Wednesday 31 March 2010

Arthur Clarke Shortlist Announced

Today the Interwebs have been all aflutter with the news of the Arthur Clarke award shortlist.

Here are the six shortlisted books:

1) Spirit by Gwyneth Jones

Bibi (it means princess) is the sole survivor of a massacre. Lady Nef, the General's wife, stops the General taking her as a concubine, winning Bibi's eternal and passionate devotion. Years later, a diplomatic mission to a supposedly friendly planet ends in disaster. Bibi, now a junior officer in Lady Nef's household, is incarcerated with her mistress in the notorious high-security prison on Fenmu. Lady Nef, 150 years old when arrested, dies in prison; she bequeaths to Bibi her rank, her level of access to the AI systems that permeate the Diaspora of inhabited planets, and a highly secret set of 4-space co-ordinates. Bibi uses Lady Nef's death to escape from Fenmu, finds Spirit, an instantaneous-transit space pod, and follows Lady Nef's co-ordinates to a treasure beyond price: a virgin, perfect, uninhabited planet. Soon after this, the mysterious, fantastically wealthy Princess of Bois Dormant makes her debut in the high society of Speranza, the Diaspora's capital city. Thus disguised, Bibi sets out to discover why she and her mistress were condemned to a living hell; and to punish the guilty. Twenty years have passed: Lady Nef's enemies now rule Speranza. As she uncovers a forgotten, ruthless and far-reaching conspiracy, Bibi's vengeance is transformed into a project of world-changing reparation.

2) The City and The City by China Mieville

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Bes el, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlu must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other.

3) Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts

Russia, 1946, the Nazis recently defeated. Stalin gathers half a dozen of the top Soviet science fiction authors in a dacha in the countryside somewhere. Convinced that the defeat of America is only a few years away, and equally convinced that the Soviet Union needs a massive external threat to hold it together, to give it purpose and direction, he tells the writers: 'I want you to concoct a story about aliens poised to invade earth ...I want it to be massively detailed, and completely believable. If you need props and evidence to back it up, then we can create them. But when America is defeated, your story must be so convincing that the whole population of Soviet Russia believes in it--the population of the whole world!' The little group of writers gets down to the task and spends months working on it. But then new orders come from Moscow: they are told to drop the project; Stalin has changed his mind; forget everything about it. So they do. They get on with their lives in their various ways; some of them survive the remainder of Stalin's rule, the changes of the 50s and 60s. And then, in the aftermath of Chernobyl, the survivors gather again, because something strange has started to happen. The story they invented in 1946 is starting to come true...

4) Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson

Late Renaissance Italy abounds in alchemy and Aristotle, yet it trembles on the brink of the modern world. Galileo's new telescope encapsulates all the contradictions of this emerging reality. Then one night a stranger presents a different type of telescope for Galileo to peer through, enabling him to see the world of humans three thousand years hence. Galileo will soon find himself straddling two worlds, the medieval and the modern. By day his life unfurls in early seventeenth century Italy; by night he is transported through dimensions of time and space no other man of his time could possibly comprehend. Inexorably, Galileo faces trial for religious crimes in his own time, while in the new world he discovers, where science assures men that they can perform wonders, but does not tell them what wonders to perform, he is revered.

5) Far North by Marcel Theroux

Every day I buckle on my guns and go out to patrol this dingy city. Out on the far northern border of a failed state, Makepeace patrols the ruins of a dying city and tries to keep its unruly inhabitants in check. Into this cold, isolated world comes evidence that life is flourishing elsewhere - a refugee from the vast emptiness of forest, whose existence inspires Makepeace to take to the road to reconnect with human society. What Makepeace finds is a world unravelling, stockaded villages enforcing a rough and uncertain justice, mysterious slave camps labouring to harness the little understood technologies of a vanished civilization. But Makepeace's journey also leads to unexpected human contact, tenderness, and the dark secrets behind this frozen world. "Far North" leads the reader on a quest through an unforgettable arctic landscape, from humanity's origins to its likely end. Bleak, haunting, spare - and yet ultimately hopeful, the novel is suffused with an ecstatic awareness of the world's fragility and beauty, and its unexpected ability to recover from our worst trespasses.

6) Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn't just a nuisance anymore - he's public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don't. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he's going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It's going to take all his criminal talents to prove he's not the criminal they think he is...

