Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 in Review

Well this has been an epic and eventful year! I don't normally post personal things of this nature here, but I thought why the hell not. I am, after all, a person. And those reading this blog might have some interest in who I am and what I do besides write reviews for books.

My Personal Highlights of 2013
  • Started working for EOH and progressed in my career
  • Attained my APSO Recruitment Consultant qualification
  • Had the amazing opportunity to see one of my favorite bands, Dave Matthews Band, live at the Coca-Cola Dome
  • Also had the opportunity to see Metallica at the FNB Stadium
  • Attended many bookish events and widened my social circle
  • Traveled to Clarens and back on the back of a BMW R1200GS motorbike
  • Made some significant steps in my photography
  • Kick-started an awesome YA bookclub
  • Tried rockclimbing and did not die
  • Met SA supergroup The Parlotones!

Bookish and Blog Highlights
  •  Had a review posted on Women24
  • City of Bones Premiere!
  • Received my first lots of review copies from a few wonderful publishers - this is the hallmark moment of any blogger!
  • Met and mingled with some great authors and got signed copies of their books
  • Two very awesome and successful Exclusive Books warehouse sales under my belt!
  • Had authors quote and mention my reviews
  • Bought a special edition of The Shining Girls... signed and all!
  • Became an eBook reader thanks to my awesome boyfriend who purchased me a Kobo

10 Books That Stood Out for me in 2013(in no particular order)
  1. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  2. Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
  3. 5th Wave by Rick Yancy
  4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  5. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  6. Scarlet by AC Gaughen
  7. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
  8. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
  9. Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
  10. Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human 
 Just a few more days left until 2014! May it be a wonderful, eventful year for everyone!

Review: The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy

I am normally the sort of reader who prefers taking a break between parts in a trilogy. So I was quite surprised that I didn't want to read anything else until I had completed all three books in Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series.

If you follow the blog, you will have already read my somewhat apologetic review of Shiver. I had initially been put off this series by the bad reviews I had read on Goodreads and other blogs. Silly, stupid me.

This is a great series. Shiver can be seen as a standalone book, but I do reccomend that you read Linger and Forever as well.

Linger introduces a new character, Cole St. Clair. Cole is flawed and broken and far more interesting than Sam in that he is unpredictable. He brings a darker element to the series as he has a sketchy past and is not exactly the best role model. However, one cannot help but be intrigued by him and his story.

Linger also introduces new problems. Grace's health is declining and no one knows why. The Wolves' lives are in danger and their future in Mercy falls uncertain.

Forever sees everything building up to a climax and  closing off the trilogy with questions answered and a window left open for a possible return to the Mercy Falls universe.

I mentioned this before, but I do love Maggie Stiefvater's writing. She puts effort and feeling into every line and her characters felt like real people to me. I find myself missing Mercy Falls and Grace and Sam. I want more!

I also liked that each character was significant. The interactions between those characters added value to the story and told us more about them. I wish more books were written so thoroughly.

I found out over the weekend, much to my fangirl delight, that Cole is going to get his own novel! Sinner will be released in July 2014 and will feature Cole and Isabel and look deeper into his story. I cannot wait!

Thank you Estelle from Scholastic SA for the review copies of these wonderful books! I am a fully converted fan and look forward to getting lost in Maggie's other novels The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys over my holiday!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Silly Season Reading List

Happy festive season everyone!

I am looking forward to having a solid two weks off I can dedicate to catching up on my reviews and TBR pile. So expect lots of activity on the blog in the next few weeks.

I am also wrapping up reading Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. It is much better than I was expecting and seems to improve with each book. Reviews coming soon!

Here is a list of my reads this December. I hope to get through them all! 

So, what are you guys planning on reading? Leave comments and let me know!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why One Should Not Judge a Book on Reviews Alone (Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater)

Title: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls 1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic (2009)

A BIG thank you to Estelle at Scholastic for providing me with a copy for review.
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back.
I have put off reading this book for years. And, quite frankly now that I have read it I feel positively guilty about it.

I based my initial impression of the writing and plot on snarky, harsh reviews and I allowed this to taint how I perceived the book. This really is not fair and from now on I will not read reviews of books I want to read until I have actually read them. This sounds weird coming from a reviewer, but I do make the effort these days to be as objective as possible in my reviews. Especially as we are all different and have our own tastes and opinions.

The reason behind this choice is simple. People can be unbelievably harsh on the internet and everyone wants to exert their opinion. I am just as guilty of this sometimes. I pulled down my initial nasty review of Shiver that I posted on Goodreads in 2010. At the time, I thought I was so clever. Posting a scathing review of a book I had barely read made me feel empowered. I had an opinion, dammit! And people will read it! HEAR ME ROAR!

Looking back, this wasn't clever. Shiver is actually a wonderful read that is written incredibly well. I found myself thnking about Grace and Sam when I wasn't able to read the book. I wanted to know how their story ended and I felt for them.

Sam is a tragic character. He has been through so much in his life and in many ways, Grace is his salvation. And you can feel this in the bond between them.

I can understand why Shiver is such a success because when you are reading the book, everything feel so real! The setting and the characters draw you in. Yes, the pace is slow, but the mystery and ambiance more than makes up for this.

I felt that Stiefvater really loves Mercy Falls and her ensemble of characters. Her thoughtful approach shows in her writing. She handles things delicately and with finesse.

If you enjoyed Twilight, you will love Shiver. Stephenie Meyer wishes she could write this well!

And please do not judge a book you really want to read on reviews alone. Yes, I do respect other people's opinions, but there is more to reading and reviewing books than picking out the flaws and using ridiculous .gifs. I think reviewers often lose the simple enjoyment a book can bring them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Title: Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: Harper Collins (2012)

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures—if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father—and every other witch there—fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable.While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.
While I loved the first two books in the Wicked Lovely series, I never really got into the rest of them. I picked up Graveminder, which I DNFed after 70 pages due to boredom. So Melissa Marr and I have a somewhat turbulent history. I was skeptical about Carnival of Souls, not having read many reviews and still recovering from Graveminder.

I was lucky enough to have purchased this at the Exclusive Books Warehouse Sale. It was an impulse buy, as is pretty much everything I get there. Not expecting much, I picked it up and didn't want to put it down.

