four stars

Tour: Socialpunk, Monica Leonelle – Review and Giveaway

Welcome to The Oaken Bookcase stop on the Socialpunk Blog Tour! You can find links to the other blogs taking part on the socialpunktrilogy.com site, but make sure you enter the giveaway below my review first!

Title: Socialpunk (Goodreads)
Author:  Monica Leonelle (@monicaleonelle)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

 

Details

Series: Socialpunk Trilogy (1 of 3)
Genre: YA Dystopia/Cyberpunk
Published: Spaulding House, March 27 2012
My copy: Review e-copy from the Author
Paper copies: Amazon.com
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

I really enjoyed reading this book – the action just keeps on rolling and I found it very difficult to stop reading!

At first, Socialpunk looks a lot like another YA dystopia I read recently, Divergent. Like Divergent, Socialpunk is set in a future Chicago, cut off from the rest of the world. There’s some jumping on trains and joining of social groups, here called a “hash” rather than a faction, but that’s really where the similarities ended.

Socialpunk is filled with interesting future tech – cybernetics, creative art directly from thoughts and food in pill form, to name but a few things. It’s a fascinating society as well, although we don’t get to hear as much about how it all works as I would have liked. What are the hashes for? Perhaps we’ll find out in the future books.

The story is action-packed and very compelling. I found the love polygon a little overdone for my tastes – it seems everyone is in love with someone else, but the relationships are all very sweet. Ima herself is a strong and determined girl with a past that makes her vulnerable. I do think that I’d put up a bit more of a fight if someone was trying to implant cybernetics in me, though!

Fans of high-tech dystopian stories will love Socialpunk. I know I’m looking forward to the next instalment, Socialmob, due for release in July 2012.

Giveaway

Monica Leonelle is holding a tour-wide giveaway to promote the launch of the Socialpunk Trilogy, open Internationally!


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What did others think of Socialpunk?

Tour: WiSpY, Rob Andrews: Review and Giveaway

Double Sci-fi tour banner

Welcome to The Oaken Bookcase’s second stop on the Double the Scifi Tour! Last week I reviewed Vitality by Tim Andrewartha. Today I’m happy to share a review and giveaway for WiSpY.

~o~

Title: WiSpY (Goodreads)

Author:   Rob Andrews (@wispyauthor)

Rating: 

Adam is a 19 year old blogger who lives in his mother’s basement. A simple reply to a blog fan e-mail begins a relationship with Pretoria, a beautiful and mysterious young woman. Pretoria guides him into ‘the Realm’, a spirit world where he discovers he is a powerful force for the protection and survival of human kind.

 

Details

Series: Stand-alone
Genre: YA Paranormal/Sci-fi
Published: Dam Good Publishing, December 2011
Pages: 346

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

WiSpY is a fast-paced and exciting story. Right from the first chapter, I was drawn in by the strange things that started to happen to Adam and by the time he met Pretoria and things started to really get rolling, I couldn’t put it down.

I loved the way the story flowed – even with the twists and turns, each scene moved forward to the next very easily and I had to keep reading to find out what would happen next.

Adam is a likeable character although a little sleazy towards Pretoria. I’ll let him off because he’s only nineteen. Pretoria seems like such a caring person – it’s sweet the way she keeps checking to make sure Adam is alright with everything.

The only thing I can say against it is that the concepts surrounding the “Realm” are very complicated. There’s a section in the middle of the book where Pretoria explains everything to Adam in one day – it’s such a deluge of information that I’m still not sure I get it all after a second read-through. It isn’t essential to understanding the rest of the story though and there wouldn’t really have been an easier way to present the information to Adam and the reader.

From the little that we hear during WiSpY, it sounds as though there is a lot more to the story of the First Ones, New Ones, Straddlers and Protectors both in the past and coming in the future. I hope Rob Andrews decides to continue to write about this compelling world.

~o~

Giveaway

Dam Good Publishing are offering an e-book copy of WiSpY to give away. The competition is open internationally! The winner will be chosen next Friday, April 6 and notified by email.


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Good luck!

Review: The Forever Girl, Rebecca Hamilton

Title: The Forever Girl (Goodreads)

Author:   Rebecca Hamilton (@InkMuse)

Rating: 

Series: Forever Girl book 1 (of ?)

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Published: Immortal Ink Publishing, January 2012

Pages: 354

Paper copies: Amazon.com

E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk

Sophia lives in a small town where her Wiccan practices are disapproved of by the local church. Research into her family’s history leads her towards finding out about the voices in her mind, but also leads her into a dark world where the vampiric Cruor rule. Can she trust the mysterious Charles after her friends turn away from her?

