Monday, 15 July 2013

Review: "Project Unicorn, volume 1" by Sarah & Jessica Diemer

Project Unicorn, volume 1: 30 Young Adult Short Stories Featuring Lesbian Heroines is (as the title clearly states) a collection of thirty young adult short stories featuring lesbian heroines. As ghosts and witches, aliens and vampires, the characters in this extensive and varied collection battle monsters and inner demons, stand up to bullies, wield magic, fall in love, and take action to claim their lives - and their stories - as their own.
Project Unicorn is a project (duh) by the wife-and-wife duo Sarah and Jessica Diemer where each month has its own theme, and they publish two new short stories per week. Each month they put all those eight short stories (plus two longer ones) together and publish them on various online stores. In December 2012 the first print volume came out (volume 1, the book I'm currently reviewing, if you didn't get that). It contains all short stories from the first three months - The Dark Woods, The Monstrous Sea, and Uncharted Sky.
This book is a young adult anthology with 30 short stories crammed into only 270 pages. This means that many of these stories very short, which I found really refreshing. I haven't read that many anthologies, but those that I have read contain much longer short stories and thus not as many. I love reading short stories after a few 400 page books, it's nice to read something that only takes a moment to finish, even though the whole collection could take longer.
The reason I really wanted to buy and read this book from the start was that all the main characters were queer women. The lack of homosexual representation in media is enraging to me, and I'd been looking for books with LGBT characters for a while (thanks to Laura for posting about the Diemer's on tumblr). Out of all the 170 books I've read, there's only three that I can think of that has gay main characters. That's not a big number.
Now, let's talk about something that doesn't make me angry. Almost all of these short stories are fantasy or science fiction, and only a few of them doesn't end happily. I had a few favourites out of all the thirty - Devil May Care by Sarah, and  Natural and Breaking the Ice by Jessica. Devil May Care is about Corrine, who summons a demon - Selimead - to help her find her dog who ran away. I loved how Corrine and Selimead interacted with each other, and I loved the ending (and also that they found the dog, but that's just because I love dogs). Natural is about Terra, who is bullied in school because she's gay, and so she spends a lot of time talking to an old tree. She wishes that the tree was a living girl, so they could have more than just very one sided conversations. What she doesn't know is that the tree has a consciousness and can hear and understand her, but also wishes to be more than a tree - and one day their mutual with comes true. This was my absolute favourite short story, I'm not quite sure why. It was just incredibly sweet. I think it might be because Ash (that's the name the tree gives herself when she becomes a girl) kind of already knew Terra, and Terra has always trusted Ash completely, even though they were just a girl and a tree before. Ash was so uncertain and cute when she turned into a girl, and I can really see in front of myself how Terra is going to take her in and teach her how to live and how they spent the rest of their lives together. There was one short story, though, that some people might not appreciate. It was called In the Garden I Did Not Sin and it was about a daughter of Eve who found her way back to the garden of Eden and met a daughter of Lilith. I really liked it, I think it'd make a great novel, but I know that everyone might not feel that way.
Over all I really liked the first volume of Project Unicorn, and I really hope that Sarah and Jessica put together more of the short stories from this project and make more printed volumes. This was probably my favourite anthology that I've read so far. The Diemer's are very talented writers, and I can't wait to read more from them.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Review: "Looking for Alaska" by John Green