This is easily Marr's best novel to date. She has created such a unique and imaginative world and her characters are strong and unique. I particularly loved Zevi, Kaleb's friend and packmate.

There was an element of instalove, though, which I could not quite overlook in spite of the brilliant writing. I loathe instalove. And it should not be explained by some stupid "instinct". Characters should have chemistry that evolves into tension so thick you can almost cut it with a knife. This is sadly something that is missing in a lot of YA these days. You don't just simply fall in love without knowing the person. That is utter bull and this must stop right now.

I think authors feel compelled to add in the romance into a story that often doesn't really need it. Carnival has a strong enough premise that the romance actually felt excessive. Although there were subtler hints at other potential pairings that I appreciated far more than the main characters' story.

Can we please start writing plot-driven YA without the romantic focus? Unless an author really knows how to build a relationship realistically and romantically, don't bother. I can pick up every second YA on the shelf for this cardboard love.

Rant aside, I did love this. I cannot wait for the sequel! It is fantastic and will appeal to paranormal and fantasy fans.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

Title: Arclight
Author: Josin L. McQuein
Publisher: Egmont (Electric Monkey) (April 2013)

A big thank you to Penguin Books SA for the review copy.
No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

I was so thrilled when my copy of Arclight arrived in the mail. I had been drawn to this title for months thanks to that stunning cover and generally favourable reviews on other blogs.

I settled down to read Arclight and was immediately drawn into the writing and the world McQuein created. And the writing! It is polished and does not read like a first novel. The brilliant way things are described created a movie inside my head. I could picture everything from the setting to the mysterious Fades.

I think it is this that really makes Arclight stand out. A lot of YA is thrown into the market with the hopes that something will stick and become The Next Big Thing. Often quality tends to suffer and the books are poorly written or edited. Arclight is polished. It is not too long and there is enough action and story development to keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Marina is a strong character in spite of her flaws and she stands up for what she feels is right and follows through on her intentions. Tobin could have been better developed, but at least he is more real than a lot of YA love interests out there.

There is an interesting plot twist that sets the reader up for the next title in the series, Meridian. It was also unpredictable and completely took me by surprise.

Do read Arclight. It has definitely earned a place in my top 10 books of 2013.

Review: Icons by Margaret Stohl

Title: Icons
Author: Margaret Stohl
Publisher: HarperCollins (May 2013)

Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol's family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn't know it was fighting.

Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside -- safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can't avoid.

She's different. She survived. Why?

I was really excited for this title. That was probably my first mistake. My second was willingly coughing up the full price for a book I probably won't ever finish.

For those of you just joining me, I am a notorious bargain hunter. I love sales. I love finding titles on my reading hitlist on sale. So you can understand why I am loathe to pay full price for a title. It is not that I am a cheapskate. I think this stems from my student days where I could easily read a book a day.


Icons started off really well. But then the lack of world-building, forced love-triangle and meaningless character interactions took over and I was left bored and disinterested. There is also the slight whiff of trying-too-hard that you can never really shake.

I have a feeling that they author and publisher were hoping this one would ride off the success of similiar, superior novels like Divergent and The Hunger Games. add that to the relative sucess of Stohl's previous series, Beautiful Creatures that she co-wrote with Kami Garcia. Sadly I feel this one is going to join the ranks of other mediocre YA that has very orginality to offer.

Is there anything good to say about Icons? It has an ending.

Rather read The 5th Wave. It also deals with aliens but is fun, fast-paced and has great characters.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity)
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Electric Monkey (Egmont)

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Firstly, I strongly suggest you read Code Name Verity first before this one. It contains major spoilers.

I absolutely loved Code Name Verity and was very excited when I heard about the release of Rose Under Fire, which is essentially a companion novel to Verity.

The writing is beautiful and it is amazing how well Wein depicts the time in which this novel is set. There are a few slip-ups that I noticed in terms of slang and such, but otherwise it is absolutely perfect.

The novel starts with Rose telling us about her adventures as a transport pilot for the Allies and her relationships with the other pilots. The aviation lingo and details are spot on, as Wein herself is a pilot.

Then Rose's bubble is burst as she is taken captive flying a craft back to England by two Luftwaffe pilots. She is sent to the women's concentration camp, Ravensbruck, where she is exposed to the atrocities that were committed to thousands upon thousands of others under the Nazi regime.

Rose forges friendships and alliances and uses her wits to survive.

The story is told in the form of Rose's notebook interspersed with her poems. Most of it is told in retrospect, with Rose remembering all that happened as she sits in her hotel room in France. This makes for an interesting narrative!

There are a lot of surprises and some parts that made me a little emotional. Feelings of hatred and love. You cannot help but feel for some of the characters and root for them!

This is such a relevant novel. While it is a work of ficition, Ravensbruck and the experiements and torture the prisoners went through is real. It is a part of history that perhaps a novel like this can only best depict to new generations. Other than first-hand accounts from survivors!

This is an outstanding read that rises above a romance-saturated YA market. Please read it. You will not regret it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Update: Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

So, those of you who have been following me on Twitter are well aware of my frequent hospitalisations. As a result of ongoing health problems, I have also been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called Myesthenia Gravis (MG) which basically results in extreme muscle fatigue, especially when performing repetitive actions. It was this that contributed to my numerous health issues over the past few years.

MG is not a bad diagnosis. Unlike its relative, Multiple Sclerosis, it is not degenerative and is treated with a handy little pill called Mestinon. I have even read that changing my diet around will ease symptoms significantly. So this means no more sugars, lactose and gluten. Which we should probably all avoid anyway.

Now that this is out of the way and I am back on track, I am hoping to catch up on reviews I need to write as well as review new books I will be recieving in the next week or so. I love my blogs and all the bookish people I get to interact with doing what I do.

I will also be contributing to Exclusive Books monthly eZine, where I will be writing about current YA reads and my thoughts on the genre.

I will also be giving my other blog, Springboeke, some needed attention. As this fell to the wayside with my poor health. Keep an eye out for a guest post by local author SA Partridge!

