Tag Archives: new release

Book Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Published 23rd February 2015 by Harper Voyager.

23849652Goodreads Synopsis: When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. We were perfect. They would have been disbelieving: nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.
Nobody.
They were born together and they will die together.
One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.
The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.
The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.
Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.
The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

My Review: From her début novel, I can already tell that Francesca Haig is already a rising star of fantasy: I’m sure I’ll be reading a great many more books from her. The Fire Sermon was an incredibly inventive and original work: I’ve never read anything quite like it.

The world-building was stunning. I found the idea behind the novel actually plausible – after a nuclear war, dubbed ‘the Before,’ the leftover radiation has tampered with the evolution of the human race, and now newborns always come as twins – one stronger Alpha and one weaker Omega. It was such a great premise.

I’ve been really interested in reading about dystopian societies recently, and The Fire Sermon has such interesting politics on the Mainland, where the book is set. I found the way the Alphas and Omegas interacted very thought provoking; as not only is the segregative behaviour very shocking, but it can be compared and related to real life past – and current – situations, and I think that brings a further sense of realism to the novel.

I really enjoyed the plot of the novel, for the most part, as Francesca Haig wrote some awesome plot twists. I can’t wait to see how the situation develops further in the next book. The beginning and the ending were enthralling, but I did feel like parts, especially towards the middle of the story, got a little dragged out – much of the book was the protagonists just running!

The main protagonist, Cass, was really likeable and I did enjoy her story but I don’t think I warmed to her as much as I thought I would. Her background was so interesting; Cass was born the Omega, but she suffered no visible affect. Instead, she has a different kind of mutation… and it made the story so so tense and gripping! The other main character of the story is Kip: and though the reveal of his past was really great I got so tired of his dialogue. I’m not sure if this was just me but he seemed to almost always talk in a really sardonic way. His frequent sarcastic remarks towards everything did irk me a little.

Overall, I think The Fire Sermon was a very stunning début novel. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of fantasy – or if you’re like me and love a book with an inventive world and a societal focus. Admittedly I did find some parts a little repetitive where it was just walking/running away/etc etc… But The Fire Sermon was most definitely an incredible and thought provoking debut.

My Rating:

four

 

Also: In this post I wanted to take a moment to highlight the amazing Advanced Reading Copies / publicity campaign for The Fire Sermon! It was so cool. The premise of the book is that people are born as twins, either Alpha or Omega – so proof copies were labelled as one of the two, and numbered. It was really fun finding my twin Shannon!

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I received a copy of The Fire Sermon from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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Book Review: So Jealous X by Tegan and Sara Quin & Emy Storey

(^plus many other contributors!)

This isn’t the kind of book that I usually review – despite being generally dedicated to YA, I couldn’t not review this, even though it’s non-fiction & music. It’s safe to say I’m a Tegan and Sara obsessive. I totally do not have a dedicated Tumblr ahem. So… this post doesn’t quite fit my blog demographic but I need to fangirl. Pls excuse my bad photos.

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sojealousx.com description: It was nearly a year ago when we started talking about how to celebrate the 10th anniversary of So Jealous. We all agreed we needed to put together something really special; an extensive look back at a record that changed our sound and the course of our career.

We’re re-releasing the record and packaging it with our live DVD, “It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It!”, as well as a 22-track bonus CD containing b-sides, previously unreleased demos, and new remixes of our favourite songs from the record.

The three discs will be bound into a beautiful hard cover book that contains over 100 pages covering every memorable So Jealous moment we could recall, along with personal accounts from the plethora of characters involved in recording, releasing, marketing, and touring the record. Not to mention tons of never-before-seen photos, many from our own personal albums.

My Review: I’ve been a Tegan and Sara fan since mid-last year, when I discovered them: So I’m not a long-time fan, as many are. However, I think I was nearly as excited as most long-time fans when I found out about So Jealous X: The tenth anniversary re-release & book, celebrating my favourite album of theirs.

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I love So Jealous, the album, because of its indie-rock feel and the beautiful lyrics. I practically begged my parents for a pre-order of So Jealous X... My little fangirl heart died a little when I opened it on Christmas.

The book is just so gorgeous to look at. I’m a big fan of Emy Storey, Tegan and Sara’s artist, who had so much input on the layout of the book. The look and feel of So Jealous X is just amazing. It feels like a very personal scrapbook made at the time; I loved leafing through all of the dreamy-looking polaroids and funny candid shots from backstage on tour!

