Thursday, 30 June 2011

Author A-Z Challenge: Z

Authors from A to Z

I nearly forgot to do this.... Ooops.

Z is for
Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak
And for the grand finale of this challenge, we have the only author whose surname starts with a Z and whose book I have read. I am not sure if I would have found out about him if not for my Grandma. When I went to England last year, she, as per usual, had a great stack of books waiting for me to read. One of them was The Book Thief. I brought it back with me to Greece and read it in the autumn and I absolutely loved it! From what I've seen, he's also written a few other books, including one called I Am The Messenger, which I really want to read!

And that concludes this month-long challenge! Many thanks go to Heather from Proud Book Nerd who came up with the idea and hosted the whole event!

Thanks to everyone who read these posts! They took a lot of thinking to write up (especially with some of those problematic letters) and I was very glad for all the comments I got! It made me feel it was worth the effort I put into it!

Just like Heather, I will be doing a wrap-up post sometime next week (hopefully!). Don't worry, it won't be much reading! Just a quick reference post with all the authors names, in case you want to check some ones you missed out on!

Thanks again to everyone! 

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
First published by Simon Pulse in 2010 (this edition from Simon Pulse in 2011)

Book #1 in the Shade series

Description (from Goodreads):

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.
It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.

My thoughts:
I had been seeing quite a few things about this book around many blogs, probably because of the upcoming release (then) of the second book in the series, Shift. I thought the premise sounded interesting and different, so I decided to buy a copy for myself.

I ended up really enjoying this book! The main character's name is Aura and she has the ability to see ghosts, along with everyone else who was born after the Shift, an event that happened in the year she was born. That means that quite a few people her age can't see ghosts, including her boyfriend, Logan. And then, suddenly, while at a party for his 17th birthday, Logan dies. In the meantime, we are also introduced to Zachary, who enrolls at Aura's school because his father just got transferred from Scotland to Baltimore in the US.

Aura is a lovely character, though she also came off as rather naive at times. After Logan's death, she seems to be a little lost and unsure and that feeling seems to get better when Logan reappears as a ghost. Aura also lives with her aunt, as she never knew her father and her mother died when she was young. 

We don't really learn much about the Shift in this book. But we do get some really intriguing bits of information which led me to wonder what on earth happened to cause the Shift and what it really entails. As Shift is part of a series, I suppose we will get more information about it one of the next books, hopefully Shift (which I haven't read any reviews of on purpose).

I can't write this review without saying something about the two male characters vying for Aura's attention; Logan and Zachary. I don't like the expressions that other people seem to like, eg 'Team Logan' and 'Team Zachary', so I'm not going to use them. But I can honestly say I am completely on Zachary's side. He is so lovely and charming and nice. Not to mention Scottish! As for Logan, I can honestly say I disliked him from the beginning. Well, maybe not dislike, but I didn't really warm to him. I could even sympathise when he died, because of the completely and utterly stupid thing he did that led to his death. As the book progressed, I found I liked him even less, though I will admit that he was a bit endearing at times. All you Logan fans, please don't shoot me!

One other thing I really liked about this book was the fact that the author did not make Zachary's parts of the dialogue too Scottish. By that I mean that she refrained from writing 'oot', 'guid', 'dae'. Instead, she used actual words the Scots use to describe something, instead of the equivalent word in English. Sometimes, I find the use of local dialect forms, where the author writes the word just as it's pronounced, to be a bit tiring, so I appreciated the lack of it in this book.

All in all, Shade was a lovely, rather quick read and I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, Shift. Though I'll probably wait until it's out in hardback.

(I think this is one of the worst reviews I have ever written....)

Rating: 8/10

Jeri Smith-Ready is an award winning author of science fiction and fantasy books. She holds a Master's Degree in Environmental Policy and lives in Maryland with her husband and their cats and dog. Other than her Shade series, she has also written books for two other series, which are known as WVMP Radio and Aspect of Crow.

You can find out more about Jeri by looking at her website HERE.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, 1st In A Series Challenge

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Author A-Z Challenge: X + Y

Authors from A to Z

Oh my gosh, these are AWFUL letters.

