Tuesday, 11 December 2012

10 Books I Need to Get. Desperately.

In no particular order... the books that I desperately need but have too little money to get. I so want to review these...
1. Delirium. And Pandemonium. And, eventually, Requiem - Lauren Oliver.
This was in my local Waterstones around the time of my birthday. I need it! I need it! For the moment I have contented myself with reading reviews but that's not enough. I need it! Apparently it's really good. Great title too. I normally don't enjoy romances but hopefully the dystopia will balance it out.

2. Divergent. And Insurgent - Veronica Roth. Why don't I have this yet? The one time I had plenty of money, while visiting Germany last summer, it was, of course, auf Deutsch. It is a disgrace for me not to have it yet! Lots of reviews have doubted the premise of it but I don't care. This is a book I want to read and I'd better get it or...or...something very bad and delectably evil will happen.

3. Blood Red Road - Moira Young.
Mixed reviews on this one but all saying that it's outstanding. One said it's too 'bleak'. Many raved. What I've gathered from an amalgamation of them all is this: It is a powerful book. Driven, evocative, unstoppable. Yes please.

4. Matched. And Crossed. And Reached - Ally Condie. I LOVE trilogies, OK?
I sound so clich├ęd. But I don't care. I LOVE the covers on this series! They are so cool. Apparently the book lives up to those awesome covers. If it does, I will be very happy indeed and promise to review. But please don't go overboard on the romance! After I devour the other books on this list. OH I just read a review that talked about some of the dystopian elements. GIVE IT TO ME.

5. Fragments - Sequel to Partials (#2 in Partials trilogy) - Dan Wells
I loved Partials, I did I did I did. And the end of that was a great setup for this book with the revelation. I have links to where you can buy/ preorder Fragments and Partials here from my review of Partials
6. Slated Sequel - Teri Terry.
This doesn't even come out until ...May, I think? Or am I mixing that up with February? ANYWAY, give it to me. I have Slated reviewed here also, if you look further down the blog.

7. Across the Universe - Beth Revis
I LOVE THIS PREMISE!


8. UNWIND - Neal Shusterman.
That. Premise. I don't know if the actual book will match it but... Yay.

9. Skulduggery Pleasant: Book 8
This book is meant to have all the action and cool plot developments in it so I'm excited. Also, it continues on from that evil cliffhanger in Book 7 (I've reviewed Kingdom of the Wicked on the blog here.

10. Uglies.
This is one that I can get, woo! My friend has promised me it and there will be severe retribution of she didn't deliver. Because I'm cool like that. *No best friends were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Skulduggery Pleasant - Kingdom of the Wicked

At last, it arrived! Well, not really at last, because I got it and read it about two weeks ago but.. school's very busy. Anyway. I went to the book signing on the first of September in Waterstones and met Derek Landy. He was really cool when I told him I was from his blog and gave him my letter. We got a picture together but I'm not really sure where it is...oops! I'd only bought the book that morning when I reached the shop but the queue was so long that I was on page 150 by the time I met him. So, that was great, I was buzzing as I left. Has anyone reading this met him in the signings, whether in NZ & Australia or Britain & Ireland?

I finished KOTW that night although it's a hefty read. My first impression, apart from 'Oh my God I cannot believe that just happened' (You'll know what I mean when you read it, because I won't spoil it so soon after the release date) was that Death Bringer had been a little better in plot-furthering (is that a word?) - except for the very, very last chapter of KOTW, of course. However, KOTW was very funny, with alternate-universe-people-who-shall-not-be-named, and it was so sweet to see Valkyrie and Carol getting closer. Until the end happened. Am I dialing up the suspense now? Am I forcing you to get off the internet and read it? Good. Serves you right, hehe. One bit I hated, because it really went against my first post (http://darquessedreams.blogspot.ie/2012/06/falkyrie-and-why-they-should-be.html), was the bit where Fletcher makes his big return.. which doesn't turn out to be very big at all. And Derek, why??? I'm all for Fletcher rights, but you can't just write him out of any screen time, it's not fair on the fangirls...Even though he seems happy with ****.