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So Jealous X is a complete, and brilliant, archive of everything So Jealous-era. There’s so much more than I thought would be in there: I was expecting the book to be some pages of song lyrics, some photos of behind the scenes production… And So Jealous X does include that… along with poster artwork, and merchandise archives, and music video storyboards, and press shot outtakes, and brilliant anecdotes, and even more.

I enjoyed everything. I would totally buy more Tegan and Sara books – maybe on the tenth anniversaries of their albums post-So-Jealous, there’ll be more?;D

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The writing was so fantastic: I loved reading Tegan and Sara’s introductions to the book (They were so nostalgic and wistful-sounding) and especially loved all of the inputs from band members like Ted Gowans, guitarist. It was so fascinating to read how important So Jealous was to Tegan and Sara – their accounts shows how pivotal the album was.

On Christmas day, I intended to read just the intros by the twins, and ended up sitting and reading the entire book in one go. And I’ve reread many parts since. Reading about the whole band’s experiences and memories – from Tegan and Sara themselves, to managers and art directors – makes you feel like you were there with them.

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Also, it’s not just the book that’s beautiful – this goes a lot off topic from a book review, but the book does come with SO Jealous, the album, plus the DVD from the era “It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It!” and a bonus CD of remixes and covers and demos of songs from So Jealous. The DVD made me laugh wayyyy too much, and the bonus audio that had never been heard before was so mind-blowingly awesome. I really liked the covers of Tegan and Sara songs included – my favourite has to be the screamo-ish So Jealous rendition by the Cancer Bats. I haven’t stopped listening to it!

Overall, I couldn’t have loved So Jealous X more. I love how personal So Jealous X feels to fans – with a whole, colour book, containing so many experiences and recounts and photos, along with two album’s worth of songs and a DVD, it’s so much more than just a re-release. Though quite a bit of money, I really recommend it if you’re a fan of the Quin twins, or if you’re looking for a crazy, amazing new band to discover. 😀 // End fangirling.

My Rating:

five

I received So Jealous X as a Christmas present!

Book Review: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Chris Riddell

Published October 23rd 2014 by Bloomsbury.

IMG_2394Goodreads Synopsis: On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

My Review: Chris Riddell and Neil Gaiman are a brilliant storytelling pair – as I knew from reading Fortunately, the Milk, their children’s book. Neil Gaiman’s writing is always gorgeous and Chris Riddell’s illustrations always bring to life his characters in an unforgettable way. Consequently, when I found out about The Sleeper and the Spindle, I was really excited about reading it!

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The book is one of the most beautiful editions I’ve ever come across. The cover made me want to start reading straight away (Which I did!) and the minimalistic colour palette of black, white and gold makes the beautiful illustrations stand out. I fell in love with the look and feel of the book before I’d even started the story! I know it’s a book I’ll treasure.

I’ve been a fan of Chris Riddell’s work for years but I think his illustrations in The Sleeper and the Spindle are my new favourites – especially the two-page spreads and the endpapers! The character depictions are all so beautiful.

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I was aware the story would be a retelling of Sleeping Beauty – but didn’t realise that the clever twists would draw in Snow White too. The only reason I was a little nervous about reading it was that I wasn’t sure how I’d find it because it was a rewritten classic – would it stand out enough? There’s quite a big market in fairy tale re-tellings. I’m not sure why I thought that; Neil Gaiman’s spin on the well-known stories was fantastic, and I didn’t want to pull myself out of the story.

What I loved the most was how the classic story is there, but the stereotypical stock character’s aren’t. There’s no prince charming. Instead, the protagonist is Snow White, who leaves her land, delaying her marriage, to awake the ‘sleeper’ in her castle, while the sleeping plague sweeps over the land. It’s so fresh and different! I really liked the ending too, which left the story at a point that left me wondering about the character’s unwritten futures.

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Overall, The Sleeper and the Spindle definitely lived up to my excitement, though at just under seventy pages I do wish it was a little longer – I fell in love with the story so much. It’s a wonderfully fresh take on Sleeping Beauty – and a clever continuation of Snow White as well! The illustrations that accompanied the writing were gorgeous, and I think they fitted the story perfectly. Definitely recommended – The Sleeper and the Spindle will appeal to readers regardless of age.

My Rating: 

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I received a copy of The Sleeper and the Spindle form the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.