Saturday, January 31, 2015

Physical vs Ebooks... A nice dilemma to have!

Okay, so the start of this is going to be a bit rambly so I hope you forgive me, but I have a point, honestly!

This all started when I ended up on Youtube last week, looking at 'booktubes'. Something I've found myself contemplating a bit lately, but that is a whole other entry! Anyway, one of the people - Whitney, of WhittyNovels - had a post where she mentioned BookOutlet. I took note of the site and thought hey, I'll check that out later, see how cheap the books actually are.

The answer is very cheap, which means that I'm going to have a couple of posts soon about books that I've ordered!

Now, the interesting thing here is that these are physical books. I haven't bought physical books in awhile, to be honest. I've switched mostly to ebooks, partly because dragging books back and forth to work was a bit of a pain when I didn't have anywhere to put them and literally had to take them back and forth each day. Now I have a dedicated desk, though, so the inconvenience of that isn't the concern that it was before. T

The book industry really has changed quite a bit since I was a kid - oh look, I'm showing my age - ebooks exist now, and they are growing in popularity, which I completely get as I love them myself. I have a Kobo Glo and I adore it, I love that I can carry so many books with me and never run out of reading material.

All the same, though, I still really appreciate the appeal of physical books as well! First of all, the covers... Covers on an eReader are just not the same as they're quite often in black and white. Even on a phone screen or tablet reader they're not necessarily the same as they lack the depth and shine that physical covers can have. 

That and something I realised - or more aptly, remembered, watching videos on Youtube... Physical books are so much fun to buy and own and explore! The covers, the pages - heck, even the smell, of course :P I remember when I was a kid I used to trek up to the library multiple times a week and come home loaded down... Curling up with a book in my hands was one of my favourite experiences, and I have missed that, as much as I love ebooks. So I may have to go through my collection and prune a bit to make room for some more books in my future, we'll see!

Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

Title: Seeker

Author: Arwen Elys Dayton
Publisher: Random House Children's
Publication Date: February 10th, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating: Two Stars
Summary: Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.

Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.

This is book is not really what I was expecting, and unfortunately, that is not a good thing in this case. I skimmed a good chunk of this book, mostly in the middle. I will say that the last third was pretty interesting and I wish that that had been spread out through the whole story.

Where to start.

First of all, I have to say that the beginning of the book feels like we're being thrown into the middle of the story. Now, sometimes that does work, this is certainly not to say that being flung headlong into action is not at all a way for a book to ever start. It can work and I have read books that approach it the right way.

This is not one of those books. Unfortunately, this was the start of a trend, which was that for a good chunk of the book I felt as though we didn't know what the hell was going on, and the world building and plot weren't necessarily compelling enough to make up for that fact.

The book is structured in a way that we go from point of view to point of view, written in the third person. Now, I'm not a particularly big fan of this type of writing - in GoT, for example, I ended up quite often just reading one character's story all the way through because that happened to be the one I cared the most about. I know it's common in fantasy, especially high fantasy, but it has to be very compelling to work. This book doesn't quite get that across, instead the jumps are rather disjointed and it didn't lend itself to the flow of the book at all.

A lot of this would be something that I could deal with if the world building was compelling enough, but unfortunately I found this lacking as well. This is mostly towards the beginning of the book, but this is crucial, and were it not for the fact that I got this as an ARC through Netgalley, I might not have finished it at all. I have a feeling some readers out there will find it too much of a slog and the early reviews seem to back that up.

Basically, there are too many questions and not enough answers, or more importantly, not enough depth to make the reader curious enough to keep on going. I had so many questions. Where is this set? When is this set? What's the explanation behind the technology and the culture? What's the background behind Quin's family, besides the fact that she's a 'Seeker'? Where did they come from? Why? The answers to a lot of these do come, but they come very late in the book and that left me stewing in frustration for much of the read.

Now, even all of this would be forgivable by me if the characters were fascinating and made me care, but they didn't quite hit the mark here, either. I mean, I guess I cared about Quin, but not overly so, because she wasn't strong enough against the backdrop of the confusing background, the lack of world building, and the plot that wasn't quite clearly laid out enough for me.

So all of this ended up with the book being a rather 'meh' experience for me, which was why I am giving it two stars.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 30, 2015

February Excitement!

So February is almost here!! Personally, that is always a yay moment for me because it's when it's official that three months of winter are over and we're ticking down to spring :)

There are also a few exciting books coming out in the next few weeks!