Upcoming Reviews:
Rose Under Fire
The Originals
How I Live Now

Have a great October everybody! We are in the homestretch of 2013 and soon it will be Christmas!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Title: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell-Bower, Kevin Zegers, Johnathan Rhys Meyers
Director: Harald Zwart
Constantin Films
Set in contemporary New York City, a seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of young half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother (Lena Headey), Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters, who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld, filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures. Based on the worldwide best-selling book series. Written bySony Pictures Entertainment

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Johannesburg Premiere of City of Bones. I was a little skeptical, having read some rather scathing reviews online.

I suggest that you approach this review with caution if you don't want anything ruined for you.

However, my feelings ended up being insanely mixed. Here are the good, the bad and the ugly:

The Good
  • The sets: I thought the Institute and The City of Bones was beautifully done. It was very atmospheric and certainly did justice to the novel
  • Clary: Lily Collins did a sterling job as Clary. I really enjoyed her in this role. Even though she has exceptionally large eyebrows (which kept giving me the urge to create a "I don't often use the Internet, but when I do eyebrows' meme).
  • The dialogue: I was pleased that some of the funnier lines from the novel were retained for the movie."Come my faux juggernaut, my nefarious loins!"
  • Alec: Kevin Zegers is simply hot. I wish he had more screentime. That and I loved the hint of things to come with his character.
  • Simon: Simon was probably the best depicted character in the whole film. he was even wearing a "Made in Brooklyn" t-shirt which has an appearance in the novel. For some shallow, stupid reason, I loved that.
  • The over-all cinematography was brilliant. This film was very cleverly filmed and quite artisitic at times.
  • Loved the special effects! The first demon Clary encounters is so creepy!
The Bad
  • Jace: One thing I am thankful for is that he was less of an asshole in the movie. But I do not like Jamie Campbell-Bower. He is skinny and varies from being semi-attractive to sort of ugly depending on the angle of the camera. I really wish Alex Pettyfer (Beastly) had accepted the role.
  • Magnus Bane: Magnus is the BEST part of the books. In the movie he is more like an extra to fill up some screen time. They did not capture his charismatic personality AT ALL.
  • The random rune: In the movie, Clary draws this rune all over the show and at is used as some sort of branding for the Shadowhunters. I vould be wrong, but it seemed that they used this as a marketing tool. So that they could brand merchandise and such. It bothered me.
  • They changed the vampire scene at the Hotel du Mort! Why would they do that? Why?
The Ugly
  • The pace of the plot was rushed at times and seriously slow at other times. This was a 2 hour movie and I really felt this could have been executed better.
  • Some essential plot elements were basically ruined for those wanting to read the next books in the series. Some things were revealed too soon.
  • There was a general element of cheese to the romance. But seriously. No wonder non-fans struggled to enjoy this.
  • Isabelle: I wanted more of her and her character was not developed AT ALL.
  • They left out Church, the institute cat. They also left out Chairman Meow. I suspect they had something against cats. It's all about the small things with me.
My two friends who watched this with me really enjoyed it, saying they liked the whole concept. Neither of them have read the book series, so it does show that non-fans can enjoy the movie as they kept enough storyline and detail in. They would both even go and see the sequel.

I really hope they make a sequel and find a way to make this franchise appeal to a broader audience. I did enjoy this for what it was worth and thought, in spite of some plot butchering here and there, the movie remained somewhat faithful to the characters.

City of Bones is being released 13th of September 2013 countrywide.

Monday, August 26, 2013

South African Fiction Month - September 2013

Please note that this has been moved to its own dedicated blog Springboeke!

September is SA Fiction Month on Paranormalsphere!

Being proudly South African, I felt it was about time that we start celerating local authors and novels and give them the attention they deserve. This is also going to to be a fun journey for me as I will get the opportunity to read outside of my usual genre.

I have been chatting to local authors and have comfirmed the participation of:
  • Jassy Mackenzie
  • SA Partridge
  • Joanne McGregor

... and more to be added soon!

You can also expect guest posts, reviews and more!

I have also recieved a while pile of great local books from NB Publishers that I will be featuring and giving away during the course of the month. So please keep an eye out for this and enter!

If you are a publisher, author or blogger would like to get involved, please contact me!

Let's spread the word about great SA fiction!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Exclusive Books Warehouse Sale August 2013

I had an absolute ball at the Warehouse Sale this weekend.

This is what I found:

Roald Dahl boxset including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, The Twits, Danny the Champion of the World, George's Mavellous Medicine and The BFG. I am most excited about this find. I adore Roald Dahl and these will no doubt go to my kids one day.

Boxset of classic novels that had been turned into movies. This includes The Maltese Falcon, The Bourne Identity, Minority Report, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and more.

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Sweet Venom by Tara Lynn Childs
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
Department 19 books 2 and 3 by Will Hill
Haven by Tom Easton
Between by Jessica Warman
Wonder by RJ Palacio
Insignia by SJ Kincaid
Working Stiff by Rachel Caine
Intertwined by Gina Showalter
The Damned by Nancy Holder
Exile by Rebecca Lim
Pale Horses, Folly and Stolen Lives by Jassy Mackenzie
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
Alice in Zombieland by Gina Showalter
Unremembered by Jessica Brody
The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michele Hodkin
Becuase it is my Blood - Gabrielle Zevin
Doll Bones by Holly Black
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
Vortex by Julie Cross
Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J Bick
Envy by Elizabeth Miles
Sister, Sister by Rachel Zadok
What Hidden Lies by Michele Rowe
The Imagined Child by Jo-Anne Richards
Shards & Ashes

We need to Talk About Kevin - DVD

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Audiobook
As You Do... by Richard Hammond Audiobook

And an assortment of puzzles and bookmarks.

So, all in all a good haul!

I went twice and found amazing stuff my second time around that they had not unpacked yet.

If you haven't been and are in the JHB and CPT areas, the sale runs for the rest of this month, so get down there. Don't think that going later means you will be missing out!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Phoenix (June 2012)

Marriage can be a real killer.
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (From Goodreads.com)

*Very mild spoilers*

I am sure many people out there have at least heard of Gone Girl, if not read it. It was one of the most talked about books of 2012 and is being made into a movie due for release in 2015 (Ben Affleck is involved).

After skimming through the hoards of positive reviews online, I decided to give Gone Girl a shot, even though it falls well outside of my usual genre.

