Tuesday 30 August 2011

Review: Silently Loved by Annie Lee

At the start of August, I reviewed Annie Lee's excellent debut novel, Keeping Grace Alive. Now I've just had the awesome privilege of reviewing her second novel, Silently Loved, which is to be released on September 23rd.

Silently Loved is also a romantic suspense tale, but with a few differences.

It follows Hailey, a rich Bostonian who takes control of her own fate and secretly flees to Florida in order to escape her controlling, abusive husband. Helped by her best friend Reese, she adopts an alias, moves into a small rental property located on a farm, and finds a job as a sign language teacher at a local school. With this, she aims to start the kind of life that her husband would never let her lead, and the last thing she wants or expects is to have another man in it. But soon her attentions are drawn towards the owner of the farm – a rugged cowboy type – and there's something different about him that makes this story particularly unique.

Now I bet you're wondering what that is, but sorry folks... I'm not telling! It's simply too good and too much to give away at this point. I will express, however, that I didn't feel as connected to the characters as I did with those in Keeping Grace Alive. Although they are just as warmhearted in Silently Loved, there was a distance that I felt I couldn't break through at times. Still, there is something about the way Annie writes that makes me want to read on, and gets me excited to find out how all the built up suspense will come to a head. The ending is pretty explosive, so I really wasn't let down there.

Altogether, I enjoyed Silently Loved. I'd say that if you're a fan of cowboys, drama, animals and fleeting romances with a bit of a difference, then this is a book you'll not want to miss out on!

Rating: 4 / 5

Keep track of Annie Lee, and her novels Keeping Grace Alive & Silently Loved at annieleenovelist.com and tobiasbooks.com.

Silently Loved comes out 23rd September 2011.
Keeping Grace Alive is out now – purchase a copy here.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Help get Mathew Taylor back to his family

This isn't book related, but I felt the need to share because this is such a terrible situation.

I've just been made aware of a person called Mathew Taylor, who has been involved in a horrific motorcycle accident in Bali where he was teaching and is now in a coma. However, as he has no travel insurance, huge bills are mounting up for his care, and his family need to raise £100,000 to get him transported back home to the UK.

Please check out the blog (link below), and donate whatever you can towards this cause. And spread the word, guys! Thanks for reading. :-)


Friday 26 August 2011

Follow Friday – #8

This week's featured blogs are
Caught in the Pages
Jenni Elyse

Welcome to week numero ocho!

Here's this week's question:

Q. In books like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish would come out of the closet, for real?

Oh darn. I'm going to say nothing from Buffy this time! At least, not unless it's Angel or Spike – they can drop in at anytime providing their souls are in tact. And I think you catch my drift there, Buffy fans...! Ha.

So then... vampires... and they all have souls? Or maybe the elves from The Lord of the Rings. I guess anything non-evil would be okay in my book, then!

Who, or what, would you want to see 'come out of the closet'?

Thursday 25 August 2011

Read-along update – volume 3 of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

This month I'm taking part in the Sense and Sensibility read-along hosted by Risa over at Bread Crumb Reads. In a weekly period, we read a volume of the book and then come together to discuss it over on Risa's blog. I've decided to also post updates about my progress here on my blog as I make my way through it.

But beware: If you haven't read the book already, read on with care because there are going to be spoilers!

This book has just completely blown me away. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a Jane Austen novel as much as I've enjoyed Sense and Sensibility – or at least not the first time around! I have to admit that the first time I read Pride and Prejudice, it wasn't love-at-first-read, probably due to the fact I was reading it for school. But the Dashwood sisters roped me in pretty quickly!

So here goes the final rundown...

First was the news that the Steele sisters were thrown out of Mr John Dashwood's house by a rather inconsolable Mrs John Dashwood! I completely didn't see that coming at all... or at least not so swiftly! Of course, I didn't pity the Miss Steeles at all. I was also glad that Elinor could finally reveal Edward's engagement to Marianne – how she could've kept it a secret for four months and not explode is a credit to her. I would never be able to do that! Though I know it pained Elinor to do so as Marianne took comfort in their love, it must've been a relief for the former to finally discuss it with someone.

