Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Review: Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready


Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback
Released: September 2nd, 2010
Grade rating: A-


Amazon summary:

Like everyone born after The Shift, sixteen year-old Aura can see and talk to ghosts. Persistent, and often angry, some even on the verge of becoming Shades, these violet-hued spirits are constantly talking to her, following her, and demanding her help to make amends for their untimely deaths. Aura has always found this mysterious ability annoying and wished she could find a way to reverse it. She'd much rather the ghosts left her alone so she could spend time with her boyfriend, Logan. But when Logan dies suddenly and unexpectedly, Aura is forced to reconsider her connections with the dead...and, the living. Surely a violet-hued spirit Logan is better than no Logan at all, isn't it? And things are complicated further when new exchange student, Zachary, is paired with Aura for a class project researching the 'Shift phenomenon'. Zach is so understanding - and so very alive. His support and friendship means more to Aura than she cares to admit. And, as Aura's relationships with both the dead, and the living, become more complicated, so do her feelings for both Logon and Zach. Each holds a piece of her heart...and clues to the secret of the shift.

Review:

If I had to quickly sum up why I loved Shade so much, I'd have to say 'ghosts' and 'love triangle'. I'm a sucker for a love triangle, and ghosts are a side of the paranormal that we don't seem to see much in YA. Vampires, werewolves and winged ones better move over, though, because I think ghosts could be the new angels.

Jeri Smith-Ready has expertly crafted a creepy story, about a mysterious shift that has enabled people born after it to see and speak to ghosts. Aura was the first person born after the shift, which I'm guessing has some huge significance when it comes to figuring out the phenomenon. Nothing is really explained in Shift, but I think we'll find out more in the next book. At least, I hope we do!

Main characters Aura, Logan and Zachary were all brilliantly written, and each had their fair share of clever, snappy dialogue. Zachary is a hot scotsman, while Logan is a dead musician with Irish heritage - believe me when I say choosing between these two was very hard. I went with Zachary in the end, because I think he could play a mean bagpipe tune, and I like the sound of his hair. Yes, I'm shallow when it comes to boys and their hair. I blame Edward Cullen.

The shift itself was fascinating to read about, and I loved the ghostly input. I never ended up looking over my shoulder in fright, and that's because Logan was so nice and endearing. His death was a tragedy that should never have happened, but even as a ghost, his playful personality still remained. It's hard to be creeped out by a gorgeous vocalist who likes Snow Patrol, so I settled for liking him instead.

The only thing that stopped Shade getting a higher grade from me was the occasional slow chapter. It seemed to lose its momentum every now and then, but it's not really a big deal. I can't wait for the next book and, until then, I'm quite tempted to jump on a train to Scotland. Zach's gotta be somewhere, right?

Monday, 30 August 2010

Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan


Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover
Released: September 7th, 2010
Grade rating: A


Amazon summary:

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form. Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Review:

Firelight is freakin' fantastic (Try saying that 10 times fast, it gets difficult). Not only was I like an excited little girl the whole time I was reading it, but I got this feeling that I was reading something special. Books like that have been few and far between recently, and nothing has made me want to run down the road demanding everyone read it IMMEDIATELY. Firelight did, though, and it's definitely one of my favourite books of 2010. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I loved it.

So, author Sophie Jordan comes from an adult romance writing background. And you can tell. The chemistry between Jacinda and Will sizzles on the page and, if it was possible, I'm sure my book would have caught fire. It's all about longing looks and shared space, and the fact that Jacinda can't get too close to him for fear of her Draki self appearing and scaring him away. It's a tough existence, but someone's got to do it.

Will (Oh, Will!), how I love thee. You've got smokin' hot hair, you're tall, you can fight, you're protective, and why can't you be mine right now?! I'm no dragon descendant, but seriously, I could learn how to sword fight or something. We could have fun. No? Okay. *sniffle*

While I love Will as a character, I also love Jacinda. She's pretty cool. She didn't annoy me in any way, she has lovely colourful wings, and she can totally look after herself. Yeah, she needs a hand every now and then, but who doesn't? When tall, dark and dreamy Cassian, a fellow Draki, stirs up some trouble, she handles it. Will also handles it, and it makes for some very tense scenes. Two beautiful guys squaring off against each other is always a plus in my mind, so I'm all for it.

