Monday, June 30, 2014

Books on Trial: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Hardcover, 466 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Toronto Public Library

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
The "witness testimonies" are from the top three opinions on Goodreads as of the posting date. The reviews have earned their position based on number of likes. The "testimonies" are:
"This book, in my opinion, is simply a glorified, overcomplicated retelling of any other light, fluffy fantasy. But the descriptions, info-dumping and general wordiness do not make this a deeper and more meaningful read, but rather they made the book dull and tiresome for me. As much as I wanted to like it, it was incredibly easy to find distractions and every time it was a struggle to come back to it. The romance goes down a predictable route, as does most of the book. I feel bad for saying it, but this just wasn't for me at all and I doubt I will read the rest of the series."
-Emily May

"It is an overly ambitious infodump. It was difficult to read. I sludged through this as I would a school textbook: it was just not an enjoyable book at all, for me. Action and information takes priority over a a sensible plot and character development. The addition of a massive cast serves to only disguise the fact that the plot is a hot mess. This is not science fiction. It is fantasy, it is paranormal, there is nothing remotely resembling science in here for a book that purportedly takes place in the future."
-Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine)

"The Bone Season is a very imaginative novel that will take your brain for one hell of a joy ride. If you've been searching for book with more complex world building and plot, this may be it. I can see this being enjoyed by YA lovers and Adult readers alike with its strong paranormal-fantasy-dystopian roots. Despite my reservations, I can safely say I'll be checking out the next book because this has the potential to be one serious kickass series. And with the high stakes ending The Bone Season had, I look forward to seeing where Shannon will take this story over the course of the next six books."
-Steph Sinclair

I find all the "witness testimonies" to be true. Oddly. The fist two contradict the last. Yet, I agree with all their criticisms.

My brain almost committed suicide upon opening The Bone Season. It starts with "The Seven Orders of Clairvoyance", which is a huge-ass, flow-chart-like thing. I felt like I'd just opened a exam booklet only to find out I couldn't answer a single question on the front page. After calming myself down (*deep breath* "don't worry, T, no one's going to spring a pop quiz"), I turned the page--

Only to find a map of a place called Sheol I.

Eee, gods, a map plus a flow chart?!

The sad thing is, you'll actually need them both, along with the glossary at the end.

Most maps and/or guides in books are extras, designed to enrich your reading. If you're going to read The Bone Season, I suggest you buy some Post-It notes. By page 2, I was turning back to the glossary and forward to the map/chart. The worldbuilding was very complex, almost to the point of confusing. There were paragraphs of info-dumps. Most of the "dumps" were necessary, but some could've been cut. But that's what happens when you have a character from a future built on an alternate history kidnapped by a secret society she didn't know existed.

If you can get past the intricate new world you're thrust into, The Bone Season can be quite enjoyable. Sometimes you'll have no idea what's going on. Sometimes you'll feel like you're listening to bilingual people switching back and forth between languages. Sometimes everything will make sense and your mind will be at peace. But it'll be fun, no matter what. London 2059 is interesting. The stakes are high. The love interest, Warden, has potential. There's laugh-out-loud humor. Our main character, Paige, is set up for an exhilarating ride of future adventures.

I can honestly say I can't wait for the sequel, The Mime Order.

Do I have my concerns? Yes. I don't know how this series will be seven books long. If I were writing it, it'd be five maximum. Is Shannon the next Rowling? No. I don't think anyone can be the next Rowling. Was this book over-hyped? Hell, yeah. It was good, but not superfantabulous. But was it entertaining? Yes, yes, yes. Therefore, I rule that The Bone Season be sentenced to...


I'll wait to see if The Mime Order can up the stakes and fix the issues before dropping this series.

Next week I’ll be trying… Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

About the Author
Samantha Shannon was born and raised in West London. She recently finished her degree in English Language and Literature at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she specialized in Emily Dickinson and Principles of Film Criticism. The Bone Season is her first novel.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Weekly Writing Stats: June 21 to June 27

It appears the closer I get to the end of Tainted Love, the slower I write.