I have never been so disappointed with a book in my life. Never has a book evoked such strong emotions (mainly hatred) in me. I wanted to run to Goodreads and yell at everyone who rated this book highly. And ask them, "What the hell did you people read? Did you even get to the end of the book?"

Please don't misunderstand me. It is well-written. At times the writing is spot-on perfect. I can totally understand why people, who are used to reading crap like 50 Shades of Grey, think this book is the most amazing thing ever. Gillian Flynn can write.

What she cannot do, however, is tell a story.

The characters are awful, despicable examples of humanity. Nick is an emotionless sack of shit and Amy is a spoiled-rotten, self-involved cow who will go to any lengths to get what she wants. Why should I care about these people? I have better things to do. Like clean the sleep out of my cat's eyes.

The story is slow. I was hoping for something thrilling as this is a "thriller" is it not.


It starts off well. I was duped into thinking this was going to be a cracker of a book with mystery and murder and mayhem and then we start going around in circles. The story goes nowhere for 200 pages. Nick feels sorry for his pretty self. People hate him. I hate him. I start wondering if I should clip my toenails. It's epic stuff.

And the climax? The whole reason why we read books? What a letdown. Amy is loathsome, vile and her actions led me to wishing that very unsavoury things would happen to her. I was expecting so much more.

Why is this book so popular? When I wasn't bored I was angry.

This is the LAST time I read a book based on the hype around it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Genre-Specific Blogging: A Question I am Pondering

Those of you who are familiar with me and my blogging journey from the days of NovelYear will know that I generally only blog about paranormal / sci-fi YA. And possibly make the assumption that I don't read much of anything else.

This is not true. While I do have my prefered bookish choices, I do drift outside of this every now and then. My current read, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, is  perfect example. I chose it specifically becuase of the hype behind it. I felt I owed it to myself as a reader to read these much talked-about books that make marks on bestseller lists.

But, then I start asking myself if these have a place on my Blog, which has a very specific theme. Do I want to write a review of Gone Girl and pollute what has been, until now, a YA-only blog?

I do not have the answer to this. I could start another Blog, but I barely have enough time for this one as it is. And the guilt is already sky-high as a week goes by without a new post. So, that is not really an option.

I don't spend too much time on Goodreads and feel that writing reviews there doesn't really aid my personal online 'brand" as it were. It's just more admin I simply do not have time for.

The final solution that is knocking around my head is potentially overhauling and rebranding Paranormalsphere. But that is like renaming and sending your firstborn through a complex gender-change operation.

I love my blog and I am passionate about building it up slowly into something substantial one day. Even though it is just a hobby, it is an outlet for my passions and love of reading. I do not want to compromise that.

So... does anyone out there have any ideas or suggestions? Perhaps you see something this blog is lacking (besides regular posts haha) and wish to let me know? Please comment!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's August! - What to Expect on the Blog

Who else can't believe it is August already?

There are some exciting things happening this month which I will be blogging about.

I also have some epic reads sitting in my TBR pile that I hope to get to, providing I don't get distracted along the way!


The 9th August marks the start of the second EB Warehouse Sale of the year. This is the biggest event for bookish folk and I am already buzzing with anticipation!

For those who have not been, the sale is brilliant. Thousands of books of all genres for the choosing, going at jusr R50/kg. I kid you not. For those who are bad at math, I worked out that you can get about five average-sized novels for R50. Earlybirds will also find CDs, DVDs, bookmarks and other goodies that you can take with abandon, as they essentially cost nothing.

Here are my tips to survive this event:
  • Get there early! The crowds really start piling up by the tills, although this is managed quickly and efficently by the helpful, friendly staff
  • Do a walkthrough first to suss out where things are. The warehouse is huge and items are usually kept to specific sections. This will save you time and frustration later when you are lugging around a box of books.
  • The warehouse gets quite hot and stuffy, so wear comfortable clothes and shoes and have water handy.
  • Grab what you like first and sort later! Someone else may find that book while you are busy mulling over it. Or it may be lost in the piles of books on the tables. Rather have it safely in your box. You can always put it back.
  • Be patient and please watch out for others. I was hit in the head last time by some inconsiderate man with his very heavy box. You are not going to be the only perosn at the sale. Be kind to others, be patient. There are plenty of books to go around.
  • Bring along a suitcase with wheels. Your haul gets heavy very quickly! They do provide some flatbed trollies, but there are not many to go around.
  • Have a shopping partner! There is a lovely place across the road that sells food and drink (Bratwurst!) and it can be handy to shop in shifts or tackle different sections knwoing what the other person has in mind.
I will be blogging about the sale, complete with pics and what you can find there, so keep an eye out!

TBR Pile - part of my A-Z Challenge
  • The Diviners - Libba Bray
  • Everneath- Brodi Ashton
Books that I Want to Buy
  • Apocalypse Now Now - Charlie Human
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
Have a great month, everyone! Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Giver - Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Laurel-Leaf Books (April 1993)

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his Utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. (From Goodreads.com)

The Giver is one of my favorite novels of all time. I first read this when I was in primary school and can remember sitting on the couch, utterly and completely immobile aside from the turning of each page.

I was lucky enough to purchase the entire Quartet from Readers Warehouse for R129. So now I have the opportunity to read the other books in the series. I suggest you take advantage of this special, as it is also available on their website.

The Giver is, for me, one of the most original novels I have ever experienced. Jonas' journey as he discovers the true nature of the "peaceful" community he grew up in makes for a gripping read.

The story is simply but succinctly told and it is a very quick read, less than 200 pages. Lowry has a way of teeling the story that every detail is easily imagined. I just wish I understood why the community existed in the first place! Is it an experiment with outside "creators" watching over the inhabitants?

Jonas makes mention of a plane that flies overhead. So there must be other life outside of this place. I really hope these questions get dealt with at a later stage in the series.

This is the one book your 12-14 year olds should read. So many questions regarding what is right and wrong are raised and it even makes for great reading for older teens and adults.

I see this is going to be a movie! And is in the pre-production phase with Jeff Bridges already listed as part of the cast. Yay!

