paced 'I can't put this down' sort of action.

    Bonus ingredient:
  • A potential candidate for the Severus Snape Award.

Eoin Colfer's first in his new series, seems to possess all these things (the last I won't be sure about until I actually read it). If his Artemis Fowl books are anything to go by, I found myself unable to contain my excitement. I was lucky enough this weekend to attend a Waterstones event/book signing for the promotion of 'The Reluctant Assassin' and I can honestly say I can't remember the last time I've had so much fun. 

The story starts with W.A.R.P (Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme) which is a covert FBI operation that hides witnesses in the past to protect the future.
Riley is an orphan from the Victorian era who is thrown into the 21st century. He is on the run from his
evil master Garrick, a retired magician who uses his magical abilities towards assassination. Together with FBI agent Chevie Savano, Riley attempts to dodge Garrick as they are relentlessly hunted down through time.

Colfer read an excerpt from his book, which 'brought his characters to life on stage'. Magic, fire, hilarity and gun shots came shortly thereafter. The mini-play was followed by an equally hilarious question and answer session, it warmed my heart through seeing how enthusiastic the children in the audience were. It was a great reminder that there are kids out there who are the way I was when I was their age. The event ended with a book signing, and it was needless to say that I was the oldest person getting a book signed for themselves. I HAVE NO SHAME. I relive my youth on a near constant basis, and I guess this time is no different really. Although, I guess there was a bit of embarrassment on my part when everyone thought 'Kaveeta' was my eight year old niece.

'W.A.R.P, A Reluctant Assassin' is out now if you wish to purchase the book. If you're unfamiliar with
the author's work, he is a brilliant children's writer and is the man behind Part Six of Three in the Hitchhiker's Trilogy. You can find out more about his works and the man himself, here. I absolutely cannot wait to get started with this book, and I will definitely be reviewing it as soon as I'm done so watch this space.

I don't usually get in to the habit of posting my face on my entries, but I felt like you all needed to see the sheer joy on my face after the afternoon's theatrics. 
I guess I should thank Waterstones Birmingham for getting such an amazing and hilarious man to do this for us. I'm looking forward to many hours of happy reading!

- Kaveeta.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Review: Skulduggery Pleasant (#1)

Two things happened at the reading of Stephanie's late Uncle's will.
One: He'd left her everything; which includes the royalties to all his best selling books and his enormous mansion. 
Two: she meets a strange man wearing sunglasses, and a scarf covering his mouth. All Stephanie learns of this man is that his name is Skulduggery Pleasant, he was a friend of her Uncle's, and he'd inherited a piece of advice.

Stephanie is staying the night at her new mansion, when someone breaks in and tries to kill her. Before they succeed in their mission though, the strange man from the will reading barges in and saves her life. During the struggle the man loses his disguise, and Stephanie discovers that her Uncle's friend is, in fact a living, breathing skeleton. (Although, he doesn't actually breathe.) 
He's also an undead detective and magic maker, with an obvious penchant for pyromancy. A man who's dress sense is as sharp as his wit, and someone who is probably a lot cooler than the infinitely cool cars he drives. If I have to be honest with myself, I'd say he's a little sexy, too. You know, as far as skeletal wizard-detectives go in any case. 

It's from him Stephanie discovers an underbelly to Uncle Gordon's life, where sorcery exists and where he spent an alarming amount of his time in grave danger. Skulduggery and his newly appointed sidekick go on an adventure that's full of magic, mystery and danger; trying to uncover the meaning of the attack at Gordon's home. They both silently cling to the weak hope that it's not the beginning of some great nefarious scheme, but if it is... It's certain they have to stop it.

The story is fantastically written, it's so easy to read and the imagery is almost perfectly described in terms of detail. The characters are all fantastic, they all possess a universal charm and wit, you can't help but like the bad guys as well.
The writing style is just marvellous, and had me genuinely cracking up with laughter, it's not too complicated for children, and as just the right amount of dry/dark humour to be entertaning for adults as well. These sorts of writers always have it the hardest I think, to be entertaining and humerus (ha, see what I did there?) for both children and adults alike is no easy feat. Derek Landy makes it seem so effortless. 

Every page of this book was a huge joy to read, and it's really set the bar high for any new Children's series I begin to read after it. If you enjoy this sort of literature as much as I do, it'll be perfect for you.

