Monday, 10 March 2014
Publisher: Orion Children's
Released: October 4th, 2012
Emily Vole makes headline news in the first weeks of her life, when she is found in an abandoned hatbox in Stansted Airport. Then, only a few years later, her neighbour Mrs String dies leaving Emily a mysterious inheritance: an old shop, a small bunch of golden keys and a cat called Fidget. It's the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime as the old Fairy Detective Agency comes back to life. It is up to Emily to reopen the shop, and recall the fairies to duty. Together they must embark on their first mystery and do battle with their great fairy-snatching enemy, Harpella.
Operation Bunny is a fantastic start to my new favourite children's series. If you like Marcus Sedgwick's Raven Mysteries you'll love this, and that's really the highest praise I can give it. It's kooky, funny, addictive and completely magical - brilliant from start to finish.
Emily Vole is the star of the show, abandoned when she was a baby and adopted by Daisy and Ronald Dashwood. She spent her life being their housekeeper, until she makes friends with the elderly lady next door and her giant talking cat Fidget. After that, nothing is ever the same for Emily Vole, and instead she becomes involved in a world full of fairies, witches and pink fluffy bunnies. Not bad for a baby girl left in a hat box!
Sally Gardner's writing is great to read, so lovely and imaginative. She brings this unnatural selection of characters together, making them form friendships and change each other's lives. I really don't know where she came up with some of her ideas but I love them, especially the keys, spirit lamp and kitchen utensils. Seriously, if you ever wondered what a lamp with arms and legs would look like, then this is the book for you!
David Roberts illustrates this series and his work is just as important as the writing. It brings the world of Wings and Co to life through a series of black and white drawings perfectly suited to the story, and I'd happily sit and read a book dedicated to his artwork. The whole package is spellbinding and absolutely recommended for 8+ readers. I'm not sure whether I should say this or not, but I think this is Sally Gardner's best work to date!
Sunday, 9 March 2014
In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, and any links take you to Amazon. Click images for a bigger picture!
Thanks so much to all publishers/authors who sent me lovely books to review!
- Dont Call Me Sweet by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Angela Rozelaar
- The Morrow Secrets by Susan McNally
- The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail
- The Undertaking by Audrey Magee
- Split Second by Sophie McKenzie
- Scarlet Ibis by Gill Lewis (UK proof/ARC)
- Girl With A White Dog by Anne Booth
- Goose by Dawn O'Porter
- The Eagle Trail by Robert Rigby
- Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard
- Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
- The Quirks: Welcome to Normal by Erin Soderberg (Thanks Erin!)
- The Quirks in Circus Quirkus by Erin Soderberg (Thanks Erin!)
- Best Friends (Until Someone Better Comes Along) by Erin Downing (Thanks Erin!)
- Sick by Tom Leveen (Signed as a blog tour thank you. Cheers Tina!)
- The Shattered Crown by Richard Ford
- Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall (UK proof/ARC. Thanks Sophie!)
- Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
- Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman
- Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom by William Sutcliffe (+ 6 postcards!)
- The Diaries of Robin's Toys: The Complete 10 Book Set by Ken and Angie Lake
For review - Netgalley:
For review - Netgalley:
- Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
- The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
- Third Degree by Julie Cross
- Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb
- Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
- One Wish by Michelle Harrison
- Misunderstandings by Tiffany King
- The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
- If Only by A. J. Pine
- Dazed by Kim Karr
- Infinite Sky by C. J. Flood
- Birdman by Mo Hayder
- The Railway Man by Eric Lomax
- Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
- The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
- Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
- Half Bad by Sally Green (limited edition signed hardback)
Bought - Kindle:
- Connected by Kim Karr
- Torn by Kim Karr
- Herald of the Storm by Richard Ford
- Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Sand by Hugh Howey
- Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally
- Shattered by Teri Terry
Happy reading and have a great week!