Must find way to fix that...

Weekly Word Count Target: 14,000 (2,000 per day)

Weekly Word Count Accomplished: 14,012 (2,001 per day)

Verdict: SUCCESS!

doctor who dancing photo: dancing 2gv3al0.gif

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda... 

This summary reminds me of a Stargate SG-1 episode. Now I really want to know which episode...Oh, it's "Beneath the Surface". I guess that title makes sense. Only the worldbuilding sounds similar, though (workers underground think they're colonizing an uninhabitable planet, but are actually just slaves for the city already there). Red Rising seems to have more of a dystopian feel to it.

This book was a giant game of capture the flag.

I LOVE capture the flag. I want to play it right now. My brain craves the strategizing.

Some people might find Red Rising boring. There were points where things were a little slow. But I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I'll be honest, I wasn't that interested in the whole "let's overthrow the asshole Golds and free my enslaved Red people". Not at first. During the beginning 30%, before "capture the flag", that's what the entire storyline was. It was... decent. Once the school's game started, I became invested. Maybe even invested enough to care about the whole "overthrow the asshole Golds and free my enslaved Red people". Because Darrow has Gold friends now. Through him, I have Gold friends.

I was under the impression people were into this book because of the amazing world-building. It was great, I'll tell you that. There was new technology and rich history involved. For me, the reason I wanted to keep reading was due more to the people. I want to see how the relationship evolves between Darrow and Mustang (aka Virginia). Rogue needs to spout more poetry. I want Sevro and the Howlers to be Sevro and the Howlers!

And that's why I'm worried for the sequel...

These kids have no reason to be together anymore. The game starts and ends in the book. It couldn't continue. It's not the point of the story. The rebellion agaisnt the Golds is. But it's Darrow and his Gold friends, their relationships and the eventual reveal that Darrow is actually a Red that will keep me reading. I hope Brown finds a way to keep most of the Golds in Red Rising together for the sequel, Golden Son. Even though they're technically the bad guys. 

I bloodydamn loved this book. I read last 70% of it in a five hour stretch. My eyes were bleeding by the end. But... I'm only giving it four out of five stars. It was hard to read. I hate having to go back and read things over to clarify (or glance at a map/wish for a glossary). Once or twice is fine. In Red Rising, I had to go back multiple times on multiple occasions. Still, I eagerly await Golden Son. I hope Brown brings back most of the "cast".

Next week I'll be reviewing... The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Friday, June 20, 2014

Weekly Writing Stats: June 14 to June 20

Is is odd I've decided to introduce public shaming as a method to make me write faster?


Good. Because that's what I'm doing.

*cue deep herald voice*

From this day forth, I shall post weekly writing statistics, no matter how few or many words I write.

Weekly Word Count Target: 21,000 (3,000 per day)

Weekly Word Count Accomplished: 13, 992 (1,999 per day)

Verdict: SHAME!

shame photo: cone of shame tumblr_m1vi2fQZjN1r9uq12.gif

Feel free to laugh at my pathetically low number.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Review: The Watchers series by Veronica Wolff

When Annelise left for college, it meant good riddance to her abusive father and stepmother—until a bureaucratic screw-up left her without a diploma, flat broke, and facing an uncertain future Then she met Ronan—tall, dark, and way too seductive for her own good. He promised Annelise a new life, if she had the courage to chance the unknown. One look at him and she certainly had the desire. Sure enough, accepting rides from strangers does yield surprises.

Whisked away to a mysterious island in the North Sea, Annelise is pitted against other female recruits in tests of skill, smarts, and strength. To win is to become a member of the Watchers, an elite and unique partnership—with vampires—that dispatches its teams on the most dangerous missions imaginable. It’s not exactly what Annelise had in mind for a new beginning but it’s livelier than the alternative. Because on the Isle of Night, to lose the challenge doesn’t just mean dishonor. It means death.