So, actual factual things now. The book starts with Jerry Houlihan, who thinks he's a butterfly. As the blurb says, 'Magic is a disease. Across the land, people are suddenly developing wild and unstable powers. One of these is Kitana. A normal teenage girl who, along with her friends, becomes infected. becomes powerful. becomes corrupted. Wielding the magic of gods, they're set to tear the city apart unless someone stands up against them, Looks like it's going to be another one of those days...'. Mortals all over Ireland are gaining powers and Skulduggery and Valkyrie in their corny-but-cool duo have to find out where this power is coming from, how to stop it and how to stop the infected mortals. Oh yes, and they have about a week to do it. And the 'Supreme Council' of international mages are breathing down the Sanctuary's figurative neck. Things basically just keep going wrong. Like, everything. Valkyrie gets Shunted into a different dimension, which just so happens to contain... certain people who have been mentioned the odd time through the books. At least she comes out alive though. Oh come on, that's not a spoiler. We all know she's going to survive at least until the ninth book. It's almost a scientific inevitability.
My favourite quote, which I can't find in the book at the moment, is something like when Ghastly explains to Valkyrie that 'Yes, we could achieve what ********* dreams of, but we'd have to step over a generation of dead bodies to get there'.

*****
Four point eight stars. I'm being picky here because I have the rest of the series to compare to. It was very, very good. But Kitana had better stay far away. And Doran. Oh, and there is a cliffhanger about as bad as the one after Dark Days. Wow.

I'll leave it at that so as not to spoil your enjoyment. And Derek, if by some chance you see this, I accidentally gave you the unfinished letter. You see, I had two, and then... yeah, that was sort of the draft version...

I know some people who complained that they didn't like the first book. They think this means that they won't like the rest of the series. Perhaps not the first three for those in my year, but they are amazing from the second trilogy onwards. Go on, read it. I dare you.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Slated - Teri Terry Review

 I first saw this book in my local Waterstones about two weeks ago and was quickly drawn into it by the title and cover -especially those vivid green eyes. After reading a couple of pages I was hooked and bought it soon after for my birthday (Yep! I am officially fourteen now!).
Kyla is a really interesting character. She's a Slated, which means she's undergone (unwillingly) a procedure to erase all her memories and take away her personality. The Government say she is being punished because she was a terrorist in her past life. Slating can only be done on people younger than sixteen years of age. After they leave the hospital where they are rehabilitated, they are adopted into a family and given a Levo. This is a device that basically controls the wearer's life. They cannot (supposedly)become very angry or upset, otherwise the Levo will detect a drop in their 'levels' and induce a blackout, or if they drop below 2 on the scale of 1 - 10, send a signal to permanently block blood flow to the brain, causing seizures and death. It cannot be moved, and definitely not taken off.  A Levo is designed to look like a watch or bracelet, but in Kyla's words, they're 'fooling nobody'. Slateds are looked down on by most, or discounted as non-entities. A Slated cannot hurt anyone or even defend themselves because of their Levos - this is to stop any recurrence of their 'terrorist' nature. Although it seems to me, you wouldn't necessarily be angry, sad or scared to build a bomb or something if you were really a terrorist. You might enjoy it. You know, if you were psychotic. Anyway, the theme running through the book is Kyla getting used to the world and realising it's not as great as it's made out to be, which leads to her trying to find out what's happening and who is lying to her alongside Ben, the love interest.
        
We first meet her in the hospital she's about to leave, to go out into the real world for the first time she can remember, even though she's sixteen years old. Everything is new to her but she is very analytical - unlike the other Slateds who are in too much of a happy daze to notice much -and categorises everything she sees because she has a need to put some sort of a shape on the world. Many times through the book it is said : Kyla is different. She is definitely more distrustful than most. And quite intuitive, but this doesn't always seem realistic - like when she knows things she couldn't or shouldn't and then goes and acts on that knowledge - like her decision to trust Mac. Then again, she's been Slated, so her 'intuition' could be some kind of hidden memory. Slated is told in Kyla's first-person perspective, dreamed passages interspersed with the narrative.

