Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Review: Love, Rosie (Where Rainbows End) by Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: January 19th, 2009
Rating: 9/10

Amazon summary:

From naughty children to rebellious teenagers, Rosie and Alex have stuck by each other through thick and thin. But just as they're discovering the joys of teenage nights on the town and dating disasters, they're separated. Alex's family moves from Dublin to America - and Alex goes with them. For good. Rosie's lost without her best friend. But on the eve of her departure to join Alex in Boston, Rosie gets news that will change her life forever - and keep her at home in Ireland. But destiny, Alex and Rosie discover, is a funny thing and fate isn't quite done with them yet… 


I read Love, Rosie, originally known as Where Rainbows End, after seeing the film adaptation of the same name. I was intrigued as to what the differences would be, and I enjoyed the film enough to want to find out more about these two incredibly likeable characters. Having sat on my shelf for months, I finally picked this book up determined to lose myself in a love story like no other. I'm glad I did because I loved every page of Rosie's and Alex's story, and I reached the last page with a huge grin on my face.

I don't want to ramble on too much about the book - I easily could - but I do want to say that it's written in such a way that makes it very difficult to put down. Rosie and Alex converse with each other their whole lives, through letters, emails, texts, phone calls and any other form of communication you think of. In fact, I'm surprised they didn't adopt Morse Code as an emergency way to keep in touch! Each correspondence is important and relevant, and moves their story along that extra inch. It's such an easy, fluid way to write a novel, and so far it's my favourite of Cecelia Ahern's.

Rosie and Alex are both brilliant, brilliantly flawed and illuminatingly realistic. They make mistakes, they choose the wrong path yet they constantly live life, whether it's the right or wrong thing to do. They have dreams, goals, families, loves, losses, hopes and tragedies throughout their fifty chronicled years, but still one thing always remains: their friendship. It's so strong that I ended the book more than a little jealous that I don't have one just like it!

Love, Rosie is exactly the book I needed to make me want to read again, and I now know why it's remained so popular since it was first published. I got completely lost in the lives of Rosie and Alex, willing them on, laughing with them and even shedding a tear or two with them as they experienced the very best and worst life has to offer. I recommend this one to everyone and I can't thank Cecelia Ahern enough for writing such a great book - it's addictive from start to finish!

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Dreamsnatcher Blog Tour: Abi Elphinstone Talks Characters as Movie Stars!

Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare - the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. Because Moll is more important than she knows...The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher's dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure.
The Dreamsnatcher is published this Thursday the 26th February in the UK, and, to celebrate, Simon and Schuster have put together this cool blog tour. Abi has written a great post about which movie actors would be perfect to play her characters, and I hope you all enjoy reading it. Thanks, Abi!


The Dreamsnatcher Characters As Movie Stars 
by Abi Elphinstone

I spent most of my secondary school forming secret clubs with complicated passwords, dying my hair pink and talking through every lesson apart from English (because I stop concentrating after 6.8 seconds – that’s even less than a goldfish apparently – they come in at 9 seconds). But I reckon I would have paid a lot more attention if teachers had realised back then that I was a VISUAL LEARNER – whiteboards full of boring squiggles weren’t going to help me. I needed images to keep me engaged. And it’s the same as when I’m writing. If I’m describing a deep, dark forest I use postcards and photos of gnarled trees and tangled undergrowth to help me conjure up words – and with every character I create, I fix a photo of a movie star on their profile. So for all the visual learners out there, here are The Dreamsnatcher characters as full on, uber-famous movie stars. BOOM. Well – all except Moll because (typically) she refused to conform to any movie star’s appearance from across the globe…

MOLL PECKSNIFF, 12-year-old gypsy 
This is Moll but I have no idea who this girl is or where she is from… 

GRYFF, a wildcat who befriends Moll 
Not seen any movie star wildcats – yet… 

SIDDY, Moll’s best friend 
Max Records in Where The Wild Things Are (but with sticking out ears) 

ALFIE, a young member of Skull’s gang 
Alex Pettyfer in Tom Brown’s Schooldays 

OAK, head of Moll’s camp 
George Clooney 

MOOSHIE, Oak’s husband 
Maggie Gyllenhaal in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (but plumper) 

a fortune-teller Liz Smith 

HARD-TIMES BOB, a limb-dislocator 
Merlin in The Sword in the Stone (though less cartoony and without the beard) 

SKULL, a witchdoctor 
I didn’t have a movie star in mind with Skull as he wears a mask. But I’d definitely steal Alan Rickman’s voice… 

GOBBLER, Skull’s second-in-command 
Gollum in Lord of the Rings 

BRUNT, the meanest of Skull’s boys 
Vinnie Jones


[Click to enlarge]

Sunday, 22 February 2015

In My Mailbox #245 & #246: New Books This Week

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 - I received some nice surprises over the last fortnight! I'm having laptop issues at the moment, which is why this is two weeks worth. Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon...