Review

I was given this copy of The Forever Girl by the Author herself in a Twitter giveaway. Paranormal romance isn’t usually my favourite but I was so glad I went ahead and read it. This story is dark yet gripping – I had a hard time putting it down.

Early on in the story I couldn’t help but compare it to Twilight a little: Girl meets mysterious, gorgeous boy who says “You shouldn’t get attached to me, it’s too dangerous”, she says “OMG, get me some of that” and he protects her from the Vampire powers-that-be (I don’t mean that as a slight on Twilight, by the way. I rather enjoyed the books when I read them – up until Breaking Dawn, anyway).

As the story moved forward, twists and turns made sure that I never knew what to expect next. The story was fast-paced and exciting and the Wiccan rituals and history of the Cruor and other elementals were fascinating.

Sophia was a great character – she was so strong and determined, but I felt so sorry for her by the end! She tries her hardest and faces each new challenge in a very believeable and engaging way. Charles, on the other hand, I did not connect well with. Apart from seeming a little too perfect, he drove me (and Sophia) mad with his hot/cold attitude – one minute telling her to stay away and acting all stand-offish and the next moment, whispering sweet nothings in her ear. I wanted to slap him! The romantic scenes were well put together though and fit in well with the events in the story.

I really enjoyed reading The Forever Girl. It’s a fantastic debut from Rebecca Hamilton, and I’ll look forward to the release of book two, Her Sweetest Downfall, later this year.

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Not if you don’t want them to have nasty nightmares! Also, language and adult content.

Challenges: I read this book as part of the Immortal Reading Challenge – Vampires.

Review: City of Bones, Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (Goodreads)

Author:   Cassandra Clare

Rating: 

Series: The Mortal Instruments, Book 1 of 4 (5 & 6 planned)
Genre: YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008
Pages: 512 (paperback)

Paper copies (paperback): Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk • Diesel Ebooks

Clary Fray has just witnessed a murder in a nightclub, committed by three teenagers that only she can see. Things only get more strange as her mother disappears, she is attacked by a demon, and she and her best friend Simon are drawn into the world of the Shadowhunters.

Review

Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, Faeries – The Mortal Instruments has it all. This is not, however, another Twilight clone. City of Bones begins what promises to be a great story of good against evil, tolerance against bigotry, falling in love with the wrong people and learning that all the stories are true.

City of Bones came well-recommended to me and I was looking forward to seeing whether all the hype was deserved. As I read the first few chapters of this book though, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.

Here were Clary and Simon, ordinary teenagers. They meet a trio of mysterious, tattooed youths who seem very free with information about their secret world.

As more and more details about the Shadow World are revealed, I couldn’t help but cringe at the dialogue even though it was quite funny at times. Pretty much everything Simon says in the whole book is a chucklesome one-liner, and the other characters engage in witty repartee even in the most dramatic of situations. Teenagers, at least the ones I know, just don’t talk like that. I just felt a little like such an epic story deserved characters who took the whole thing a little more seriously.

Despite their dialogue, I did become quite fond of the characters as the book went on. Clary, despite being blind as a bat when it comes to relationships, was a sweet character. She did seem to spend rather a lot of time looking at Jace’s muscles – but who wouldn’t, right? The obligatory love-polygon (it’s more than a triangle!) aspect was well written and left me wanting to read the next book to tie up the loose relationship ends.

The second half of the book was action-packed and left me unable to put it down – I nearly missed my station on the train a few times this week! I loved the Shadow World that Cassandra Clare has created. The storyline (in the first book, anyway) was quite reminiscent of the Harry Potter series – I was unsurprised to find out later that Cassie Clare had previously written Harry Potter fanfiction and has supposedly used some of that material in City of Bones. I’m hoping that the story will take on some more unique elements in the rest of the series.

City of Bones was an entertaining and exciting read. Read this book if you loved Harry Potter and if you’re a Young Adult fantasy fan.

Read it to your little ‘uns? Not really. There’s no swearing or naughty bits, but it’s really a story for bigger ‘uns.

Challenges: City of Bones fits neatly into the Immortal Challenge in several categories, but I’ll slot it into Werewolves since my Angels/Demons section is looking pretty full.

Review: Snuff, Terry Pratchett

Title: Snuff (Goodreads)

Author:   Terry Pratchett

Rating: 

Series: Discworld, No 39

Genre: YA/Adult Fantasy

Published: Doubleday, 2011

Pages: 378

Paper copies (hardback): Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository

E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk • Ebooks.com

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.

