Monthly Archives: June 2012

Just Finished…Fall for You

Fall for You is a younger adult book, aimed at early teenage girls (I imagine). It is loosely based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and you know what? I liked it! After reading plenty of ‘heavier’ books recently, I was in the mood for something quick, easy and light – and that’s exactly what I got.
The story is set predominantly in the grounds of the Jane Austen Academy, a prestigious boarding school, which up until recently had been solely for girls. In this it reminded me of a modernised version of the Mallory Towers or St Clares books by Enid Blyton, which I loved as a child: who didn’t want to play lacrosse and have jolly tea parties on the pavilion with the other gutsy girls who filled the dormitories of those books? Maybe just me then. But Lizzie – our leading lady surprisingly enough – certainly had shades of this about her.
As a character I found Lizzie irked me a little in the first couple of chapters – she was a tad on the bitchy side and I just thought she was mean with Anne and Emma particularly. However, I also get that this was part of her character establishment – after all she needed to be a little snooty and judgemental didn’t she. Thankfully, she mellows out pretty quickly and in with some slightly Louis Lane style tendencies sets off to investigate the mystery surrounding the new owners who are making so many changes to her beloved Academy.
This was a little jaunt down memory lane for me in terms of reading as I don’t tend to do ‘girlie’ romance stuff very often. But the younger girl inside me who devoured Sweet Valley High books (please don’t judge me too harshly!) in her early teens and wanted to go to boarding school, really enjoyed this lightly fluffy, fun take on Austen’s book. It is well-written, with good dialogue and enough variety in the supporting characters that they have depth and interest. The main characters are only ‘lite’ versions of the originals – Georgiana, Dante and Lizzie being the most like their counterparts – and the events of Fall for You only pick up some key scenes from Pride and Prejudice rather than being a complete re-telling, which I think worked well for the story. Nice reflections of the original book, without trying too hard to replicate and mimic, which I think would have felt very contrived.
Overall thoughts: if you like a little romance, fluff and fun, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this! 3.5* 
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WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at Should Be Reading…it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following three questions…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?
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What are you currently reading?

I started this retelling of Pride and Prejudice on Monday night and am already 50% done. Lots of fun, nicely written with good characters that are ‘shades of Austen’ rather than carbon copies. It’s good easy reading and would definitely suit people looking for some light, summer reading – it’s girlie enough (you’d probably guess from the cover) and expect plenty of boy talk, gossip and fun.

What did you recently finish reading?
I expected more from this, I have to say. The idea is strong and the writing is good enough, however the execution in plot and characters I found to be a bit lacking. I’d say 3* being kind. (Review is here if you’d like to hear more). I cannot imagine what happens in the subsequent books having found very little in this one (there’s something like eight books!)
What do you think you’ll read next?
I’m thinking either another ‘Angel’ book to get me along on the Heavenly Challenge or a Vampire one for the Olympic Goodreads Challenge (I’m all about the challenges this summer!) They’re quite good as they’re helping me tackle my burgeoning TBR pile. The two most likely candidates are below – perhaps I’ll go for ReVamped first: good reviews, lovely author and it’s a ‘Canadian’ book and so I’ll get a double-whammy reading it in July for Marie Landry’s Canadian Month! (It all depends on how quick I get through Fall For You).

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Just Finished…The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test…Overall grade C+ “Must try harder”

I didn’t get a great feeling about The Goddess Test: within the first couple of chapters I realised I wasn’t overly fussed with our heroine Kate, which for a book told in the first person, from her perspective didn’t bode well. It’s not an awful book, there’s just not a lot happens tbh.

Normally I try to avoid spoilers in a review, but I think I may veer in that direction, so you have been warned 🙂

The premise of the book sounded good: dying mother (their relationship was nicely – if briefly – done) and mysterious chap who turns out to be Hades. But in the early scenes Kate lost me: after seeing the apparent miracle of seeing someone brought back to life, she just toddled off – not seeming to contemplate in any kind of depth what had actually happened – who would do that?

Kate had some strong shades of Bella Swan about her in my reading: lots of ‘selfless’ actions which weren’t especially well thought through. Having done Twilight already, I didn’t need a repeat of the character. And I felt that most of the characters were quite flat in all honesty.