I have a rather crazy idea. The winner of this award is being announced on Wednesday 28th April - before then I want to have read as many of these six as feasibly possible (hopefully all of them!) so that I can judge for myself whether the panel make the right decision. This also links rather nicely into Mark Chitty's Sci Fi Appreciation Month for April being held over at Walker of Worlds!

I accept this is a rather mad challenge with only 29 days to get through six rather hefty tomes, so you might see failure rather than success, but I am keen to read more sci fi and this seems an excellent way to jump on board.

Look out for reviews and updates on this throughout April.

Quick Announcement of Winners

Hi all,

Thanks to those who left me comments after the Headline party! I have managed to come up with a random way of picking the winners (the rather scientific method of my housemate pulling names out of a hat *grin*)

I also found a spare copy of Hell's Belles, so there are two lucky winners of this one and one of Mr Monster!

I have emailed the winners, who are:

Hell's Belles - lovely treez and The Book Whisperer
Mr Monster - Saya

Congratulations to them - and please look out for future giveaways!

Monday 29 March 2010

Reviewer Time

A little while ago Harry Markov of the fabulous Temple Library Reviews asked me to interview for an ongoing feature he has: Reviewer Time. I was bemused but flattered, and sweated blood trying to come up with entertaining yet honest replies. Harry was quite the interrogator!

So, here [please click wantonly] is the link to my INTERVIEW. Enjoy!

Sunday 28 March 2010

Scrying the Fantastic!


This is a hint that you should totally set your diaries for March 31st - a group of bloggers have been gathered from across the world to join forces and create a resource for the good of all.

March 31st will see Scrying the Fantastic go live with an initial post of explanation.

April 1st you will be flooded with more information than you can shake a stick at concerning upcoming releases in the field of speculative fiction.

I'm getting all excited!

Saturday 27 March 2010

Why I Love Charity Shops

One of the most pleasant ways I've found to fill an hour or so on a Saturday is to browse my way through a handful of charity shops. I would make a conservative estimate and say around 40% of the books I own come from charity shops. I have no issues with pre-owned books (although I know some people prefer brand new books - do you? Can you not bear the bent spines and dog-eared pages of a well-loved book?) I like the warm fuzzies I get from knowing that every book I take home also puts a little cash in the charity coffers. Today I made an admirable haul.

First up, the two R's - Remic and Reynolds. Still not read anything by either of these authors, but somehow managing to collect my way to virtually their whole back catalogue! Any ardent sci fi fans care to comment on these books? Any good? Should I read other books before these i.e. are they part of a sequence?

Next is a neat little triumvirate of titles: The Truth by Terry Pratchett (which fits neatly into a gap I had of his Discworld work); The Warrior Prophet by R Scott Bakker (second volume in the Prince of Nothing trilogy, of which I have the first book) and Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper (book one of the Vampirates series, which just seems like too much fun to miss!)

Here are the other three (all six from the same shop! Good pickings!): The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan (I have read this series before, but have decided to collect again and then review them this time around); 2666 by Robert Bolano (this book is *huge* - I couldn't resist the sheer heft!); and Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgewick (a YA/children's author who is receiving a great deal of buzz at the moment).

And because eight books just isn't enough for this gal, when I wandered into Waterstone's I found myself picking up four more. Hmm, do I really need to sleep? If I don't sleep, maybe I would finish reading the number of books I now own.....?

First up, The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell (read Lex Trent, which I loved, and I'm now curious about her adult work) and Raven Blood Eye by Giles Kristian (I really enjoy historical fiction, and I'm a sucker for the cover on this one and the second in the series)

Lastly, I picked up Blood of the Mantis (the third in the series by Adrian Tchaikovsky - I have the first, second and fourth; I am preparing a read of this series since the guy persists in releasing books ultra quickly! *grin*) and Shogun by James Clavell (recommended frequently and often by Sam Sykes to me as the one piece of non-genre fiction that I really MUST read - so I have now picked it up. It'd better be good!)

Any of the above you particularly interested in? Are there any that you would like to see me review? Comments always very welcome!

