Friday, 30 September 2011

Read of the Month - September 2011

...Or What I Read and What I Thought Was Best.

This was the month I was officially back to work; full-time teaching again. I managed to keep up my posting, because I can do that at my desk, but my reading suffered and I haven't posted as many reviews as I would like.

However, in September 2011, I read:

1. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
2. Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan
3. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
4. The Secret Circle (The Initiation, The Captive and The Power) by L. J. Smith
5. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
6. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
7. Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I don't even have to think about which book was my best this month. I don't have the review up yet (coming soon, I promise!), but I can say in advance that this book is just as awesome as you've been hearing:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Follow My Book Blog Friday #15

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q. What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favourite character?

I would like the The Forest of Hands and Teeth to be a movie. Reading it, I found it to be very cinematic and I could imagine everything; from the tiny village surrounded by barbed wire, to the stone cathedral, to the sounds of  zombies scrabbling at the fences. To play Mary, I would pick the British actress Kaya Scodelario. She can do an American accent and she also has the right mix of toughness - even ruthlessness - and vulnerability. (Some fans wanted her for Katniss, in fact.)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Compare the Covers: Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

I know a lot of other blogs do cover comparisons, but I thought there was still room for me to discuss covers that have caught my eye (after all, hundreds of blogs review books and still, here I am). I really am a lover of cover art and I actually considered first writing a blog that focused solely on covers, before deciding on a review blog. 

Anyway, in this post I want to look at and compare the UK and US covers for Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley, which I added to my wishlist last weekend.

UK cover                                                                                US cover
These covers are so different, aren't they? It's hard to believe they are for the same book. Although it says 'a novel', on looks alone, the US cover gives the impression that it is a biography of Cleopatra, or at least, a solely historical novel. The cover gives no indication of the horror/fantasy element of the book at all. I do find the US cover to be really pretty, though: It looks like a Chanel No. 5 ad. I especially like the image of Cleopatra - her make-up and jewellery are in colour, but she herself is in black-and-white. And you might not be able to see it in the photo above, but there are tiny lines in her skin, like she is made from cracked marble.

The UK cover looks much more like a fantasy cover and in case there was any doubt, the fact that it's blurbed by Neil Gaiman lets you know what audience it's aimed at. This cover is very striking and I would definitely notice it if I walked past it in a bookshop. However, I think it teeters on the line between 'striking' and 'garish'. The colours are so bright and the cover is so busy. As if all that writing crammed into the bottom half isn't enough, there are also the Egyptian hieroglyphs covering Cleopatra's hair. From the reviews I've read, it looks like this cover doesn't really capture the book, either. It looks quite campy and, although the idea of Cleopatra as a vampire seems like a joke, from all reports Maria Dahvana Headley treats the subject seriously and has aimed to be as historical accurate as possible. Also, in the battle of the models dressed as Cleopatra, the UK one looks a little more 'cheap Halloween costume' than the US one does.

In an ideal world, I'd take the single blood tear from the UK cover and put it on the US Cleopatra and voila! Perfect cover.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

First published in the UK in: 2011
By: Templar Publishing

Unrequited love is hard enough when you're a normal teenager, but when you're half-human, half-mermaid, like Lily Sanderson, there's no such thing as a simple crush. Especially when you're crush is gorgeous (and 100% human) Brody Bennett.

The problem is, mermaids aren't the casual dating type - the instant they kiss someone, they 'bond' with them for life. When Lily's attempt to win Brody's love leads to a ginormous case of mistake identity, she finds herself facing a tidal wave of relationship drama.

My review:

This book is sugary sweet and silly with a capital S. It's exactly like a Disney Channel movie in plot, style and tone and is definitely aimed at the younger, fluffier end of the YA market.

Lily's father is king of the mer kingdom, but her late mother was an ordinary human. Able to take on both mer and human form, Lily has lived on land for the last 3 years, to experience life as a normal teenager instead of a mermaid princess. She's spent those years dreaming about Mr. Popular, Brody Bennett and getting wound up by the boy-next-door, Quince Fletcher, who is omigod, the most infuriating person she's ever met! She hates him more than anyone! And I'll let you guess who she's fallen for by the end of the novel! 