Kyla's world is an oppressive one, with the Central Coalition presiding over everything. It is set in the near future, 2052, and England has regressed back to its agricultural roots. No one under the age of twenty one is allowed a phone because apparently they had been used in the past to organise riots. The ideas in the book are great - the Central Coalition, Slating, Lorders... I thought it was slightly disturbing but thrilling and very thought-provoking. It doesn't really round off properly but there's a sequel coming in May 2013 called Fractured. To be honest, I really hope there's a film made - with casting in Ireland too, because there are hardly any castings here. I really advise you to read this and if you have, leave a comment to tell me what you think of it. Five stars!

Friday, 29 June 2012

A Changing Valkyrie - The Good, The Bad, the Evil

As usual, there are spoilers for Death Bringer in this post. You have been warned. This will probably be the last Skulduggery post because June is almost over and Harry Potter's next on the agenda, but if there's anything you want me to discuss, comment below. In this post I'll be talking about Valkyrie's character arc and how she's changed through the series. Of course, that's a good thing - imagine how boring a book/series would be if there was no character development - but it's important to notice her progress through the series.


In the first book Stephanie is presented as a fairly normal teenage girl although she is said to be different from her classmates. She faints when she discovers that Skulduggery is a skeleton and is moderately innocent - but wouldn't you faint if you were talking to a living skeleton? She is described as being like Gordon and is adventurous. In China's apartment she makes the big decision to fully become part of the magical world and takes the name Valkyrie Cain, which was a pivotal moment in her life. Would you have made that choice? I like to think I would have but I can't be sure - I'm a very bad liar. She is shown to be stubborn and determined by her refusal to stop looking for Gordon's murderer.

In Playing With Fire we see her wishing she was more powerful. At the start of the book there is also a laugh-out-loud dialogue between her and Skulduggery after Vaurien Scapegrace tries in vain to kill her, during which Valkyrie wonders if Skulduggery hung back to 'test the rookie'. He replies that no, the reason she was almost killed was because he was tying his shoelace. On a different note entirely, wasn't the chapter, ''The Terrifying Brain-Sucker of London'' hilarious? Probably my favourite chapter of the whole series except for anything to do with Darquesse. two books.

The Faceless Ones gives us a scene where Valkyrie was able to kill two gods with the Sceptre because they were confused by her Ancient blood. We see that she hasn't become entirely cynical yet because she trusts Paddy/Batu. Yet again, she shows no respect for authority and goes out to fight anyway. Near the end Wreath throws her his cane and she is shown to have a natural aptitude for Necromancy. This lets her help fight a third Faceless One and drive it back into the portal.We get a look at the benefits of Valkyrie's Ancient blood when she is able to touch a black crystal  without being turned to dust. This was to prove useful in the next book.  Her talent leads Wreath to offer her Necromancer training at the end of the book. He says she will need more power if she is to rescue Skulduggery from the world of the Faceless Ones.

In Dark Days we are shown just how taken in she is by Skulduggery and how big a part  of her life he is. China even thinks about telling Fletcher why he doesn't have a hope because Valkyrie is stuck in Skulduggery's orbit when the latter are in the alternate dimension. Disappointingly for Valkyrie she doesn't even get a hug at first despite her efforts. She does get one later though in a very cute moment. I have a question for all of you. How long does it take to become an Infected? Because Valkyrie was bitten by Dusk and I know she was treated by Kenspeckle but shouldn't she have become Dusk's slave before that? We also hear in this book the rumours about a mysterious being called Darquesse who is going to destroy the world. Hmm, I wonder who that could be?

Mortal Coil gives us our first real look at Valkyrie as Darquesse. A Remnant tries to possess her but is unable to do it properly - instead it just knocks down a 'wall' between Valkyrie and her true name and lets Darquesse emerge. We see that she is indiscriminate about who she kills and has no fondness for any of her followers. ('She wondered how long he [Tesseract] would be saying that when she started pulling out his spine'). Skulduggery and Tanith calm her down and Valkyrie re-asserts herself. Unlike most people who are possessed by a Remnant she remembers everything.


In Death Bringer Valkyrie is very competent and quite powerful in herself, without Darquesse. But in this book we also see the mean side of her. not just the evil side - we see the mean aspects of her pesrsonality as told by Fletcher in the break-up.She is selfish and self-absorbed, as well as thinking that she can do wrong.  The evil witch-queen of Dublin puts in an appearance at the start of the book and the end. We learn more about what makes Darquesse come out - when the Jitter Girl has her hand in Valkyrie's brain and when Valkyrie gets Melancholia to try to kill her. Valkyrie has changed a lot from the girl we saw at the start of the book. I saw an interesting opinion on http://www.skulduggeryforums.net/ - that the books are slowly becoming villain-protagonist centred.  Anyone have any Valkyrie-> Darquesse theories? Comment below. While I don't think it's that extreme, Valkyrie and Skulduggery are certainly no saints.