Monday, July 29, 2013

BZRK - Michael Grant

Title: BZRK
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Egmont (February 2012)

Set in the near future, BZRK is the story of a war for control of the human mind. Charles and Benjamin Armstrong, conjoined twins and owners of the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation, have a goal: to turn the world into their vision of utopia. No wars, no conflict, no hunger. And no free will. Opposing them is a guerrilla group of teens, code name BZRK, who are fighting to protect the right to be messed up, to be human. This is no ordinary war, though. Weapons are deployed on the nano-level. The battleground is the human brain. And there are no stalemates here: It’s victory . . . or madness. (from Goodreads.com)

My previous experience with Michael Grant was a brief flirtation with his Gone series. The first book was brilliant and I was swept up in this whirlwind romance, anxiously awaiting the next one in the series. Which bored me to tears. I know, right? That series has a brilliant reputation for being filled with action and adventure and I just... couldn't.

I was skeptical about BZRK and went in with low expectations. I ended up loving it and was unable to put it down. I was reminded of Matthew Reilly's adult novels where there is just non-stop action and just enough character development for me to be satisfied. It is like a Tom Cruise movie. You know shit's gonna get real quickly.

I loved the concept of battles happening on the nano-level. In our own bodies. The battle scenes are quite thrilling and my only real criticism is that the new recruits, Plath and Keats, didn't really get training. I would have liked that aspect to have been elaborated on before rushing headlong into the main story. It bothered me a little that these two kids suddenly were able to stand on their own and go on complex missions.

I can still highly reccomend this for those of you who need a break from angsty teenage romances and the usual paranormal fare. Just don't go into this expecting a Newberry-worthy read. It's fun, pure escapism that both genders will enjoy.

Also, I caution that this is a mature read. There are the odd sexual references and bad language. I would say this is suitable for ages 15 and up.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Article 5 - Kristen Simmons

Title: Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen (January 2012)

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.
I was excited to read Article 5 as I am fully on board the Dystopian bandwagon that is widing its way through YA recently. I was absolutely sold on the cover, which is beautifully detailed.

Sadly, Article 5 didn't quite meet my expectations. It was an exciting enough read with plenty of action and thrills. But I just didn't buy into the whole premise.

The world-building was scappy at best and Ember was more focused on Chase Jennings than pretty much anything that was going around her. It made for a very frustrating experience as this book had the potential to be great. There were elements that could have been developed to expand on the story beyond teenage lust, but we all know that romance is the main selling point of YA, right?

Ember was exposed to some truly horrible things. One would think that she would have been more affected by all of this, but no. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Chase Jennings Show! In which we will ponder why he left and if he is still the same boy Ember loved all those long, teenage menths ago.

Good things? Some of the descriptions were brilliant. I loved the idea of America becoming this regimented society where laws are so easily broken and punished. but I just wanted MORE.

There are books I would rather suggest to you. Like the brilliant Ashes by Ilse J Bick. Which juggles the action and romance appropriately and delivers a hardcore heroine in the process.

Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bloggers' Get-Together at Skoobs Theatre of Books - Montecasino

The Venue: Skoobs Theatre of Books - Montecasino - Fourways
The Event - Blogger's Get-Together / Networking Session - 20th July 2013

Skoobs Theatre of Books

Skoobs is an eclectic, independantly-owned bookstore in Montecasino. They take pride in their diverse selection of titles and are the go-to store for special orders.

At the ground level, you will find a wonderful coffee shop that make some of the best cofee you will find in the Northern suburbs. They offer a range of small eats as well.

If you go upstairs (providing you are able to drag yourself away from the books and other goodies down below) you will find a comfortable, modern champagne bar / lounge complete with baby grand piano and a wonderful cocktail menu.

Skoobs is the ideal venue to host bookish meetings where passionate people can bond over shared interests. I really recommend the Strawberry Daquiri!

Meeting and Greeting Fellow Bloggers

When I arrived, I was unsure of who were bloggers and who where regular customers. Then all the troops were rounded up to the outside balcony, where platters of wonderful nibbles were waiting for us.

Introductions were made and goodie bags distributed and we set about the very serious task of mingling.

Luckily I had a wing lady in the form of Martha from Syllable in the City. This made the whole process a lot easier!

I can't for the life of me remember her name, but I found another devoted Vampire Academy fan who has reread the books even more than I have!

Twitter handles were exchanged and a good time was had by all!

Some of The Awesome Bloggers I Met

I did not mingle with everyone, but here are some of the bloggers I managed to chat to!

The Goodie Bags!

The wonderful staff at Skoobs got in touch with some very generous sponsors such as JC le Roux and put together a wonderful goodie bag for all us bloggers!

  • A proof copy of a random book - there were several different books floating around. If anything this made for a great icebreaker as I quite enjoyed being nosy and seeing what others has gotten!
  • A mini bottle of Rose JC le Roux champs - This thing is so cute I really don't want to drink it! Will save it for a special occasion
  • Tickets to the Preview Screening of City of Bones at Montecasino - This was one of the best things in the goodie bag! And only a few of us are lucky enough to be going!
  • Ferrero Rocher chocies - I donated these to my boyfriend due to an aversion to nuts! But we all know books and chocolate go hand-in-hand!
  • Mini-Mark bookmarks - These cute little magentic bookmarks are the perfect tool for any blogger. The act as handy page markers should you be wanting to reference back to something later and will not be in the way.
  • The Really Tiny Book-light - I had one of these ages ago and was so happy to find a replacement in my goodie bag. This little accessory fits into your handbag and clips on to the cover of the book. The single LED provides more than enough light to read by.
  • Little Book-Holder - I have not yet put this cute little goodie to use. It keeps your book open while you read!
  • A handy pink notebook
  • A keyring

A BIG thank you to Marcia and the Skoobs team for organising such a wonderful event. I will definately be at the next one!

Follow Skoobs on Facebook and contact them for any of the products listed above!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A-Z Reading Challenge

I have decided the best way to get through my TBR pile is to ussie a personal challenge to myself.
If you would like to join me, I have put down some basic rules below. Please comment on this post and let me know!

  • Read 26 books before 31st December 2013
  • These books must be read in order of the alphabet according to title (Across the Universe, Before I Fall etc)
  • Each book must be reviewed
  • Titles beginning with "The" - The second word of the title counts. (The Outsiders could then be your "O" book!)
All of my books will fall under YA. Natually.

