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
Fuse 
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!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines 3) by Richelle Mead


Title: The Indigo Spell
Series; Bloodlines #3
Author: Richelle Mead

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

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, the Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive—this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.

I am possibly one of the biggest Vampire Academy fans in South Africa. I was so happy to see that we received the latest book in the Bloodlines spin-off fairly close to the UK / US release date. Happy as in dancing around my local book store in throes of delight. That kind of happy.

Now that I have put this into perspective, on with the review!

First off, Sydney is a lot more of a character in this installment. It is really fun watching her grow a backbone and she gets exposed to more elements of Mead's vampire world. The evolving chemistry between her and Adrian is fantastically fun to read!

My one criticism is that I do feel as if the overarching plot is being dragged out a lot. While I was captivated by Sydney and Adrian's unfolding romance, that can be all there is to the story. With Vampire Academy, the pace of the story and the action was always fast and exciting. Bloodlines lacks that, however I do love the overall setting and the magic element. so all is forgiven.

As I have mentioned before, you do need to read VA before this series, otherwise nothing will make much sense. Old characters are reintroduced and past events are mentioned. I would imagine that a first time reader which picked up Bloodlines would in all likelihood put it straight back down again!

The next book, The Fiery Heart, is due out later this year!