X is for

Well, I know it's not what you might call a great attempt, but ancient Greeks were the only ones I could come up with, whose names started with an X. So... Xenofon was a Greek historian, soldier and mercenary, as well as a contemporary and admirer of Socrates. When I was in school (my age being about 15), I had to read one of his works as part of my Ancient Greek class. Let me tell you, it was bloody difficult. That man coined new words and used syntaxes of his own and, at times, it was just impossible to decipher what on earth he was trying to say. Regardless, he was an excellent historian. His Hellenica is a major primary source for events in Greece from 411 to 362 BC, and is considered to be the continuation of the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.

Y is for
William Butler Yeats
Richard Yates

I actually haven't read anything by either of these two authors, but they were the only ones I could find and I do want to read something by them sometime, which is why they'r e here.

William Butler Yeats
From what I knew (and from what I read on Wikipedia), Yeats was a poet and playwright. Though I am not a big fan of poetry, I believe I have to (at least) try reading something of his. (Preferably a play...)

Richard Yates
I remember when the film Revolutionary Road (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) came out a couple of years ago. That's when I also found out it was based on the book by the same name by Richard Yates. I still haven't seen the film and I still haven't read the book, but I hope I will soon!

Aaaand tomorrow, for the grand finale...
the letter Z! 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Bookish Websites, Organisations, Apps etc

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke And The Bookish. This week is all about those websites, organisations or apps (or anything else you can think of!) that have anything and everything to do with books! My list will probably not be 10 items long, but I will try my best!

1. Goodreads
Goodreads is honestly one of the bestest sites about books that exist. It helps me keep all my books organised; what I've read, what I have yet to read but actually own and what I really want to read in the future. That last point is one of the most important ones for me because of the fact that I usually end up seeing a particular book, making a mental note to buy it sometime and then, promptly forget about it. And, of course, the community is amazing! I have been talking to a few people around the world, just because we happened to read the same book

2. The Book Depository
When I first discovered this website, I was absolutely ecstatic! An online 'bookshop', with thousands and thousands of books (or is it millions?) that could be delivered to Greece without me having to pay excessive amounts of postage on Amazon. (That was a few months ago, see more on number 3) And they're rather cheap, too! I never imagined I could get so many books for a measly 6 euros each! Which is a bargain for me, as I usually get them for 8-10 euros in bookshops over here.

Even after I found out about the BD, I still ordered certain books from Amazon, mainly because of the fact that we were ordering something else too. But now they offer FREE Super Saver Delivery on all orders over £25!! So, yay!!!

4. S&S Galley Grab
I haven't really been using Netgalley, as I am kind-of afraid of getting rejected (I don't have many followers and that seems to play an important role for some publishers), but I have grabbed quite a few of galleys from the S&S Programme. It feels a little weird, reading books that haven't been published yet, but it also makes me feel quite privileged!

5. Kindle for PC and Android
While I think this app could be a little better and allow me to sort my ebooks into categories, it has saved me from having to buy a Kindle to read novellas (that are only released in ebook format) or even certain books that are on offer at times.

6. Goodreads App for Android
It has a barcode scanner! And it's not one of those completely awful ones, that take ages to focus correctly on the barcode. Haven't used it much yet, but I am sure it will come in very handy! Especially when I decide to add all the books I have actually read onto my Goodreads account (which I haven't done yet).

7. Bookmooch
It is such a good way to get rid of books I don't want any more and to get other books I do in the process! So far, I have been very pleased with the quality of books that have come to me via Bookmooch! So I'm definitely going to keep on using the website.

That's all I could think of, really. I am actually amazed I managed to get to number 7! 
So, what's on your list this week??

Monday, 27 June 2011

Author A-Z Challenge: V + W

Authors from A to Z

Today I bring you V and W.... (Lovely letters, eh??)

V is for
Kurt Vonnegut

I had a big problem coming up with an idea to talk about for the letter V, but in the end decided to showcase the only author I have heard of that has a last name starting with a V and whose works I'd really like to read sometime.

Kurt Vonnegut
I have to admit that I had never even heard of Kurt Vonnegut before I started blogging. I'm going to go on and assume that that is not a good thing. From what I have seen, he was a very good author and lots of people seem to enjoy his books. So I am definitely going to give him a try sometime.