Let the games begin.

The Watchers doesn’t seem like anything new, but I crave tall, dark and handsome vampires. Don’t get me wrong, I love young adult novels, but sometimes they can be too… sweet. While this is a young adult series, there doesn’t seem to be anything “sweet” about it. Please let me be right!

So, when’s the next one coming out?

I devoured these books. I thought I’d only have time to read the first, Isle of Night, but I ended up reading the whole series back-to-back. I’d say my undying love stems from three things:

A) Drew, the main character: No matter what was thrown at her, Drew fought on. I would’ve been dead by the end of book one. Actually, I probably would’ve croaked a lot earlier than that. But Drew was more than an uncaring, ninja-assassin. She had a heart. The balance of strong and gentle is what made her a truly amazing character.

B) The vampire boys, Carden and Alcántara: Carden was just plain-rugged sexiness. He was hypnotic from the first sentence he spoke in Vampire’s Kiss. The reason behind my interest in Alcántara is slightly… less clear. Alcántara wasn’t a good guy. He was the antagonist, and Drew hated him with a passion. He wasn’t presented as a love interest in the slightest. Yet, there were times in the series where Drew thought he wasn’t that bad. I’m intrigued and want to know more…

C) The violence: There were a few moments where I thought I was reading soft torture porn. Drew gets smacked around a lot in this. While the constant beatings got a bit tiresome, the violence I loved was the kind I can always find in Game of Thrones: the violence of sudden deaths in a gritty, realistic world. Sure, there are vampires. Sure, Drew does some crazy shit and doesn’t get caught. But people died. People I liked. Why did they have to die???

There was never a dull moment in The Watchers series. Some vampire novels focus too hard on the romance, which, in my opinion, can bog them down. The Watchers had romance, even a semi-existent love triangle, but the romance was mixed in with the action and intrigue. In retrospect, that all makes sense. Drew was on an island where she could get ravaged by vampires or Draugs (zombie vampire who didn’t survive the transformation) at any moment. If she spent chapters fantasizing about boys, it would’ve taken away from the story.

I hope a conclusion to the series will be released. The last installment, The Keep, introduced the “vampire queen”, who’s a game changer when you consider vampires can only be male. She’s the true Big Bad. I can feel it. Not Alcántara, who I hope will join Drew in rebellion against the queen’s ways. The revolution adds an interesting layer to The Watchers. I hope to get to see it play out.

Yes, there are a thousand other YA vampire novels out there (Thanks, again, Twilight). And, at points, The Watchers seemed like a love child of The Hunger Games and Vampire Academy. But I was captivated the entire time. The. Entire. Time. I’ve already started dreaming a kick-ass vampire version of myself into the storyline (my little mental fan-fiction is a sure sign of love). The only downside I can see is the lack of an ending. NAL Trade cancelled the series after the fourth book. Wolff plans to self-publish the conclusion to the series, but, as of today, only a novella has been released and there isn’t any news of a full length fifth novel. Despite that, The Watchers was amazingly good fun. It brought sex and danger back into the world of vampires. I’m giving it four out of five stars!

Next week I’ll be reviewing… Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The 100: TV Show vs. The Book


In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love – again (as per Goodreads)

This was not a sci-fi book. Sure, they were on a spaceship. But being on a spaceship does not a sci-fi story make.

What was The 100 then? It was a cheesy, fucking romance. I understand why the producers of the TV show had to add characters and make up new storylines. There were no storylines in The 100. It was just a bunch of kids freaking out about the members of the opposite-sex. The entire book was condensed into the first episode of the show. Literally, the book ended with some kid being speared by a Grounder, as did the show’s pilot.

The 100 followed four characters: Wells (who’s an idiot), Clarke (not as stupid), Bellamy (I like TV Bellamy better) and Glass (which is her real name). Wells pissed me off the most. He was stupid enough to sacrifice the entire population of the Ark (is it even called the Ark in the books? Whatever) for his girlfriend who hated him. He damaged the fucking air system, which ya need in a spaceship, for Clarke.