Colonel Brandon's offer to Edward was extremely generous, but I judged from the latter's reaction that something was amiss there. I thought it very likely that Lucy had exaggerated Edward's professions and he wasn't as happy as was communicated by others. But I was extraordinarily shocked to learn that she had run off with Robert Ferrars! I mean, what the hell, Lucy?! Of course, I was relieved and ecstatic that Edward was finally free of her and able to marry Elinor, but come on! No way, that girl is just a crazy piece of work. I'm sure she'll fit in well with Mrs John Dashwood and Mrs Ferrars. At least now with Elinor there is one warm and respectable female in the family.

Then there's dear Marianne. At the beginning of Sense and Sensibility I found her to be a little irritating, but by the end of the book she became my favourite character. I knew that her illness wouldn't kill her, but I didn't expect it to last for so long, and certainly didn't expect to see Willoughby showing up, thinking that she was on her death bed! I think I cursed a lot after reaching the end of that paragraph, that very moment when Elinor thought it was Colonel Brandon showing up but instead found someone else:
The bustle in the vestibule, as she passed an inner lobby, assured her that they were already in the house. She rushed forwards towards the drawing room, ––she entered it, ––and saw only Willoughby.
That was the last thing I thought I'd read! And then to hear what brought him there, all the confessions he laid out on the table, and how far he had travelled just to do so... it really just all astounded me. I felt as if he had redeemed himself slightly after immediately reading what he had to say, but now that I think about it, did he really? Why couldn't he have just told the truth in the first place? Okay, so I know he was ashamed of what he had done before he met Marianne, but if he really did love her and trusted her, then why couldn't he have told her before? I understand that this is a different era we're talking about and that might not have been the proper thing to do... but since when was he ever really proper?

Anyway, all I know is that I'm glad that he would then have his whole life to consider his actions. But Elinor also made a very good point – if he did marry Marianne, he would've probably been unhappy for the lack of money instead of for the lack of love. Such a man can never be happy unless he has both at the same time. But, as with Miss Lucy Steele, he probably didn't deserve that much.

I am so happy that Marianne and Colonel Brandon got married! And the fact that they, Elinor and Edward all live at Delaford was the happiest and most fulfilling ending possible! Plus I loved that Jane gave us some insight into what occurred after they all got hitched – I get frustrated it when you're left guessing too much at the end of a novel (though that is sometimes a good thing for the imagination).

All in all, Sense and Sensibility was a very fun read, and I truly enjoyed every page. Although it gave me more initial pleasure than Pride and Prejudice did, I don't think it topped it; I've built up too much of a connection with P&P over the years. But, it certainly has earned itself a very special place of its own inside my heart.

Final Rating: 5 / 5

Oh, and I finally let myself watch the 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thomson and Kate Winslet! Conclusion being: book is far better! But would you expect me to say anything different? ;-)

Review: Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes by P.H.C. Marchesi

Shelby Kitt never gets lost. Shauna, his sister, never gets sick. As far as most people are concerned, the inseparable Kitt twins are odd 13-year-olds. No one, however - not even Shelby and Shauna - can guess how extraordinary they are until the vice consul of Miriax, a planet from another dimension, asks them to take part in a dangerous mission. From that moment on, Shelby and Shauna Kitt discover that the universe is full of klodians, cities in jungles, giant bats, and tea with mushrooms. Most of all, they discover that it will take more than special powers for them to face - and survive - the evil that threatens the galaxy. (via Goodreads)

I’m not too sure where to start the review because this book was, literally, out of this world! I’m not normally interested in science-fiction, but the concept is so original, unique and intricate that it was hard for me not to get swept away! I’ll try to summarise the plot for you, but bear with me because it might sound complicated!

The story is about three planets that exist in three different dimensions, all within a close distance of each other – Earth, Miriax and Klodius. They are each invisible and inaccessible to one another until these dimensional holes open up; causing a life-threatening imbalance between them. It’s up to a bunch of humans recruited by the aliens of Miriax to restore this balance and save the planets. The task especially falls on twins Shelby and Shana Kitt, who seemingly possess supernatural powers of the most useful potency.

