Saturday, 29 June 2013

Book Review: Zom-B City by Darren Shan

Zom-B City (Zom-B, #3)Title: Zom-B City
Author: Darren Shan
Series:  Zom-B, #3
Pages:  224
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's
Date of Publication: 14th March 2013
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads: How many survived the zombie apocalypse?Where do the living hide in a city of the dead?

Who controls the streets of London?

B Smith is setting out to explore...

My Thoughts:
Just as the second improved on the first, this book, Zom-B City (book three) improved yet again. It was my favourite of the three so far and I'm very much looking forward to carrying on with B's story.

This book takes place after B has broken out into open air after being kept underground with the other zom heads in book two, Zom-b Underground. As she wanders around London, it was really great to read about so many familiar places, places I've visited so many times. It just made the story even more vivid for me, to be able to really follow B around London and follow the story around in my head as I read. Yet another reason why UKYA is so awesome, I guess :P

While out exploring London, B meets all these different groups of people, and has a little scuffle with them before moving on to a new group. These meetings were inconsequential and didn't really have any links between them but I still enjoyed reading about all the different kinds of people who had survived the zombie attacks, and it gave me hope that I wouldn't be completely doomed if I ever end up in a zombie apocalypse... Which, touch wood, shall never happen!

On the front of the book, Darren Shan is called, 'The Master of Horror'. This book is proof of this title - it is so right! I mean, I don't read much horror (being a wimp makes this difficult...) but from what I have read I totally think that Shan is the master of horror. I mean, Mr Dowling, the weird creepy clown guy (the one I'm still not completely sure who he is but is on the cover) is actually terrifying. It's bad enough just having the regular zombies sucking out people's brains, but throw in him and his horrible mutants and it makes for some rather sleepless nights. And also, a tiny, sicky feeling...

Plot wise, it was good but I do think that these books are too short and that they could be six books instead of twelve. I enjoyed the plot but not much happened that was really part of the story arc that will eventually made up by the final twelve books, I imagine. It was gruesome and gory, which was great and expected, but sometimes it was almost unnecessarily so (the bit with the baby made me uncomfortable), but at least it kept it interesting!

The Zom-B series is one that I like to read when I'm looking for something fun and interesting to lose myself in for a couple of hours (because that's all it takes to read each one) while I pretend I'm not procrastinating from schoolwork. I'd definitely recommend if you're looking for something light hearted that doesn't take itself too seriously, and I'm very much looking forward to the next one.

*Huge thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me this in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the book. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Book Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks LikeTitle: This Is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Series: Standalone
Pages:  416
Publisher: Headline
Date of Publication: 4th April 2013
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads: If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith's new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names.

Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

My Thoughts:
YOU GUYS THIS BOOK IS SO ADORABLE! Seriously, I absolutely love love loved it. I devoured it in one day, completely by accident - all 416 pages of it. Perfection on the page, right here.

I read Jennifer's previous book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and enjoyed it but thought it was a little rushed, so when I saw that This Is What Happy Looks Like was a good 400 pages I couldn't wait to jump in and start it, so that's exactly what I did. The book begins with an email conversation between a boy and a girl, about a pet pig. Awesome right? From the very beginning it was super, super adorable and I just knew that I would absolutely adore it. I just had a feeling...

After the first few pages of emails, the actual book starts, and each chapter begins with a new email. It was different and a really great way to add another layer to the story. I love things like this in books, especially in contemporaries. It just adds reality and helped to drive the plot, which was fast paced but not rushed. It moved along at the perfect pace and I could really imagine this summer romance playing out... Aww it's just so perfect! (Sorry, there could be a lot of that here...)

I really like Ellie. I think one of the things that Jennifer E Smith is best at, apart from writing adorable romances (obviously), is creating believable and realistic characters. Ellie was down-to-earth and very normal, and because of this I could empathise with her. She didn't fall straight for Graham, despite his obvious movie star attractiveness, so it was clear she had her head screwed on nice and tight and I loved that about her. There's nothing worse than a ridiculous main character, seriously. Anyway ;)

Graham was so cute. He wasn't the cocky, obnoxious and spoilt-rotten movie star that I was worried he would be, and I absolutely adored that he hated the paparazzi and I loved finding out about how he felt about being a star. I guess I'd never really thought properly about what it must really be like to be a movie star - to be constantly followed by cameras and never having anything in your life secret must be really difficult and it was really cool the way he dealt with the press and the cameras when he was with Ellie. How Olivia loved it, and welcomed the attention, I have NO idea at all. It makes me shiver, just thinking about it.

