17 August 2016

Borrowed Books // The One With Lots Of Books From All Walks Of Life (Or Genres To The Layman)

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Borrowed Books is a feature where I review and recommend those books I’ve borrowed from the library. I have not been a frequent visitor of the library in a while so it’s exciting to visit again. I have found, much like with food, my eyes are too big for my stomach, or in the case of books I want to read everything and then don’t get around to it. This feature holds me accountable slightly for trying to read as many of my library books as possible. Let’s look at my last haul then, shall we?
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I got quite a few books out this time and I didn’t find a new favourite as I did last time. I did read a lot of enjoyable books I may never have read otherwise, though.

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Armada – Ernest Cline
Published: 11th February 2016
Source: Library
Genre: Sci-fi, Young Adult
My Rating:
THE NEW NOVEL FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF READY PLAYER ONE


It’s just another day of high school for Zack Lightman. He's daydreaming through another boring math class, with just one more month to go until graduation and freedom—if he can make it that long without getting suspended again.

Then he glances out his classroom window and spots the flying saucer.

At first, Zack thinks he’s going crazy.

A minute later, he’s sure of it. Because the UFO he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

But what Zack’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

Yet even as he and his new comrades scramble to prepare for the alien onslaught, Zack can’t help thinking of all the science-fiction books, TV shows, and movies he grew up reading and watching, and wonder: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little too… familiar?

Armada is at once a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien-invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with author Ernest Cline’s trademark pop-culture savvy.
This was a book I picked up simply because I want to read Cline’s other book, Ready Player One. They didn’t have that at the library but I picked this up on impulse and then dithered around about reading it.

Sci-fi is not really my genre anyway, but this was made even stranger by the fact it was set a few years ahead of us and is about a kid who plays video games a tad obsessively and discovers he’s been secretly trained to defend the Earth. It’s a bit of a strange premise. A very cool premise, and the conspiracy theory in it was quite cool as well. Unfortunately, a lot of the references were beyond me. Now, I thought I was a bit of a geek but this book just proved that I’m really not in comparison to many. It’s okay, though, I think a lot of it was meant for more serious sci-fi fans as fun references they will fully get.

I found myself laughing and enjoying this book from the very start. I love the mix of contradictions of our main character. He’s a geek and a massive gamer but then he has a reputation at school as ‘Zack Attack’ and has a temper and a need to defend others? Not exactly your typical geek gamer. He was an interesting character who obviously had some daddy issues and knew it and who was determined to do the right thing.

Zach was definitely the most well-developed character. There were others there who were fun, but everyone else came across a bit flat in comparison as they simply didn’t get enough page time. A lot of things happened to various characters which I felt like I just didn’t care about because they didn’t feel like real people to me that was the most frustrating part of the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. A lot of the references went over my head because of my lack of knowledge about sci-fi but that was OK. I got about 50% of the references and that was enough. I liked the characters, Zach was an interesting one and I loved his interaction with his family and friends. I just wish we could have seen more of other characters. It may have been Zach’s story, but those around him came across a bit flat in comparison to him and that was annoying. It was an enjoyable read, though, and I’m glad I checked it out.

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Published: 3rd September 2015
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Feminism
My Rating:
FROM THE WINNER OF THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR AWARD.

It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes...
This is not an easy book to review. Everyone has heard about Louise O’Neill’s latest book by now, haven't you? It deals with a big issue which isn’t exactly easy to discuss. I mean, any book about rape is going to be an uncomfortable read and this one definitely is. It’s powerful, though. What it says about society today and current attitudes to rape is shocking.

I don’t want to spoil the book and there is no way to do that so instead I am going to say I fully support the message it sends.

The entire concept of this book is that a girl, a popular girl who likes the attention of boys, is raped by boys she knows and who are well known in her small town. It very much highlights the problem of victim blaming. She led them on with what she was wearing, she got drunk and out of control, she flirted with them which implies consent, she didn’t say no. All of it demonstrates the big issue in society. She is blamed when she is the victim. She is the pariah and she is expected to act in a certain way to demonstrate that she is the victim. Her small town turns against her because she doesn’t act as they think she should but the boys she accuses can live their lives as normal. It’s ridiculous.

I hated so many things about the book (in a good way) because it was such an uncomfortable reflection of reality. Some people will have experienced rape, others will know someone who has, it’s something that women are continually told to be  concerned about. We are told to act a certain way, to be aware, to not be alone, and to not lead people on. It’s ridiculous because society should be teaching men that rape is wrong, not what women should do to avoid it. It just made me so angry.