Did you get that? Don’t worry if you didn’t, because in the book the author explains each component with such fantastic flow that it’s difficult to get lost. Saying this, there were parts that did confuse me a little, but nothing that prevented me from straying far from the plot. The description is excellent – you really get to know the planets of Miriax and Klodius, how they work, and why they’re so vital to each other’s existence. The plot itself and the characters that form it are full of suspense – I was dying to find out who was actually evil, who was good and what would happen next! It’s no doubt a nail-biter of the very best kind. I just love a story where you can’t figure out who’s the good guy and who’s the bad, and in this story it truly could be anyone.

So, do you like some suspense, and a well told, unique story with clearly imagined new worlds? Then this may just be the book for you. The author told me that it’s suitable for upper mid-level readers (probably due to the fact that a lot of the characters, including the hero and heroine, are teenagers), but this really will appeal to a broad demographic. Something to get your hands on and experience first-hand, for sure!

Rating: 4 / 5

To find out more about Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes, and to purchase a copy, check out the author's blog at shelbyandshaunakitt.blogspot.com/

Friday 19 August 2011

Review: Mathias Bootmaker and the Keepers of the Sandbox by Edward Medina

The world of Mathias Bootmaker and the Keepers of the Sandbox, Book One: It Is Said, is a fantasy full of mysteries, riddles and secrets.

It is the story of Mathias Bootmaker, a young man searching for the better parts of himself. His search for what he's lost begins an amazing adventure through a world of extreme imagination. A world he helped to create but a world he can't remember anything about. There's a dragon and a genius. There's a very scary little boy and a very gifted little girl. There's darkness and light, deadly evil and glorious good. It's the story of his life, the birth of creativity and the true power of the energy all around us.

In this tale of redemption, in order to find what he seeks, Mathias must save a people who were once great but are now, by their own hands, victims. He must help them face a terror that they themselves created. He must find a friend that has disappeared. Befriend a reluctant guide and rescue a very unique group of children trapped in a cursed castle full of tragedy.

Mathias Bootmaker and the Keepers of the Sandbox is a dream embedded within a nightmare. A maze inside a labyrinth. It reads like an adventure. It plays like a thriller. It's designed to make you question every place you go and every character you meet. It's designed to be a puzzle you must solve. It's meant to blend grand fun and fright in the tradition of Carroll and King.

Turn the pages. Follow the path. Keep an eye out for clues. Beware of traps. But most important of all... you must not fear the Darke. (via amazon.co.uk)

Mathias Bootmaker is a wise and quirky tale which I found to be quite interesting. The book starts off with an exciting visit to Fears Corner – a mysterious place that is vividly and effectively described by the author. Later on we meet Mathias, who essentially has some form of amnesia and is making his way through an alternate dimension in order to seek the roots of his existence. He encounters characters who give him clues as to where to go and what to look out for, and as we move on his experiences become more dark and perilous. By the end, we’re left with an intriguing cliffhanger that leads straight into the second book of the series (which is yet to be released).

The beings Mathias meets along the way are fun and very weird, and the descriptions provided evoke a true sense of the surroundings. However, I did feel as though there were some elements of the story telling that could’ve benefitted from further editing, such as sentence structuring. I felt as though, at times, there were too many short sentences stuck together, and this tended to slow down the pace and compromise the effect in certain places.

Despite this, Mathias Bootmaker is an original, brave and somewhat fulfilling story. It would probably best suit mid-level readers, however if you enjoy the fantasy genre then you might want to pick it up and give it a try as well.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

To purchase a copy of Mathias Bootmaker, visit amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

Follow Friday – #7

This week's featured blogs are
Belle's Books
Stuck In Books

Having missed last week's festivities, I'm back on the Follow Friday train! Woohoo!

Here's this week's question:

Q. If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what role would you play in that book?

Hmmm, I had to think about this for a little while, but now I've got it... easy! I'd want to be some kind of immortal being with super strength, or perhaps a superhero or superhuman. Being a vampire would be awesome to an extent, but I definitely wouldn't be an evil one! I'd either be soul-having like Angel or Spike, or beg the Cullens to take me in and teach me their ways...! And of course, I would want the personality to go alongside all this; no use having amazing superpowers if you're as dull as watching paint dry!

