Saturday, 31 January 2009
In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren.
Here are the books I got this week, bought from work (Borders) and Amazon. Woohoo for payday!
* Graceling by Kristin Cashore
* Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
* I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin
* Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
* Maximum Ride: Manga
* The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (adult)
* Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons (adult)
* The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons (adult)
* Once by Morris Gleitzman
* Then by Morris Gleitzman
* Waves by Sharon Dogar
* Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda (ARC - Pub. date: May 2009. Unfortunately I had to take this back to work before I read it).
* Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
* Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
* Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
* Life As We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer
Friday, 30 January 2009
Narae Lee has adapted and illustrated The Angel Experiment, which has been published as Maximum Ride: Volume One. There's also a sneak peek at chapter one of Max, the fifth book in the series due out in April.
The first eight pages are presented in full colour, whilst the rest is black and white. I've taken pictures of a couple of the pages, just because they're so very, very cool. Click to make them bigger!
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Little, Brown have made the first chapter of Marked available to read on their new UK House of Night website.
Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker. Kayla was talking nonstop in her usual K-babble, and she didn’t even notice him. At first. Actually, now that I think about it, no one else noticed him until he spoke, which is, tragically, more evidence of my freakish inability to fit in...
To read the chapter, or to just visit the site, click here.
Cirque Du Freak was such a fun book to read! It's only short, at just under two hundred pages, but includes everything a good scary book should: humour, adventure, thrills and chills.
After reading many, many vampire books, I didn't think Darren Shan could produce anything different in terms of the mythology. However, I was proved wrong! He has taken some of the age-old vampire conventions and mixed them with new, innovative ideas and formats (I especially like how you get turned into a vampire, and how the ageing is different).
Darren Shan is clever in his use of horror, with many of the more gruesome scenes being left to the imagination. This doesn't take away from the overall feel of the book though, which is quite haunting and atmospheric.
Once I started Cirque Du Freak, I couldn't put it down. I was immediately drawn into the story, as well as the characters of Darren and Mr Crepsley, and very nearly started the next in the series straight away.
Although this series (The Saga of Darren Shan) of twelve novels is aimed at younger teenagers, I still found it immensely enjoyable, and will be reading the remaining eleven books as soon as possible.
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen
* Published by: Viking
* Format: Hardcover
* Release Date: June 16th, 2009 (US)
* On Amazon: here.
It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live. There she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
If I could marry an author, I'd propose to Sarah Dessen right now: her writing is nothing short of amazing. I think that's all the explanation this Waiting On Wednesday needs! :)
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception is a fun, page-turner of a debut. I was a bit apprehensive to order it at first, because I didn't really like the cover art. However, it's definitely better in person, and suits the atmospheric tone of the book perfectly. I also have to mention the artwork included at the beginning of each of the six books: it's very pretty, and a brilliant addition to the story.
Deirdre is a likeable character, because of her sheer normality. She is told, on several occasions throughout the book, that she is just 'ordinary', and nothing special. For this reason, I found her very easy to identify with. I also liked her personal struggles with her overprotective mother - this added realism to the story, as well as to her sixteen year old character.
Deirdre's best friend, James, was just hilarious. His quick wit and sarcasm provided much of the novel's humour, which I wasn't expecting it to have, and made me laugh out loud more than once: "Soon to be number one", James said with a charming smile. "I hired a hitman." Luke Dillon, the Faerie Queen's assassin (or Gallowglass), is yet another male character I wouldn't object to meeting. He is protective, haunted, and fueled by guilt for his past actions, which made him a very layered and developed character. Like Deirdre, I was hooked on him from page thirty-six, when he whispered, "Tell me you want to see me again."
I love the inclusion and importance of music in this book. It fit well with the faeries, and was a nice addition to the ever growing mythology. Brendan and Una were my favourite fey characters, because, again, they were humourous and realistic. I wish we'd gotten to know more about Deirdre's family, as they were perhaps the only aspect of the book that I felt was underdeveloped. Maybe they could have been explored more had the page count been slightly higher, though, saying that, Delia's extreme bitchiness came across pretty well!
There are a couple of things I'd like to ask Maggie Stiefvater, and it mostly involves Deirdre's powers. Had they always been there, lying dormant? Why did she deal with them so well - did she always suspect something was different? And had Luke been watching her for a long time before their first meeting? Hmmm...