Let that sink in for a moment.

There are over a thousand people on that spaceship, the only known surviving humans, and you just cut off their air supply for a girl? I don’t care if you love her. What are you thinking with? Actually, scratch that question. I know what you were thinking with… Wells spent the entire book playing god, making decisions for others and generally being a know-it-all jerk. I could rant about him for hours, but I won’t.

Clarke and Bellamy were tolerable. Both of them were justified in their thoughts and feelings. Glass, on the other hand, also did stupid things. Like turn in her boyfriend’s BFF for a “crime” her boyfriend (unknowingly) committed. I can understand her logic a little more than I can Wells’s, but, c’mon, Glass, he’s going to be pissed when Camilla tells him (because she’s never honest with her boyfriend, and someone else will tell him to create conflict). Then she’ll complain about Camilla ruining her life, when really she’s ruining her own life. That’s what annoying about Glass. She complains too much. If we’re supposed to pity her, at least make all the trouble she got into not her fault.

Speaking of the reason Glass got Confined, if she knew people got imprisoned for accidentally getting pregnant, why didn’t she use protection upon layer of protection? I’d require every type of known contraception before even going near a guy. On that line of thought, the Ark’s judicial system makes no sense. I understand executing criminals. They need the air. But Glass accidentally got knocked up. You’re going to execute her for an accident? Yes, yes, manslaughter is an accident, too, but Glass could’ve been a productive member of the Ark while wasting oxygen. Instead she sat in a cell and moped. She wasn’t a murderer or thief like some of the other 100. She could've contributed. I’m pretty sure the entire purpose of prison is to keep negative influences away from society.

The 100 could’ve been a decent book even with the characters it had. The problem is nothing happened. Like absolutely nothing. The camp site was burned down by Grounders and Octavia was kidnapped at the end. But the characters talked for the first 90% of the book (and there were so many flashbacks). If I was the author of The 100, I would’ve condensed everything that happened into the first third of “my novel”. So much nothing happened I can’t even comprehend it.


Ninety-seven years ago, nuclear Armageddon decimated planet Earth, destroying civilization. The only survivors were the 400 inhabitants of 12 international space stations that were in orbit at the time. Three generations have been born in space, the survivors now number 4,000, and resources are running out on their dying "Ark" - the 12 stations now linked together and repurposed to keep the survivors alive. Draconian measures including capital punishment and population control are the order of the day, as the leaders of the Ark take ruthless steps to ensure their future, including secretly exiling a group of 100 juvenile prisoners to the Earth's surface to test whether it's habitable. For the first time in nearly a century, humans have returned to planet Earth. Among the 100 exiles are Clarke, the bright teenage daughter of the Ark's chief medical officer; Wells, son of the Ark’s Chancellor; the daredevil Finn; and the brother/sister duo Bellamy and Octavia, whose illegal sibling status has always led them to flaunt the rules. Technologically blind to what’s happening on the planet below them, the Ark’s leaders - Clarke’s widowed mother, Abby; the Chancellor, Jaha; and his shadowy second in command, Kane - are faced with difficult decisions about life, death and the continued existence of the human race. For the 100 young people on Earth, however, the alien planet they’ve never known is a mysterious realm that can be magical one moment and lethal the next. With the survival of the human race entirely in their hands, THE 100 must find a way to transcend their differences, unite and forge a new path on a wildly changed Earth that’s primitive, intense and teeming with the unknown (as per the CW website)

The only similarities between the TV show and the book are some of the characters (Clarke, Bellamy, Wells and Octavia) and the overall concept. The end.

I’m perfectly fine with that.

I’m usually annoyed when CW/Alloy Entertainment changes the entire concept of a book adaption (cough, Vampire Diaries, cough) but inside feel shame for liking their version better. I have no such qualms about The 100. Or, well, few qualms. They adapted the ideas of the book into the first few episodes of the show. Since the rest of the series hasn’t been published yet, maybe the TV show is following the books.