W is for
Scott Westerfeld
Jaqueline Wilson
Alison Weir

Scott Westerfeld
I have only read three of his Uglies series books (and none of his others), and even though my favourite of the three was Uglies, I definitely like Scott Westerfeld's style of writing. I really want to read his Leviathan series, too! I hear the books have illustrations in them? Should be different!

Jacqueline Wilson
It's been years since I last read one of her books, but I remember absolutely loving them when I was younger. My favourite, by far, was The Lottie Project! In her books, Wilson deals with some very real issues, such as negligent mothers, shoplifting, divorced parents, in a wonderful way. Oh, now I want to go and read them again!

Alison Weir
I have only read one book of hers, Innocent Traitor, which was recommended to me by my Grandma. I absolutely loved it, as it was about a story I had never heard of before. It was sad, but very, very interesting, and did not tire me at all. Lady Jane Grey is one of the loveliest characters I have ever read about. I will definitely be picking up more of her books in the future.

I'll be back with the letter X tomorrow... 
(Which I am dreading, as I have no ideas right now)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
First published by Sphere in 2008 (this edition by Sphere in 2009)

Description (from Goodreads):
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring what may be the first love triangle involving only two bodies,The Host is a riveting and unforgettable novel that will bring a vast new readership to one of the most compelling writers of our time.

My thoughts:
We've had this book on the bookshelf for years, but I never really fancied reading it, for some reason or another. Every time I thought about picking it up, I would read the description on the back cover and it would put me off yet again. It always sounded completely weird, or something I didn't really feel like reading at the time. It wasn't until I saw a copy of this in a giveaway on some blog or another that I decided to finally give it a try.

I am glad I did. This book is just over 600 pages long and the font is rather small, but it such an easy read. The storyline completely sucked me in and I just wanted to keep on reading it. It is rather slow at the beginning, but it didn't particularly bother me. It felt more as if the author was giving us background information about how the society in those times works, how everything happens. Other than that, it actually made sense being slow in the beginning, to give Wanderer an adequate amount of time to get used to her new body (Melanie's body) and to realise what exactly it is she is experiencing. 

Wanderer is a lovely character. She is a soul; an 'alien' being who travels through space so as to be inserted into a host's body. She is given the name Wanderer because she is one of the few souls that has lived in so many different places in the universe. Melanie, whose body acts like a host to Wanderer's soul, is a very strong presence throughout the book and is one of the characters that leads the shaping of this story.

In general, the characters were very well developed and we get to find out quite a bit of background information for a few of the more central ones. Melanie's brother, Jamie, is a lovely character. He is only young, but he is strong and very determined and, also, one of the first to befriend Wanderer, despite the fact that she has taken over his sister's body. Jared is a great character. He is a little dubious of Wanderer in the beginning (well, no, actually, that is the understatement of the year, as he is very hostile towards her), but we slowly begin to understand what it is that causes him to act the way he does. Ian is one of my favourite characters, just because he is plain lovely!

All in all, I do not know why it took me so long to get round to reading this book, but I am very glad I decided to give it a chance. A thoroughly enjoyable read, completely different from her Twilight books.

Rating: 8/10

Stephenie Meyer is the world-famous author of the Twilight Saga, featuring Bella Swan and the vampire Edward Cullen. She was born in Connecticut, but grew up in Phoenix, with her rather large family. She was awarded a National Merit Scholarship and used it to pay her way to Brigham Young University in Utah. There she majored in English, with a focus on literature rather than creative writing. She currently lives with her husband and three young children.

For more information, check out Stephenie Meyer's website HERE.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, Dystopia Challenge

Friday, 24 June 2011

Author A-Z Challenge: T + U

Authors from A to Z

So, I missed yesterday's post, but never fear! I'm back again today!

T is for
Scarlett Thomas
Sue Townsend

Scarlett Thomas
I have to admit that the main reason I was drawn to this book was because of the cover and the black pages. It's so pretteh! But I bought it because I really liked the sound of the story. When I finally got round to reading The End of Mr Y, I was a little confused by the story. Weird. But such a good read! I've also read PopCo by Thomas and really enjoyed that one, too. It focuses a lot on cryptography.
Definitely an author worth trying out!