Friday 26 March 2010

Kiss Chase by Fiona Walker

Felix Sylvian is a charming, silken-tongued dilettante, he has the sex-appeal of a school-girl's day-dream and the soul of a poet. But he has one nasty habit he can't seem to break: a sadistic tendency to ride rough-shod over any girl foolish enough to fall for him. Saskia Seaton is Felix's latest victim. Once a beautiful, precocious aspiring actress, she is now a suicidal wreck after a whirlwind affair with Felix and a force ten finale. Retreating to lick her wounded pride, she decides she wants poetic justice. And her friend Phoebe's the one to get it. With Saskia's help, Phoebe will become Felix's dream woman. She will pursue him across his London playground and seduce him until he falls in love with her and then she'll drop him just as he has so many women in the past. But Phoebe doesn't realise that when she tries to break Felix's nasty habit, she'll find herself breaking her own heart...

Well, let's not beat around the bush here - the plot to Kiss Chase (originally published in 1995) is downright ludicrous, even taking the genre into account. The idea that a person would be so heartbroken as to take revenge *that* far is just not realistic at all.

Taking this into account, the book is very, very readable. It is a big sprawling mess, which could have done with an edit and perhaps several fewer erroneous characters (who seemed to be added whenever Fiona Walker needed an additional person to walk into a scene), and yet I found myself compulsively turning pages and absolutely gripped by the tale of Phoebe and Felix.

Even though the plot is tiresome and most of the character motivations are extremely suspect, at its heart this is a novel about finding the absolute right person and falling in love when you never expected to. The best part of the novel are the exchanges between Felix and Phoebe, when it is easy to identify with the stomach-churning, free-falling emotion of lust and then love.

"Then it happened. That sticky, quivering moment where any vestige of conversation is rendered impossible as a great yawning pause stretches out between two people whose eyes are hopelessly locked in one another's gaze. The pause becomes an aching, tension-loaded silence and the silence becomes a desperately embarrassing, thoroughly enjoyable suspension of all around as hormones, pheromones, moisture and adrenalin drench two mutually attracted bodies."

The dialogue between all the characters crackles with great humour and spiky attitude - sometimes it is a little too self-consciously clever and I howled at times with the expectation that I was supposed to believe real people would say what these characters did. For instance:

" 'This Bank Holiday weekend party,' she said slowly, 'is going to be a wine, dine and minefield.' "

I also adored some of Fiona Walker's random references and similes - a couple of them had me Googling exactly what she meant, so that I could enjoy them all the more.

"She was reasonably good at dramatic exits, but this was getting close to Turandot flinging herself off the battlements only to find that the stage crew had replaced the air cushion with a trampoline."

The book is unfortunately horrifically dated, with mentions of Concorde and French francs (certainly my edition was - I don't know if this has been changed and updated for more recent prints). It doesn't affect the story at all, but occasionally you feel a little jarred out of the prose because of these occurrences.

Walker has a fabulous way with words, especially in terms of describing characters: usually I find this boring and unnecessary, but she paints beautiful pictures which enable me to visualise them exactly. In addition to this, I love the way that Walker will show a character like Phoebe both from her perspective (e.g. how she imagines herself to look) and then from the point of view of another character looking at her - this is so realistic (I suspect we all think that we're less attractive than other people think we are!) and also presents the idea that beauty is only really in the eye of the beholder.

Anyone who has read the exploits of Rupert Campbell-Black in Jilly Cooper's celebrated bonkbusters will devour Kiss Chase and find that Felix Sylvian takes a place in their hearts. Altogether, this is a wonderful book for bath or beach - breathlessly sexy, very clever and unexpectedly heart-warming.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Headline Party! FtCB On Tour!

Yesterday I attended the Headline Online Party at Headline HQ up in London. It was a fabulous day out! I met the wonderful Ms. Bell at Waterloo, and we headed over to Headline together (and successfully made it, despite the slight handicap of Alex's sense of direction! Ha!) There we met up with a number of other fellow bloggers, such as Carolyn (from Book Chick City) and Jenny (from Wondrous Reads) and chatted merrily about books, blogging and SCAMS for an hour *grin*

Here are two of our adorable hostesses:

And here is the unbelievable food they laid on for us! (photo courtesy of Liz from My Favourite Books!)

As well as Alex, the following authors were kind enough to come along and have a natter: Carole Matthews, Paul Magrs, Sean Cregan, Dan Wells and Jonathan L Howard.