The legend of the Drakis is so different from any YA I've read that it automatically put Firelight onto a pedestal. For me, there is nothing cooler than dragons, and here I get them on the same pages as hunter boys and smouldering romance. It really is a win-win situation.

Rock on, Sophie Jordan. Until next year.*



* I didn't mean that. I want the sequel, like, RIGHT NOW. Please?!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

In My Mailbox #84: New Books This Week

In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, and all links take you to Amazon. Click images for a bigger picture!

It was a slow week for books this week, though the ones I did get look really good. I've already read Mockingjay, and I'm sorry to say I was disappointed. Still, I'm glad I finally know how everything ends, and The Hunger Games will always be one of my favourite books. If you haven't read it yet, you really should - it's amazing! I did get a few other cool things too, which I have to mention. Mostly vampire related, of course. ;)



For review:
  • Half a Sister by Kelly McKain (A signed finished copy... very cool!)



Sophie Jordan, author of Firelight (which I LOVED - review coming on Monday!), very kindly sent me some bookmarks, postcards and stickers. I've sent some out to a few UK blogger friends to spread the word, 'cause this book is ace! Also thanks to Scholastic for a Mockingjay postcard and series pin.



My lovely friend Leanne, who has been mentioned on here quite a few times, sent me some cool book/vampire-related stuff from her trip to San Diego Comic-Con, including: a Pegasus bookmark, Eternal Ones tattoos, Morganville Vampires badge, oh, and a magazine with Vampire Diaries on the cover! Thanks Leanne, you are awesome!



Last but not least (and not strictly book related), my new pride and joy: The Vampire Diaries Season 1 DVD. I don't often include DVDs in my IMM posts, but this one is too exciting not to mention. YAY!! I love this show!


As always, happy reading everyone -- hope you all loved Mockingjay, and here's to a week filled with many dreams of Damon. Or Stefan. ;)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

News: The Eternal Ones & Out for Blood Extracts, Sugarscape Competition & I Am Number Four UK Launch


The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller was published in the UK by Puffin Razorbill on August 19th (my review is here), and you can read 3 sample chapters here: Sampler #1 / Sampler #2 / Sampler #3.


Amazon summary:

Haven Moore has always known she's different: there are the talents that can't be explained; the knowledge of places she's never been; and then there are the visions that overwhelm her - terrifying visions of a life that ended tragically two decades earlier and more than a thousand miles away in New York City. The citizens of Haven's rural, highly religious community, believe that she's been possessed by a demon. But this is no demon: it's reincarnation. Haven journeys all the way to Manhattan in search of clues about her past life and a decades-old murder. One wrong move could lead her into the clutches of the sinister villain at the center of a conspiracy much larger than she could have ever imagined. But if she makes the right choices, Haven will find the answers she's been seeking her entire life.





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The Drake Chronicles: Out for Blood is published in the UK on November 1st by Bloomsbury. You can read an extract here, and join the Facebook page here.


Amazon summary:

Hunter Wild just wants to get through her last year at the secret Helios-Ra Academy. To do so, she'll have to betray her grandfather, date a vampire and possibly take down the entire League - all before the end of term.


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Random House UK have teamed up with Sugar magazine to celebrate the upcoming October release of Malorie Blackman's new book, Boys Don't Cry. Through the Sugar Book Club, readers can enter to win a writing workshop with Malorie and and 10 of the winner's friends at a local Pizza Express. Go here to read more!


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Lastly, Pittacus Lore's I Am Number Four was published in the UK this week, and Puffin have just launched the official website. You can sign up for newsletters and keep up to date with the series, and find out more information about The Lorien Legacies.