As for my role, I don't know if I'd want to be the heroine in charge of saving the world or anything. But I'd like to think my superpowers would give me enough intestinal fortitude to at least do something towards helping to stop an apocalypse, invasion of aliens, world war III... you see where I'm going. ;-)

How about you guys? What part would you play in the book of your choice?

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Read-along update – volume 2 of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

This month I'm taking part in the Sense and Sensibility read-along hosted by Risa over at Bread Crumb Reads. In a weekly period, we read a volume of the book and then come together to discuss it over on Risa's blog. I've decided to also post updates about my progress here on my blog as I make my way through it.

But beware: If you haven't read the book already, read on with care because there are going to be spoilers!

Oh my good Lord! Was this volume crazy or what?! As if volume one wasn't good enough, two just blew my mind! Again, I don't even know where to start, even though this time I was kind to myself and made notes. Soooo I'll begin with the most obvious case of Marianne and Willoughby.

Poor, poor Marianne! I could completely understand her while she was writing these letters, trying to ensure that Willoughby knew she was in London and expecting him to visit her at any moment. As I suspect is the case with Marianne, when you're blinded by such strong beliefs and feelings towards a person it's difficult to get past it and see what's really going on. And his reaction towards seeing her at the gathering was horrible, but his letter to her the next day even worse. Did Willoughby ever intend to tell her, or was he just going to be a complete man and avoid the subject, hoping that it would be forgotten? There is no way I believe that he wasn't aware of her feelings before these letters.

But oh, then to finally find out what brought Colonel Brandon to London in such a hurry! Are there even words for this affair? I mean how scandalous could this have been in the Regency era – Willoughby getting a girl pregnant before marriage and then abandoning her? It's completely insane! I feel so sorry for Colonel Brandon and the loss he has suffered at the expense of nasty, amoral men like Willoughby. I truly hope that he finds some peace and happiness by the end of the book (though I do kind of suspect it might happen with one of the Dashwood sisters).

Then there is Elinor and Edward's situation. Does anybody else just wish that Lucy Steele, Mrs John Dashwood and Mrs Ferrars would fall down a well, never to be seen again? Okay, so a bit dramatic, but do they all need to be so downright revolting? As if I didn't already dislike Lucy and Mrs John Dashwood enough, now I despise the mention of them. They are just so incredibly selfish! Can Lucy not think of anything else, apart from Edward and pleasing his family? I'm certainly prepared for her to get her just-desserts in volume three. And what the heck is Mrs John Dashwood's problem with Elinor and Marianne anyway? I don't understand why she dislikes them so intensely. I mean, so what if Elinor and Edward get on – it's not like Elinor is a nasty good-for-nothing like her! Plus, don't even get me started on Mr John Dashwood. He is such a weak man! Does he not see what a manipulative, scheming person his wife is? Ugh. Ugh. And... ugh!

So as you can see, volume two has brought out a range of unexpected emotions in me! I can honestly say that at this point, the only people I like of the Dashwood sisters' acquaintance are Colonel Brandon, Sir John and Mrs Jennings. The latter can be a bit of a butt-in-ski at the worst of times, but she always means well. The rest of them are just selfish, rude, arrogant and completely ignorant.

Now I don't know about you guys, but I love this book so much! It's ranking near Pride and Prejudice in my mind right now. Just amazing. How have you found volume two?

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Books vs. TV & Film adaptations

I don't know about you guys, but I have a love-hate relationship with films and TV shows adapted from books. There's usually something that offends me about the way the story has been translated, whether I've seen the film first or vice versa. Although, this seems to happen to me more with feature-length films than television series's, as I guess the former have a lot less time fit the detail in. But there are times where I just feel they've made a few too many changes. Not all the time, as you shall see, but it's always something that's in the back of my mind.