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Published: 6th November 2014
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy
My Rating:
Disguised as a boy, Jin Ling searches for her missing sister, Mei Yee, who was sold into the brothels of the Walled City. It's a cut-throat world of gangs, drug-dealers and warlords and every day is a struggle to survive. Jin Ling relies on her speed and cunning but how long will her luck hold? When a mysterious boy, Dai, requests her help with a dangerous mission Jin Ling's inclined to say no - this is a world where no one can be trusted - but the mission offers her a vital chance to see inside the brothel where her sister may be being held.

Jin Ling and Dai join forces, but will either of them survive the mission? Is Mei Yee still alive? And how will any of them ever escape the stifling city walls?

With a fantasy setting inspired by Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong, Ryan's novel has a rich authenticity and an intense atmosphere, and its pace will enthral the reader from the very first page.
This was a fascinating read made all the more interesting by the fact that it was based an actual real place. Kowloon City was a real place in Hong Kong and was the inspiration behind Graudin’s book. That alone made me want to read this book. It also led me down a blackhole of reading about Kowloon City and it was some very interesting reading. I love things which are inspired by real life things. I liked that although it was inspired by a real place Graudin chose to create her own fictional equivalent. I prefer authors doing things like this rather than trying to write accurately about a real place they may not have fully been able to research. For some reason I like the places I read about to either be fake or to be reasonably accurately portrayed and given the real life counterpart no longer exists it makes it difficult.

On to the story, though. This is about three separate characters whose stories are surprisingly intertwined. I really liked that each story was linked and as the reader you were aware of the connection and you were just waiting for the characters to realise it too. It made the story better as even though you don’t connect with all the characters you will like at least one and their loose connection with the other characters will lead you to be interested in all of the stories. At least, that’s how it worked for me.

This was a really nice read and I would recommend it. Not as much as I would recommend Graudin’s book Wolf By Wolf, but it was still an interesting debut.

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Published: 26th September 2013
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Historical, Young Adult
My Rating:
One girl's nightmare is this girl's faery tale


She's a stunner.

Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She's a liar.

But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense thesìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She's a murderer.

Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She's a Falconer.

The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.
This is a book which I never fully fell in love with. I wasn’t in the right mood for reading it when I began and I think that really affected me opinion of the book, which is annoying. It’s an original story and I enjoyed it but there was something missing for me. That being said, I did really want to read the next book in the series upon finishing so it isn’t as if I hated it.

I think my biggest issue beginning this book is I wasn’t fully sure what it was about in the first place and I wasn’t excited to start reading it. I’d grabbed from the shelf at the library on impulse as I’d seen decent reviews for it in the past. I think I would have been more excited about it if I’d been aware of the steampunk elements when beginning. It’s a genre I’ve not read much of and so would have been excited to explore some more.

This was a very much a book where it was ruined by false expectations on my part because I never bothered to read the blurb properly. I was expecting a different kind of fantasy novel and I was misled by the title of The Falconer because there were no birds. I expected my main character to be way more badass and knowledgeable about the fairies she was hunting as well. That isn’t to say she wasn’t bad ass, I loved the fact she invented things and had her own mechanical creations, but she wasn’t what I expected.

I had a certain disconnect with the book and the characters which meant i just didn’t care enough what happened to them. I was interested and cared to a degree, but not as much as I have about many other characters in books I enjoyed far less. I hope it’s something that will change when it comes to reading the second book but I will not hold my breath.

It was a good read but it was missing something which meant I didn’t love it.

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Published: 23rd October 2014
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Fairy Tale, Retelling
My Rating:
A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.
This was a book which I enjoyed and would never have bought for myself. I loved the artwork and the story and I just loved the message in this book. It was the fairytale I wish I’d read when I was younger because it had a far better message to it than any fairytale I read as a child.

This is a story with a strong feminist message. There is no handsome prince to the rescue, it is a queen who is set to get married and delays it to go investigate a kingdom where the princess has fallen into a cursed sleep and whose sleeping sickness is spreading across the kingdoms. Our main character goes where others failed to go and goes to the rescue. It’s all about women fighting for themselves and finding their own adventures. I especially loved the ending.

There is little I can say without revealing everything but you should seriously read it. Read it to your children. Read it to your cats. Read it to everyone. Just please read it.

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Sorry, there was an awful lot of reviews here but I want to keep reviewing my library books and there was a certain amount of pressure here.

Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them or do you plan on reading them? Tell me all below.

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