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.After. Nothing is ever the same. (summary from goodreads)
I'd like to start of this review by saying that John Green is an amazing author, but sometimes I just wish he wasn't. Sometimes, John Green being an amazing author is so incredibly painful that I wish that he just worked in a grocery store or something. After a while, though, I realize that the pain is worth it.
I had only read one John Green book before, The Fault In Our Stars, and so when I realized that the chapters in Looking for Alaska were titled eighty-three days before, nineteen days before, ect, until it got to the last day and then started counting one day after, fifty-six days after, one hundred and twenty-two days after I got really scared. Obviously something big was going to happen, and having read TFIOS, I had an idea of what it might be and I did not like it. But let's get on with the review, shall we?
I love how John Green writes his characters, of course all good characters have flaws, or they wouldn't be very interesting, but I feel like John Green's characters are so much more raw than other's. I constantly felt torn between loving and hating "Pudge", Alaska, and "The Colonel" (Miles' best friend at Culver Creek). They had such high up's such low down's, and I think I'll have to work hard to find characters written by different authors to live up to them.
Green's take on boarding school was different from what I'm used to. Usually the dorm rooms are all in the same building with several floors, and you have long corridors between them. At Culver Creek the dorm rooms were more like a motel, all with doors leading outside instead of to a corridor.
I like how, when you get to the incident that the chapters counted down to, the book continues on for about a hundred pages. You get to see how the characters slowly start to move on. Even though everything has changed and it'll never really be the same, they do their best and you know that it'll be okay again.

Looking for Alaska is a very emotional book, do not read it if you can't handle pain, because unless you're made of stone you will hurt. It'll be worth it, though, because you'll laugh with and at the characters, you'll be embarrassed and excited, and you'll have a great time.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Book review: The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

Be careful what you summon!
In ancient times, the magicians of Egypt were recognized as the best in the world. Each god’s temple had a branch called the House of Life, where magicians were trained to battle monsters, duel enemy sorcerers, and when necessary, even do combat with the gods themselves.
What if the House of Life still existed? 
When a magical accident unleashes the Egyptian gods into the modern world, Carter and Sadie Kane discover that they are descended from the most powerful Egyptian magicians, and only they have the power to set things right! 
Join their adventures against the mythical forces of Ancient Egypt in The Kane Chronicles.(Summary from Rick Riordan's website)

I just finished The Serpent's Shadow - the third and last instalment in The Kane Chronicles - and decided that instead of reviewing only that one book, I'd review that  whole trilogy.
Now, I love Rick Riordan, he's an amazing writer - probably one of my favourites. He did not disappoint with The Kane Chronicles. It was a great trilogy, and I'm quite sad that it's over. It's focused a lot on Egyptian mythology, just like Percy Jackson and the Olympians in on Greek mythology. But the two series are still totally different. That is something I was afraid of when I picked up The Red Pyramid, I'd been afraid it'd be just like PJO. It isn't. If you ask me, this trilogy is so much more complicated, and that's not because Rick has intentionally made it that way. Egyptian mythology just is more complicated that Greek. And I have learned so much from this series, all I know about Egyptian gods and believes I have learned from The Kane Chronicles, nothing is from school.
It isn't just my interest in mythology that makes me love The Kane Chronicles, but it's also the characters and the plot. Sadie and Carter Kane grow so much during the three books. In the beginning of The Red Pyramid they barely know each other, and they are both just two kids. Now, when I've finished to trilogy, I find it hard to think of them as a 13 and a 15 year old, because they seem so grown up. Rick also portrays that gods perfectly (not that I know much about their personalities from elsewhere). He even managed to make me fall in love with a short, loud, and ugly dwarf god in speedos. How many people can do that? There is also a love triangle in The Kane Chronicles, but don't let that prevent you from reading it, because Rick Riordan knows how to write love triangles. He doesn't let them take over to book, and he solves them in a way that makes all three parties happy. The triangle in The Kane Chronicles is between the god of death and funerals, Anubis, Sadie Kane, and the trainee Walt Stone. I - with the help of my bad luck - managed to get spoiled on how the triangle ended before I read it. I won't say what happened, but I will say that it was a brilliant way to solve the problem.
The Kane Chronicles in narrated be both Carter and Sadie, when they take turns retelling their story to a recorder, which they then mail to Rick and he writes it down. This is a great way of writing, because not only does it let us look into the minds of both siblings instead of only one, but I could use this fact to reassure myself that they were both going to be fine every time I was sure one of them was about to die. This happened a lot. Rick Riordan is such a great writer, though, that many times I was positive that the world would end and Carter and Sadie would die, even though I knew that they wouldn't.
I think that the only downside the The Kane Chronicles id the terrible character art (sorry, whoever designed them, but they're not pretty). That doesn't affect the actual books, though, so it's fine.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Wishlist Wednesday #3