But not before fights, misunderstandings, mistaken identities, know the drill. Lily acts like girls always do in this kind of teen romantic comedy, alternating between stammering around one boy and storming (or swimming) off in a huff about the other. The portrayal of life as a mermaid is in fitting with the overall cutesy tone: Lots of jokes about how much Lily loves baths and collects fish toys to remind her of home.

I'm hope I don't sound too mocking - I'm aware that I'm not the target audience for this and I think this book is perfectly readable and has its charms. The humour in Forgive My Fins, in particular, (which is mostly dorky fish puns like "Son of seaslug! I'll kick the living carp out of him!") fell into the so-corny-it's-cute category for me and I did laugh. 

I would have preferred it if Lily were a stronger character throughout, but in the last 40 pages or so, she does wise up and has some surprisingly sensible thoughts about whether she's mature enough to know what love is and to choose a partner for life. And it was sweet when she finally got together with the right guy. I just wish the story ended there; the epilogue introduces a plot thread for the sequel that is very close to ridiculous. I'm just going to pretend it doesn't exist and that the book ended with the kiss.

With the talk of Banned Book Week and parents wanting to find age-appropriate books for their kids, Forgive My Fins is exactly the kind of read I'd recommend - I'm sure pre-teen girls will adore it. As for me, well. It's a little-known secret that I can watch High School Musical or Camp Rock on a lazy Sunday and not mind them at all. Maybe even smile at them a couple of times. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want to Reread

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

10. His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

I read this series for a class on children's literature, as part of my English degree. I absolutely loved it and wrote what I think was one of my best essays on it, but it would be nice to reread these books, free from the pressure of knowing my thoughts on them would be marked and graded.

9. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

When I first read this book in 2008, I thought I was reading just another teen novel. It was already popular - that's how I heard about it - but I didn't know it would become a bonafide phenomenon. I think it'll be interesting to go back and read it with new eyes, knowing what a huge impact it's made on popular culture.

8. Fire by Kristin Cashore

I really loved this book and the world of monsters and gracelings that Kristin Cashore created. I would just like to revisit it and spend time with the characters again.

7. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

I read this after a year of reading nothing but dusty classics during the first year of my degree. Many of those classics are great books, but they tended to have heavy subject matters and when I picked up The Princess Diaries, it was like letting sunshine into my life again. From then on, I needed to read a Meg Cabot every few books, just to keep me smiling. I want to remember that feeling.

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I actually am getting the chance to reread this, as it was chosen for my bookclub. I first read it 2 years ago and I knew from the first page that I was reading a classic that would be on my shelf forever.

5. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

If this is not on every list, it'll be because so many already reread these books over and over. I can actually track how busy my reading got by the Harry Potter books: Books 1-4 I read many times, but by the time Order of the Phoenix was released, I was swamped by my TBR list and only have read the final 3 once. I want to reread the whole series again, from beginning to end.

4. Bonjour Tristesse by Franรงoise Sagan

This is a book that had a really big impact on me when I was 17. For those of you who aren't familiar, it's about an extremely sophisticated and liberal French teenager. I read it and I wanted to be French and smoke cigarettes and drive men wild with my allure. It will be interesting to read it now that I'm older and hopefully, saner.

3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Speaking of books that impacted me as teenager. I thought Sylvia Plath had somehow read my diary; her writing was so similar to the thoughts going through my emotional teen mind. Don't know what I'd think of it now.

2. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

How much do I love this book? So, so much. I used to reread it at least once a year, but in the last few...that toppling TBR pile has prevented me. I am dying to meet Cassandra and the castle again.

1. Girl by Blake Nelson

I am more curious about rereading this book than any other. When I was about 19, I picked it up in the library on a whim, knowing nothing about it. And I was blown away by it. I couldn't believe that a male author could so perfectly capture the mind of a teenage girl. But since then, I've never met another person who's read it or seen it mentioned anywhere on book lists. I'm starting to feel I maybe imagined how good it was. Well, there's only one way to find out.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Should YA come with a warning label?

