Sounds creepy? Well, it should because the main character we follow throughout the book – Hugh – is a scary chap!
Underneath is a relatively short bookSounds creepy? Well, it should because the main character we follow throughout the book – Hugh – is a scary chap!
Underneath is a relatively short book – more a novella I’d say at circa 50k words – and flits between two worlds: Hugh-land and Copsville. Hugh’s world is an interesting one, as you see a lot of his life from his own confused and skewed perspective: one minute he’s happily shopping and buying garlic, the next he’s freaking out at the automated till and then forgotten where he is or why he’s there. His psycholigical switches and memory lapses quickly show the reader that Hugh is not firing on all cylinders, but as the story progresses, very scarily he also seems to be somewhat aware of his own flaws and a-human responses (particularly in his relationship with a certain young lady).
Early in the book I started to get an American Psycho feel, with a nice British twist – and it certainly gave you this as things developed. One of my favourite things about Michael’s writing is his ability to ‘be real’ – he gets right into the heads of his characters, making their responses and thoughts very realistic – from the mundane to the outright terrifying, he seems to be able to ‘get people’ when he writes about them.
Overall thoughts: I really like Michael’s writing style; it’s clear, concise, often funny and I enjoy the realisim of his characters. As an extended piece – I’ve previously read his short stories – it works well and follows similar themes and ideas to his previous work. I enjoyed Underneath and it works as a thriller, but have to say I think I prefer something with a slightly more supernatural twist, like Borger the Bunny when Michael’s writing.
Nicely written, but characters were a little flat and not especially dynamic. I lost Kate's character very early in (about 10%) and never really felt Nicely written, but characters were a little flat and not especially dynamic. I lost Kate's character very early in (about 10%) and never really felt much for her after that. There's very little action or 'testing' for what you are led to believe from the blurb and overall I expected more from what appears to be a good idea for a modern re-telling.
Last Stop This Town is a great graduation/road trip story: it keeps you laughing regularly throughout theHow much fun was this book to read? LOADS! :)
Last Stop This Town is a great graduation/road trip story: it keeps you laughing regularly throughout the story with fantastic dialogue, heart-warming (and non-cheesy) guy-bonding relationships. Some of the set pieces are familiar but done well or with quirky twists - and in honesty there are so many truthful elements to the scenes that I found myself genuinely caught up in the story page after page.
Being a book written by a successful movie screenwriter (including American Pie 2) there is a definite 'filmic' quality to the novel, but it reflects only in a positive way. Dialogue is realistic, punchy and very well done throughout. The novel has great pace too - shifting through a range of character perspectives and interesting scenes with enough detail and development without getting bogged down.
So...a YA book about vampires - sounds familiar? Well, you'd be wrong! :)
Being Human takes the interesting perspective of Tommy, the recently turned vampire. The novel is written from his first-person POV, with only five chapters (incredibly long and semi-interior monologue in style); the chapters cover five distinct stages of his vampire life and experience.
Overall Thoughts: A well-considered vampire book, with interesting elements and world-building for a 'post-knowledge setting' where humans are aware of the existence of vampires. The examination of humanity as Tommy actually goes through the process is interesting and well-thought out: many novels I've read with human-esque vamps begin way after they've already embraced their human side. Enough action and blood for a vampire book, but not actually the main draw in this case. Good stuff! ...more
What a great and unexpected book! I'd read - I think - that The First was a dystopian and so I'd left it in my Kindle dwindling having had a good dose What a great and unexpected book! I'd read - I think - that The First was a dystopian and so I'd left it in my Kindle dwindling having had a good dose of dystopia recently. And then I began reading it (after pressing the wrong button on my kindle) and mistakenly thought I was reading a book about vampires and at around 15% in was wondering how the hell the people with power over nature were going to have anything to do with vampires...what can I say - I don't always pay attention!
So - back to the book. There are dystopian elements to The First, but it would only be a dystopian book if you are one of the First People - if you're a human, like me, then the environmental indiciators in the book are a nice nod in the direction of dystopia, but it's not the end of the world, but a little journey down that path0. The environmental message is handled really well in the book, so it isn't overbearing, but there are lots of good pieces of information to get you thinking.
The characters, dialogue and writing are great - very engaging, perfect pitch for a YA (I would also suggest this as being suitable for MG audience as it is clean, quirky and fun on the whole). The character voices feel authentically teenaged and the pitch, pace and action are all perfectly balanced with the motivations of the individuals. For me it felt a little like a fantasy cross-over in parts - the powers of the First People and their approach to life certainly had those elements, but it worked very well in the contemporary setting. I also liked the family/military references, which are outside the main plot, but I felt were very 'real' to life for anyone who has been in those situations.
Overall, I think this was a great read. It is a nice length and paced so well to keep you reading - I got through it in four days, which is quick for me as I don't always get too much time to read. I think the story was also very original and quality of writing was great. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good adventure story with interesting characters.
Thanks very much to Sara for releasing this free at Amazon on Earth Day, as that's where I got my copy.
Witchblood is a good, quick read - some interesting ideas (vampire/witch combo) and I enjoyed the Manchester / UK setting. It did have a familiar feelWitchblood is a good, quick read - some interesting ideas (vampire/witch combo) and I enjoyed the Manchester / UK setting. It did have a familiar feel to some of the other YA vampire books around and I didn't get too attached to the characters, but it flows well and I enjoyed reading it. But, I am engaged enough to look for the sequel in the future as it feels like a writer who will keep improving.
(Also - I much prefer the new cover art to the original - not quite as graphic!) ...more
Fall for You is a younger adult book, aimed at early teenage girls (I imagine). It is loosely based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and you know what? I liked it! After reading plenty of ‘heavier’ books recently, I was in the mood for something quick, easy and light – and that’s exactly what I got.