Here is a picture of me all star-struck (with Carolyn and Dot) alongside Carole Matthews!

The Headline girls were foolish enough to offer me the opportunity to fill a bag with swag, which I promptly did! Here is the haul I brought home (you can direct comments my way like "You lucky cow!" - I can accept it as true!)

I got some lovely signatures, including from Jonathan L Howard (in my dog-eared copy of Johannes Cabal the Necromancer - seriously, read his book!)

I stayed far too late in the pub, almost missed my train home because I got the desperate munchies after drinking far too much, and CANNOT wait until the next one! Here is me trying to see straight with Alex and her editor, Hannah (who both look far more glamorous and far less drunk than I do!):

Finally, to celebrate what a lovely day I had, I am going to do my very first blog giveaway! I have one copy each of Dan Wells' Mr Monster and Paul Magrs' Hell's Belles to give away - to win, please drop me a comment stating which one you would prefer and giving me your email address. I'll let it run until next Wednesday where I will pick the two lucky winners (this giveaway is worldwide).

Good luck and have yourselves a great Thursday!

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Interview with Sarah Pinborough

I am very pleased to welcome today Sarah Pinborough, author of A Matter of Blood (published 25th March by Gollancz), into the hot seat for a few questions regarding writing in general and the influences that define her work.

I have read the book and adored it - I did a guest review over at Book Chick City for Carolyn, which you might want to check out.

In addition, when I decided to ask Sarah if she'd be kind enough to stop by Floor to Ceiling books, Jason over at Kamvision let me know he was also conducting an interview. We have tried hard not to overlap on our questions, so I would urge you to head over to his blog and read the interview he did as well!

AMANDA: A Matter of Blood has hints of the supernatural, as well as being a crime novel, and it could also sit quite comfortably on the horror shelves in a bookstore - do you think the boundaries between genres are shifting right now?

SARAH: I don't ever really think in terms of genre - that's the bookseller's domain! If I had to pick a genre for A Matter of Blood, I'd pick Crime. I know some other people would pick Horror. I just write the stories that come to me and hope that people like them!

AMANDA: What was it within this story that encouraged you to write across genres as opposed to just sticking to straight up crime or pure horror?

SARAH: I would at some point like to write a straight crime series, but for this trilogy the crime element and the supernatural element are both fundamental to the story. Like I said, I don't tend to think in terms of genre at all. My YA trilogy, the first of which comes from Gollancz in September under the name Sarah Silverwood, is probably more traditional fantasy. Adult fantasy doesn't appeal to me to write - probably because I loved fantasy as a child and a teenager and then haven't read much as an adult. Writing it for young people works best for me.

AMANDA: Since we're speaking about them at the moment: you moved publishers to Gollancz for the publication of A Matter of Blood - how are you enjoying your time with them?

SARAH: My move to Gollancz was a massive step in my career and it's been brilliant. My editor and I really click and she's definitely helping me up my game. They have a great team there and really believe in what they're doing and in their authors. I'm very lucky to be there.

AMANDA: When you pitched to Gollancz, did you worry that A Matter of Blood would be a harder sell because it did straddle genres? Or was it snapped up? [as it should have been!]

SARAH: I actually sold the trilogy to Gollancz on a three paragraph pitch (one per book) and an eight page sample! I had lunch with Jo Fletcher and talked her through my ideas for it and luckily she, and the rest of the purchasing team, loved it. It was a dream sale for me!

AMANDA: Let me ask you a little about the writing of the book. I noticed in your acknowledgements you mention Michael Marshall Smith, and, as I was reading A Matter of Blood, I thought there were definite echoes of his style (in the guise of his thriller pen name Michael Marshall). Did he offer any guidance in the writing of your novel?

SARAH: He was definitely an influence in this book. I was getting bored of writing straight horror and wanted to try something different and more challenging. I'd read Mike's The Intruders and John Connolly's Every Dead Thing, and I suddenly realised you could combine the Crime/Thriller genre with elements of the supernatural and commercial publishers would go for it. He didn't offer guidance as such, but I did show him my pitch and the first few pages to get his take on it. He's always been really good on email advice. I'm very lucky to have a good network of much more experienced writers than me around to draw on, and thankfully they're all very patient and helpful.

AMANDA: While we're talking about factors that might have influenced your writing, I notice that you speak about boarding school on your website as a time of horror! How much did this experience and the fact that you travelled a lot as a youngster inform your writing?