My Favourite Books of all time


 1. Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling. A childhood favourite, I read every one that was out when I was five and adore them still. My absolute favourite series of all time, with Skulduggery coming in a VERY close second. But the HP characters win, hands down.













 2. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. Fast-paced, funny, witty dialogue, dark pasts... what more could you ask for?


 












The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The most suspenseful books I have ever read. 






Falling Leaves - Adeline Yen Mah. True story about an unloved Chinese daughter and how she found happiness. Set during the rise of Communism, it's well told and gives a glimpse into a different kind of world.

Interesting charcters, wit and magic. Great.



My sister's keeper - Jodi Picoult. A real tear-jerker. I won't ruin it for you but let's just say, the movie ended the exact opposite of how the book did. Another example of books being better than films. You really feel for the characters.

Slumdog Millionaire - Vikas Swarup.I love the way this is structured, with a chapter for each question. Great storytelling.

 Inheritance Saga - Christopher Paolini. Started when he was 15, these books are very looong. But they make for good reads if you're not too cynical and just enjoy them.

The Devil Wears Prada - Audrey Niffenegger. Great for light reading when you want to relax.


Jodi Picoult - Vanishing Acts. Secrets, drama and relationships. What would you do?
 Blood Ties - Sophie McKenzie. I love this book. Romance, adventure, science fiction... And a gigantic twist nearish the end.

Eva Ibbotson - The Star of Kazan. Magical.


Higher institite of villainous education - Mike Walden. Excitement, adventure and crime.

 





Saturday, 16 June 2012

Skulduggery Pleasant and Harry Potter

 To keep this to the point I'm just going to talk about three comparisons but feel free to comment if you think of any more.

1. The obvious one - they both have magic that makes the story possible. Harry potter magic is controlled by a wand and Skulduggery Pleasant magic isn't (with the notable exceptions of Necromancy and Inhabiting) but they both use magic in some form or another.

2. Lord Vile (SP) and Lord Voldemort (HP). So, so many comparisons there.

- Their names. They both fancy themselves as royal or risen above the rest of the world. Lord Vile has a pretty clear meaning, although in contrast to many other ultra-villains he seems to recognise his evil by calling himself Vile. Usually a villain thinks that what they are doing is the right choice for their purpose, whether it's world destruction or whatever. I know that, obviously, the author chooses the names of the characters but why would Voldemort call himself Flight-From-Death (in French). Surely some of the Death Eaters can speak French and that isn't very good for Voldemort's image of the big, scary, undefeatable bad guy. Yes, it lets us know his whole purpose in life without him just saying it (show, not tell) but you'd think he'd be called something stronger, something that strikes fear into the hearts of his opponents.Don't get me wrong - I think he has a very interesting backstory, but if Flight-From is in his name it makes him seem like a coward. But maybe that was the message - Bullies are actually cowards underneath.

- Their background and back story. SPOILER ALERT. Lord Vile is who Skulduggery became when his family were killed and he was consumed by rage after coming back from the dead. Tom Marvolo Riddle became Lord Voldemort, a name that he said would soon strike fear into the hearts of all who heard it. Tom Marvolo Riddle is an anagram of 'I Am Lord Voldemort.' He hated his family and killed them all, so they both ended up with no family. Their lives are fuelled by hate and they feel no love for anyone. Fortunately for Skulduggery, with great power of will he is able to return to himself but Lord Voldemort is too far gone, even though it appears that Lord Vile has killed many more than Lord Vile has - 'whole battlefields', 'eventually I lost count. Everyone did.'