I visited Waterstone's this week (for non-UKers, Waterstone's is the main bookselling chain over here - in fact, just about the only, since Borders and some others closed down). Browsing in the YA section, as I always do, I saw that some books had huge purple stickers on them that read: "Not suitable for younger readers".

As an adult, child-free reader of YA, I admit my first thought was "Oh, great. Another bloody sticker that I have to try to remove without damaging the cover." Then I became curious about which books were deemed worthy of a sticker. I found 2: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma and Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace. For those of you who don't know, Forbidden is about incest between a brother and sister and Out of Shadows, the friendship between a white boy and a black boy growing up in 1980's Zimbabwe (Not a, uh, fun place to be. Pretty much every review describes this book as "harrowing"). 

So the question this necessary? I can't help but think, well, Forbidden has a synopsis on the back which clearly states it's about a brother and sister falling in love. Any parent who wants to protect their child from a book about incest, only has to put in 60 seconds of investigation. Do they really need a huge, glaring sign, too? I think a "Not Suitable" sticker of that size (and it was really big; I wish I'd had my camera so I could show you) is almost like a scarlet letter - proclaiming a book as 'bad'. Parents might be more likely to immediately stay away, envisioning a book filled with drug-taking and orgies, when perhaps their child would be mature enough and benefit from reading a sensitive take on a difficult subject matter. Not only that, for kids it's like a big neon arrow telling them that if they're looking for sex and violence, come on over here! I don't see the sticker putting teens off, but I do imagine it causing them to hide their reading from their parents.

In an ideal world, parents and kids would choose books together and parents would decide for themselves which books are suitable for their child. However, I completely understand that the demands of the modern world make this very difficult. I'm exhausted every day from working a full-time job; I cannot even imagine how it is to go home after and not relax, but look after children. It's often suggested that parents should read books before their kids do, but for many, there are just not enough hours in the day to do that. So I can see how a labelling system like this makes it quick and convenient for parents to avoid certain books and make safer choices.

I think for me it ultimately comes down to: Who should be the one making these choices and do I trust their judgment to do so? A perusal of the internet revealed that the first book Waterstone's put this sticker on was Jacqueline Wilson's Kiss in 2007. Because it featured a gay kiss. So, um, yeah, that's a problem. I'm sure I don't have to describe what kind of message it sends to gay teens, to have their kisses branded with a warning, when heterosexual kisses are not. Forgive me if it makes me give the side-eye to these kind of labels.

I understand this is an issue that can be discussed forever and has so many different factors in it that I haven't addressed, because if I did, I'd be here all day. Such as: Movies have age certificates, why shouldn't books? And how many people pay attention to these labels, anyway? Still, I was prompted by this particular warning sticker and I would be interested in hearing anyone's thoughts on the matter.

So YA with warning labels? Yay or nay?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Free Ebook Alert - Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Some of you may already know this, but for those of you who don't, I've just discovered today that Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen is currently free to download on Kindle and other ebook reading devices. Godbersen is, of course, the author of The Luxe and Bright Young Things is the first novel in a new series.

Get Bright Young Things for free at

Get Bright Young Things for free at

In My Mailbox #17

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @The Story Siren.

Here's what I got this week:

Guys, you cannot even imagine how much I wanted to scream when I saw this. As you will see from the Amazon link, this is not even published in the UK until the 29th and I found it in a secondhand bookshop on Tuesday. It's not an ARC either; it's a finished copy. I suppose the practical explanation is that somebody who works in bookselling got an early copy and donated it, but I prefer the idea that blogger gods are out there, smiling on us.

Die for Me by Amy Plum 
From a swap with Read It Swap It. This is a 2011 debut and I've heard some good things. Like it's set in Paris, which I love.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

It wasn't all good news this past week; I was disappointed because Ally Carter did 2 book signings in London and I learned about the first too late and then couldn't make the second. So I was upset I didn't get to meet her, but I did buy myself a signed copy of this book from the bookseller afterward, to make myself feel better.

