Sunday, 6 April 2014

GIF Review: Zombies Vs. Unicorns, Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier


This book is a short story battle. Like a dance battle but with WORDS. So basically AWESOME. On one side, led by Holly Black, is Team Unicorn, featuring the skills of Meg Cabot, Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix to name a few.

 

On the other side, led by Justine Larbalestier, is Team Zombie, with the talents of Libba Bray, Carrie Ryan and Maureen Johnson, amongst others.


The book alternates between zombie stories and unicorn stories, each trying to answer the question: which creature makes for a better tale? Now, when I began the book I declared myself Team Unicorn because, well, unicorns combine basically all of my favourite things: mythology, romance, pretty things, sparkles, rainbows, pretty smells, magic, and all that is good in the world. Zombies on the other hand are stinky and ugly and evil and GROSS. Ugh. Don't get me wrong, I love a zombie story as much as the next person. But give me a unicorn over a zombie ANY DAY.

After the first few stories I became a bit worried that I would turn Team Zombie. Because while I liked the unicorn stories, it was the zombie stories I was really blown away by. But, thankfully, by the end of the book I found myself still firmly on Team Unicorn - but also, strangely, ALSO on Team Zombie. Basically I can't declare a winner because both Teams were brilliant and both creatures are fascinating and compelling, for completely different reasons. In the end EVERYONE wins because what we got from this battle was a remarkable, entertaining and moving collection of short stories. Here are my brief thoughts on each one. With GIFS! Because that's a thing that I do these days apparently.

"The Highest Justice" By Garth Nix
In a sentence: A more traditional unicorn tale, in the sense it involves kings and queens, wishes and magic, but also MURDER and REVENGE, this was fun but the characters were quite flat and it was rather predictable, so it wasn't amazing.
In a GIF:


"Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Alaya Dawn Johnson
In a sentence: Ah, the old zombie hunter falls in love with the zombie story - brilliantly told here with compelling characters and raw, powerful emotions.
In a GIF:


"Purity Test" by Naomi Novik
In a sentence: Unicorns meet urban fantasy when they take over New York City in a quest to defeat an evil wizard - a very funny take on the genre.
In a GIF:


"Bougainvillea" by Carrie Ryan
In a sentence: A dystopian zombie world in which a young woman dreams of romance and a normal life - until everything changes. I can't say any more except WOW this was awesome - gripping and beautiful.
In a GIF:


"A Thousand Flowers" by Margo Lanagan
In a sentence: Beautiful, poignant and more than a little bit twisted, this deals with the fallout of one magical evening in the forest.
In a GIF:


"The Children of the Revolution" by Maureen Johnson
In a sentence: This is basically what would happen if Angelina Jolie adopted zombie kids - a darkly hilarious send up of celebrity culture.
In a GIF:


"The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" by Diana Peterfreund
In a sentence: Unicorns have come back from extinction, but they're not the nice healing creatures we think - they're man-eating monsters! Creepy and entertaining but the ending felt a little abrupt.
In a GIF: 


"Inoculata" by Scott Westerfeld
In a sentence: How do you rebel in a post-apocalyptic world? By becoming the thing your parents hate... I loved this take on growing up and being a teenager surrounded by zombies.
In a GIF:



"Princess Prettypants" by Meg Cabot
In a sentence: In which a unicorn is used to help with typical 17-year-old problems - like dealing with bullies and douchnozzle boys, and getting nice boys to kiss you. LOVE.
In a GIF:


"Cold Hands" by Cassandra Clare
In a sentence: In Zombietown, your boyfriend's death doesn't mean the end of your relationship... Gotta admit, this one made me a little uncomfortable.
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"The Third Virgin" by Kathleen Duey
In a sentence: The first story I've read with an evil, suicidal unicorn as the protagonist - creepy and amazing.
In a GIF:


"Prom Night" by Libba Bray
In a sentence: All the adults have turned into zombies, leaving the teens to fend for themselves and do whatever the hell they want. So fun and yet surprisingly bleak - but, not surprisingly, fantastic.
In a GIF:

Overall this was an awesome read. What really struck me was just how unique and creative each story was, and how deep and varied the worlds of these two creatures can be. Team Zombicorn for lyf!

Rating: 4/5

Fine Print
Published: 2010, Allen & Unwin
Get It: Bookworld

Monday, 31 March 2014

Review: Winning Over Skylar by Julianna Morris


This was a quick, easy read, but it left me with an overwhelming feeling of "meh". It wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't great. It focuses on Skylar, a recently widowed young mum whose ex-fling - and the biological father of her kid - suddenly comes back into town. He doesn't know that he's a father and Skylar wants to keep it that way. But things get awkward when his little sister, who he is looking after, starts buddying up with Skylar's daughter. You can see where this is going...

Yes, it was predictable. There were some nice moments but not enough to pull it above ordinary. It didn't help that I felt absolutely no connection to any of these characters. They were all two-dimensional and unrealistic. Their reactions to each other were particularly unbelievable - especially the way Aaron acts as though Skylar must be some kind of horrible influence on his sister just because she was a "wild teenager". Like, do people actually think like that, as though people can't change, and that being a rebellious teenager makes you a horrible adult? Ugh.

The teenagers were also really poorly written. They talked in the "by golly" manner of six-year-olds in the 1950s. No teenager talks like this in the world, I guarantee you. I didn't think there was enough exploration of their emotions - of anyone's emotions, for that matter. There's a lot happening that could have a profound emotional impact but the story never really does more than skim the surface.