Friday, 27 August 2010

GIVEAWAY: Win a Messenger Bag to Celebrate the Release of Losing Faith! (US/Canada only)

To celebrate the release of Denise Jaden's Losing Faith, I have one (1) Plywood Chairs messenger bag up for grabs. Denise also has some giveaways going on, which you can check out on her blog.







Rules & info:
  • Open to US & Canada only.
  • End date: August 31st, 2010.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.

Fill in the form below to enter!

Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler


Publisher: Little, Brown
Format: Hardcover
Released: June 1st, 2009
Grade rating: A


Amazon summary:

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Review:

I've had Twenty Boy Summer sat on my shelf since June 2009, and every now and then I'd think about reading it. I'm kicking myself for waiting so long, because it's amazing. Seriously, it's like a sunny summer day captured and preserved on a page, always there for everyone to see. It's the most moving book I've read that deals with grief and loss, aside from Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur. I started the book in tears and I ended it in tears, and that's all thanks to Sarah Ockler's beautiful way with words.

The fact that Anna had this sweeping romance with best friend Frankie's older brother, Matt, is heartbreaking in itself, but it's made even worse when you realise she hasn't told a soul. How anyone can keep a secret like that is beyond me; even if I promised someone, I know I wouldn't be able to do it. A secret like that would eat me up until I couldn't keep it for a minute longer, but to Anna, it's the one thing she has to do. Because she promised Matt she'd look out for Frankie.

Ockler writes about Anna and Frankie's grief like she's experiencing it herself, like she is those characters. Three chapters in and I felt like I already knew these people inside out, and by the end I felt like they were old friends, passing through for a fleeting visit before leaving for another adventure. Her descriptions of Zanzibar Bay, where Anna and Frankie holiday for 3 weeks in the summer, made me want to jump on a plane and go hunting for sea glass, even though I'm terrified of flying. I wanted to run my toes through the sand and see seals in the distance, while surfer boys sauntered past looking like magazine models. It sounds like the perfect way to spend a summer.

Although Twenty Boy Summer does sound like it's about 2 girls and their adventures with 20 boys, it really isn't. It's about how families and best friends deal with a huge loss in their lives, and how they move on without forgetting. The backdrop of sun and sand gives it a more lighthearted feel, though there's always an underlying current of something deeper. Matt's presence through memories and flashbacks lets you know him just as well as Frankie or Anna, and he's as much a part of the story as Zanzibar Bay. Like Anna, you'll fall in love with him, and you'll see his life forever etched on Ockler's pages.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

US Vs. UK: My Soul to Take Covers

US // UK

I love both of these covers for Rachel Vincent's My Soul to Take, though I think I just prefer the UK one a little bit more. I've got a bit of a thing for white/lighter covers recently, so this one fits right in with my current preference. Also, I think it seems more plot specific, seeing as the story is about banshees.

I own the US edition, and it's really nice in person, with raised font and very rich, dark colours. I'm not the biggest fan of the title font, though - I think the UK has done that better. The swirly reds on the US jacket make it look more paranormal, I think, while the wispy UK design would make me think horror.

Which would you prefer to own?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

News: Read an Excerpt from Firebrand by Gillian Philip!

Thanks to Strident Publishing, I have the prologue from Rebel Angels: Firebrand for you to read. It's out now in the UK, and here's what it's about:

It is the last decade of the sixteenth century: a time of religious wars in the full-mortal world. But the Sithe are at peace, hidden behind the Veil that protects their world until their queen, Kate NicNiven, determines to destroy it. Seth MacGregor is the half-feral son of a Sithe nobleman. When his father is assassinated, and Seth is exiled with his brother Conal to the full-mortal world, they vow not only to survive, but to return to reclaim their fortress and save the Veil. But even the Veil s power cannot protect the brothers when the brutal witch-hunts begin...



Rebel Angels
Book One

Firebrand


by Gillian Philip

Published by
Strident Publishing Ltd
info@stridentpublishing.co.uk
www.stridentpublishing.co.uk

© Gillian Philip 2010

The author has asserted her moral right under
the Design, Patents and copyright Act, 1988
to be identified as the Author of this Work.