Here are a few of the adaptations I've seen:

1. The Twilight Saga (The Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer)

I watched Twilight before reading any of the books, initially falling victim to the hype and renting it out on DVD. I wasn't sure if I liked it that much, but went on to read the first installment and absolutely fell in love with it. Aside from preferring New Moon in movie form (not enough Edward in the book), I am more of a fan of the written. Eclipse is by far my favourite of the novels but my least favourite of the films, so needless to say I was pretty dissapointed about that one in particular. But I can't wait for Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2 to come out (so curious to see how they handle the whole Renesmee situation!)

2. Confessions Of A Shopaholic (The Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella)

Having loved Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic books, I couldn't wait to see Becky on the big screen. But here's another film that fell short of my expectations! I can't understand why they had to change so much of it. Firstly, why is Becky American? I'm sure London is interesting enough. Plus what did they do with Suze? She's completely different in the book! If I was in charge of casting, I would've no way picked Krysten Ritter to play her. So wrong. And Derek Smeath did not need to be that evil because he certainly wasn't in the book. I understand they have to change certain things for more 'cinematic effect', but was this really necessary?

3. Pride and Prejudice – 1995 BBC adaptation (Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen)

This is my absolute favourite adaptation! I don't know if it's because my first experience reading Pride and Prejudice went alongside watching the BBC series as a study aid in school, but I think it captures the magic of the book with incredible precision. Sure there are a few scenes which have been taken out, altered or added in (most notably that famous wet t-shirt scene), but it's done so well. I just love everything - the casting, the locations, the costume, etc. Anyway, you get the point! ;-)

4. Marley And Me (Marley And Me by John Grogan)

I read the book a while ago and so can't remember all the particulars, but I do recall thinking that aside from leaving out a few scenes and altering others, the film pretty much stays true to John Grogan's memoir. I really like both versions, though I can't watch the film too often because the ending makes me bawl my eyes out! It's seriously one of the most touching films I've seen. They did well with this one.

5. The Hobbit (The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien)

Fear not; my time machine is still in the shop! But this adaptation I can't help but speculate about because I'm so. darn. excited! I loved The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and loved reading The Hobbit so I'm very curious about how this will turn out. I do have my concerns though – I've heard that Cate Blanchett will be back as Galadriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas, but their characters aren't in the book. I'll just trust Peter Jackson for now, though. I really must read The Lord of the Rings books to get some more perspective between now and next Christmas!

Of course, there are loads of famous adaptations that I've left out, like Harry Potter (haven't read the books or seen the films recently), Bridget Jones (haven't read the books yet), Game Of Thrones, Mildred Piece, Revolutionary Road, and so forth.

So let me ask you guys, what are some of your favourite and least favourite adaptations? Do you tend to reach for the film after you've read the book, or do you avoid them at all costs in case they ruin the story for you? I'm all ears!

Saturday 13 August 2011

Read-along update – volume 1 of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

This month I'm taking part in the Sense and Sensibility read-along hosted by Risa over at Bread Crumb Reads. In a weekly period, we read a volume of the book and then come together to discuss it over on Risa's blog. I've decided to also post updates about my progress here on my blog as I make my way through it.

But beware: If you haven't read the book already, read on with care because there are going to be spoilers!

I'm really enjoying this book! With the classics, I sometimes feel as if the pace is too slow and the details are hard to follow, but I'm not finding this to be the case with Sense and Sensibility. I'm not sure that this has something to do with the way Jane Austen writes or that my reading ability has evolved, but I'm so happy I'm finding it this way  –  now I can really appreciate the story!

I'm not really sure how to go about starting my thoughts (I blame assignment week for frying my brain), so I'm just going to say what I feel and apologise if anything seems incoherent or confusing. ;-)

First there are our two heroines of the story – Elinor and Marianne Dashwood – two sisters with very different personalities. Elinor is sensible and calculated, while Marianne is the exact opposite. Marianne reminds me of a modern teenager – she's opinionated, dramatic and a little high strung! I wonder if as she gets older, she'll be exactly the same as her mother, Mrs Dashwood? They already seem very similar in their excitable ways, and Elinor is always having to keep her in check much in the way that she must with Marianne. Mrs Dashwood is lovely, though. Very kind hearted and always has the best of intentions, even if she does get a bit carried away at times.