To be honest, writing this review, I can't really think of anything I particularly liked about this book. Yes, some scenes were sweet but the rest of the book was OK at best. Frankly I'd rather have read something else.

Rating: 3/5

Fine Print
Published: April 2014, Harlequin
Source: Netgalley

Sunday, 30 March 2014

GIF Reviews: Quick Catch Up On Some Terrible Books And Some Good Books I've Read Lately

Every time I get caught up on reviews, I feel all smug and then get distracted/busy for a few weeks and find myself more behind than ever. Like now. When I am 15 reviews behind. Which I'm pretty sure is the most behind I've ever been. I blame it on all the novellas I've been reading lately. Same amount of pages, but more actual books. So to smash a bunch out right now so it's not weighing so heavily on my mind, and get back to regular reviewing (I know I've said it before, but I can only keep trying), I'm going where I've never gone before: GIF reviews! One-GIF reviews, to be specific. My feelings about a book, summed up in a GIF. Because mini reviews are just too long. Here we go...

Fury of Fire (Dragonfury book 1) by Coreene Callahan, audio read by Benjamin L. Darcie
In a sentence: Dragon shifter leader meets special snowflake nurse, falls in love instantly which leads to kidnapping, sexy sexy sex times, a surprise pregnancy which said dragon dude knew would happen but didn't bother to warn special snowflake nurse about, fights, battle, HEA.
In a GIF:
Rating: 2/5

Fury of Ice (Dragonfury book 2) by Coreene Callahan, audio read by Benjamin L. Darcie
In a sentence: Dragon shifter second-in-command meets special snowflake police detective, falls in love instantly, stuff happens, sexy sexy sex times, more stuff happens, meh I can't even really remember the rest.
In a GIF:
Rating: 2/5

Too Busy for Love by Tamsin Baker, via Netgalley
In a sentence: Busy hot businessman has fling with younger hot virgin gardener, falls in love, HEA, way too predictable and rushed.
In a GIF:
Rating: 2/5

Impossible Desires by Tamsin Baker, via Netgalley
In a sentence: Historical romance that is completely historically inaccurate - widow who is at last free from an abusive marriage wants to remarry, as long as she can be in control of ALL aspects of the relationship. Good thing she meets a kinky nobleman who has no personality but wants to fulfill her every desire.
In a GIF:
Rating: 1/5

Crazy, Stupid Sex by Maisey Yates, via Netgalley
In a sentence: After breaking up with her bland boyfriend, a smart but clueless-in-a-cute-way redhead meets smoking hot, rich player she wants to bang. They bang and fall in love yada yada yada. Basically Crazy, Stupid, Love fanfiction.
In a GIF:
Rating: 2/5

Indecent... Exposure (Indecent book 1) by Jane O'Reilly
In a sentence: Quiet, conservative photographer has a sexy photo business on the side, and things get personal and complicated (not to mention fun) when her quiet, conservative accountant/crush comes in for a photo shoot.
In a GIF:
Rating: 3.5/5

Crashing Into You by B.D. Rowe, via Netgalley
In a sentence: Idiotic girl moons over roommate's boyfriend, roommate dies, idiotic girl hooks up with roommate's boyfriend, roommate's little sister shows up, idiotic girl gets jealous, does something really horrible, gets HEA anyway.
In a GIF:
Rating: 1/5

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, audio read by Emilia Fox
In a sentence: You know the drill. Great reading by Emilia Fox (though Juliet Stevenson is still my fave Austen narrator).
In a GIF:
Rating: 5/5

Indecent... Proposal (Indecent book 2) by Jane O'Reilly
In a sentence: Adventurous woman realises her best friend's hot brother is not as conservative as he seems... and apparently he wants her - cue tension, sexy sexy sex times, drama, HEA.
In a GIF:
Rating: 3/5

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
In a sentence: Girl with cancer meets boy in remission, they fall in love, everyone's hearts get broken.
In a GIF:
Rating: 3/5

Colters' Woman (Colters' Legacy book 1) by Maya Banks, audio read by Freddie Bates
In a sentence: Three brothers live together, work together, and want to be in a relationship together - but not with each other, coz that would be GROSS, ew, no they want to be in a relationship with a WOMAN, just all at once which is not gross AT ALL, ahem - luckily for them they find a special snowflake damsel in distress, cue sexy sexy sex times, drama, yada yada yada.
In a GIF:
Rating: 2/5

In a sentence: Basically an extended epilogue to Colters' Woman, about the birth of the brothers' first child with their collective wife.
In a GIF:
Rating: 2/5

Colters' Lady (Colters' Legacy book 2) by Maya Banks, audio read by Freddie Bates
In a sentence: The three sons of the characters in book 1 don't want an unconventional relationship like their parents, until they all fall in insta-love with the same special snowflake damsel in distress and decide sexy sexy sex times all together isn't so weird after all.
In a GIF:
Rating: 2/5

Indecent... Desires (Indecent book 3) by Jane O'Reilly
In a sentence: Meredith is in her 30s and recently divorced, trying to get her bossy side under control and find someone she can settle down with, but everything changes when she meets a hot 20-something who likes to be told what to do.
In a GIF:
Rating: 4/5

Jane Austen Miscellany by Lesley Bolton
In a sentence: Bits and pieces from Austen's letters and biographies, quotes from her books, adaptations to check out and further reading to try, all wrapped up in a really pretty book.
In a GIF:
Rating: 3/5