SARAH: All things considered, boarding school was a pretty terrible time - the first eight years anyway! Although it did teach me to be independent and I made some very good friends there, I could have done without things like being locked in a room at the bottom of the house and forgotten about until 2am when I was 8 years old! For my sixth form I went to a school in Scotland, The Edinburgh Academy, which I loved. It's hard to tell how much these things influence your writing. The travelling has given me plenty of sensory memories to draw on, and at school the lack of TV etc certainly had me writing stories at a young age. I blame, if blame is the right word, my education for my rebellious and anti-authoritarian streak. Those things may have been there to start with but they were certainly strengthened by my experiences as a child. Perhaps they've influenced the kind of characters I choose to have in my books. I think we can safely say that Cass Jones has a clear anti-establishment streak even if he is a policeman!

AMANDA: So, if it isn't too cheeky to ask, do you currently have a day job, and how does that affect the writing if so?

SARAH: Thankfully I no longer have a day job and haven't for the past year and a half. I wrote my first five novels however as a teacher and that was hard work. I would try and write a thousand words in the evenings but it didn't always work. Sometimes I would wake up at five and write for an hour before getting up.

AMANDA: I shudder at the thought! Now that you're a full-time author, do you have a specific writing routine?

SARAH: I'm much better writing in the mornings than I am in the afternoons. I tend to have a cup of tea at about half seven and check my emails and stuff and then if I'm in a book I try and get 1500 to 2000 words done by about half eleven. At the start of a book I'm slower but once I'm in the zone that's usually do-able. In the afternoons I either work on something else in a coffee shop or plan out what's going to come next. I'm a big planner - I have notebooks full of scribbled sequences and spider-diagrams, mainly with notes surrounded by question marks!

AMANDA: Finally, also while on your website, I noticed your page on the MUSE collective - can you tell us how this came about and what your involvement is?

SARAH: It came about because Sarah Langan, Alex Sokoloff and I were on a panel together in World Horror Toronto and we realised that we were all on the same wavelength and all doing similar things. It was a breath of fresh air to have other women in the field to talk to who were working at the same level and who weren't writing paranormal romance or 'obvious' horror. We all really clicked, and even when we're madly busy with our own projects, we always check in with each other once a month or so. MUSE has slowed a bit because Deborah LeBlanc has been replaced in the line up with Rhodi Hawk. We've written four interlinked novellas, with kick-ass heroines, and a nicely quirky premise. As soon as Rhodi has finished up her quarter (which will be any day now I think) and we've made sure we're all consistent, it'll be going out to publishers. Hopefully they'll like it as much as we do!

AMANDA: Sincere good luck with the project, Sarah, and thanks so much for stopping by at Floor to Ceiling books today!

Go check out Sarah's website, and if you're attending World Horror Con this coming weekend then look out for her! And why are you still here reading when you should be hurrying off to buy copies of A Matter of Blood?!

Sunday 21 March 2010

Beautiful Bookshelves

Okay, I preface this blog post with two warnings - one is that the following may well inspire more envy and two is that there are many pictures within (beware if you are on a slow connection...)

I have a LOT of books. I say this frequently, but I don't think people take me seriously and I certainly don't think that I realised quite how many books it is! So the week that has just passed I decided to sort out all my books and put them into some semblance of order. I spent a very merry time separating them by genre and then, rather sadly (yes, I have a fair bit of time on my hands!) putting them into alphabetical order. Although that last might have been a mistake, being as I almost hyperventilate at the fact I didn't leave gaps to insert new books!

Anyway, enough chat and let's get on with some pictures!

To start us off, here is a picture of the empty Floor to Ceiling Bookshelves (yeah, the name of my blog wasn't just a clever name *snark*):

Next let us take a look at the rather awe-inspiring and (believe me!) daunting piles of books prior to me sorting them into genres!

Here are those original bookshelves now packed with just my fantasy genre books (yes, I do read other genres :-p)

Let's look more closely at some of the classy fantasy books I own! First up, pretty much a metre of Gemmell books - and what a great way to use a metre of space.

And he are my treasured de Lint books (most of them imported directly from the States because they're not published over here, which is absolutely criminal - if you haven't checked him out yet, I would encourage you to do so!)