The story is set predominantly in the grounds of the Jane Austen Academy, a prestigious boarding school, which up until recently had been solely for girls. In this it reminded me of a modernised version of the Mallory Towers or St Clares books by Enid Blyton, which I loved as a child: who didn’t want to play lacrosse and have jolly tea parties on the pavilion with the other gutsy girls who filled the dormitories of those books? Maybe just me then. But Lizzie – our leading lady surprisingly enough – certainly had shades of this about her.
As a character I found Lizzie irked me a little in the first couple of chapters – she was a tad on the bitchy side and I just thought she was mean with Anne and Emma particularly. However, I also get that this was part of her character establishment – after all she needed to be a little snooty and judgemental didn’t she. Thankfully, she mellows out pretty quickly and in with some slightly Louis Lane style tendencies sets off to investigate the mystery surrounding the new owners who are making so many changes to her beloved Academy.
This was a little jaunt down memory lane for me in terms of reading as I don’t tend to do ‘girlie’ romance stuff very often. But the younger girl inside me who devoured Sweet Valley High books (please don’t judge me too harshly!) in her early teens and wanted to go to boarding school, really enjoyed this lightly fluffy, fun take on Austen’s book. It is well-written, with good dialogue and enough variety in the supporting characters that they have depth and interest. The main characters are only ‘lite’ versions of the originals – Georgiana, Dante and Lizzie being the most like their counterparts – and the events of Fall for You only pick up some key scenes from Pride and Prejudice rather than being a complete re-telling, which I think worked well for the story. Nice reflections of the original book, without trying too hard to replicate and mimic, which I think would have felt very contrived.
Overall thoughts: if you like a little romance, fluff and fun, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this! 3.5* ...more
When I read Justice, the first book in Jade Varden's Deck of Lies series, earlier this year I was looking forward to the release of the follow-up bookWhen I read Justice, the first book in Jade Varden's Deck of Lies series, earlier this year I was looking forward to the release of the follow-up book The Tower after being left with a doozy of a cliff-hanger. You can read my review of Justice at Aside from Writing blog.
So...after the wait, did The Tower deliver? Absolutely! :) I stayed up reading with one eye it was that good!
Normally I struggle with "Second-Book-Syndrome" - I love the first then find the second one less than satisfying (Twilight, The Hunger Games, Hush Hush series and Darkest Powers series all had this for me) - with The Tower I actually liked it better than Justice and would agree with the idea that you could read this book without having read the first. Although the characters and story continues from the first book, The Tower is written in a way that also allows it to work as a stand-alone book, which I think is great.
It is a difficult book to review without giving spoilers, but I'll try...in contrast to Justice which focuses on the mystery surrounding the kidnapping of a baby girl and her subsequent reuniting with her real family over a decade later, The Tower is more a murder mystery. It reminded me a little of the Point Horror books I used to love when I read young adult fiction the first time around, where someone in the middle of the action needs to solve the riddles the police cannot, although it is written with much more depth and sophistication. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and another good cliffhanger to seal the end of the book. I liked the epilogue particularly in how it drew the themes of the story back to the symbol of the tarot card 'the tower' - very neatly done.
Overall, I'd say 4.5* for me - it was practically perfect - I did get a little lost in twists in the middle (just like Rain I wanted paper to map them out) and missed a character who featured heavily in Justice, but it was great seeing Sawyer in more depth and I liked the relationship between him and Rain as they work through the mystery. Jade has a really good writing style: well-described, interesting and believable characters, who work well in the events of the novel. I absolutely have my suspicions as to who has done what...but I'll need to read the next book to find out! So I'm looking forward to the next instalment.
So - do you think this sounds good? Well - the author has kindly provided me with ebooks of her books so that one lucky reader could win both Justice and The Tower to read for themselves. The competition starts tomorrow and you'll have a week to enter, so visit my main website and 'like' this review or follow on Twitter and get yourself in it to win it!
Let's start with the obvious: Bruce Willis was wrong - Zed's not dead, he's undead - which is way more fun!
I am a big sucker for zombie films, but hav Let's start with the obvious: Bruce Willis was wrong - Zed's not dead, he's undead - which is way more fun!
I am a big sucker for zombie films, but have never actually read a book about them before - so this could go one of two ways. Thankfully for me - this is a great zombie book! I loved the quirky idea of seeing everything from a zombie point of view - albeit a very smart, Mr Darcy-esque zombie in his thoughts and language. Because he is a smart 'thinking' zombie Zed is an interesting creature to be inside the head of.
In the first few pages I was hooked on this book: the do-gooder activist humans who want to help train and re-educate zombies to integrate back into society; Zed's sarcastic and intriguing thoughts on human behaviour seen from a zombie POV and the wonderful backstory of Gumbies, chewable Zombie Treetz TM used to reward good behaviour. For fans of zombie stuff the inversion of the genre in this book is very well done and should give you some laughs.
The action in the book is done well and on the whole moves on at a pace. Also, I think most people will enjoy the antagonistic relationship Zed has with his accidental companion. In parts Zed's thoughts can ramble on a bit - perhaps that's the zombie in him getting his brain stuck in a loop? And there were a few occasions where I really had to think about what was written and am still not sure I actually understand the point...maybe I'm not as deep or intellectual as Zed?
Review to follow - an interesting story and an unusual take on vampire society - 3.5* but I marked up because I found myself going back for more, whic Review to follow - an interesting story and an unusual take on vampire society - 3.5* but I marked up because I found myself going back for more, which tells me the story had a grip on me :) ...more