It's a shame that back in the 18th century, everything had to be inherited by a male heir as I'm sure these sisters and their mother deserved to stay at Norland far more than Mr John Dashwood and his selfish wife did. But he was so easily manipulated by his wife that it couldn't be possible. Thank goodness that Sir John Middleton and Lady Middleton offered them the cottage on their Devonshire estate just at the right time!

I think out of the two sisters, I prefer Elinor as she seems to be more fair in her judgements towards situations and also other people. Not that I have anything against Marianne – I love her fun personality, but I dislike the way she judges those who aren't as animated as she is (namely Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon). Also I really didn't like her behaviour with Willoughby. Though I'm glad he makes her happy, they seem to be really overindulgent and immature when put together. Plus it seems a little too coincidental that they have so much in common. But I was very sad when he went away, and really felt for Marianne. I wonder if the business that sent Willoughby away so quickly is the same that sent Colonel Brandon away? Maybe they have a connection in London, and this could have some reasoning behind why Willoughby disapproves of him so much? Only time will tell, but I'm really interested to find out what's going on there.

Edward Ferrars, on the other hand, I really like and he and Elinor are my favourite will-they-won't-they couple. He really grew on me during his stay at the cottage, and I particularly loved this little exchange with Marianne:
...he went immediately round to her and said in a whisper, 'I have been guessing. Shall I tell you my guess?'
'What do you mean?'
'Shall I tell you?'
'Well then; I guess that Mr Willoughby hunts.'
Marianne was surprised and confused, yet she could not help smiling at the quiet archness of his manner, and, after a moment's silence, said,
'Oh ! Edward ! How can you?–– But the time will come I hope... . I am sure you will like him.'
'I do not doubt it,' replied he...
It really upset me when Lucy Steele revealed to Elinor that she had been engaged to Edward for quite a while, and particularly the way she went about doing this. I don't much like the Steele sisters – they just seem a little too vulgar (as Jane Austen would put it), and have no sense of social limitations. This will sound mean, but I truly hope that their engagement breaks up so Elinor can marry Edward instead. If this can't happen, then Colonel Brandon also seems a good match for her. But I'd really prefer Edward.

As for the more comical characters, well, I can't help but love them. Mrs Jennings really does make me laugh – she's so ridiculous and out there! No Austen novel would be complete without such a person as this to lighten up the mood every now and again. The same goes for the completely naïve and unassuming Mrs Palmers, who just doesn't understand her husband at all. It's a good job too because I bet she'd be a very miserable woman if she did! I'm hoping to see more of them in the story.

Phew! There you have it. So much to sum up in this volume!

What do you think? What are your opinions of the events thus far?

Tuesday 9 August 2011

REVIEW: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 8, Volume 2 – No Future For You

When a rogue debutant Slayer begins to use her power for evil, Giles is forced to recruit the rebellious Faith, who isn’t exactly known for her good deeds. Giles offers Faith a clean slate if she can stop this snooty Slayer from wreaking total havoc--that is, if Buffy doesn’t beat her to it.

Georges Jeanty (The American Way) remains at the top of his game as series artist, and Whedon continues as Executive Producer in this direct follow-up to Season Seven of the smash-hit TV series. (via Dark Horse)

The Buffy Season 8 fest continues! This is definitely my favourite volume out of the three I've read so far. Here we meet Faith and Giles for the first time in season 8, and at the beginning we find out a little of what the former has been doing since the end of season 7. Giles, however, remains a bit of an enigma until near the end of this volume.

As with volume 1 there are five comic books in total here. The first four, collectively named No Future For You, focus around Faith as she is recruited by Giles to take down a snobby, power hungry slayer called Gigi, and put an end to her ways before she causes unrepairable damage. Faith travels to England and goes undercover, attempting to move in closer to the slayer's proximity, but she soon finds herself identifying with Gigi and hesitates getting the job done. Sounds like typical Faith, right? So we're left wondering for a while which side of her will prevail – the evil or good?