Although the story wrapped up well, and could have been a stand alone novel, there is still so much that could be expanded upon. Lament is one of those debut novels that could, and should, make it big. The sequel, Ballad, is due for release towards the end of the year, and I'm really looking forward to reading it!
Extra: Check out some of the music mentioned in the book on Maggie Stiefvater's site here.
Cover art is one of my favourite features of a book, so every week I'm going to post a cover that I really like, either from a new or old release.
This week, I'm loving The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb. I like the colours, the design and the embossed key. It looks great on my bookshelf!
Monday, 26 January 2009
Savvy tells the story of the Beaumont family - Momma, Poppa, Grandpa, Mibs, Rocket, Fish and Samson.
When a Beaumont turns thirteen, they get what is called a Savvy: a supernatural power, if you like. Rocket can control electricity, Fish creates hurricanes, and Grandpa Bomba literally moves the Earth. Mibs' thirteenth birthday is coming up, and she's anxious to find out what her Savvy will be. It's something that both surprises and enlightens her, and is something that we, as a reader, never expect.
Just before Mibs turns thirteen, her Father is involved in a car crash, which sends the Beaumont children - along with their friends Will and Bobby - on a journey to reach the hospital in time. Along the way, they make new friends, connect with old ones, and discover themselves and what their powers mean.
Savvy, essentially a coming of age story, is a brilliant debut novel from Ingrid Law. Even though it's sold in the kids 8-12 section at UK Borders stores, older readers should also enjoy it (I'm twenty-one... and I found myself utterly enthralled!).
Rights to a movie have already been sold, which can only mean good things for this book. I can't wait to see what Ingrid does next, and here's hoping it's as fun as her first offering!
I'll admit that I'm quite a big fan of movie adaptations. I saw Twilight twelve times, I was speechless after The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and I love Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.
Whilst there are a lot of books that I would argue should be left well alone (The Book Thief, for starters), there are also a few that I think would translate well onto the big screen:
* City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
* The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
* The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
What I wouldn't give to see Jace or Katniss come to life... I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for those two!
Any thoughts? Suggestions?
On the new UK site for The Hunger Games, you can download a sample chapter in PDF format, and listen to an mp3 read by the author, Suzanne Collins. There are also wallpapers, reviews, and a cool video broadcast. Check it out here.
Oh, and if you haven't read this book yet, I would *highly* recommend it!
Sunday, 25 January 2009
I've often wondered why books published in the US are so much nicer than those published in the UK. You'd think that if a book is published in hardcover in America, then it'd be published over here in the same format, yes? Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Although I can get past that, the thing that irks me the most is the difference in cover art. Take City of Ashes, for example.
The US cover on the left is amazing. It's eye-catching, colourful and has a metallic finish to it. The UK cover on the right is, in my opinion, dull, plain and easily missed. It doesn't scream "buy me!", and it certainly doesn't stand out on a crowded shelf (I'm not saying I hate it, I just think it could be better).
The point of a cover is to draw the reader in, and to make them buy or read the book. Although some people will argue that a book is never judged by its cover, it's not always true. I think UK publishers should change their tactic, and make their books more, well, interesting. I'm sure it would have a positive effect on sales, and would boost a book's popularity.
Which cover do you prefer? Which would you buy?
I bought Wondrous Strange because I thought the cover art was intriguing. I liked the title typset, and the swirly blue colours, which instantly stood out to me. The book arrived on Christmas Eve, I started it on Christmas Day afternoon, and had finished it in a few hours. I loved it.
I was immediately hooked, right from page one, and the pretty decoration around the chapter titles made me think I was reading something special (this book should definitely be praised for its lovely presentation!). Wondrous Strange is the first faerie book I read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Kelley is a great female character with and a passion for drama. She has no idea that faeries exist, nor that she could ever have anything to do with them, until she meets Sonny. Sonny protects the mortal realm from the beings of the Otherworld, by guarding the Samhain Gate.
I LOVE Sonny. Love him. He's protective, strong, and has deep grey eyes that would make any girl melt. Sigh. All the characters are well developed and layered, and by the time I was finished, I felt like I knew each and every one of them.
The plot is brilliant, and moves at a pace that will keep even the most reluctant reader interested. It mixes reality with the supernatural, and does so in a very clever way. I like how Lesley included drama and Shakespeare in the story, and even had some familiar characters make an appearance. I also loved the humour in the book, especially the little garden gnome who likes to lick ankles. Although he only appeared for one scene, he was one of my favourite parts of the book, and I hope we get to see more of him.