And my final piece of good luck:

Perception by Heather Cashman
I won the Kindle edition of this book from Book Crook Liza. I'm so excited to read it; it's been getting great reviews. Thank you again, Liza! 

So...did the blogger gods smile on you this week?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Review: Alanna - The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (Song of the Lioness #1)

First published in: 1983
By: Atheneum

Call it fate, call it intuition, or just call it common sense, but somehow young Alanna knows she isn't meant to become some proper lady cloistered in a convent. Instead, she wants to be a great warrior maiden--a female knight. 

But in the land of Tortall, women aren't allowed to train as warriors. So Alanna finds a way to switch places with her twin, Thom, and take his place as a knight in training at the palace of King Roald. Disguising herself as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page in the royal court. 

Soon, she is garnering the admiration of all around her, including the crown prince, with her strong work ethic and her thirst for knowledge. But all the while, she is haunted by the recurring vision of a black stone city that emanates evil... somehow she knows it is her fate to purge that place of its wickedness. But how will she find it? And can she fulfill her destiny while keeping her gender a secret? 

My review:

Everything I've ever heard about the Alanna series has led me to have high expectations. I expected to love it. I expected Tamora Pierce to become one of my favourite authors. I expected to want to name my first-born daughter Alanna.

Looking at Alanna: The First Adventure, it's such a slim book, you'd think it would collapse under the weight of those expectations. But I can honestly say it didn't. It held up. And I think it deserves to stand beside the greats of children's fantasy.

It makes me smile to think on how fast paced it is. It's less than 200 pages long, with only 7 chapters, so the story just sets off and keeps going, with no drag at all. The first chapter, 'Twins' introduces us to Alanna and Thom. Their father is sending Alanna to a convent, to learn how to become a proper lady and Thom to the King's court, to be trained as a knight. Only Thom hates fighting and would much rather learn spells, while the thought of being a lady makes Alanna shudder - she wants to be a great warrior. So the twins decide to switch destinations and because women aren't allowed to become knights, Alanna will have to pretend to the court that she is a boy. This entire plan is hatched on the first page, it's set into motion within 5 and Alanna is at the palace by the end of the chapter. 

Once there, Alanna does begin to resemble other 'magic school' books, as she learns the ropes at court, struggles to cope with lessons and is preyed upon by the resident bully. But underlying these things at all times, is the fact that Alanna is a girl pretending to be a boy and it just gives everything that happens a different dynamic. When Alanna finally beats her tormentor in a fight, it means so much more than if they were the same gender. The premise could easily have become silly, cross-dressing hijinks but Pierce doesn't shy away from the practicalities. Alanna's breasts start to grow and she starts menstruating and you feel real anxiety for her when this happens.

And sad for her. As a modern reader, I can't help but think: does Alanna have gender dysphoria? She lives in a world with heavy restrictions on women, so the discontent she feels in her own body is a result of that. I hope that in the following books she gets to appreciate and even enjoy being female.

I have 2 tiny complaints about this book and both concern the use of magic. One is that it isn't really explained and I wasn't sure what the rules were. Many characters have the Gift but don't really use it. I suppose I'm used to the Harry Potter characters using magic everyday, so in Alanna I did wonder why it wasn't used more. The second is that I thought Alanna was a little too good at everything. The story does show her working for it; she puts in more extra hours and trains harder than anybody else. However, I thought Alanna becoming a great knight and having an unusually powerful Gift for magic was a little too much. That's probably down to me being old and grudging, though. I'm sure if I'd read this when I was younger (and how I wish I did!), I would be doing nothing but cheering Alanna: Superwoman on. 

Overall, this is a really good story and promises a great series to follow. My expectations were met. And my hypothetical future daughter? I think Alanna will be at least a middle name.

Rating: 4 stars

On My Wishlist #1

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where we list all the books we desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. 