Rating: ★★★

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Review: The Dark

What would you count as your greatest fears? Heights? Never finding true love? Or perhaps it’s finding a hole in your favourite sweater. If I had to think about it, mine would probably be losing my favourite red lipstick, but for Laszlo, his greatest fear is the dark. Unfortunately for him, the darkness lives in his house too. Usually, it creeps in all the usual places in a house such as cupboards, and downstairs in the basement. One evening though, the darkness leaves it’s confines and enters Laszlo’s room and it’s here he has to confront the faceless and deal with his ultimate fear. 

I love the way Snicket approaches the realm of fears in this, especially of something as being afraid of the dark and the unknown. He hasn't added things that go bump in the night, or any sort of boogie monsters or supernatural beings. There's nothing that can be defeated, or even something that can be killed. It's simply something that Laszlo has to learn to deal with. It seems here, that for our protagonist (wonderful, beautiful, and completely Snickety name), his fear is fear itself.

There is no question or doubt in my mind, this book is utter perfection. The Dark’s voice has a creepy edge to it, which I completely expected. Snicket always injects his children’s stories with some adult humour, but still manages to maintain a child friendly atmosphere. Although the dark is a huge mysterious and sometimes intimidating force, it also acts as a guardian and teacher- showing Laszlo that actually there isn't anything to be afraid of. There is a particular page that talks about how one thing cannot exist without the other, it was a wonderful addition, although sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the book's layout. In terms of reading out loud though, it could probably be skipped and no one would really notice.

This is the usual extra large helping of Snickety goodness with the addition of the beautiful illustrations from Jon Klassen. I've not had the pleasure of his company before but I'm glad I've been introduced. A definite out loud read, a definite read and then reread. Perfect for children, perfect for adults; everyone should read this. Everyone. It's pure joy in word form. It's also pure joy in picture form. I couldn't recommend this enough! I promise, you won't regret it. 

Rating: ★★★

Friday, 5 April 2013

Review: Gone

I have an odd thing when it comes to reading; I avoid book editions with models on the front. I avoid them like the plague. I like my own imagination to create the images, and they just end up being a big roadblock in my way. Hello my name is Kaveeta, and I judge books by their covers; fortunately it isn't what I'm reviewing today.

The premise is really simple here, every person over the age of 15 seems to vanish into thin air with no possible explanation. Sam Temple is an extraordinarily ordinary boy, and with the help of his best friend Quinn, Sam tries to figure out what has happened to the world. As expected, there is some Lord of the Flies-y typed angst and violent behaviour, which occurs almost instantaneously. As does the budding romance between Sam and his lady love. It wouldn't be dystopian future if something sinister isn't lurking underneath the surface of it all, and it has chock loads of it. Sam makes a shocking self discovery, and the world as he knows it is turned spectacularly on its head.

This was an incredibly slow burner, for over half of the book we’re treated to a group of teenagers running around the small town, finding a seemingly endless barrage of open ended questions. Sam was very reluctant as far as protagonists go, he was so spineless he seemed to be putty in my hands, but still managed to keep a consistent tone of annoying self righteousness throughout the book. It was a treat to see the transition from that, into the hero the story so desperately needed- once he’d managed to choke down a whole bottle of Skele-Gro anyway. I did end up warming to him, which I openly admit. Aside from it's slow start, it grew on me once things actually started happening, the more shambolic the world became, the more I began to enjoy myself.

The story didn’t go the way I thought it would, I was surprised with some of the directions the plot took. It was enough to keep me interested though, as some of these YA books have a bad habit of following a system. Grant has an unusual way of writing, he split the book up into the point of view of several different characters. They weren't connected in anyway other than occupying the same world, but in different places. I'm unsure whether I liked the format, but if the series continues like this, I guess it's something I'll have to get used to.
I was fairly concerned that the voice of the youth would become irritating but the author managed to get away with the 'brahs' and the 'dudes.' The only thing I really had a problem with, was the religious subtext. The Cain and Abel story was practically screaming at me the whole time I was reading, and the constant praying by some of the characters became uncomfortable. I'm not really interested in having it shoved down my throat that way, but I was able to push it to the back of my mind.

Nothing was resolved in the end, as expected. I do hope that Grant has all the answers to the questions he's left me with, though. I'm fairly certain that list will only grow as the series progresses. As far as firsts go, this isn't a bad introduction. If you're a fan of the whole YA dystopian future thing, I'd definitely give this a read. 

Rating: ★★★☆