If you're a Faith fan, this isn't gonna let you down. The whole story is her – exciting and unpredictable to no end. I'm not a huge fan of Faith's (too much evil!) but this really got me. And I must admit that she seems more interesting in comic book form than Buffy does! The ex-rogue slayer should've seriously got her own series.

The extra comic is called Anywhere But Here, and is not directly connected with Faith's No Future For You. It follows Willow and Buffy into the inter-dimensional lair of a demon called Sephrilian, in the hopes that it will reveal more about the mysterious villian known as 'Twilight' (the mystery of 'Twilight' and its motives cover the main story ark of season 8). But, as usual, trouble ensues, and some revealing secrets are uncovered. A pretty good stand alone story leaving you ready for volume 3! ;-)

Rating: 5 / 5

The Liebster Blog Award!

The awesome Molli at Once Upon A Prologue was kind enough to award me the Liebster Blog Award – an award that highlights book blogs with under 200 followers, to spread the word and show some love.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award to your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

My picks are:

1. Risa at Bread Crumb Reads
2. Silvia at Darkest Sins
3. Franny at Mind Reader
4. Michelle at Bookworm Family
5. Cristina at Alaskan Book Café

Make sure to visit them, follow and say 'hi'! :-))

Sunday 7 August 2011

The 100 Follower Giveaway is now CLOSED

 A massive thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate this milestone!
My 100 follower giveaway has now closed and the winner has been notified.

Apologies if you were unlucky this time around, but look out for some more awesome giveaways
coming up in the future.

Here's to 100 more! :-D

Friday 5 August 2011

Sophie Kinsella has just announced her next novel!

I just saw this announcement of Sophie Kinsella's Facebook fan page and had to share!

We're thrilled to share with you some super-exciting news about Sophie's next stand-alone novel. It will be called I've Got Your Number and will be published around the world in early 2012. Here's a sneak peek as to what it's about...
When Poppy loses her engagement ring and her mobile all in the same disastrous evening, it seems the obvious solution to make use of a phone she finds, by chance, abandoned in a hotel bin.
But inevitably her life becomes entangled with the real owner of the phone, a high-flying businessman called Sam who becomes increasingly irritated when Poppy can’t resist meddling in his affairs…
We can't wait! Watch this space for more news... x

It sounds pretty interesting. Looking forward to hearing more!

Follow Friday – #6

This week's featured blogs are
Me, My Shelf and I
Hands and Home

Welcome to Follow Friday #6! Here's this week's question:

Talk about the book that most changed or influenced your life (was it a book that turned you from an average to avid reader, did it help you deal with a particularly difficult situation, does it bring you comfort every time you read it?).

It's going to be difficult to name the book that most changed or influenced me, but I'm pretty sure it'd be accurate to say Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I first learnt about her in school, when we began reading Pride and Prejudice as part of an assignment. I was apprehensive about the book at first but by the time Mr Darcy had declared his love for Elizabeth, I was enthralled. Since then, I've gone back to it several times, and I always pick it up when I'm going through a particular hard time in life. It comforts me – everytime I read it I'm brought to a simpler time in history, and it's also as if I'm visiting old friends. Pride and Prejudice also inspired me to start reading the classics. It opened up a world to me.

Anyway, there you have it. Thanks for visiting, guys!

What book has inspired you?

Thursday 4 August 2011

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 8, Volume 1 – The Long Way Home

Since the destruction of the Hellmouth, the Slayers - newly legion - have gotten organized and are kicking some serious undead butt. But not everything's fun and firearms, as an old enemy reappears and Dawn experiences some serious growing pains. Meanwhile, one of the "Buffy" decoy slayers is going through major pain of her own. Buffy creator Joss Whedon brings Buffy back to Dark Horse in this direct follow-up to season seven of the smash-hit TV series. The bestselling and critically acclaimed issues #1-5 are collected here for the first time, as are their covers by Jo Chen and Georges Jeanty. (via Dark Horse)

Having recently restarted watching the entire Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV series and becoming an even bigger fan of the show than I was when it originally aired, I had to get my hands on the Buffy Season 8 graphic novels! It's taken me a few months to do so, but here they are finally. There are 8 volumes in total, each containing 5 issues of the comic book series.