I don't really want to spoil the plot too much, so I'll just say that there were a couple of revelations that I never saw coming, and that completely surprised me (in a good way!). At one point, I think I muttered something like "bloody hell, that was good", which isn't something I do too often.
I would highly recommend this book to every YA reader, or to anyone who just likes good, enchanting fiction. Lesley Livingston has a wonderful writing style, and I can't wait to read more from her. I'm so glad that Wondrous Strange is the first in a trilogy, and that the second book should be released towards the end of 2009. I hope it gets published in the UK soon, so that I can tell everyone how brilliant it is!
Idea from The Story Siren.
These are the books I got this week, either in the mail (thank you, Amazon!) or from work.
* The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons [bought]: A powerful love story set in war-torn Leningrad. In June 1941,Tatiana meets a confident and attractive young officer, Alexander. As the Russian winter wreaks its havoc and the bombs fall, Alexander and Tatiana struggle with their growing love in the face of death and destruction.
This is an adult novel, but is so amazing that I thought it deserved to be mentioned. I just finished it today, and it's one of the most emotional and powerful books I've ever read.
* Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag [bought]: Alex, Olivia, Zack and PJ are spending a year at the prestigious Lycée de Monceau in the sparkling city of Paris. This is their chance to sip cafe au lait in Le Marais, throw secret parties in their host families' Versailles-size apartments, and have the time of their lives. But when the secrets they thought they left behind come out, everything could be ruined...
This one sounds a bit like Gossip Girl, which is why I bought it. You can't go wrong with secrets and lies!
* Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin [bought]: Parker Prescott’s parents want her to break up with her boyfriend. But she already did, two weeks ago. And then she realized it was a mistake. He came over. He had the handcuffs in his pocket. Everything went downhill from there. Sort of. Parker Prescott’s world is changing and she no longer knows who she is. Does anyone?
My friend wrote a glowing review of this book, hence my purchase. It sounds intriguing, and I'm sure I'll love it.
* Chasing Boys by Karen Tayleur [bought]: El Marini just isn’t fitting into the new life she’s been forced to create without her dad. Life at her new public school would have been unbearable if weren’t for Eric Callahan. But then she meets Dylan, a quiet artistic-type who is both unnerving and annoying as he shines a light on El’s misguided attempts to attract Eric.
Read my review here.
* Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz [bought]: Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes anything but ordinary.
Read my review here.
* Need by Carrie Jones [bought]: Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal. Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.
This one just sounds great! A pixie, romance, danger... what's not to like the sound of?
* The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb [bought]: Calder is a Fetch, a death escort, the first of his kind to step from Heaven back to Earth.The first to fall in love with a mortal girl. But when he climbs backwards out of that Death Scene, into the chaos of the Russian Revolution, he tears a wound in the ghost realm, where the spirits begin a revolution of their own.
I really enjoyed Whitcomb's debut novel, A Certain Slant of Light, so I'm looking forward to reading this. It's also one of the nicest books I own, in terms of the cover and presentation.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
The Truth About Forever is one of my all time favourite YA novels. I love it, and I love Sarah Dessen (and I'm talking hardcore author love here... I REALLY like her books).
The character of Macy is so layered and complex that it becomes very hard to get your head out of her world.
Due to her father's death, Macy struggles to feel, and, ultimately, to live. When she unexpectedly meets a new group of people, she soon realises that there is more to life than being perfect, and that not everything is ours to control. She also realises that death is dealt with in many different ways, and that sometimes the only thing you need is the truth.
Which leads me to Wes: the boy who never lies. I'd go so far as to say that Wes is on my list of top three male literary characters (along with Edward Cullen and Seth from Wicked Lovely), and he's my favourite character from all of Sarah Dessen's books. He and Macy instantly click, but in a quiet and reserved way. He helps her live in the present, see herself for what she is, and realise that perfection is not the answer to her grief.
Sarah Dessen's books are all absolutely brilliant, but The Truth About Forever is my personal favourite. It's the one that I will undoubtedly revisit in the future, and the one I recommend to every YA reader that I meet.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Young, Loaded & Fabulous is a great start to an addictive new series set in the UK. We are introduced to a group of instantly likeable teenagers, who are both realistic and outrageous.