Saturday, 8 March 2014
Publisher: Badger Learning
Released: January, 2014
Summary from author site:
Lucas has had enough of being bullied. Alfie Kane has made his life a misery for years and it and it stops today! Lucas and his friends have concocted a plan that will show Alfie up for the coward he is. If only they can persuade him to go down to the old oak tree at the bottom of Cleeve Woods. That’s where strange things are known to happen. That’s where lessons will be learned.
Mama Barkfingers is another book from Badger Learning, perfect for reluctant readers or anyone looking for an excellent short story. At fifty pages long it's a quick read, but thanks to its creepiness it's one that will haunt you for a while!
Lucas has been bullied by Alfie for years, and he's finally had enough. Along with his friends Mia and Jack, Lucas devises a plan to scare Alfie away for good, and it involves the story of Mama Barkfingers, a horrible old witch who lives in an oak tree...
I love a good scary story so Mama Barkfingers is right up my street. I continue to be amazed by how these Badger Learning authors can create such an effective piece of literature in less than sixty pages, making it memorable and enjoyable at the same time. No doubt this book will be picked up by teen readers many, many times; I know I'll definitely be dipping into it again when I get chance.
Mama Barkfingers is one of the best short stories I've ever read and I hope Cavan Scott plans to write more. It's not gory or gruesome, but it employs a strong sense of unease that never really goes away. Just remember: if you go down to the woods today, avoid any towering oak trees. Mama Barkfingers is out there somewhere...
Friday, 7 March 2014
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: March 6th, 2014
When Caroline Piasecki's ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn't look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear; hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defence and punches her ex to the ground. West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he's shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger - even after promising her dad she'll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works. They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they're 'just friends,' their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself - and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her. When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper.
Deeper is Robin York's New Adult debut and is a good addition to the genre. It's about Caroline, a nineteen-year-old girl dealing with the aftermath of what I believe is called 'revenge porn', after her ex-boyfriend circulates explicit pictures of her online. It's about how Caroline deals with this blatant betrayal of trust, and how she rebuilds her reputation and relationships after something that could quite easily have ruined her life.
Before reading Deeper I'd never come across the term 'revenge porn' before. I'd heard of people uploading photos of people in compromising positions, but I didn't realise it was a thing. It's horrible that people actually do that, especially to someone they supposedly cared about at one point. I'm sure this is something many girls have unfortunately experienced, and it's good that Robin York has highlighted it here in Deeper. Maybe it will help someone deal with being in a similar position to Caroline, or maybe it will just help someone realise they're not alone. Either way, it's an important topic to touch on when it comes to writing for late teens and twenty-something's.
Caroline is a strong character, choosing to face up to her cyber bullies and hold her head high. She continues attending college, she doesn't lock herself away in shame and instead tries to deal with it and her ex-boyfriend herself. Her relationship with West is an important one that comes at just the right time, and together they make quite a formidable team. I liked both of them for different reasons, though West didn't make me swoon as much as I thought he would. I didn't click with him to the extent that other readers have, though he's an interesting character with many emotional layers waiting to be peeled away. And he is quite hot!
The overall plot of Deeper kept me hooked for most of the book, though for me it was a tad too explicit where the sex scenes are concerned. I like my romance to be a bit more subtle, though I know what I sign on for when I read NA books so I can't really complain too much. It's just not to my personal tastes, which also goes for some of the language used throughout. This one definitely isn't for younger readers, though most of it does serve a purpose where the plot is concerned.
Overall, I enjoyed Deeper and will be interested to see where the sequel takes Caroline and West. Harder is published in June this year and promises to be just as addictive as Deeper - I'm looking forward to seeing what happens after the end of this first book. Nothing is ever smooth sailing for Caroline and West! Deeper is an addictive, pulse-pounding book perfect for fans of J. Lynn and J.A. Redmerski - if you like those two, you'll love Robin York!
Please note: this book is not suitable for younger readers!
See the UK blog tour poster here.
Thursday, 6 March 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Released: March 4th, 2014
For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories. But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?
