Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Bungle's Books of 2013

This year I'm going to be doing my books of the year a little differently. There's going to be no count down or no top 10, instead I'm just going to share with you the books that made a difference in my life this year. As most of you know I was rather sick through most of 2013 and I only managed to read about 22 books according to goodreads. So here's to a better 2014 in health and reading :)

The Book Thief
The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

The Book Thief had been recommended to me time and time again by a work colleague and I just never seemed to get to it. When I couldn't read in early 2013 due to sickness I decided to buy the audio and it's one of the best things I have ever bought!

Sometimes a book will come along that will change your whole way of thinking, a book that will change the way you read, a book that defies all other books that came before it and that will come after it and for me that book is The Book Thief.
I believe that listening to the audio aided my love of this story and the characters but for me it's what I needed. It came at the perfect time in my life and although the story is a sad one it is also an up lifting one. It is my belief that The Book Thief should be read by everyone and even be taught in schools. My best read/audio of 2013!!

One Seriously Messed-Up Weekend in the Otherwise Un-Messed-Up Life of Jack Samsonite (Jack Samsonite, #2)
One Seriously Messed-Up Week-End
Tom Clempson

Another book that came at a perfect time in my life. So my illness got rather serious for a while and when I was able to read again I picked up Tom's book and it made me laugh so much I'm sure it made me wee! (not even ashamed to say that!!)

The mushy pea incident made me cry with laughter and I even had to hide my face in my pillow to stop from laughing out as other people were sleeping. There was something about that scene that just got me!

This book made it on to The Books That Made Me list earlier in the year because it helped me so much when I was sick. It came at a time when I needed laughter in my life. It reminded me that no matter how serious things got there was always help, love, friendship and my family to support me. And even if I was losing my hair it was something we could laugh about in the end!
Thank you Tom for lifting my spirits when I needed it the most! I love you xx

Belle Époque 
Belle Epoque
Elizabeth Ross

My surprise read of the year came from Elizabeth Ross with Belle Époque. It was a book that I requested because of the cover, beautiful right, and because the story was set in Paris. What more could a reader ask for!?

The story follows Maude as she is takes on the job of "repoussoir" to survive her new life in Paris. A repoussoir is a person hired by another woman to enhance their beauty and make them stand out, you are hired on account of your ugliness. I thought the idea was so interesting.

Although this story confirms what the world may still be like today, there are still those women who surround themselves by other they deem less beautiful but in the end this story simply reaffirms my belief that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Defiance (Defiance, #1)
C.J. Redwine 

I'm adding Defiance and Deception at this stage because both books were fab and let's face it, I had to add the hottie of the year!! And if you have read these books then you will know Logan is that hottie!

If you love a romance with meaning, twits and turns and edge of your seat action you need these books in your life!

Dystopian with a difference, possibly the only dystopian books I have actually really enjoyed.

And now comes the time for my biggest let down of the year! I know others loved this story and thought the ending was amazing but I thought it was the worst ending to a story I have ever read! At 500 pages Soulmates is a massive book, one that I feel could have done with more cut throat editing. The message of this book is simply 'It's better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all' And I have to question is that what teenagers/readers really want? I mean I know for some readers it seems to be the case but for me a 500 page story with an ending like this one was just a little bit pants. As I said, others have loved it, maybe I missed something................????


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Review ~ Taste of Darkness ~ Maria V Snyder

Title: Taste of Darkness

Author: Maria V Snyder

Published: 31 December 2013

By: Harlequin MIRA

First line: Cold air caressed my back.

Last line: "What a coincidence.  They're my favourite as well."

It feels as though the majority of books coming my way at the moment are conclusions to series! Taste of Darkness is another that fits into that category and I have to say having just finished another series which shredded me I was concerned at the beginning of this read that I was about to be dragged back into the pit of despair I'd only just managed to escape!

Taste of Darkness begins where Scent of Magic ends. Kerrick has disappeared, consumed by the forest having been poisoned by a death lily. His disappearance sparks a frenzied search with Avery at the helm, refusing to believe that he is dead.  At the same time the final battle is picking up a pace. Tohon is ever present in everyone's thoughts and strategies and now they also have to face the Skeleton King. Whilst all this is happening the number of deaths from the plague is on the rise again and it seems as though the virus has mutated somehow. It's down to Avery to ensure that a cure can be found.  Busy times for Avery then. 

I'm not sure where to start with Taste of Darkness. I loved the pace of the action with this finale.  There's always something going on and as the reader you have to digest each word carefully or there's a chance the plot could slip through your fingers.  Thankfully Snyder writes so well this isn't a difficult task! I also liked the development of some of the peripheral characters, Flea in particular who really comes into his own in this story. I also liked that Avery is as kickass as ever even when her world seems to be falling apart and that both she and Kerrick retain their own values and goals, ignoring their own desires in view of the bigger picture at times.

The last point however is the same reason why I felt the storyline didn't always hit the right note for me. At the beginning of the series there was a lot of camaraderie within the group and with the split in plotlines it felt as though some of that warmth had disappeared. I get that they all had their own purposes but there were times when I thought that they would have been stronger together and there would have been a lot less fretting.  Another thing that left me perplexed was that it was all suddenly about the Skeleton King.  Don't get me wrong, he was a fab character but having been focused on Tohon as the baddie for the previous two instalments I was a bit surprised at the sudden switch in everyone's attention. It did leave me feeling as though Tohon didn't get the attention that he deserved having been such an integral part of the plot to date. 