- Lord Vile is probably one of the only people who could take on Lord Voldemort and be assured of winning or at least living to tell the tale, without Harry's unbelievable luck. While Darquesse might be killed by the Avada Kedavra curse if she hadn't encountered it before so she didn't know what a spell was (although if he used Sectumsempra or something like that she'd stay alive because of her awesome healing powers), it would be difficult for a spell to get past Lord vile's 'impervious' armour. And without something like that, while Voldemort was trying to melt his armour or something, lord Vile could easily take Voldemort's head with a shadow. Although there is the matter of the Horcruxes. Still, Skulduggery is a detective - he can track them down. This is with Harry out of the picture. Oh my God, imagine a HP/SP crossover...

3. 3 ___________ should do it.
- In Harry Potter this is significant because it is the only way they can save Sirius. Dumbledore says 'Three turns should do it', referring to the Time-Turner.
- In Skulduggery Pleasant Solomon Wreath says 'Three billion should do it' when explaining about the passage, referring to the fact that in theory, for the Passage to work, three billion people would have to be killed which completely turns Valkyrie off being the Death Bringer.


Friday, 15 June 2012

Darquesse VS Lord Vile

Both Darquesse and Lord Vile will be done in more detail later this month but this post focuses on their chances against each other in a rematch.

First, a quick recap of Lord Vile and Darquesse. Stop reading now if you haven't read Death Bringer and intend to - Spoilers Ahead.

Darquesse is Valkyrie's true name. She comes out if Valkyrie's life is in danger or if she is being possessed by a Remnant, although Darquesse stops her from being fully possessed. Darquesse appears three times, once at the end of Motal Coil and twice in Death Bringer, when Valkyrie is against the Jitter Girls and at the end in the epic fight against Lord Vile. She can heal herself easily and seems to be using raw magic, perhaps that of the Ancients.

Lord Vile is who Skulduggery became when Serpine killed his wife and child. When he came back to life he donned armour, took a new name and joined the Necromancers. He was astonishingly talented and progressed quickly through the Necromancer ranks until he suddenly lost all interest in being their Death Bringer and went off to be a mass murderer, as you do. He came to his senses five years later but unfortunately killed multitudes of people before this, including 'whole battlefields' and Ghastly's mother (Hmmm, I wonder what will happen if Ghastly finds out?).

The two have only had one fight so far, at the end of Death Bringer so I'm really expecting a  rematch. It shows how much power they have between them that they left O' Connell Street in such a state and lived to tell the tale. In my opinion the clash was just a showcase of their talents. We were shown that they both find flying easy, that Lord Vile's armour is extremely effective (Darquesse's force that would have crushed boulders), that Darquesse has the ability to recover from would-be fatal injuries and that she can choose not to feel pain.

Something that Lord Vile should be careful of is the fact that Darquesse said (in Death Bringer) that she is only getting stronger with time. Also, while Lord Vile is all hatred and sadness and evil etc etc, it seems like Darquesse is just trying out her powers and that it's all just one big game to her. I wonder what will happen when she starts taking someone seriously? Dun dun dun...

Next post, comparisons between Harry Potter and Skulduggery Pleasant in anticipation of next month's Harry Potter section. Until then..


In Praise of An Author Who Knows What His Fans want

How many times have I read a book, been really interested and gone on the internet to find out more or maybe contact the author only to dicover that I can't? Far too many. With all the technology available today, you could be forgiven for thinking that every author  would make an effort to communicate with the fans who buy their books. Of course, I'm not saying that every author has to - I understand that many are busy writing or God forbid, having a life (What is that?). But they could at least let their fans contact them. I'm not even asking them to write back to letters! It's just nice for a fan to be able to express their thoughts.

Take, for example, Stephenie Meyer. Note: I just picked her because she's the only one I've personally tried (in vain) to contact. I'm neutral about the books. But a while ago my little sister and I were reading them and we decided to write a fan letter. So there we were with our pretty little letters ready to send when I looked up "contact Stephenie Meyer'' on the internet and found out - you can't! Not snail mail, not email, no contact whatsoever. Stephenie is too busy to receive letters from the people who are making her rich. I'm honestly not trying to start a fight here. I just think it would be a nice reward for fans if they could hold out some hope that their favourite author might see their letter. I understand if you can't send emails, but a letter is much more heartfelt and there is usually a lot more time taken over it. A letter is just more personal and any fan making that kind of an effort deserves a reward. It would encourage people to read books more and make them more enthusiastic about writing, having the knowledge that perhaps their idol took the time to read their letter. This is especially true for any aspiring authors out there, myself included.