Not seen anything you like yet? How about some Williams?

No? Hmm, you are hard to please! Alright, here is random selection photo number one then...

Even Abercrombie's books didn't do the trick? Let's try random selection number two!

Last try with the fantasy...

Alright, I give up *grin* - maybe you're an urban fantasy type person?

I was honestly shocked by just how much sci-fi I owned! I am now looking forward thoroughly to Walker of World's Sci-Fi Appreciation Month (to which I am contributing a guest review), since it should let me know where to start in tackling these sci-fi books I have managed to accumulate.

I also have a side to me that appreciates some flirty chick lit! These books tend to be the ones that come in and out the quickest, since I read them in between heavier fiction like a long fantasy series, and usually then send them out to charity shops for someone else to enjoy. Sure, I'm a book hoarder, but when you know you really won't read something a second time, why keep it?

Here are my A-L chick lit books:

And here are the M-Z:

I am also rather partial to a little historical fiction (with full collections of both the Sharpe novels and the Aubrey-Maturin series):

Okay, I really have shown you only a fraction of the books I own in these pictures, but I don't want to just fill a post with loads of photos that are no doubt taking ages to load!

I'll leave you with just two more. The first one I am sure will grab me back some of those followers who were walking away with disgust at the bad taste I had been displaying up til now - my Pratchett shelves! Who doesn't love Pratchett?

And, finally, an amusing picture for Gav from Next Read and Lee Harris of Angry Robot Books (if they pop on to read this) - after the discussion we had about short form fiction, I present you with my massive, my gargantuan, my truly epic collection of short stories...

And there we are! Hope you enjoyed that brisk spin around my bookshelves - please do let me know if you want to see more pictures, I love showing it all off *grin*.

Do you recognise any of the many books on my shelves? Any older books that you'd like to see me review? Comments are more than welcome, even if they say 'I hate you for your book collection!'

Saturday 20 March 2010

Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz

Blue Bloods is the first book in a series by Melissa De La Cruz about the upper-class students at a prestigious school in New York who enjoy fashion and gossip, and just happen to be turning into vampires. We follow Schuyler Van Alen, a 15 year old girl who has never fit in with the other students at Duchesne — preferring to wear charity shop vintage clothes and hanging out with Oliver Hazard-Perry. Little does she realise that her life is about to change forever, as she is initiated into the exclusive Blue Bloods society and finds out that she is one of the ‘Fallen Angels’ — immortals striving to regain the grace of God.

For some reason, I found myself compulsively turning the pages and read Blue Bloods in two brief sittings, but it was rather akin to reading a trashy gossip magazine or eating a meal from MacDonald’s rather than a three course meal. I enjoyed it well enough as a piece of disposable entertainment and would likely read the sequels as well, but I certainly won’t be rushing out to pick them up.

I think the reason it felt so quick and disposable is because I didn’t manage to really identify with any of the characters or to start rooting for them. Schuyler is rather the best of a poor bunch, but even her character does not follow consistent behaviour — oh, and what gives with the name? Upper-class children are sometimes given rather unusual names, but I was jarred out of the prose every single time I encountered her name because I was unsure how to pronounce it.

Schuyler is an outcast with little interest in fashion or of being popular, yet she still ends up falling for the most popular guy in school and taking on a modeling contract! The other characters were barely two-dimensional, let alone three, and I struggled to remember who was who at times. Their motivations seemed slight, to say the least.

I’m no prude, and I understand that kids these days are going further in relationships at an earlier age, but I felt deeply uncomfortable at some of the scenes where the girls, in particular, seemed to think nothing of jumping into bed with the guys they liked. The underage smoking and drinking, to a lesser extent, also left me cold. I didn’t like the idea that these cool and popular kids in the story were presented as being able to do what they liked; impressionable young eyes will be reading Blue Bloods — it’s being marketed to teens.

Despite these things, there were parts of Blue Bloods that I enjoyed thoroughly. The history of the vampires was different and, consequently, exciting (even though it was given to us in a massive infodump disguised as a meeting between new and old members of the Blue Bloods). The idea of these fallen angels is one I’ve encountered in other books, but never combined with the vampire myth, and it ended up being very effective.

In conclusion, Blue Bloods is entertaining enough — but distinctly forgettable.