Alice is just about to figure out her feelings for her best friend T, when his ex-American girlfriend unexpectedly turns up - bringing with her a whole host of trouble for the British socialites.
If you're a fan of Gossip Girl or The It Girl, then you should definitely like the YLF series. It's a fresh take on teen life and the author, Kate Kingsley, has written a contemporary story of love, scandal and friendship.
Waiting on Wednesday idea from Breaking the Spine.
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
[The Mortal Instruments: Book 3]
* Published by: Simon & Schuster
* Format: Hardcover
* Release Date: March 24th, 2009 (US), July 6th 2009 (UK)
* On Amazon: here.
New York is the city that never sleeps — but evil spirits, angels, warlocks, faeries and shadowhunters don’t need much rest anyway.
This is the third and final volume in The Mortal Instruments trilogy, and is currently my most anticipated release of 2009.
62 days to go!
Amazon have finally added the image for the UK cover of Sarah Dessen's Lock and Key; and it's a pretty one. It's in the same style as Just Listen and The Truth About Forever, and is due for release on April 2nd (paperback, £6.99).
So, Dessen fans, what do you think? Which covers do you prefer: US or UK? I personally prefer the UK covers, but buy the US editions because they're hardcover, released earlier and are just generally nicer.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Chasing Boys is the first YA novel from Australian author Karen Tayleur. It's about family, friendship and growing up. Oh, and boys.
I like books that are about everyday life, so it's no surprise that I really enjoyed this.
El, or Ariel, is instantly likeable, as are her friends, Margot and Desi. I found the book very easy to get into, and was quickly drawn into El's life. It's also surprisingly funny, with much of the humour coming from El's sarcastic comments and thoughts.
At first, I was drawn to Eric, just as El was, because to her, he was the perfect person. However, once Dylan was introduced, I quickly switched sides. I have a thing about the strong, silent type.
The events that follow El's stint in school detention are things that every girl can easily relate to: a disappointment when you realise that he isn't who you thought he was, a parent you don't quite connect with, or a friend that you temporarily drift away from.
Chasing Boys very much reminded me of early Sarah Dessen, and I'd recommend it to fans of her books.
There's just one thing I'd like to ask Karen Tayleur, if I got the chance: how did Dylan get that scar?
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer is currently #1 in the UK (week ending 17/1/09). Over the last decade or so, it's very rare that a children's book makes it to the #1 spot, and the only other person that I can think of to do it is J.K. Rowling with her Harry Potter books. Meyer has five titles in the top 12 this week, which is almost unheard of for a YA author.
Does this have something to do with the growing popularity of YA novels that I keep reading about, or more to do with the Twilight movie? I'm thinking both.
I work at a large Borders store, and in my year and a half there (post HP & the Deathly Hallows), I've never witnessed such a frenzy for a series of books. I've seen people of all ages (ten being the youngest, to sixty-one being the oldest!) queueing outside in the rain until we opened, rushing in and running to the books as if their lives depended on it, and clutching them tightly until they'd paid and left the store. We even completely sold out during one week - hundreds of copies gone faster than we could get them delivered.
I first read the books about a year and a half ago, and was actually told about them on my first day at Borders. I'll own up and admit I'm a Twilight fanatic, and that, yes, they are my favourite books. Since May, and the release of The Host, its been fascinating to see Stephenie Meyer grow in popularity. Long gone are the days when I'd mention Edward Cullen, or Eclipse, and be greeted with a "What on earth are you talking about?!" expression. Now, I don't think there are many households that don't own a copy of at least one of the books.
Any children's novel that can sell 44,000 units over here, in one week, should be very, very proud of itself, and I think a lot of the thanks should go to booksellers and bloggers, who are more passionate about what they read than anyone could imagine.
Deadly Little Secret is the first book I've read by Laurie Faria Stolarz, having previously only read her short story in the Love Is Hell anthology. I have to say, I like her.
This book kept me guessing right until the end, and I couldn't put it down until I'd finished it.
The main protagonists, Ben and Camelia, were believeable and likeable (especially Ben), and I loved the ambiguity surrounding his character. I also liked the banter between Kimmie and Wes - Camelia's two best friends. For secondary characters, they were extremely well developed.
I'd never really heard of psychometry until I read Deadly Little Secret, and I now want to find out more about it. I like that this added an almost supernatural element to the story, and it was a great twist to explain Ben's touch.