Lastly, I also felt that the way Jennifer E Smith dealt with Ellie and Quinn's relationship and the friendship they had was extremely realistic and I was actually kind of glad (in a weird way) that they didn't resolve their differences immediately, because that's not how real teenage girls are, as much as I wish they were (me included, I'm no hypocrite). We hold grudges over stupid things and don't want to be the first to apologise, so hats off to Jennifer for getting that so right. In the end though when it was all worked out I was super happy and even a little jealous of Ellie for having a friend as great as Quinn turned out to be.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is so adorably perfect and I cannot recommend it to you enough. I can find no faults. Please, go and pick up a copy as it is the perfect summer read and I can promise you, you will not be disappointed.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Book Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)Title: The School for Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Series:  The School for Good and Evil, #1
Pages: 488
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Date of Publication: 14th May 2013
Source: Publisher, via NetGalley
Synopsis from Goodreads: “The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.”

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

My Thoughts:
I really, really love the concept of this book. I'm not usually a fan of fantasy, but I really liked the world in which this book was set and the idea behind the story. In Sophie and Agatha's world, fairy tales are not stories, but the lives of real people. I've always loved fairy tales so the idea that somewhere, they're real, really caught my attention. I requested it and started reading as soon as I could.

Now, having read it, I still love the concept and the world in which the story takes place, even more than I did before. The world building was really great and I loved the anticipation that was built up in the very beginning of the story when Sophie and Agatha were waiting for the two children from their village to be picked to be taken to The School for Good and Evil (sounds a bit like The Hunger Games when you put it like that... It's not, at all.) Anyway. Once they arrived at the school, I loved reading about the world Chainini has made. The two schools, and the differences between them were absolutely fantastic, and while I don't think either school would be for me, they were still very cool.

The book's quite long and while at times it did feel like it was taking forever to read, on the whole I did enjoy the plot. It had a few pacing issues - in some places it moved rather slowly and things were included that I really didn't need to know, and it other places it was so quick that I had to go back and reread because I'd missed something that was integral to the plot and suddenly had no idea what was going on. I don't know, maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention, but that's what happened, several times. However, the events that took place, such as the Trial by Tale and Circus of Talents, were actually really fun to read about, so I didn't mind too much.

Also, I loved reading about all the different lessons that the kids at the school had to go through. If you haven't read it, they were classes such as Beautification and Princess Etiquette in the School for Good (how awful do they sound? Eurgh. I definitely do not want to be a princess...) and Uglification and Death Curses in the School for Evil (I don't think these sound much better!). They were fun to read about and I loved reading about all the talents the kids had too (my personal favourite is Dot, who was able to turn anything into chocolate - how awesome would that be? I'd get really fat though :P), especially during the aforementions Circus of Talents.

However, I think that likable characters are vital, or if they're villains I have to be able to like reading about them, if that makes sense, and Sophie in this book is just not likeable and she's very irritating, and I don't think I'm meant to not like her. She's arrogant and extremely shallow and she was so annoying that so many times I just wanted to throw my Kindle across the room to see if I could knock some sense into her silly little brain. SERIOUSLY. I don't think I've ever read a more annoying character! She does kind of redeem herself at the end though, so it's not all bad. Also, Agatha was cool and she did a lot for Sophie even when she didn't deserve it, which was really great because loyalty and kindness between friends is something that I really value and so that always wins points with me in books that I read!

Overall, The School for Good and Evil was an enjoyable read that I'm glad I read. I'd recommend if you like fantastical books with really great world-building and settings, and writing that is super easy to read for an hour or so without much thought. Whether I'll read the second book or not, I'm not sure, but I definitely think that if the synopsis has piqued your interest, you should go for it, because it may just be the book for you!

Huge thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley for allowing me access to this book! In no way has this affected my opinion. 
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