Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Trouble with Goodreads

Good day all!

I have been pondering something for a while and I thought best to put my thoughts out there on the blogosphere.

If you are reading this post, chances are you are as avid a bookworm as I am. And, if that is the case, then surely you too are a member of Goodreads, the social network for bookish folk.

I have dabbled on and off with Goodreads since 2010 or thereabouts. At first, it was really great to see what others were reading and to get unfiltered reviews on books. I used to look up every book religiously before reading it ad found myself agreeing with most reviewers, whether positive or negative.

And that fact right there became a problem.

As a reviewer myself, I try to keep my opinions my own. How could I possibly do that when I already have a preconceived idea of a book? If I read reviews complaining of a bitchy main character or a flat, boring love triangle, that would be all I noticed with that particular book.

So now I completely avoid Goodreads if there is a particular book that has caught my eye. I feel that people often write scathing reviews because they can and they fail to understand that their tastes are not mine. Also, who really wants to read a book and pick it apart line by line? Does that simple fact kill the enjoyment of it anyway?

What are your thoughts on this? Are reviews a good or a bad thing? (As someone who runs a book review blog, I really want to know!)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

 

Title: Crewel (Crewel World 1)
Author: Gennifer Albin
Publisher: Faber and Faber (2012)
 
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.


Crewel is defined as: Embroidery, or Crewelwork, is a type of crochet embroidery using wool and a variety of different embroidery stitches to follow a design outline applied to the fabric (Wikipedia). This is an actual art form that Albin has adapted for this novel. Clever, as I originally thought the novel was simply called that as a deliberate misspelling of the word "Cruel".

I really enjoyed this one. It is original and polished, with a swift narrative that kept me guessing.

Part of me could have done without the romance, as Adelice has strong enough relationships with other characters. It seems to be too much to ask for a great YA novel that doesn't rely on romance to draw in a readership.

This is a strong enough novel and concept on its own. I really liked the world Albin has created as deftly as her characters work the weave in their own world.

I look forward to the next in the series, Altered.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Ripmender by Julianne Alcott

Paranormalsphere is proud to host our first ever cover reveal!

The Ripmender is a forthcoming YA novel from  Julianne Alcott published by local publishing company Wordsmack.

I have also been lucky enough to receive an eARC of The Ripmender, so expect a review soon!

Without further ado, here is the gorgeous cover of The Ripmender! I love it!





 About The Ripmender:

‘In the real world, ones' idols ended up going to rehab or jail, or marrying someone for three days. They didn't end up being from another planet.’

Cathy Slater dreams of meeting the love of her life ... teen rock sensation, Nathan Jake. Of course, this is impossible – he is adored by millions, and she has trouble fitting into her own family. Even if he is a tutor at her university, she can’t compete with the packs of adoring fans constantly surrounding him.
But then her life changes forever when she stumbles onto Nathan Jake’s biggest secret. She wasn’t meant to see what he could do … what he was.

Becoming part of his secret means that Cathy is thrown head first into his world – the one in which Ripmenders keep unsuspecting worlds like ours safe from invasion. And then there are the jealous super-fans to deal with …

But can Jake ever reciprocate Cathy’s feelings? As she discovers more about the Ripmenders and the shadowy organisation that runs them, the more she worries that his cold, calm demeanour will never give way to the loving man she always imagined him to be. Follow the couple from South Africa across the galaxy to fantastical planets through the rips of space.

Comment from Louisa Pieters from Foolmoon Design:

With all the trends in Young Adult covers to contend with, it is not an easy process to design a cover that stands out.

What with full figure shots, albeit with chopped of heads, close-up facial shots, dreamy girls (or boys as the case may be), I decided on the mysterious girl stepping into the unknown future. This decision
helped us side-step the off-putting issue of the cover image not corresponding to the author's description of the main character.

It's something the publishers wanted to steer clear of from the beginning: give the reader a chance to imagine the main character instead of insisting on a specific look. That, and avoid the issue of showcasing clothes that may be out of fashion by the time the book is released.

I love the starscape - I really enjoyed the book and was hoping to convey the otherworldliness of some of the settings.

 
 

The Ripmender is available soon on the 6th May from Wordsmack Publishers in  eBook form. Wordsmack is a digital publishing house specialising in speculative African fiction. Visit them at www.word-smack.com.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fim Review: Divergent


Title: Divergent
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Studio: Summit Entertainment (2014)

I was lucky enough to go to the opening night screening of Divergent thanks to Jonathan Ball Publishers (Local distributors of the book series) and Skoobs Theatre of Books.

I have been anticipating this movie for MONTHS but also didn't get my hopes up too high as the YA genre has a pretty shitty history of being translated into film well. From what I had seen online, I was happy with the casting choices and the general feel of the film, but we fans are a fickle, picky lot who are hard to please.

After meeting the other winners of the Skoobs competition, I pulled on my Candor bracelet, grabbed popcorn and coke and settled in for a 2 hour trip into the world of the best-selling novels I had come to love.

Firstly, the one thing that really impressed me was the movie score and soundtrack. There was a lot of Ellie Goulding, which was a great choice of artist for the film as she has already tapped roots into the right audiences and is edgy enough to fit the atmosphere and feel of the film. The score was composed by Han Zimmer, who is one of my favourite composers of all time. You may remember the name from films such as The Lion King and Batman Begins, which has sweeping, epic scores. He delivers more of the same with Divergent, giving the film that little bit extra.