They say that in the end all sins are forgiven.

But not quite all…

Review

The National Year of Reading theme for February is Laugh, and if there’s one Fantasy author who makes me laugh, it’s Terry Pratchett.

I’ve loved reading each book in the Discworld series as they’ve been released for a long time now. I love the world that Pratchett has built over the years, populated with its many varieties of people and creatures and reflecting the real world in a slighty wonky mirror. I usually find that the stories begin fairly quietly, then become harder and harder to put down – the type of stories that cause me to miss my stop on the train, or stay awake reading until I realise that it’s suddenly two am and I have to be up in a few hours.

Snuff is no exception, almost making me rather late for work a couple of times, although in this case the most exciting part is a fair way before the end of the story and the rest sort of comes in bites of action.  This installment in the story of the Discworld is about murder, slavery and prejudice with a tip of the hat to Jane Austen. There are some pretty dark goings-on such as torture, loss of children and sacrifice that aren’t directly dealt with in the story, but we see the aftermath.

In general, I’m not a fan of the Commander Vimes books. The stories about the City Watch are great, don’t get me wrong (plus I think I have a bit of a thing for Captain Carrot), but Vimes occasionally comes across as being a bit too self-important, for all his supposed hatred of his titles. He always seems to know exactly what’s happening before it happens. While that may make him a good copper, it tends to annoy me for no particularly good reason.

That said, I do enjoy the stories he is usually a part of, involving other races and their acceptance into Ankh-Morpork society. I also love Lady Sybil and little Sam and I think they should be in more stories!

While Snuff was not my favourite Discworld book, it is still a very exciting and funny read. Get yourself a copy and have a Laugh this month.

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On a related note, here’s my Discworld shelf. A shiny gold star goes to anyone who can tell me if I’m missing any!

Review: The Dragonbone Chair, Tad Williams

For my first review, I re-read an old favourite of mine. This review was originally guest posted on Once Upon a Time.

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Title: The Dragonbone Chair (Goodreads)

Author:   Tad Williams

Rating: 

Series: Memory, Sorrow and Thorn – Book 1 of 4

Genre: YA/Adult Fantasy

Published: Legend Press, 1988

Pages: 912

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository

E-copies: Not available from Amazon • Ebooks.com

Simon is a teen-aged kitchen-boy in the ancient Hayholt castle. He isn’t very good at the tasks the Mistress of Chambermaids sets him, instead preferring to daydream and make-believe around the castle grounds and buildings. Everything changes for Simon when a series of events is kicked off by old King John’s death. John’s eldest son becomes King Elias, but he keeps odd and sinister company with a priest and the golden age of King John’s reign starts to decline. Simon is forced out of the castle to make a journey to find and join the cause of the old King’s second son, Josua.


Review

The world of Osten Ard is rich and detailed, populated with many races each with their own history, religion and heroes. Tad Williams paints vivid pictures of locations and events – in fact sometimes the descriptions can go on a bit long, but it gives the story a very realistic quality. The story was described by one critic as “The fantasy equivalent of War and Peace”, so you get the idea of the weight of some of the writing.

Events start off slowly with a lot of scene-setting, but once the action starts it progresses fairly quickly. The story is told from the viewpoint of several characters in different locations. I must admit the character of Simon annoyed me until I realised that he is meant to be a whiny teenage boy at the start and he does become more bearable as the story progresses. I felt some of the other characters weren’t as engaging as they could be, with the dialogue a little wooden at times.

The Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series reminded me of another series that is being widely discussed at the moment – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. The story is similar to ASoIaF in some ways in the detail of the world and its people, but I didn’t find it quite so confusing to keep track of all the characters and politics in The Dragonbone Chair.

I recently re-read this book – the first time I read it was probably around 15 years ago, so I had mostly forgotten the details of the story, only remembering that I loved it at the time. I also don’t remember how my younger self must have reacted to some of the events of the book – Tad Williams is not afraid for his characters to be killed or hurt in nasty ways and it adds a certain anxiety while reading it. There’s no particularly adult content, but some events could be nightmare material for very young readers.

If you’re looking for a story of adventure, intrigue, magic, battles and prophecies then The Dragonbone Chair will not disappoint. I gave it a total of four stars only due to the length and weight of the story – a truly “epic” fantasy that may end up putting some readers off. It still remains one of my favourite reads.

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