As the book got going, I expected something to happen, but unfortunately it just didn’t. Not wanting to spoil too much, but for a book called The Goddess Test and based on the idea a girl being tested to achieve immortality and a seat with the Olympians, you expected there to maybe be a test or two, but there is nothing overt. There is very little action in the book – it felt like a rather long ‘scene setting’ piece from Harry Potter in the early years (you know when they eat lots of food, play some fun Quidditch and get Christmas presents).

Perhaps I just expected more from a myth based book with tests and tasks in the style of Perseus or Jason…as I recall Perseus’s task of bringing a suitable gift didn’t mean bobbing down to John Lewis for a nicely wrapped piece of porcelain, nor did Jason’s quest for The Golden Fleece lead him to the pub in the high street. I can understand the author’s rationale behind the ‘tests’ undertaken in the book – that would fit with the role Kate was hoping to perform in terms of judging people – however, I feel this would have been done much better if the secret tests were matched with some genuinely (or even mildly) epic tasks as well. As it is, I thought it was mainly fluff about fairly flat characters.

Overall Verdict: 3* Some romantics may like it; expect most people with any interest in classical mythology will find it lacking. Don’t expect adventure, tests or Goddess-like behaviour on the whole. 

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Poetry and the Lyric Police

Yes, I know that technically the ‘lyric police’ are the annoying people who correct you when you’re singing along to a song – who cares if you think “At your desire” is “Joking sire”? I think my version of Bananarama’s Venus sounded better with my olde worlde adjustments. But there should be real ‘lyric police’: some strand of law enforcement that deals with the drivel and madness that find their way into songs and should be taken away and flogged for being downright rubbish.

Personally, I’m not a big poetry fan; there are an odd few poets I like, but I read very little if I’m honest. Even less often will you catch me trying to write poetry – it’s hard to compose something worthy, bleak and intriguing when I’m always trying to make things rhyme. I just can’t help it and sometimes rhyming just doesn’t work.

My reason for not writing poetry, is probably a good reason for several artists to re-think how they come up with their lyrics: just because it rhymes, does not make it good. If you’re wondering where this has come from, you can thank Mister Kanye West – who I overheard on the radio this afternoon warbling the lyrical gem:

“Tell me whats next? Alien sex.
Imma disrobe you
Then Imma probe you”

Wow! Just wow…Where do you get that kind of inspiration? Or the inkling that it should ever be repeated aloud? Well, obviously some of the music purchasing public think it’s perfectly sane as the song is doing pretty well at the moment. After I’d stopped laughing about ‘probing’ it got me thinking about what other naff lyrics there are, floating around the music world, all because in primary school you get taught that rhyming words together is a good thing.

 

Well, here are some that sprang to mind:

“So if you are in sight and the day is right / She’s a hunter you’re the fox /…/It’s a night for passion / But the morning means goodbye / Beware of what is flashing in her eyes” Ace of Base, All That She Wants – An interesting Europop mix of random images and dodgy rhyming – it’s Shakira, but a decade early.

“I don’t want to see a ghost/ It’s the sight that I fear most/ I’d rather have a piece of toast/ Watch the evening news” Des-ree, Life – Yep – I think most would agree that they’d rather have some toast than listen to more of this waffle.

“Don’t try to treat me like I ain t famous / My apologies, are you into astrology? / Cause I’m, I’m tryin to make it to Uranus.” Jadakiss and Kanye West, Gettin’ It In – Before Kanye was trying to probe you he was matching famous and Uranus – and I have to say, he’s not too far from Uranus really.

“Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got / I’m still – I’m still Jenny from the block / Used to have a little now I have a lot” J Lo, Jenny from the Block – I have to admit, I do like a bit of J Lo, but more the dance-y, pop-y stuff than this. C’mon Jenny – you’re better than this!

 

Anyway, mini-rant over – I suppose for comic value it’s good that Kanye lets rip with his lyrical poetry, we all need a good laugh now and then. But as for me – I know where my literary limits are and I will continue to avoid poetry as far as possible 🙂

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WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at Should Be Reading…it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following three questions…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?
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It’s been a while since I did a WWW Wednesday, so here’s how my reading week looks today 🙂

What are you currently reading?

I’m about a quarter through The Goddess Test and after a promising prologue I have to say, I’m not really loving it. The writing style is fine and the premise of the story was one I’d normally really like (the Persephone myth), but the initial set-up of meeting someone who has the ability to bring back the dead and who shows you this very obviously within the first couple of chapters, isn’t something I’d expect someone to just say “Oh, OK,” to. The lack of reaction and realism in the characters has left me a bit cold, but will see how it goes.