Shailene Woodley was cast as Tris and did an admirable job, although she will never be Jennifer Lawrence. I look forward to seeing her in the role of Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars later this year.

Theo James was great at Four and he had his shirt off enough for me not to mind if he was the world's worst actor.

For those who have not read the books, Divergent provides enough information for them not to be left in the dark. My boyfriend even enjoyed it and seemed to have a grasp of the plot. He commented on it being filmed well and the settings, although he thought the movie could have been more dark and brutal.

I tend to agree. The book was a lot darker and they left out or dumbed down a lot of brutality the Dauntless initiates went through. This was probably to ensure the movie hit it's PG rating.

I wish Peter's character had been focused on more. he played an important role in the books and he was dealt with in a cursory way. Plus the actor who they cast in the role was too soft and weak-looking. I did not see Peter like that at all!

I won't go into THE scene that has everyone talking. That is been discussed on other blogs and reviews.

Overall, Divergent was a brilliant adaption and I am pleased to say that I enjoyed it even more than The Hunger Games, as the story and setting was so well-done. It is polished and didn't feel rushed or cheapened.

If you are a fan, I am sure you will not leave the cinema disappointed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The YA Revolution and Why You Should Care

Harry Potter.
Twilight.
Hunger Games.
Divergent.

Just a few of the popular titles in YA that have made it big in cinemas around the world. This in itself is indicative of the success of the YA genre in recent years. And yet I still get asked by random people (who are usually not readers anyway) why I love YA so much.

Seriously?

One of my favorite reads of 2013.

YA is taking the world by storm. Not only are teens around the world reading and engaging more with literature, they are also blogging, reviewing and interacting with other fans online. This is also extending past the teenage market and many adults can be found browsing the YA section in bookstores. There are even special "adult" covers released for the more popular titles.

Massive Marketing campaigns are now going into the release of specific titles. Giveaways, swag (bookmarks, postcards, promo gifts) and blog tours are all the rage in promoting the latest popular YA releases. Bloggers clamor to get their paws on  advanced reader copies (ARCs).

Such is the passion of the readers that authors are actually held accountable for what happens to their characters. It's a whole new ballgame and I am a regular player. Although I wouldn't go so far as insulting an author because I didn't like how the story turned out, I do get a cheap thrill when an author responds to my tweet!

While YA itself has quickly proven to be more than a trend, there certainly are trends within the genre. First we loved vampires thanks to Twilight. Now we are all over Dystopian fiction thanks to Hunger Games and Divergent. With a smattering of zombies thrown in for good measure!

Now in a cinema near you!

YA offers a fun read with great imaginative settings and plots. it has great characters you can really root for and relate to. There is something for everyone and it should not be restricted to a certain age group.

If you are a reader and have not read YA, I feel sorry for you. Do not judge the genre based on the critical grumblings of those who deem themselves too good to read it... but who can sit and judge it without having done so. Don't be one of those people!

Have a browse around my blog for some great YA suggestions to get you started!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: Reboot by Amy Tintera


Title: Reboot (Reboot #1)
Author: Amy Tintera
Publisher: Harper Collins (2013)

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.


It took me forever to get to reading this book. I loved the concept and expected lots of action and excitement.

Well, the first half of Reboot is decent. My first impression was that it would have been better written in third person, though. Wren was supposed to be essentially emotionless and being inside her head didn't feel like that at all. It was really a case of telling and not showing as Wren was constantly reminding the reader how hardcore she really is and how she feels nothing. But she didn't read that way. It bothered me a lot.

I was drawn into the story and concept and did enjoy the pacing of the story and the overall world-building.

And then Reboot decides to take a long trip up shit creek with no paddle.

Oh. My. Word.

Suddenly Wren morphs into a futuristic version of Bella Swan. The plot becomes secondary to the woo-woo love going on between her and Callum. If there is an opportunity to kiss, even if their lives are in danger then, by God, they will take it. It was just too much.

Tell a story, please, authors! Leave the romance as a sideline thing. And don't compromise a strong female character for the sake of soppiness. We need strong females in YA, not boy-obsessed weaklings. A good example is Tris from Divergent. Sure, Tris loves Four. But she does not fall over herself pleasing him and he is not the dominating thought in her mind.

Meh, ok. Rant over. I wanted more than Reboot offered me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review: The Magicians' Guild by Trudi Canavan


Title: The Magicians Guild (#1 in The Black Magician Trilogy)
Author: Trudi Canavan
Publisher: Orbit (2001)

"We should expect this young woman to be more powerful than our average novice, possibly even more powerful than the average magician."
This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work-—until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders...and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.

What the Magicians' Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.

I first discovered this series in 2005 and have reread it several times since then.

If you are unfamiliar with Trudi Canavan's work, this is the perfect starter Fantasy that will appeal to teens and adults. It has an appealing world with an uncomplicated storyline and the characters are well-crafted.

The Magician's Guild is my least favourite of the trilogy, but that is simply because it acts as a stepping stone into this world and sets the scene for the next two books. Canavan's world building is flawless. she does not waste words on long-winded descriptions unlike some more prominent authors of the genre. I appreciate this, as I do not need a full chapter describing the scene. I would rather be told as the story progresses.

The writing is succinct and the point of view moves around from chapter to chapter. It is fun to see the various relationships play out, especially where Dannyl is involved!

If you have not read this wonderful series, do. And then pass along to your kids. However, fans of High Fantasy may find this series slightly fluffy.