For review:

Happy reading!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Review: Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

Publisher: Ember
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: June 12th, 2012
Rating: 7/10

Amazon summary:

At the beginning of his junior year at a boys' boarding school, 16-year-old Alex is devastated when he fails to save a drowning friend. When questioned, Alex and his friend Glenn, who was also at the river, begin weaving their web of lies. Plagued by guilt, Alex takes refuge in the library, telling his tale in a journal he hides behind Moby-Dick. Caught in the web with Alex and Glenn is their English teacher, Miss Dovecott, fresh out of Princeton, who suspects there's more to what happened at the river when she perceives guilt in Alex's writing for class. She also sees poetic talent in Alex, which she encourages. As Alex responds to her attention, he discovers his true voice, one that goes against the boarding school bravado that Glenn embraces. When Glenn becomes convinced that Miss Dovecott is out to get them, Alex must choose between them.


After reading Jenny Hubbard's And We Stay, I was left with the overwhelming need to read everything she's ever written. My search led me to Paper Covers Rock, first published in 2011 and a finalist in the William C. Morris Debut Award. As expected, the writing is top-notch, the story complex and the emotions strong, similar in part to And We Stay but also more literary and requiring more attention.

I didn't expect this book to be quite so literary, but it is and consequently it took me longer to read than I anticipated. Although the page count is short, there's a lot going on and it's one of those books that requires the reader's undivided attention. The timeline switches frequently, between past and present events, and to unravel the whole story takes time. I wouldn't say it's an easy read at all, but it's a rewarding one.

Paper Covers Rock focuses on sixteen-year-old Alex, a junior at a prestigious boys' boarding school. He's a witness to his friend's death by drowning, and every day he's living with the guilt of not being able to save him. As further facts about that day come to light, Alex is faced with tough decisions that could change everyone's lives. He chooses to write his story in a journal, hiding it in the school library in the hopes that it will remain secret and safe.

This is a sad story, one steeped in lies and grief. It's a cautionary tale of how people have the power to bring others to ruin and how, ultimately, no-one can be trusted explicitly. It's a candid look at a teacher-student relationship, how that can easily be misconstrued and manipulated. It's also a look at friendship and how they fail, and the lengths friends will go to to protect each other. This story is a lot of things - at times maybe too intricate, too ambitious - but it's mostly honest. Yes it's slow and Alex is somewhat self-indulgent, a fan of his own work, but it all fits together to make a well-written, unusual YA novel about decisions and their consequences.

Paper Covers Rock is by no means an accessible YA novel. It's not easy to whip through in an hour, it's not a happy tale, but it's believable and has a sense of importance about it. The writing is lovely, as is the poetry littered throughout, and Jenny Hubbard has a voice I can't help but be envious of. It's an intelligent read that won't appeal to everyone; if I hadn't already read and enjoyed And We Stay, I don't think I would have sought it out and bought a copy. I'm glad I did though, and I know for sure I'll be reading everything this author writes from now on.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Review: The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorenson

Publisher: Sphere
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: March 19th, 2013
Rating: 6/10

Amazon summary:

I remember everything about that day, like the images have been burned into my brain by a branding iron. But I wish they would blow away in the wind.

Callie has grown up keeping her feelings locked away from the outside world, and as her painful past threatens to consume her life, most days it's a struggle just to breathe. For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence has been the only way to survive, until one night when Callie and Kayden's worlds collide. After that moment, Kayden can't stop thinking about Callie and when they end up at the same college, he does everything in his power to convince her that it isn't coincidence, it's fate.


I've heard a lot about Jessica Sorenson and her New Adult books, specifically The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden. I've had it sat on my Kindle for months, and decided to finally read it when I saw a paperback edition arrive at work. I like the cover, I like NA books (a lot, actually) and reviews have been ridiculously good. So, what did I think?