[Also posted to Fanlit - click for quality reviews and interviews with your favourite fantasy authors!]

Friday 19 March 2010

Friday Linking Fun!

Welcome to Friday everyone! I have a rather lazy post planned, with just a couple of links for you to look at.

This first one is desperately important and I urge you to click! I conducted my first ever guest review! *hugging myself in excitement* Carolyn over at Book Chick City was kind enough to ask me and I gave a review of Sarah Pinborough's A Matter of Blood, which I absolutely loved! Look out for an interview with the lovely Sarah on this blog in due course.

My second link is over to Next Read, where Gav poses the question: Why not just read and review the books you want to read? I find this extremely interesting, because it is true that book blogs do seem to focus heavily on the newer releases. I've commented on the feature and would urge you to as well!

Finally, Crazy For Books is hosting a Book Blogger Hop. The event happens weekly and will open your eyes to both new and old blogs that you might have missed. Join the community!

At the moment I am reading this: so look out for a review at some point. My first 100 pages review is: extremely entertaining!

Thursday 18 March 2010

Inspiring Book Envy

Usually I receive books from publishers and other sources on a fairly irregular basis, so I don't bother with a 'Books Received This Week' type post - but this week has been deeply unusual and unbelievably fantastic in terms of books received, so I have decided to share. Let me know if you have any of these; have read any of them; are looking forward to them! Do you have an opinion on which I should tackle first?!

The Prince of Mist - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Received from publisher (Orion Publishing Co)
Release Date: 27 May 2010

Excited? Hell yeah! I have loved each and every one of the books I've read by this author. It has extra appeal because it is a slender volume and should be a nice quick read. I have a feeling I'll be getting to this one very quickly!

The Alchemist and The Angel - Joanne Owen
Received from publisher (Orion Publishing Co)
Release Date: 6 May 2010

This one looks like a good read, from the publisher's blurb: Everything changes for orphaned Jan when his beloved uncle, Gustav - anatomist, natural scientist and aspiring alchemist - enlists his help in a quest to create a life-generating serum. To test the serum, they must follow a set of ancient instructions and play a dangerous game of bringing the inanimate to life...When Gustav dies suddenly, it's up to Jan to continue his work - little does he know that his beautiful, calculating aunt dreams of using the serum for her own purposes - eternal life. Under the facade of her grief, she convinces Jan they must move from Vienna to Prague, and when she mysteriously disappears, Jan searches for her. In the plague-ridden ghettos and the court of the mad Emperor Rudolf, he must pit his wits against an extraordinary cast of characters and events. His only ally is Zuzana, a girl with secrets of her own.

White Is For Witching - Helen Oyeyemi
Received from publisher (Pan Macmillan)
Release Date: 1 May 2010

I love nothing better than review copies that I am not aware of before they drop through the front door - they're almost more exciting in some ways because you have the joy of checking out the information and realising that this book could be pretty special. And I definitely got that feeling with this book!

The Eleventh Plague - Darren Craske
Received from author! Signed copy!
Release date: Already released (4 March 2010)

I followed Darren Craske on Twitter and, after sharing a bit of chitchat, he offered me a signed copy of his novel - and I am NOT one to turn down a kind offer like that! It is a sequel to his first, which I shall be picking up myself in order to fully enjoy the read - for this reason only I shall probably be reading other books ahead of it, because the book sounds very cool!

The Affinity Bridge - George Mann
Received from Neil Ford via Twitter
Already released!

I tend to natter away on Twitter quite a bit. To a shocking extent actually. But on more than a few occasions, it has paid off in spades. In this case, Neil saw my comments about not having tried any steampunk fiction to date and wanting to rectify this with good examples of the genre. So he very kindly sent this book through and the next books, which is...

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Received from Neil Ford
Already released!

I've heard nothing but good things about this book, so I'm thrilled to dip my toe into steampunk with these two books!


I Am Not A Serial Killer - Dan Wells (Headline)
Nefertiti - Nick Drake (Transworld)
Red-Headed Stepchild - Jaye Wells(Orbit)

Received from!
Already released!

These three books were purchased by me since, in all three cases I have received the second book in the series from review from the publisher, so I wanted to catch up on the series.

Phew! What a haul!

Drop me a comment - even if it's just to tell me how much you hate me because of how many great books I have on my imminent reading list!