So... who is in this with me? I am only missing an "X" book, so any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Penguin (2011)

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

This is now my third time reading this awesome, original YA novel. I thought it would be best to revisit it in preparation for the sequels A Million Suns and Shades of Earth, which I am currently busy and will be reviewing soon.

Across the Universe is brilliantly written. The writing flows and I can picture what life on Godspeed must be like. I love the world Beth Revis has created and she did a good job, leaving no questions unanswered (aside from intentional ones!).

The romance is actually understated in the novel. The focus is more on the mysteries behind Godspeed's existence and the lies and deception. It is told from both the points view of Amy and Elder. I find this lends well to building the intrigue. As they put together pieces of the puzzle.

One of the nice touches is the diagram of the shop at the back of the book. I am a stickler for maps. Love, love, love them!

If you are looking for a clever yet easy read, this is well-worth picking up. I just hope the sequels live up to this one!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancy
Publisher: Penguin (2013)

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up (Goodreads).
If you have any sort of presence on the YA bookish interwebs, you will have heard of this book. Comparisons have been made to Ender's Game and The Passage. The big question is... does The 5th Wave live up this hype?

Yes and no. I have never felt more conflicted about a book.

The Positives
  • The writing. Oh my word, the writing! There were moments of such perfection that I actually reread the same live several times over.
  • The focus on interpersonal relationships and character development. There are several storylines in this novel that converge (see the negatives regarding this). I loved reading about Zombie and Nugget, for example. And how they helped each other in different ways. I loved the backstories. I loved Ringer.
  • The worldbuilding. I really bought into this apocalyptic vision that Yancy has created. The idea of the different waves and their seperate effects was brilliant to say the least.
  • The anticipation. I really did, after a point, want to know what happened next. I wanted to know the TRUTH. This need meant the last half of the book basically disappeared in one sitting.
The Negatives
  • The romance. More instalove, people. It was cheesy and unwarranted. If this had been handled delicately and perhaps developed over time, I would have lapped it up. But, no. There must be lurve before the end of book one!
  • Multiple viewpoints. Maybe I am just dumb, but this intitally confused the living daylights out of me. I had no idea which character I was dealing with initially. It makes more sense later on, but I would have really appreciated a chapter heading that let me know if it was a Cassie/Evan/Zombie/Nugget chapter. Would have saved me confusion and slight irritation as well.
  • Action... what action? I loved Zombie's chapters. if the book was told mainly from his viewpoint, I would have been one happy camper. I figure the Cassie chapters were there for the fangirls to swoon over the romance and to create some sort of relatability. Zombie totally sold this story for me. I alternated between being ansty (Cassie) and totally engrossed (Zombie)
All that said, this is a step above most YA and I do reccomend it highly. Just don't expect it to be on par with The Hunger Games.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Week in Books (1)

Happy monday fellow bookish folk!

I have decided to have a weekly feature on the blog which is, in essence, a summary of my bookish activities over the past week.

So, on with it!

Books Read

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy (Penguin, 2013)

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this fantastic novel from Tammy at The Book Fairy's Haven.

What an engrossing, original read! Look out for a detailed review on the blog soon

Books Bought

I paid Skoobs Theatre of Books a visit on Friday evening with the full intention of buying The Evolution of Mara Dyer. Instead, I found the following three books and set Mara Dyer aside for the end of the month.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (Penguin, 2013)
Yay! The new Sarah Dessen! I am currently devouring this one. She is one of my favorite authors.

 Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan (Penguin, 2013)

I have been curious about this title for a while. It is an interesting partnership between Cremer (Author of Nightshade) and David Levithan (known for Every Day and Will Greyson, Will Greyson).

And the cover? Gorgeous!

Shades of Earth - Beth Revis (Penguin, 2013)

The final book in the Across the Universe trilogy. I still need to read A Million Suns, but I am so excited! This is YA Sci-Fi at its best.

What I Plan to Read:

The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen
Icons - Margaret Stohl

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Title: Mila 2.0
Author: Debra Driza

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life. (From Goodreads.com)
I bought Mila 2.0 on a whim (as I do with most of the books I buy these days) and did not expect to love it as much as I did!

This book is absolutely action-packed. It reads like a movie and I could not stop thinking about it until I had read the final page.

Mila is a kickass heroine. she is a refreshing change in a YA market riddled with weak girls who care for nothing but their hot love interests and being with those hot love interests. Sure, there is romance. There HAS to be as this is YA and it seems to be an almost essential aspect of the genre. But it is not the primary focus in the book.

Driza did a fantastic job in creating the technology in this series. I didn't question anything about the world she created and loved what it brought to the book a a whole.

I feel that the YA market is definately starting to focus on bringing more quality novels to the readers. Mila 2.0 is a fine example of this, as it bears little resemblance to anything else I have read erecently. sure, one can look at it as similar to Marissa Meyer's Cinder. But Cinder is set in a completely fictional futuristic world while Mila 2.0 is set in our own world with a few new twists. The only real comparision between the two is that Cinder and Mila are both strong female characters. Cinder is a cyborg and Mila is an android. They are both awesomely fantastic reads for fans of YA.

So if you want to try something different from the dystopian and paranormal novels that are populating the YA shelves, give Mila 2.0 a try.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blogging Haitus

Hey all!

Due to extensive work / social commitments I am going to be unable to post regularly.