For me, this book just had too much angst. It wasn't a light read by any means; in fact, it was quite dark and not at all what I was expecting. Callie and Kayden are both flawed characters harbouring massive, life-changing secrets that have made them how they are. I liked them both for different reasons, but I just found everything that happened to them to be too unbelievable. I mean, why didn't either of them speak up and tell somebody? I couldn't get past that. I know people keep secrets, but for two people to have such intense lives and say nothing... it was hard to wrap my head around. I've never been in their situations though, so I'm absolutely the last person who can comment on what is the right or wrong thing to do when faced with something like that.

Despite all the doom and gloom, this book and it's title characters are surprisingly hopeful. They can look past what's happened to them and still see good in the world and each other, and I think that's one of the best messages an author can instill in her writing. That no matter how bad things get, there's always a chance of something better, someone better.

I could tell this book had started off as a self-published eBook, and I don't know what the final paperback version is like but I hope it's at least been edited to include less lip biting, lip sucking and lip gnawing. I don't usually pick up on stuff like that when reading a book, but it was so overused here that I was just wishing for some more editing. Overall I was impressed with the story and writing, though, and I see why it's been such a huge hit with readers. It's not of of my favourites, but I'm intrigued enough to pick up the sequel and see what happens after this book's crazy cliffhanger. Talk about dramatic!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Review: Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ by Tom DeMichael

Publisher: Applause
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: November 20th, 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Amazon summary:

This FAQ travels to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... visits a theme park where DNA-created dinosaurs roam... watches as aliens come to Earth, hunting humans for sport... and much, much more. Filled with biographies, synopses, production stories, and images and illustrations many seldom seen in print the book focuses on films that give audiences two hours where they can forget about their troubles, sit back, crunch some popcorn, and visit worlds never before seen... worlds of robots, time travel, aliens, space exploration, and other far-out ideas.


Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ is a veritable treasure trove of sci-fi cinema facts, trivia and opinion pieces that will be a worthy addition to any cinephile's book collection. Written in an easy, casual style, it covers films from 1970 onwards, including gems (and personal favourites) such as The Matrix, Alien, Deep Impact and Starship Troopers. There are hundreds of films included in this book and to list them all would be impossible, but I think it's fair to say that if it's classed as sci-fi you'll find it here!

Beginning with a foreword by Dennis Muren, an academy award-winning special effects artist, Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ then goes on to introduce sci-fi before diving straight into the literary roots of modern SF films. There are twelve chapters in total, all equally enjoyable, covering topics like spaceships, magicians, robots, aliens, alternate worlds and time travel. Everything is covered here, whenever your interest, though my favourite sections have to be fiends and friends from another world. Aliens do it for me every time!

Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ is a great read that benefits from short but succinct film entries, making it incredibly easy to just dip in and out of whenever the fancy takes you. It's varied in the films it covers, fun and extremely enjoyable - in fact, it's one of the best recent film books I've come across. Tom DeMichael has created a fantastic sci-fi compendium that I loved reading, and I hope there will be more titles like this in the future. Horror films, please!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Review: Knightmare - Rotten Luck! by Peter Bently

Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Format: Paperback
Released: February 2nd, 2015
Rating: 7.5/10

Amazon summary:

Cedric Thatchbottom can't wait to train as a squire, serving Sir Percival the Proud - a knight famed throughout the land for his glorious deeds. But this famous knight isn't all he appears to be, and Cedric soon finds himself being run ragged around Castle Bombast by his new master. In Book 4 of the Knightmare series, a notorious outlaw is terrifying the locals and the king has ordered Sir Percy to track him down. Cedric and his master head off into the depths of Grimwood in search of the Ghost and his gang. But there are more than just robbers lurking in the fearsome forest... Yikes!


Rotten Luck! is the fourth book in Peter Bently's brilliant Knightmare series which follows the life of Cedric Thatchbottom as he works for Sir Percy the Proud. In Rotten Luck!, Percy and his troupe head into Grimwood forest to track down an outlaw known only as The Ghost and, in true Castle Bombast style, nothing goes to plan...

I love this series and continue to get very over-excited every time a new instalment ends up in my hands. Peter Bently is so funny and clever that there's practically a laugh on every single page, not to mention some great Artful Doodlers illustrations to accompany them. I feel like these characters are my my friends now, and yes I'm including silly old Percy the Proud in that too!

These books are perfect for reluctant readers, keen readers or full-blown bookworms. There's something here that everyone will enjoy no matter their age, and I for one can't wait for book five, Foul Play!, to hit shelves. Cedric is a fantastic character who anchors the whole series, while Percy the Proud, Patchcoat and Roland the Rotten all add to what is a fantastic cast of knights and squires. Long live Knightmare!