Sue Townsend
These books have been around for donkey's years! The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Ages 13 3/4 was published in 1982 and it's actually one of the few books my Mum has read. The first and only book so far that my mother has urged me to read (she's not much of a reader) and it is hilarious! Some of the next instalments are really good too, while others just seem to drone on a little.
Now I reminded myself of this book, I actually realised I can't remember what happens in it. I remember the basics, but that's about it. To be fair though, it's probably been about 6-7 years since I read it...

U is for

Sorry everyone, but I have drawn a complete and utter blank! I have no idea whatsoever what to write about the letter U. I tried doing authors, I have read none. I tried thinking about titles beginning with a U, nope. Then, I tried characters, but my brain refuses to co-operate, so you're just getting an Uh-oh.
I hope I'll be more productive with tomorrow's V (which I am also very stuck on!).

Aaaand tomorrow - the letter V!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

One Chance by Steve May

One Chance by Steve May
First published by Egmont in 2004 (this edition by Egmont in 2004)

Description (from Goodreads):
Jaq, is running scared. This is France, wartime, 1940. Dodging soldiers and enemy tanks, hunted by the villagers for thieving, Jaq has nowhere to hide, nowhere to shelter, no one to turn to. And then he meets Lise...Told in the manner of a traditional adventure story, Steve May's writing stands out for its pace and dynamism, and offers a wonderfully fresh and modern account of wartime France.

My thoughts:
I only picked up this book because, after 1984, I was in the mood for something much lighter and much easier to read. One Chance is a children's book, which we have had for quite a few years, but which I had not read when I was younger. 

What I got was not what I expected. This is a book that is definitely targeted to a much, much younger audience than my 21-year-old self. The good thing about this book is that, instead of focusing on the war itself, it focused on the relationships between the members of two families, when Jaq, a 15 year old thief, appears and steals a chicken from one of them. All of these events happen having the war as a background and it only seems more real as the reader reaches the end of the book. It doesn't lessen the effect of the war, as it is mentioned throughout the book; it's just that it is more real near the end. The characters are ok. I didn't feel as if I could relate to any one of them, except maybe Yvette, Lise's mother. She was a wonderful maternal figure, not afraid to stand up for her beliefs.

The one thing I really did not like about this book was the writing. I hadn't liked it even after a few pages, but it got more tiring as the book progressed. As a result, it took me 2 days to finish a 250-pages-long children's book with a relatively large font. To give you an example, this is what you can find on the back cover of the book (but it is in the same tone as most of the book):

This is France, 1940. War is approaching and Jaq is running scared. Branded as a thief. Hunted. He has nowhere to hide. No one to turn to. And then he meets Lise.

Most of the time, it felt as if I was reading a telegram or something of the sort. Though I did not enjoy it very much, I am pretty positive that a younger child would probably enjoy the book. (It is the intended audience, after all!)

Rating: 4/10

Steve May is a teacher, poet and radio dramatist, among other things. His novel, One Chance, has been described as a classic wartime adventure story, fit to rival the storytelling of Morpurgo.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, British Books Challenge 2011

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Author A-Z Challenge: S

Authors from A to Z

S is for
Diane Setterfield
Maria V. Snyder
Lemony Snicket
Maggie Stiefvater

Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale is one of the best books I have read this year. Full stop. That's all I have to say on that matter. Rumour has it the author is currently working on a new book. I will be buying it. Definitely.

Maria V. Snyder
I picked up her book, Poison Study, at random sometime last year, because I liked the sound of it AND it was on offer. (I think I got it for just under 6 euros). The first book was my favourite out of the series, but I really enjoyed both the second, Magic Study, and the third, Fire Study. I am looking forward to reading both her Glass and her Insider series sometime soon!

Lemony Snicket
Lemony Snicket has written the 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' books, which focus on the terrible adventures of three orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. There are 13 books in all, and, in my opinion, they are sooo good! I really enjoyed reading them when they came out one by one (my brother requested the new ones as soon as they came out), but haven't read them for a few years... Maybe I should re-read them... You should try them out, if you haven't already!