Please follow me on Twitter for updates on what I am reading and what I think! (@Parasphere)

Apologies for this. I really I could this blog the time and attention it requires!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Switched (Trylle #1) by Amanda Hocking 6/10

Title: Switched
Series: Trylle #1
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: Tor

Wendy Everly knew she was different the day her mother tried to kill her and accused her of having been switched at birth. Although certain she’s not the monster her mother claims she is – she does feel that she doesn’t quite fit in...
She’s bored and frustrated by her small town life – and then there’s the secret that she can’t tell anyone. Her mysterious ability – she can influence people’s decisions, without knowing how, or why...
When the intense and darkly handsome newcomer Finn suddenly turns up at her bedroom window one night – her world is turned upside down. He holds the key to her past, the answers to her strange powers and is the doorway to a place she never imagined could exist. Förening, the home of the Trylle.
Finally everything makes sense. Among the Trylle, Wendy is not just different, but special. But what marks her out as chosen for greatness in this world also places her in grave danger. With everything around her changing, Finn is the only person she can trust. But dark forces are conspiring – not only to separate them, but to see the downfall everything that Wendy cares about.
The fate of Förening rests in Wendy’s hands, and the decisions she and Finn make could change all their lives forever... (Goodreads.com)
 Switched is one of those books that have been casually sitting on my bookshelf for a long time. I first, oddly, learned about the series from my father. He heard a feature on a local radio station, 702, about Amanda Hocking and the success she attained through self-publishing her novels. I guess my dad still has hopes that I will one day write the next Harry Potter and rake in the millions.

Either way, I was curious and bought a softcover copy of Switched which has now been sitting gathering Johannesburg dust. It wasn't until I found the third book (Ascend) on sale and subsequently bought the second (Torn) that I decided to give this book a shot.

The unfortunate thing is that, while Hocking can write, this book is riddled with so many YA cliches, I might as well just reread Twilight. Ok, wait.That is hardly fair. I did say that Hocking can write while Stephenie Meyer's writing is eye-bleedingly bad.

Some of the cliches include a brooding male lead who claims he's treating the girl like shit for her own good, a female lead who doesn't feel special but SHE IS and dumbed -down secondary characters who are merely filler for the main plot of luuurve.

The plot moved along so slowly and Wendy's confusion and the fact that the other characters kept her in the dark for most of the novel, was very frustrating. I guess that this was some attempt to create tension, but I just couldn't bring myself to care anymore.

I just never felt captivated. If this was that great, I would have continued with the second book. Instead, I felt almost relieved to be able to move on and read something new. However, I did rate it a little higher than this review perhaps indicates, as I did enjoy the writing and think the series could have potential.

I will be reviewing the rest of the trilogy (Tryllogy?) at some stage. Just not for a while. My TBR pile is so large, I suspect other, more favorable books, will work their way to the top!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

5 Questions With SA Partridge - April's Featured Author

In Paranormalsphere's first author interview, local author SA Partridge agreed to answer five questions for us!

Sally-Ann Partridge is a young adult novelist from Cape Town, South Africa. Her novel, The Goblet Club, won the SABC/You Magazine I am a Writer Competition in 2007, as well as the MER Prize for Best Youth Novel in 2008, an award she won again in 2012 for Dark Poppy’s Demise. Her second novel, Fuse, was selected as an Ibby International Honour Book in 2012.  In the same year she was named as one of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans, a distinction given out annually to notable South Africans under the age of 35. Her fourth novel, Sharp Edges, will hit shelves in August 2013. 

Q1: Is there one defining moment when you decided to pursue becoming an author? Are there any particular books or authors that inspired you?

I've known I wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I used to make up stories about imaginary friends and fairies trapped in blowing bubbles long before I first picked up a pen. My parents used to read me stories and encouraged me to make up my own. My dad and I even had a competition to see who could make up the most far-fetched tales. In school I used to write on the back of my exam papers. It was natural for me to write, a necessity.  I read everything that was available to me growing up, and devoured the books my mom bought for herself, so no one author inspired me more than the others. If it was printed I would read it.  I did however, have quite a taste for Christopher Pike and Stephen King as a teenager. 

Q2: Why Young Adult? And will you ever step into the adult market?
I wrote what I knew, so most of my stories reflected my own world and characters that were nearer my own age. It wasn't a conscious decision to write young adult fiction. Since discovering that my books fell into that genre I've embraced it. Writing about young people is far more interesting than writing about adults as they're so fearless and resilient, and constantly discovering aspects of themselves that they didn't know existed. I'm quite happy sticking to young adult fiction for the time being.  

Q3: What is the most memorable thing a reader has told you regarding one of your novels and why?

I was invited to watch a performance of the stage adaption of my first novel performed by a grade 12 English class and their teacher insisted I come backstage to meet the kids. I was completely blown away by how much the novel had actually affected the kids, and how much they enjoyed reading it. A couple of the kids even came to my next book launch which I was really touched by. 

Q4: Are you working on any projects at the moment? And can you elaborate on any details? 

My new book, Sharp Edges, comes out in August. It's about six friends that attend a music festival in the Cedarberg, but only five come back. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character and explores what they think happened. It's a good old fashioned whodunnit with a contemporary twist. Keep an eye out for the cover reveal and trailer soon. 

 I just found out that a short story I wrote has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, which I'm ridiculously excited about. 

The next Bloody Parchment anthology is coming out in June. Local is lekker horror stories including my short story, Jethro Mackenzie and the Devil.

Q5: Any advice you can give to aspiring authors, particularly in the South African market?

Write, write, write,  finish what you started and revise! Finishing a manuscript is only the first step towards publication. Keep going back until your novel shines.

Follow Sally on Twitter @sapartridge and visit her website for more info.

You can purchase Sally's books from Kalahari.com or from her site: 

The Goblet Club
Dark Poppy's Demise

A big thank you for your time, Sally!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

TV Series: Bones - Season One

Title: Bones
Season: One (2005)
Cast: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz

Bones follows Forensic Anthropologist Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and her team as they assist FBI Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) in solving murder cases. This series is based on the novels and life of author Kathy Reichs (who is also a Producer of the series).

Now in it's eighth season, Bones has been surprisingly underrated in South Africa.The first season originally aired in 2006 on SABC 3, but the rest of the seasons never aired here. South African's later got another opportunity to watch the show on Top TV's Fox FX channel, where the first four seasons have been aired to date.

Because of this, not many people know of the series. And I feel this is almost bordering on tragic. It happens to many good TV shows. We simply do not have enough channels and prime-time slots and often get shows a few years after they have aired and half the country has acquired illegal copies anyway.

But I am getting off-topic here. Bones has been on my radar for a while. I took the plunge and bought the first season for myself at the end of last year. I watched the first disc and then my father, who loves his NCIS, CSI and the like, smuggled away my box set and devoured the entire season before I had the chance. He then went on to buy season two, which is a nice benefit of getting my father addicted to a TV series!