I've gotta say that if you're a Buffy fan and haven't picked these up yet, you must! I'm not usually a reader of comic books or graphic novels, but I felt that I couldn't miss this chance to find out what happens to all the characters after the TV show.

That is, indeed, where this series picks up from. The back cover of the first volume, The Long Way Home, explains it best:

Worldwide cult phenomenon Buffy the Vampire Slayer returns with Season Eight––only in comics! Series creator Joss Whedon once again takes up writing duties for this official sequel to the show, running the comics as he ran seven seasons of Buffy on TV. This opening story introduces a mysterious threat known as "Twilight" and plunges Buffy and the gang into their biggest adventure––without the limitations of a small-screen budget.

Volume 1 introduces us to this new world in which a few hundred of the newly activated slayers are working for Buffy and the gang in 10 separate squads. Now that Sunnydale is no more, headquarters are now set up in rural Scotland, and together they train these girls to fight against the 'Big Bads'. There are huge monsters, bigger plot twists (trust me) and plenty of nail biting moments. And as creator Joss Whedon writes for this series, plenty of the character's charming qualities and definable wit is in the dialogue. It's very true to the show.

But I'll admit that it wasn't love at first sight for me. I originally disliked the shortened dialogue and the storyline (they really take advantage of the no-budget-to-worry-about deal! And why not? I ask myself now. All comic books do this.) Though as I read on, the story got more and more interesting and I also got used to the narrative style. I guess what you're supposed to do is pick up additional description and detail from the drawings––not relying solely on the words as you would in a normal book. Took me a little while to 'get the hang of' this, but I've got it now. Jeez, this just gives away how much I don't read graphic novels, doesn't it?!

By the end of volume one I was hooked, and quickly went out to get volume 2 (which is, for the record, even better than volume 1)! I'll review that one next week.

Definitely recommended to fellow slayer pals!

Rating: 4 / 5

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Review: Keeping Grace Alive by Annie Lee

For the past five years, accomplished hit man Jessie Conners has been secretly in love with Gracie Talbot, stepdaughter of his boss, Rudy Talbot. Rudy is head of America’s largest crime ring and due to Gracie’s perceived meddling in Rudy’s business and political affairs, Rudy wants her dead. As usual, Rudy turns to his number one hit man, Jessie, to make the kill.
Jessie and Gracie met during a chance encounter five years ago and Jessie has yet to tell Gracie he has feelings for her. Jessie is faced with the gut wrenching decision to either assassinate the woman he loves to keep himself and his crew in Rudy’s good graces or to attempt to save Gracie, thereby risking everything and ensuring that he, Gracie, and his crew would spend the rest of their lives running from Rudy and his mercenaries. (via amazon.com)

Keeping Grace Alive is truly an excellent book. So good, in fact, that I managed to finish it in just two days – a reading accomplishment which doesn't happen with me very often! The characters are well developed and believable, and Annie takes the reader through each event clearly with wonderful description so we really feel as if we're in the midst of all the action. And there is plenty of action of every kind to be had!

This is a beautiful romantic tale of two people, Jessie and Gracie, who essentially fall in love at first sight. Jessie endeavours to rescue Gracie from her dangerous and manipulative step father, Rudy, and enlists the help of his friends and fellow hit men to get the task done, so they can all start a new life far away and hidden. These friends are excellent – especially one called Bubba who I found completely endearing. Mix in some great action scenes and some beautiful locations, and you have a gripping story which keeps you guessing at every turn.

Overall, an exciting romantic suspense novel many will enjoy. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you would like to know more about Annie Lee and purchase a copy of Keeping Grace Alive, visit her webpage: annieleenovelist.com.

Monday 1 August 2011

August Mix-up

Happy first-day-of-August!

The blog is going to quieten down over the next couple of weeks since I've got an assignment due a week Friday. Also, the reviews will be spaced out a bit more as I'm going to be reading two books at a time this month – one being Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen as part of Risa at Breadcrumb Reads' read-along (come join us!)

Just so's you know when to expect me. ;-))

Hope you're enjoying summer!