Which brings me to the main topic of this post. In keeping with my Skulduggery Pleasant theme for this month as well as my Minion status, I'll use Derek Landy, the Golden God although I'm sure there are other authors who communicate well with their fans. Again, drawing on personal experience...

In praise of Derek Landy, an author who actually blogs and keeps in contact with his fans or Minions as he calls them/ us. Derek's blog 'Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress'( http://dereklandy.blogspot.ie/)
is regularly updated, funny and usually has something interesting to say. Derek replies in his comments and reads through them sometimes. He even mentions www.skulduggeryforums.net . The Skulduggery Pleasant website is kept up to date and he runs many competitions for us to take part in. Many, many competitions.  He gives us glances into his personal life but always with a layer of humour. To top it off he adds cute little pictures to make us laugh. What more could you ask for?

In praise of Derek Landy, an author who knows what his fans want. Who recognises that we love a new mix of genres. Who knows that we adore his peculiar blend of adventure and fantasy with a dollop of thriller on top, all wrapped up with a layer of humour and snappy comments.

In praise of Derek Landy, an author who realises that we like nothing better than a good plot twist, especially one that says someone isn't who you thought they were. We might not like a 'fallen angel' but it definitely keeps us reading.

Well played, Mr. Landy, well played.


The kind of pictures Derek posts.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Falkyrie, and why they should be together.

Before I start, I have to say that as the Skulduggery Pleasant books are centred around Valkyrie this might go slightly in her favour because I know more about her. Falkyrie is my name for Fletcher and Valkyrie, by the way. I know Valkyrie isn't always very good to Fletcher but I really hope they get back together in Kingdom of the Wicked (The seventh  book in the amazing series by Derek Landy, in case you didn't know).

The first, and most prominent  reason, is that Fletcher is actually good for Valkyrie (Don't get me started on Caelan). Her life is already so doom and gloom, so violent and so hectic, that she needs someone she can fall back on, who she can tease and have fun with. His conversations with her are hilarious and he's adorable. He can take her places she'd never ordinarily get to go and whereas Skulduggery usually only takes her places for business Fletcher always liked to make sure she was happy. Plus, he helped keep her on track when she went too far. Did I mention he's adorable? Of course, all of this changed when Derek broke them up. Maybe it was a message to the readers that Valkyrie is going too far? Life can be so cruel...

Second, even though she doesn't treat him very well sometimes *coughmostofthetimecough*, it was good for him to be 'in the gang' because it meant there was somewhere he at least halfway belonged. His mam's dead and at least when he's with Valkyrie, Ghastly, Tanith (and possibly even Skulduggery) he has people to talk to. And he adored Valkyrie. Who seems very conceited at the moment, actually. His vanity is quite endearing because it's about his hair mostly, but she seems to think she can do no wrong -  although who can blame her, because as Fletcher said, everyone who meets her tells her how amazing she is. Even if she is one of my favourite female characters, apart from Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood and Darquesse. In no particular order.


He's so insanely useful! Seriously, if I had Magic I'd want to be a Teleporter. The amount of times he's saved Valkyrie, Skulduggery and co. is astounding. How do we get into the Necromancer temple? Call Fletcher. How do we get Skulduggery back from an alternate dimension? Bring Fletcher. The sad thing is that he's helped them all this time because he wants to be near Valkyrie. Yes, he has his faults, but so does everyone else. He is a bit of a coward compared to Skulduggery which means that it's very hard for him to measure up in Valkyrie's eyes but he tries. He was still new to the whole official world of Magic when he was kidnapped by the Diablerie and they can shake the best of people. I honestly felt sorry for him when he was sitting beside that tree after he opened the portal for the Diablerie. Not everyone is a hero but he's surrounded by them.

So in conclusion, Derek Landy has to put Valkyrie and Fletcher back together, and he has to do it soon. I suspect that the final two books and especially the last one, may be far too busy with events leading to the big finale to deal with 'trivial' things like relationships. The fate of the world may depend on it.


My favourite picture of Valkyrie, from StormTrust's story: 'The Skull's Companion' on Wattpad.





















The picture of Fletcher is by tritanicus on DeviantArt.