I got back into the series, introducing it to my boyfriend and watching it with him. The first season flew by extremely quickly! I can see why my dad bought the next season with the way the first ended!

First off, I love the chemistry between Bones and Booth. They are so cute. It reminds of Mulder and Scully back in the days of me fangirling over the X-Files and pasting their faces and "The Truth is Out There" on every notebook I owned. And, like Mulder and Scully, they are COMPLETELY oblivious to this! Just fall in love and have pretty children already!

Bones is a little socially inept and this makes her fun to watch as she tried to engage with people in a human level. Often someone will make a reference to an icon in pop culture and Bones will respond with "I don't know what that means." and then resume her job with no attempt at all to connect. This makes her an oddly endearing lead character!

The supporting cast of characters are brilliant. They are all quirky and unique and bring their own flavor to the mix.

The action is certainly not lacking and there are a few twists that keep the audience guessing. Some are predictable while others are completely from left field. And there is a fun humor too. I just love the banter between the characters.

It bears mentioning that each episode of Bones, much like other shows this this genre, focuses on a single case. However, there is an over-arcing plot that starts becoming more prominent later on in the series. So while one can watch the series in any order and still enjoy it, I don't recommend this approach at all! Unlike CSI, the characters are not static vehicles for the mystery to be solved. They grow and develop with time.

I am really enjoying this series and recommend it if you enjoy intelligent TV.

Keep an eye out on this blog! I am going to be rewatching the X-Files and giving my summary and thoughts on each episode. Should be interesting revisiting a series that played such a huge part in my young teenage days.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Film: Passengers (2008)

Title: Passengers (2008)
Sony Pictures / TriStar Pictures
Director: Rodrigo Garcia
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson, David Morse

Called in to assist with the aftermath of a plane crash, Claire Summers (Anne Hathaway) begins to suspect that something is amiss while counseling six survivors. Her suspicions drive her to investigate further as secrets about the passengers are revealed. Claire learns that the plane crash has a far more personal connection than she could ever have thought.
This is my first serious film review on the blog and I thought I would chose something that is not only in keeping with the theme, but is also one of those movies that has stayed with me since I first watched it.

My initial experience with Passengers was not tarnished by any other opinions or conceptions I had of the movie. I had not even seen a trailer or read reviews of it, which is rare. I feel that my "ignorance" greatly aided my enjoyment of the film and I was able to look at it both objectively and subjectively.

Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson are two actors that I have always enjoyed watching. Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises and Wilson as the sensitive and intelligent Nite Owl in Watchmen. Their chemistry in Passengers is practically tangible. While this is not the main plot of the film, it is essential in the overall character development of both characters and is one of the dominoes that needs to fall in order for Hathaway's character to ultimately come to terms with her findings.

David Morse is one of those actors that you kind of remember from a film / series but you can quite put for finger on which one it was exactly. He is spectacular here. He pulls off that creepy mysteriousness perfectly and I loved his character and the unveiling of his purpose in the film.

I loved the dark feel of the film. There are moments that are genuinely moving and creepy. It is so atmospheric, that I easily lost myself in the story.

And the score! When the end credits rolled and the film's theme played, I wept like a baby. It so perfectly captured the essence of the film.

In short, Passengers is dark and emotional with a genuinely unexpected twist. It left me thinking about various concepts long afterward. A very underrated film!

Rating: 8/10

Friday, April 5, 2013

Eight YA Book Recomendations for Guys

The YA market has received a lot of flack lately for being primary focused on female readers. With covers sporting beautiful heroines and elaborate fonts, it is hardly surprising!

I thought the time was nigh to have a boy-focused post on this blog. In fact this post has been a long time coming, as the idea has been bouncing around my brain for a while.

I have read a few books in the past few years that both boys and girls (young and old) will enjoy and here is my shortlist of the best ones.

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

There isn't much I don't love about The Hunger Games. Katniss is a kickass heroine and there is enough blood and action to keep any guy happy. Not only is it thrilling to read, it offers a valuable message on the value of human life and how we see each other in a social context.

If you have not read this, get the boxed set. Once reading the first installment, you will no doubt want to move directly onto the next book, Catching Fire. The third, Mockingjay, draws the story to a close in a satisfying way.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Another Dystopian novel, Divergent also has its share of action and gore.

While Tris is a girl, her views are accessible to both genders and the love element of the plot is merely a portion of what Divergent has to offer any reader. This was one of my favorite reads of 2011 by a long shot!

3. Variant by Robson Wells

Variant is an interesting read set in a twisted boarding school in the middle of nowhere. It did remind me a little of James Dashner's Maze Runner, but it cam also stand on its own two feet in terms of being unique in parts and with a brilliant twist.

4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I was not overly enamored with The Maze Runner, but this is simply my opinion and it still stands out for me.
This is definitely an adventurous read that guys and girls will be captivated by.

5. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

Because I love it so much, I have opted to use the movie poster rather than the book cover.
Tomorrow, When the War Began is essentially an Australian classic. The setting alone is different, as it captures Australian outback life. One thing to bear in mind is this novel was written before the internet and cellphones became an aspect of everyday life. That adds an interesting element as, in my mind, it brings to light just how dependent on this technology we really are.

6. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

This is the original AUS cover and I love it! I am also blessed that I own this edition of this fantastic book.
Jellicoe Road is the second Australian YA I have thrown in here. I am not too sure what they have in the water that side of the pond, but they do have some fantastic writers! This is an unusual novel in both the setting and story. It is one of those books that one should go into knowing as little as possible about it. I cannot recommend it enough and wish it had more exposure in the South African market.

7. Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I read this one a while back, but it does stand out in my mind as being a "gender neutral" YA. Set in the near future, this addresses societal issues such as abortion and the value of human life. It is a fun, engrossing read. I have yet to explore the sequel, Unwholly, but Unwind is a complete stand-alone novel and can be read and enjoyed from cover to cover.

8. Ashes by Ilse Bick

The cover has the unfortunate effect of making Ashes look girly. It is not! It combines elements of survival, science fiction and the human spirit into an engrossing read. And there are zombies! Horrific, flesh-eating zombies!

And there you have it! Please feel free to add your own thoughts and suggestions in the comments section.

Happy Friday everyone!