I had the honour of getting to read this in advance through Netgalley, and I am SO excited that I got to!!! Coming out on February 3rd, 'Shutter' tells the story of Micheline Helsing, a young girl who can see the auras of the undead and also happens to be one of the few descendants left of the well known Van-Helsing dynasty. She's accompanied by three boys who are her close friends and at her side through danger and excitement - Jude, Ryder and Oliver. I have a full review that I need to post on here as I have neglected to so far!! But if you like horror, kick-ass girls, a touch of romance and fun action, this is definitely a book to check out.

Red Queen is coming out on February 10th, and it looks seriously amazing. Here is the summary, nabbed from GR:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
Does that sound cool or what?? I can't wait, honestly, I hope it lives up to my expectations!

Here is another one that I am eagerly anticipating - coming out on February 10th as well. Here is the synopsis:

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning..
This will either be amazing or horrible. I'm pretty sure of it already, reading that. I am crossing my fingers for the first because it's such a tricky subject and it would be so awesome to read a book that manages to take it on in a well-rounded way. 

Well, that's it for now... Mostly because I'm writing this on my lunch. :P But let me know if there's anything you're anticipating, and I'll be hopefully updating with a few more over this weekend!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Confessions of a Book Hoarder

In my apartment I have two really tall bookshelves that my best friend and I bought a few years ago at Ikea, which I have now inherited.

They are, of course, completely full! But I've never really gone through to catalogue everything I have until now.

So I've been going through and slowly adding things to Goodreads (I'm here, btw), and I'm not done, but I already have 32 books on my 'own- to be read' shelf.


I really didn't think that it was that high, which is funny, because just the other day I was watching the 'TBR Shame' videos on Youtube. I seem to be among the group :(

One of the discoveries I made was this:

I had NO idea that I even had this, it was buried down on one of the lower shelves. I am actually so excited to find this, it looks like a really interesting read, and to be honest, I'm trying to remind myself of what it's like to read a physical book... I adore ebooks, but I do think that they're a bit divorced from the lovely medium of reading, at times! Not that I prefer them to ebooks, I just think there's a time and a place for both.

Who knows how big my tbr-shame list will be by the time I'm done, haha, but it's reminded me that I have books sitting right here in my little apartment that need attention, so I'm going to try and whittle those down over the next few weeks!

I also have a few blog ideas floating around, so we'll see about posting those in a few days :)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: The Sky So Heavy

Title: The Sky So Heavy
Author: Claire Zorn
Publisher: University Of Queensland Press
Publication Date: July 24th 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Apocalyptic fiction
Rating: Two Stars
Summary: For Fin, it's just like any other day - racing for the school bus, bluffing his way through class, and trying to remain cool in front of the most sophisticated girl in his universe, Lucy. Only it's not like any other day because, on the other side of the world, nuclear missiles are being detonated.

This book was disappointing in what's probably the most frustrating way - where it feels as though the author wasn't finished, as though there should be more.

The idea itself is one that will always draw me in - teens abruptly thrown into a dystopic landscape, their world collapsing in the aftermath of nuclear catastrophe. It's highly relevant to the world we live in and pretty believable, to be honest.

The main character in the book is written well, I didn't find it difficult to get into his head and picture how he's feeling, how his world goes from normal to something he doesn't recognise in a split second. He's protective of his little brother, and desperate to find his parents, and it's all written in a believable fashion. The other characters surrounding him are well fleshed out as well, with none of the vagueness that can plague a lot of books.

The problem comes from the world building, to be honest, and how the plot drags a bit. The first part of the novel revolves around two basic things: things suck, they don't know what's happening, they don't have much food and there's danger from other people. Which is all understandable, but it takes up far too much of the book, dragging out when I would have preferred to move on.

Then there's the whole concept of the fact that there's been a nuclear catastrophe, and I know that information is limited - but even when Fin has access to someone with information, his own mother, what we learn is just dribs and drabs, enough to keep up the structure of the book but not enough to be satisfying. We don't know how, why, who, etc, and I suppose that that might be the point, but that doesn't mean that I have to find it satisfying.

The thing that bothered me the most, though, was the ending - it seemed almost cruel and abrupt, after everything. There's no satisfaction or closure, though I can see that the author might have been trying for the 'you don't know what happens, but there's hope for the future' angle - but it's not conveyed very well, and the events immediately preceding the end of the book just meant that it left a bad taste in my mouth. I just wanted more, not to be left hanging, with a vague attempt at some sort of conclusion.

So, that's where I'm left with this book - the characterisation is great, but the plot and the world building could have used some work.