This meme is a great fit for me, as often the books I'm pining for are those that are already out, but I've only just heard about. On my wishlist this week is just such a book:
 Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

In 30 BC, as Octavian Caesar and his legions marched into Alexandria, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, learned that her beloved Mark Antony had taken his own life. Desperate to save her kingdom, her husband and all she held dear, Cleopatra turned to the gods for help. She summoned Sekhmet, goddess of death and destruction, and struck a mortal bargain. And not even the wisest scholar could have foretold what would follow …

For, in saving Antony’s soul Sekhmet demands something in return: Cleopatra herself. Transformed into a shape-shifting, not-quite-human manifestation of a deity who seeks to destroy the world, Cleopatra follows Octavian back to Rome. She desires revenge, she yearns for her children … and she craves human blood.

In Queen of Kings, meticulously researched historical fiction and the darkest of fantasy collide in this spectacular reimagining of a story we thought we knew so well.

I know what you're gonna say and I thought I was over vampires, too. But Cleopatra as a vampire? In what universe is that not cool? I'm a historical fiction nerd, anyway, and I love the story of Antony and Cleopatra and their ill-fated attempt to conquer Rome. Any book that covers Cleopatra's life and feelings at that time is one I'd be interested in reading. But making her a vengeful supernatural out for Octavian's blood? That sounds like so much fun that I want this book right now.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Follow My Book Blog Friday #14

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q. Do you have a favourite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it? 

One of my biggest regrets as an adult reader is that I never reread anymore. I really want to, and my favourite series (Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games, The Princess Diaries) are where I want to start. However, my huge and ever-increasing TBR pile makes me put books I've already read on the backburner. 

When I was younger though, I read The Babysitters' Club over and over. And over. What attracted me that series was that they presented being a teenager as time of wonderful opportunities. The characters were also going on trips or starting new hobbies or stumbling across adventure. Honestly, the babysitting was the least interesting part of it. I'd read those books and want to take art classes like Claudia or live in New York like Stacey or solve the mystery of a haunted house like Dawn. Being a teen turned out to be nothing like that, but as an adult, I am a try-anything, adventurous type. I think I may have to thank The Babysitters' Club for that.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

100 Followers Giveaway - We have a winner!

This was my very first giveaway and I would like to thank everybody who entered and especially those who became followers and tweeted about the giveaway.

I can now announce that the winner of a copy of Fury by Elizabeth Miles and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is:

Sophia from Corpus Christi, TX

I've already contacted Sophia by email and she's assured me she's doing the happy dance. Sorry to everybody that didn't win, but I am having a new giveaway in the next couple of days (as soon as I have the time to figure out how to use Rafflecopter), so please try again and better luck next time!

Thank you again to everybody who helped me hit a 100 followers! Congratulations to Sophia!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #8

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My WoW pick for this week is:

Firelight by Kristen Callihan

London, 1881
Once the flames are ignited . . .

Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . . 

Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.

Released: 1st February 2012

WoW because: Adult romance? Not usually my thing. BUT the early buzz on this book suggest its a one-of-a-kind read that breaks the mold. Agent Kristin calls it "a dark gothic Victorian historical romance with an unusual paranormal twist" and there's not one adjective in that sentence that I don't like. I'm so ready for an unique read and sounds like the book most likely to knock my socks off next year.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Everyone Has Read But Me

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read But Me

I think this a great idea for a Top Ten. My list is composed of examples from the real world and the blogging world - both worlds are completely different, but both are able to make me feel completely inadequate because of the books I have yet to read!

10. The Human Stain by Phillip Roth

Real world: For some reason unknown, the universe has seen fit to put my desk next to the desks of 3 other teachers in our English office, for whom this is their favourite book. Good thing I've watched The Wire, or I'd seriously have nothing to contribute to the conversations at all.

9. Anything by Lauren Oliver

Blogging world: Before I Fall was raved about last year. Delirium has been raved about this year. So far, I've read neither.

8. Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Blogging world: I've got my copy. I know it's considered one of the best of the year. And every time it's mentioned, I feel guilty about not having read it yet.

7. The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

Blogging world: Although real world, too, as this feeling is compounded by the fact that every time I try to get this at the library, it's always checked out. Anyway, I sometimes see books referred to as being 'Melissa Marr-ish'. I'd really like to know what that means.

6. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Real world: Honestly, you could replace this with any 'watercooler' adult book from the last 10 years. You know, those books that become huge talking points, get made into Hollywood movies and people who only read one book a year, read them. I always feel like I miss them: I leave it too late to read them and the rest of the world has already moved onto the next one.

5. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Real world: In the UK, everybody does Hamlet in English Lit when they're 16/17. Everybody except my class, where the teacher decided to go against the grain and do King Lear instead. It seems to be just assumed that every adult knows Hamlet; usually, I have to pretend I do.

4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Real world: The thing about Anne is that it was my mother's favourite childhood book. And I was the kind of kid who assumed anything that my mother liked must suck. My mother must have gifted me with this about 3 times and each time I took it and smiled, while inwardly thinking: As if! Didn't I feel silly when I got to adulthood and realised that this is every smart, sussed woman's favourite book.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Blogging world: This book has been so loved that I think I'm almost afraid to read it, in case I don't feel the same.

2. The Iron Fey series by Julia Kagawa

Blogging world: I've had a copy of this book since January, but still haven't got around to reading it. All year I've seen review after review praising this series; I'm starting to feel a little ashamed about not having read it yet.

1. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Blogging world: I don't know who Jace and Clary are, OK? Therefore, I don't get about a quarter of the references and comparisons other bloggers make.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

First published in: 2010
By: Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Raising the dead -- it sure beats flipping burgers.

Meet Sam, just your average guy rocking that fast food career.

Enter Douglas, a powerful and violent necromancer. Douglas immediately recognizes Sam as a fellow necromancer -- which is news to Sam -- and he's none too happy to have a competitor in the crowded paranormal scene in Seattle.

Now Sam has an undead friend on his hands and a hot werewolf girl for company. With just one week to find a way out of Douglas's clutches, can Sam figure out how to use his mysteriously latent powers?

My review:

The best comparison I could make for Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is not with another book, but with the TV show Reaper that aired on the CW a couple of years ago. It had a similar premise: College dropout and general slacker discovers he has a secret power and an heretofore unknown purpose. I think the main character in Reaper may have even been called Sam, too (ETA - just checked and he was). Where the 2 are most similar, though, is in tone - both have a decidedly comedic and tongue-in-cheek take on the supernatural and mix the fantastical elements with the very mundane everyday.

And in many ways, Necromancer feels less like a book and more like the pilot episode for a new show - you can practically see all the points where the ad breaks would come in. There's also a lot of set-up for further adventures: At the end of the book, Sam has a new job, some ongoing plot threads to tussle with and his newly-superpowered friends to help him. It's not so much an ending as it is a trailer for the rest of the series.

None of this is really a criticism of the book; it all adds up to a funny, well-paced, easily digested read that promises more adventures in the same vein. You can forgive its reliance on tropes, because the book itself is happy to admit them and doesn't take itself seriously. It's mission is to entertain and it does so. It's the kind of book you can read in one sitting and not get bored.

However, it's also the kind of book you can put down and not be desperate to find out what happens next. This is a really difficult book for me to review, because I enjoyed it, but couldn't love it. Part of it was the seen-it-all-before feeling; even though I think Necromancer handles its genre better than some other novels I've read, ultimately I think there wasn't enough there that was unique enough to make me prioritise this series above all the others.

I do think anybody who reads this would probably like it, though, so if the story appeals to you, I say go for it. I also think it's a great book for getting teenage boys to read - as well as having humour, it's very visual and there's lots of fighting and action. And there's a hot naked girl, too, if they need any more convincing!

Rating: 3.5 stars

Sunday, 18 September 2011

In My Mailbox #16

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @The Story Siren.

I bought my first purchases for my Kindle this week, plus borrowed some library books.

Kindle purchases:

I've been wanting to start this series for ages. Faeries, Shakespeare and some of the prettiest covers around.

I've only seen 1 or 2 reviews for this book, but I've always remembered it because of the crazy title. It's very cheap on Kindle, so I'm willing to give it a try.

Library books:

My first YA mermaid story!

This has had great reviews and sounds deliciously creepy.

What's in your IMM this week?