Prior to reading The Haven I'd heard very mixed reviews about it. It was being compared to a popular book I haven't read and seemed to be one of those books you either love or hate. I really loved it in the end: the idea, writing and execution were all to my taste, as seems to be the case when it comes to anything written by Carol Lynch Williams.
This book is about the Haven hospital, founded in 2020 and home to numerous teenagers. Everything is controlled, there are hundreds of rules and a super strict regime. When Shiloh realises something isn't right and starts asking unanswerable questions, she stumbles into a new world that slowly begins to unravel.
The Haven starts off fast. It's disjointed, confusing and muddled, but that only adds to the intrigue and succeeds in turning the story into a jigsaw that slowly fits together piece by harrowing piece. I know Carol's writing isn't for everyone, but she continues to be one of my favourites where style and theme are concerned. She would never shy away from a controversial story, which is why I've loved her books ever since first reading The Chosen One a few years ago.
Shocking, dark and tense, The Haven is a memorable read. It was still whirring through my head a week after finishing it, and that's because I love this kind of story. It's not straightforward or full of happy endings, instead it's bleak and terrifying. It reminded me of how I felt after reading Neal Shusterman's Unwind: pure shock and revulsion, coupled with a yearning to know more. That to me is the sign of a great book and a great author, two categories that Carol Lynch Williams and The Haven rightfully belong in.
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.
by Michelle Harrison
* Published by: Simon and Schuster (UK)
* Format: Paperback / eBook (UK)
* Release Date: June 5th, 2014 (UK)
* On Amazon: here
* On Amazon: here
Summary from Amazon.co.uk:
Having the ability to see fairies means that Tanya Fairchild's life has never been easy. After all, real fairies are nothing like the ones in books; ones that grant wishes or leave money for teeth. Real fairies don't like to be talked about and cast spells if Tanya steps out of line, and the most she's ever received in exchange for one of her teeth is a chewed up toffee. Of course, it would help if Tanya knew someone, anyone else could see them, too ...When Tanya meets Ratty, she finds not only can he see fairies, but even has a fairy friend, Turpin - she's rude and spiteful, but funny and loyal too. When Ratty goes missing, Tanya discovers her new friend has another extraordinary ability; an ability that has the potential to destroy them both.
I absolutely love Michelle Harrison and her 13 books - it remains one of my favourite series I've ever read! I was so excited when One Wish was announced, and it's a prequel too! Even better. I can't wait to return to this world of fairies and I know it will be brilliant. Now we just need to see the cover!
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Released: March 4th, 2014
Outgoing Ava loves her older sister, Pip, but can't understand why Pip is so reserved and never seems to make friends with others. When Ava uses her writing talents to help her sister overcome her shyness, both girls learn the impact their words and stories can have on the world around them.
Do you know what a palindrome is? Alliteration? A Homonym? If you don't, you soon will! Ava and Pip is possibly the most educational fiction book I've ever read, and any kids reading it will turn the last page with a greater knowledge of the English language. They'll also have learned some important life lessons, not to mention some extra spelling skills that will help them in school!
Aside from all the cool wordplay, Ava and Pip is the story of two sisters who couldn't be more different. Ava is younger and louder, while Pip is older and painfully shy. It's about coming out of your shell, living life and trying new things you'd otherwise miss out on, like smiling at a stranger or complimenting a friend. It's chock-full of morals and lessons, and even I learnt a thing or two!
This book is fun and educational while being realistic too. It portrays schools for what they really are - buildings often filled with kids who like to pick on others - and offers a way to deal with such a thing. It also emphasises how important words are, and how anything written down can be there forever, always ready to rear its positive or negative head. So perhaps we should all think about what we write for the test of the world to see, and how it could affect other people. That in itself is a timeless lesson that none of us are ever too old to learn.
I loved Ava and Pip and I loved this book. I've even been thinking up new palindromes and homonyms in my head, though I haven't come up with many yet. English is a wonderful subject and I've always been fond of it, just like Ava and Pip are. Maybe after reading this book, you'll have a new appreciation for it too!