I did enjoy the grand finale and all the plotlines do tie together nicely but it's a convoluted path that Snyder weaves so keep your wits about you.  Do that and you won't be disappointed. 

Rating: 3/5.  This is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy but there are other series by Snyder that I have enjoyed more.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Stacking the Shelves #77

Stacking the Shelves
Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tyngs's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your  shelves, may they be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

We love sharing our books with you each week but more importantly we loving see what you add to your shelves. Clicking on a book will take you to goodreads.

 Just the three books to report this week.  Bungle has gotten herself a copy of The Fault in Our Stars by the rather amazing John Green.  You can find the review for it here.  She also got a copy of The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris which looks fab! This week Sally didn't buy any books but she did get a review copy of The Ever After of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorenson.  This series can be a tad dark at times but we loves the stories here at Midnight Reads!

So that's it from us!  What did you get this week?

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Stacking the shelves #76

Stacking the Shelves
Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tyngs's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your  shelves, may they be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

We love sharing our books with you each week but more importantly we loving see what you add to your shelves. Clicking on a book will take you to goodreads.

Well Bungle had a fantastic week this week adding six new books to her shelves! She bought Beauty, book three of the Tales from the Kingdom series by Sarah Pinborough, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales and Alice in Zombieland, book one of the White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter.  She also received copies of This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith and Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor. Finally she received an ibook copy of Forbidden by Amy Miles and it was free! Bonus!

Sally got three books this week and coincidence of coincidences she also picked up a free kindle copy of Forbidden by Amy Miles! Perhaps an impromptu reading club is called for! She also got a copy of Wool, book one of the Wool series by Hugh Howey and Briar Rose by Jana Oliver.  Sal loved The Demon Trappers series so is really looking forward to this one! 

So, loads to be getting on with here.  What did you get this week?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Review ~ The Curse Keepers ~ Denise Grover Swank

Title:  The Curse Keepers

Author: Denise Grover Swank

Published: 1st November 2013

By: 47North

Source: netgalley

First line: The moment I laid eyes on him I knew he was trouble.

Last line: I'm going to save the world.

This book is for older readers

Synopsis: The wall between our world and that of vengeful spirits has protected humanity for more than 400 years. It’s about to come crashing down.

Ellie Lancaster has lived her whole life by the site of the mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Virginia settlement that vanished without a trace around 1590. Only the descendants of the two men who banished the spirits of an enemy tribe from the material realm know what really happened to the colony. Ellie is one of those descendants—a Curse Keeper. Her father took pains to teach her what he knew of the curse and the responsibilities of its guardians. He taught her that if the two Curse Keepers ever meet, the curse will be lifted, the gate will open, and the raging Native American spirits will be unleashed to seek their revenge.

Despite her father’s seriousness, Ellie has always taken the legend for a harmless fairy tale. Until she meets the darkly handsome, but downright infuriating, Collin Dailey and realizes everything she was told is true. For when they meet, it’s like the air is sucked from the room. Collin’s presence is electrifying… and it’s not just attraction Ellie feels, but the inexorable pull toward her destiny. The prophecy is real, and now Ellie and Collin must battle supernatural forces and their loathing—and passion—for each other to set things right.

The Curse Keepers are all that stand between the world and its destruction.

And so it is that the meeting of Ellie and Collin, more to the point the first time that they touch hands that sets of a chain of events that could lead to the end of the world. With the gate to the underworld standing open there is a legion of evil spirits waiting to escape after 400 years trapped as a result of Ellie and Collins predecessors. And they're not happy. 

I was pretty much glued to this book from the outset.  The main protagonists are well rounded and developed, although some are more mysterious than others, and it's easy to love/hate/trust/not trust them throughout the book.  Just when you think things will work out there's a simple one-liner that leaves you in doubt again and I love that! The plot here certainly kept me on my toes. 

Collin is wonderfully arrogant but is also dedicated to his familys history and to the role he plays with regards to the curse.  Ellie on the other hand is a walking contradiction, swinging from refusing to believe that the curse exists to blaming it for the bad luck that has beset her family.  In the end the arrival of the rather lovely dark and did I say lovely Collin wipes out the denial that she clings to so dearly.  The relationship between Ellie and Collin is classically antagonistic but is far more complex than it first appears. Underneath all the apparent arrogance Collin is actually a very loyal guy it seems, as focussed as he is, whilst Ellie, who tries to be totally independent, is clearly looking for someone to work with and trust.  I think this was the only source of confusion for me with her character.  There were times during the story where significant events took place and she chose not to tell Collin even though they were working for the same cause.  I couldn't understand why she would hide those things when she knew they had to work together, especially where these events could have left her in danger, primarily because of her own ignorance.

That said, her keeping quiet makes for a series of twists and turns that make this book hard to put down.  I loved all the peripheral characters who provide a richer backdrop to the story and the ending has set us up for a thrilling next instalment.  The only thing that's annoying me is that I have to wait for it! 

4/5 This is an amazing start to a new series.  I can't wait to get my hands on the next instalment!
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