(Hosted by Pen to Paper)

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle--disguised and alone--to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
(Summary from Goodreads)

I've read Graceling and Fire, and I really liked them. I think it's almost safe to say that Graceling Realm is one of my favourite book series. I know that Bitterblue has been available to read since May last year, but the reason I haven't read it yet is that it so far hasn't been published in Swedish. Usually this wouldn't be a problem for me - I'd just read it in English - but I bought and read Graceling and Fire in Swedish, and so I have to do the same with Bitterblue. It's an annoying kind of OCD, but not really (I don't have OCD, at least not that I know of) thing, that you probably know of if you're subscribed to me on YouTube. Luckily Bitterble is going to be published here in Sweden on Friday next week so the wait is almost over.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Book review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen — literally, ouch! — both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...
I'll start by saying: I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I'd thought I would. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I will continue. I think a big part of the reason I was a little disappointed in this book was because it was mainly set on land, and when I say mainly I mean that Emma - the female lead - only really "visited" the ocean two or three times, and never to the Syrena kingdom. I had expected for the book to take place in the water, that was what I had wanted to read. So it kind of ruined it a little for me when the characters always walked around on solid ground. Another big part that was negative to me was that no one even thought about the fact that Emma could be what she is until at least two thirds into the book. Personally, as soon as they started talking about how Emma was like Syrena in some aspects, but not in others, I kind of went "well, she's obviously half, then". Maybe I've just read to much YA fantasy involving different kinds of hybrids, but to me it was obvious.
I started reading this book on the bus on my way to school one morning. Big mistake. I obviously knew that there was going to be a shark attack, but I hadn't though about it enough to realise when in the book it was. I had just kind of though it'd be a bit into the book, and that it'd be one of those where a shark comes to a beach and everyone's freaking out but nothing really happens. Oh, was I wrong. You see, I hate sharks, they scare me to death, and I did not expect it to show up almost instantly. The shark attack wasn't necessarily a very scary scene, but when Emma and Chloe were out on that surfboard away from everyone else, and Chloe accuse Emma of kicking her, I got so scared. I almost had to put the book away, and all of a sudden I was sure there was a shark under my seat. It was terrifying. So, if you're afraid of sharks, I advice you to read the first three and a half chapters in the middle of your bed - with no arms or legs over the edge.
A thing that annoyed me was "ohmysweetgodness", which Emma said/though at least a dozen times in the first half of the book. I don't even get what it means, to me it sounds like she is excited, but most of the times she thought it she was angry. Luckily it got better and in the second half of the book it was only mentioned once or twice. Everyone - well, Emma, Galen, and Rayna - were unnecessarily aggressive. Somewhere it was mentioned that it was a Syrena trait, but it was still a little unsettling, considering Emma threatened to/though about murdering different people a bunch of times.
Even though all these not-so-positive-things were in the book, I still liked it. Emma and Galen were really cute together (even though they were both oblivious to each others feelings), Rayna was really entertaining (even though she was a bitch at the beginning), and Toraf was just amazing (even though he wanted to mate with Rayna without her consent). And that's not mentioning the huge cliffhanger. It was almost like a slap in the face, even though I'd though there was something fishy (hey, look how funny I am) about her for a while. I don't know if I'd go as far as to say this cliffhanger was in style with a Riordan Cliffhanger, but almost.
Out of five stars, I gave it three on goodreads, because even though I didn't really feel like that much was happening I still thought it was good. And I need to read Of Triton soon, because I need to know what happens.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Cover Love #1

I know this might be a cliché cover - a girl in a big dress, with a dramatic background - but I simply adore it simply because I think it's such a beautiful photo. I'd probably love it even if it didn't have a thing to do with the book itself, which I suppose it doesn't, really. Unless you are really deep and over analyse everything...