The only problem I have with this book is that it was too short - I want more! I look forward to reading the sequel, Deadly Little Liars, and I have my fingers crossed that Ben and Camelia will return.
I LOVE Seth. I LOVE the faerie world. And I LOVE Melissa Marr.
Right, now that that's out of the way...
I had Wicked Lovely sat on my shelf for over a year, staring at me from beside Ink Exchange. After reading, and loving, Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston, I decided to grab WL and give it a read. And I'm so glad I did!
Melissa Marr has crafted an enthralling tale of the Fey, which hooked me instantly. Her characters are so well developed that you almost believe (and wish!) that they were real. I haven't liked a female character so much since Bella Swan, and coming from me, that's quite a compliment. Aislinn is smart, funny, and exactly the type of girl I'd want as a friend. The thing that grabbed me most was her relationship with Seth - the best friend we all wish we had. He's like the perfect human boy: thoughful, protective and completely in love.
The Fey characters were also addictive and captivating, especially Keenan, who reminded me slightly of Edward Cullen (which is a very good thing).
I also love Marr's writing style. It flows with a kind of dreamy prose, which makes you read on and on, until you realise you've, unfortunately, reached the last page.
When I found out that Fragile Eternity, the sequel to WL, is being published in May, to say that I was excited is an understatement. I can't wait!
Saturday, 17 January 2009
Finding Violet Park (or Me, the Missing, and the Dead in the US) is a lovely book. It's short, funny, brilliantly written and has a very cool graffiti-style cover.
Although it is only two hundred pages long, this gives you plenty of time to identify with the main character, Lucas Swain, and to care about him and his family problems.
I don't want to spoil anything, so all I'll say about the twist ending is that I didn't expect it, and that I was pleasantly surprised at Violet Park's role in Lucas's life.
This is a fantastic debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from Jenny Valentine. (Note: her second book, Broken Soup, sounds just as intriguing!)
The Bad Tuesdays: Twisted Symmetry is the first in a six-part series from UK author Benjamin J Myers. I picked this book up because it came in at work, I thought it sounded interesting, and I liked the character's names (Chess, Box and Splinter). I'm actually still debating whether I liked the book or not.
I never really connected with any of the characters: I thought they were mostly one-dimensional, with no depth or emotion.
The plot itself was just, well, weird. I sometimes found my mind wandering, and had to force my attention back to the page. The slow start didn't help matters, though it did pick up pace during the final hundred pages.
I might read the second book, just to see if the series improves, though I won't be rushing out to buy it. As my friend pointed out today, perhaps it will be a better book because the story and characters are already established. We shall see.
Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.
Once again, Stephenie Meyer has written an amazing, compelling novel for adults and teenagers alike. Even though it's marketed as an adult book, it's suitable for the YA audience as well.
The characters are exactly what we've come to expect from Stephenie: they're realistic, compassionate and, ultimately, driven by love in all forms. The love triangle involving only two bodies is a new and exciting idea, which really draws you into the story, and adds the romance to this sci-fi novel.
I feel that The Host did start off quite slowly, and it took me a few chapters to get into it. However, once I'd gotten past the first hundred or so pages, I was unable to put it down. Also, as many reviewers have mentioned, Stephenie's writing has definitely improved since writing Eclipse. That can only mean good things for us Meyer fans...
It's nowhere near as good as The Twilight Saga (but, then again, what is!?), and I really hope that Stephenie writes the sequels (The Soul and The Seeker) soon, as I'm dying to get back to Wanda and Ian.
Every fan of Twilight or Stephenie Meyer should go and buy this book - then lend it to your daughter or your Mother. It's perfect for everyone.
This book is beautiful. 'Beautiful' isn't usually a word you'll find me using, but there is no other way I can describe The Book Thief.
Markus Zusak writes in a new and exciting style, which is utterly compelling. His characters come to life from the very first page, and you care about them as if you know them. To be able to see the Second World War from Death's perspective is incredibly moving, and his thoughts and feelings are surprisingly human. I also have to mention the cover (the UK adult one in particular), which I love. The depiction of Death dancing with Liesel is both haunting and fascinating, and should catch the eye of any reader.
I sobbed my eyes out through the whole of Part Ten, finished the book, and started it again straight away. If possible, it was even better the second time round.
A thought-provoking and poignant read, which will undoubtedly stay with me forever.