What did you recently finish reading?
I’ve just finished Underneath by Michael Cargill. It’s the third of his I’ve read this year and like his short stories, I really enjoyed the characters and plot. This is a thriller, so a different type of story to the others. You can check out my review on here if you’re interested.
What do you think you’ll read next?
I’ve got a few challenges running this year and vampires, angels and dystopian will all count towards one of those, but I’m not too sure… Perhaps some light reading with a modern telling of Pride and Prejudice? I’m not normallyplea romance girl, but might be a nice change before more blood and death in the other books in my tbr pile!
🙂

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Just Finished…Underneath by Michael Cargill

Synopsis

Look at the person sitting just across from you. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a loved one, a friend, or a complete stranger.
Now look at their face. Are they happy? Are they sad? Or are they angry? Can you even tell?
How well do you actually know the people closest to you?
Have you ever seen the real person that lies just underneath what you see…?

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Sounds creepy? Well, it should because the main character we follow throughout the book – Hugh – is a scary chap!

Underneath is a relatively short book – more a novella I’d say at circa 50k words – and flits between two worlds: Hugh-land and Copsville. Hugh’s world is an interesting one, as you see a lot of his life from his own confused and skewed perspective: one minute he’s happily shopping and buying garlic, the next he’s freaking out at the automated till and then forgotten where he is or why he’s there. His psycholigical switches and memory lapses quickly show the reader that Hugh is not firing on all cylinders, but as the story progresses, very scarily he also seems to be very aware of his own flaws and a-human responses (particularly in his relationship with a certain young lady).

Very early in the book I started to get an American Psycho feel, with a nice British twist – and it certainly gave you this as things developed. One of my favourite things about Michael’s writing is his ability to ‘be real’ – he gets right into the heads of his characters, making their responses and thoughts very realistic – from the mundane to the outright terrifying, he seems to be able to ‘get people’ when he writes about them.

This style continues in the sections of the book revolving around Claire and Robert – ‘Copsville’ for me. The introduction of these other characters is nicely done in a ‘sliding doors’ type moment and there are several more of these tying the plot together as the story progresses. I think Robert is my favourite character in the book: he is the bacon sandwich king! Again he and Claire are very ‘real’ and I believed in their personal motivations, thoughts and actions as they are presented in the story. The banter and interplay between them feels genuine and – even on mundane subjects – the dialogue works well, all centred in the work-world they inhabit.

Overall thoughts: I really like Michael’s writing style; it’s clear, concise, often funny and I enjoy the realisim of his characters. As an extended piece – I’ve previously read his short stories – it works well and follows similar themes and ideas to his previous work. I enjoyed Underneath and it works as a thriller, but have to say I think I prefer something with a slightly more supernatural twist, like Borger the Bunny when Michael’s writing. (See my review for Shades of Grey, also my Michael Cargill here).

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TGIF Look Back – 15th June

Welcome to TGIF Look Back it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following questions with some Friday feeling…do one or all, whatever you feel like because it’s Friday 🙂

FUNNY – What made you laugh this week?

READING – What were you reading this week?

INSPIRED – What inspired you this week? 

DONE – What were you mainly doing this week?

ANGEL – Who was your angel/star of the week?

YUCK – What made you go ‘ewwww’ this week?
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My TGIF Look Back…

So…what’s been happening this week in my world? Well, I’ve been trying to get through an editing read of an ARC of Underneath by the lovely Michael Cargill – really enjoyed the story and characters, as I have in his other writing, my only struggle was finding the time to get some peace and quiet to read! But have done now, so look out for a review on this in the near future when the book is launched.
I’m very busy at work at the moment and so my main ‘creative time’ comes when I’m driving around listening to music. I’ve built myself a ‘Balik playlist’ to help me stay focused whilst I’m finishingThe Rainbow Maker’s Taleand that seems to be helping – I make lots of random little notes for myself as snippets of dialouge or impressions of scenes come to me.
My other blog – Aside from Writing – is doing well following the Indie Author Event in May: we’re busy scheduling lots of author posts and features for the summer months and two new reviewers – author Tony Talbot and blogger Stephanie Green – have now joined up to regularly provide content, which is working well. If you’ve not met them already, take a look and see what they’re reading! 🙂
That’s about it for me – I’m hoping to grab a few quiet hours for writing this weekend, so wish me luck!
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So…how’s your week been?  🙂

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