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
Even Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce – he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret...even if it kills her.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Wishlist Wednesday #2

(Hosted by Pen to Paper)

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

I just finished The Golden Lily yesterday, and let me just say that the ending was horribly painful. I really loved Vampire Academy, and so far Bloodlines is amazing too. It's too bad my obsessive crazy-ness won't let me get it before it's published in a 19 cm paperback, but I can't wait.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Miriam Forster's 30 Days of Bookery giveaway

As you probably already know, Miriam Forster's new book City of a Thousand Dolls is about to be released any minute now... well, February 5th to be exact.

An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.
I'm really exited about this book, and can't wait to get my hands on a copy. To celebrate the release Miriam is hosting a huge 30 Days of Bookery giveaway on her blog. What she's doing is that every day for 30 days she's giving away at least one book. She started on January 6th, so it's been going on for a week, but it's not too late to participate in the coming giveaways. Just head over to this post on her blog to read what to do, and hope that you win a book.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Book review: Knife by R. J. Andersson

Bryony lives in the big Oak together with all the other fairies, but no one except for the Hunter and the Gatherers are allowed to go outside. When Bryony is assigned to become the Queen's Hunter, she changes her name to Knife, and one day when she is hurt fighting a crow, she flies right into the lap of a human boy - Paul. Paul takes care of Knife until she gets better, and they form a bond, but no one can know that Knife is friends with a human for interacting with humans is forbidden.
Knife starts to doubt everything she's learned growing up; humans aren't dangerous, and are they really what's behind the terrible illness that takes the fairies one by one? With the Queen keeping secrets, and Paul for help, Knife tries to find out what really happened back when the fairies lost their magic and the illness broke out.

Knife is the first book in the Faery Rebels series by R. J. Andersson. It can also be found under the name "Spell Hunter" in Canada and the US.
When I started reading this book, I was really confused, because the main character was called Bryony, but everywhere where I'd read about the book she was called Knife. I got to know why, though, after a few chapters when she changed her name. The plot was different, which was a nice change from the "life size fairies with weird appearances", and fairy courts and politics and stuff - but maybe I just think so because the only other real "faery-books" I've read is the Wicked Lovely series. But, anyway, these are the kind of fairies that I've always imagined living out in the woods. Small, with wings and pointy ears.
I loved how the faery world in the Oak was built, with the Queen, and everyone being assigned jobs as they grew up. The fact that there were no males surprised me, but I also kind of like the idea of the faeries leaving an egg behind as they die. It's sad - that they have to die for their daughter to be born - but an interesting idea.

The characters were great. I loved Knife, she was special, and I loved her reactions to the human things in Paul's house. How she thought Paul's wheelchair was a throne, and all the furniture was so beautiful compared to her own. The secondary characters were also lovely. Wink and Thorn, especially.
Overall I loved this book, I've wanted to read it for quite a while, so when I got it for my birthday a month ago I was really happy. I would strongly recommend it to everyone. And you can't say that looking at the book makes you not want to read it. The cover is beautiful, I really prefer the "Knife" cover over the "Spell Hunter" cover.

Wishlist Wednesday #1

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.
(Hosted by Pen to Paper)

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson is the second book in the Shades of London series. In The Name of the Star - the first book - Rory Deveaux moves from Louisiana to London to go to boarding school, just as a serial killer starts murdering people in the exact same way as Jack the Ripper. Rory then sees the murderer at the school grounds, but her friend doesn't, and she later finds out why. Because of a near death experience Rory can see ghosts, and that's just what the killer is - a ghost. Rory then meets more people like her, and she finds out that the killers next victim is her.