They’re probably not.

The TV show makes changes for the better. It introduces the Grounders in the first episode, giving actual conflict to the show. The 100 not only have to survive nature, but those left behind, as well. It also focuses on the trouble with the Ark, which is running low on oxygen (but not because Wells is stupid). Sometimes I find the storyline on the Ark more interesting than the story of the kids on the ground. Focusing on the Ark also gives more age diversity to the cast. I was sad when The Secret Circle was canceled because the adults weren’t just props for the kids to act off of, but players in the events happening. The 100 does the same thing.

My only qualm with the book-to-TV adaption was that someone decided to take out some of the characters’ controversial backgrounds to make them more sympathetic. In the book, Octavia was arrested for being a drug addict. In the TV show, Octavia was arrested for being a second child. In the book, Clarke’s parents were executed for doing radiation experiments on children. In the TV show, Clarke’s father was executed for trying to inform the Ark inhabitants of the Ark’s limited oxygen supply. Similar changes were made to Wells and Bellamy’s background, too. I like the TV show the way it is, but I think I would’ve still liked it if the book backgrounds were intact.


The TV show wins, eyes closed and hands tied behind its back. It added depth and excitement to the plot and characters. I was always intrigued for next week’s episode. The book… not so much. Since nothing happened besides flashbacks, conversation and stupid mistakes, it really was a waste of time right up until the end. I’ll pick up the sequel, Day 21, only to find out if it gets more interesting. If it’s anything like its predecessor, I won’t read very far.

Has anyone else read the book and seen the TV show? What are your thoughts? Which do you like better?

Next week I’ll be reviewing… Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

WARNING: This review is dark and full of spoilers

I’m pretty sure I bought this book new (2012-ish?) and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. It was probably on sale. I’ve never heard of Julianna Baggott. The cover is so-so. The summary is really long and a bit confusing. But…why not? I’ll give it a read. I love me some apocalypses. They’re always fun.

What the hell did I just read?

Pure was… the best way to put it is “odd”. It wasn’t bad. In fact, it was really good. But it was just fucking weird. If I had to compare weird-ness, I’d say Pure reminded me of everything I’ve ever read by Margaret Atwood (okay, I’ve only read The Handmaiden’s Tale and Oryx and Crake). In this new world, after the Detonations, people are fused to other objects. Pressia has a doll head for a hand. I can’t even imagine what that would look like. Two of the other main character, Bradwell and El Captain, also have fusings. Bradwell has birds in his back, and El Captain is fused in a permanent piggy back position with his brother. That’s just… what… how does someone think of that? At first the fusings pulled me out of the story. It was really hard to picture, and I had to think intently. Once I had the character appearances down, the read was much smoother.

The world of the Pures in the Dome was easier to picture, but almost dull compared to the outside world where Pressia lived. That’s where the true story was. Actually, now that I think about it, the storyline wasn’t that unique. It was the world the story was situated in that made Pure awesome! That, and the fact Pressia and Partridge weren’t experiencing a “world shatter”, as per the summary, because of epic love. They were half-siblings! Before reading, I would’ve bet my left hand on them being a romantic item, but was delightfully surprised by their actual relationship. I don’t think I would’ve liked a romance between their characters, anyway (assuming they weren’t siblings). They make better friends. Then again, it’s sad this book couldn’t have a purely male-female friendship. It’s like Baggott introduced the sibling aspect so there could never be anything sexual between them (unless they feel like getting their Lannister on).

All in all, Pure was fun, and I can’t wait to read the sequels, Fuse and Burn!

Despite being one of the strangest books I’ve read in a while, Pure was an excellent read! I loved the characters and the plot. I eventually even fell in love with the crazy-assed world, where in which children could be fused to their mothers. Just the thought of being fused to another person… egh. Just egh! Pure is worthy of a 5 out of 5 stars rating!

Next week I’ll be reviewing… The 100: TV Show vs. The Book