Maggie Stiefvater
I actually first saw Shiver as a translated book in my local bookshop, but they didn't have the English book, so I had to wait for a long time until we went to England in the summer to actually buy the book. I read it in the space of a few hours (and got a really bad and painful sunburn in the process - I looked like a baboon's backside in the evening) and loved it! Since then, I have also enjoyed Linger (the second book in the series, after Shiver) and Lament. I am looking forward to reading her other books, especially Forever!

Aaaand tomorrow - the letter T!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Author A-Z Challenge: R

Authors from A to Z

R is for
J.K. Rowling
Jed Rubenfeld

J.K Rowling
It has been approximately 13 years since I read the first book in the Harry Potter series. I think I was one of the first people in Greece to read the book. It only became a sensation over here when I had already read the Chamber of Secrets (or maybe it was the Prisoner of Azkaban). Regardless, I remember telling my best friend at the time about Harry Potter and Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger and she was looking at me as if I had gone mental or something. A couple of years later, she was hooked too!
I hope she writes something non-HP related soon! I'd love to see something different from her.

Jed Rubenfeld
This was a book I got as a present from my boyfriend (just because!) and wasn't sure if I'd like it, because of the fact that I only knew the basics about Freud and his methods. I found this book to be very well written (I think it was his debut novel) and I did understand a lot more about how Freud's methods of psychoanalysis worked. It was confusing at times, but very interesting. Rubenfeld has also published another book, The Death Instinct, which I hope to read sometime!

You can stop by tomorrow for the letter S!
(It's going to be a big one!)

Top Ten Tuesday: The Reasons I Love Book Blogging

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke And The Bookish. This week's Top Ten is about the reasons we love book blogging! 

With blogging, I seem to have a better excuse to just sit there and read. And read. And read a little more. Even my Grandma calls to ask me how I am doing with my challenges!

Meeting new people from all over the world:
This is probably the most amazing part of the whole experience! I have talked to loads of people in England, Ireland, America and Canada! I think even with a couple of people in Australia! And we all share our love for books. That was not something I expected to happen when I started book blogging! Special thanks go to Becky from The Bookette, whose British Books Challenge made me start blogging in earnest!

Having an excuse to buy more new books all the time:
Well, I have always been known to go overboard with my book buying, but this year has by far surpassed the previous ones. So many books that come recommended, that most of them I just have to have! Even if they end up sitting on my bookshelf for half a year.

Discovering new authors:
Or new to me, at least. Through book blogging, I have found out about a great number of books by authors I had never heard of before. Books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready (which I am reading now and am really enjoying!), as well as others which I have bought but haven't got round to reading yet, would not be on my bookshelves if it weren't for book blogging.

Trying out books I may never have picked up otherwise:
I have always been a very varied reader. I read the classics, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, dystopian, fantasy, paranormal, regardless of whether it is labelled as being YA or Adult. The thing is that book blogging has led me to find books that may be part of a wider genre I have already read, but differ considerably from the books belonging to it that I already have read. Or books that I didn't particularly like the sound of and thought they were the same as other books (eg Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - When I first saw it, I was like 'Fallen Angels??? Again???', but I managed to find a copy of it from Bookmooch and I will be giving it a try soon.)

I think that pretty much covers it! I know there aren't 10 items up there, but I think that if I try to come up with others, I will just end up repeating myself!

Why do you love book blogging?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Author A-Z Challenge: Q

Authors from A to Z

I am pretty sure I have never read a book by an author whose name or surname begin with the letter Q, so today's post is going to be a little different.

Q is for
Quentin Blake

For those of you who do not know this name, I have to tell you that Quentin Blake is not an author (as I said above), but he is a very famous cartoonist and has illustrated a great number of children's books. He is most well known for his collaborations with Roald Dahl.
As I believe that pictures speak louder than words, I will leave you with a few pictures of his illustrations, which you probably will recognise.

Matilda - Source

The BFG - Source
Little Red Riding Hood - Source
The Twits - Source
And last but not least, a biology-oriented one which I happened to find!


You can find out more about Quentin Blake form his personal website. You can see all sorts of different illustrations by him on each page! Try it out!

I'll be back tomorrow with the letter R!

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