Now, I'm not going to tell anyone how the book ends, but I really loved it and I can't wait for the sequel. The Name of the Star was really great, and it kind of ended on a cliff hanger. Not a Rick-Riordan-cliff-hanger kind, but a small one. It left me wonder 'and how the frick is Rory gonna be able to continue now?'. The Madness Underneath one of those books that I really can't wait to buy when it's published, but that is probably going to stand on my bookshelf for a little while before I actually open it.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

New Years Resolutions 2013

So, now it's a new year, but 2013 haven't impressed me yet, tough. For the year I thought I'd put up some book related new year resolutions for myself. I never do this, I've never had a new year resolution before, so we'll see how it goes with keeping them.
  1. To read at least 60 books this year. Some people might say that 60 isn't very much, but I read very slowly, so for me to finish a book quickly I have to read all the time until it's done. And it'll probably take a few days anyway. In 2012 I read 52 books, and I don't want to set the bar too high, since I don't know it I'm going to have a lot of other things to do this year.
  2. Not to buy a million new books when I still have a three miles high TBR pile. I have the same problem as everyone else, I buy way more books than I read. I've been fairly good the last two or three months, though, so I'm hoping to keep the good work up until I don't have so many unread books in my bookshelf.
  3. To read more books in different genres. I don't know how well this will go. I read almost only YA fantasy or sci-fi, and I know I should read other kinds of books too. My most commonly used argument is "I don't have the time, I have too many YA fantasy books that I want to read". If I ever use that argument on this blog, I want you to find out where I live and come punch me in the face.
Those are the three things that I'm going to try to do, the last one is probably going to be the hardest. But I really need to "widen my horizons". Wish me luck, and happy new year.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Book review: Torn by Amanda Hocking

Wendy Everly is finally starting to feel more at home in Förening, the home of the Trylle, but now she finds out that there's more than meets the eye. She shares a stronger connection with the Vittra than she knew of, and they will do anything to get her to their side.
With a war just around the corner, and her own coronation much closer than she'd originally thought, Wendy's only hope at saving Förening is to marry a royal Trylle. She is torn between feelings and duty, what she want's, and what she should.

I really enjoyed Switched, so I was excited to receive Torn for Christmas. This book goes deeper into the Trylle society, and there's a lot more Trylle and Vittra politics. We get to know who Wendy's father was - or rather is, and we get to know more about what the future will look like. The book is never boring, and it doesn't have any unnecessary parts where you're pretty much asleep for pages at a time. It starts off with a bang that draws you in, and even though the book gets much smoother after a few chapters, I found it hard to put it down. You can tell that the world of the Trylle is well thought about, it's written with much detail and an effort to make it believable.
We meet all of the great characters from Switched, as well as a few new ones. We have Loki, a handsome and cheeky Vittra royal whom Wendy feels a strong connection with. We, among others, also meet Oren and Sara - the king and queen of the Vittra, and Finn's family, if only briefly. Finn's eleven year old sister, Ember, made for some reason an impression on me even though we only met her once in Torn. I think it's because I have a weak spot for cute little siblings, though. Wendy has developed quite a bit in this book, as she is now more sure of herself, and isn't afraid to stand up for herself and others. Now she also has Matt, her brother, with her in Förening, and that's influenced her a lot. She needs someone who will always be there for her now that Finn is acting the way he is acting. I was also surprised to find that I liked Elora, Wendy's mother, much more in this book than I did in Switched, since you now got to see another side of her that was much more motherly and supportive.
The one thing that I missed in this book was Finn. Sure, he was there, but not like previously. I this book he argued with or ignored Wendy almost every time he was with her. None of that sweet romance from Switched was there, now he was just cold, reserved, and moody all the time. Loki made up for that though, as he was constantly flirting with Wendy whenever he was around.

Overall I really liked Torn. I give it four out of five stars, and encourage anyone who hasn't read it to do. Just read Switched first.

Hey, everyone!

I'm Elin, you might know me from YouTube as PagesChaptersBooks (but probably not). Here I'm going to be posting book reviews in text form, and other book related things.
The blog is right now under construction, so I'm sorry it it's a terrible mess. While you wait you can visit my YouTube channel.