A catalogue record for this book is
available from the British Library.

ISBN 978-1-905537-19-8


Gillian Philip was born in Glasgow and has been writing all her life, starting with short but frenetic novels about Captain Scarlet and The Man From UNCLE (having massive crushes on both). She has worked as a barmaid, theatre usherette, record store assistant, radio presenter, typesetter, and political assistant to a parliamentary candidate. While living in Barbados, where her steadiest job was as a singer in an Irish bar, she took up writing professionally, and wrote many short stories for women’s magazines. In 2001 she moved back to Scotland, and now lives in Morayshire with husband Ian, twins Lucy and Jamie, Cluny the Labrador, psycho cats The Ghost and The Darkness, and four nervous fish.


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This dabbling with the other world
is a perilous undertaking.
And I have risked a glamour which can
only be exorcised by fire, by cold iron.
Catherine Czerkawska
The Secret Commonwealth



The courtyard stinks of animals and muck and human waste. And wasted humans, I can’t help thinking, because beneath the stench and the louring sunset sky lies the taint of death, like a stain that can’t be shifted. My brother isn’t the first to die here, and he won’t be the last.
I rub my filthy arm across my nose, and then across my eyes because they’re blurred and I can’t see properly. Then I shut them altogether and curl up against the parapet. I want to be a hundred miles away, but what use would I be to Conal then? Anyway, the hideous weight of the crossbow in my arms can’t be ignored. I hate crossbows, I always have: a horrible weapon, brutal and distant, and I’ve never liked to touch them or even look at them. It’s as if I was born knowing I’ve an appointment with one that I’m not going to want to keep.
I sniff and rub my eyes again, wishing I could be more of a man, wishing I wasn’t so afraid. I’m sixteen years old, more than old enough to kill and die, a lot older than I was when I watched my father die, hacked almost to bits and still scrabbling for a last breath. His death couldn’t be avoided and neither can this one. What’s the point of premature grief?
My eyes jerk open. A clattering rattle of wheels on flagstones, and I glance over my shoulder. This is a good vantage point, but I’ll likely be seen as soon as I fire, and I’ll have to be fast to get down the tower walls and away. I can’t think about that, not now. The mob that so far has been muted, only muttering with the day’s excitement, now raise their voices as one, turning as if by black magic into a single howling beast. I make myself look. And I gasp.
That isn’t my brother, it can’t be. That is not Cù Chaorach, Hound of the Sheep, Father of his Clann. He’s never been so thin. His face is half-blackened and bloody, his hair is gone, sheared roughly off. His shirt is ripped and frayed and through the gashes in the linen I can see the bloody marks of a lash on his back.
Oh, no. No. The girl is with Conal. She can’t be any older than me, and she’s taken a few beatings too, poor cow. I’ve never seen such bruised terror in a human face, and she is weeping uncontrollably. Their hands are bound but Conal’s shoulder is pressed hard against hers, and when they’re yanked apart and thrust down from the cart, he quickly recovers his footing and presses close to her once more. There’s a dark stain on her filthy grey shift: she’s wet herself. And my brother, the great noble fool, is all concern for her, when she’s one of them, and in slightly altered circumstances she’d have been howling at him with the rest of the mob.
He turns his face to hers, his lips move. It’s all rubbish, probably. He’s telling her it’ll be over quickly, she needn’t be scared. The liar.
Gods, Conal, you’re going to want me to fire twice. Do I have time?
I can’t do this alone, I was never any use without him. I can’t stop myself calling out to him.
~ Conal!
Conal goes very still, but he doesn’t look up. As he whispers to the girl once more a smile spreads across his wounded face, a smile of pure happiness.
~ Seth!
‘Look at the warlock, he’s grinning!’ Something flies out of the crowd and strikes Conal’s cheekbone, making him stagger. ‘Happy, scum? You’ll be seeing your Master soon!’
‘Aye, not soon enough!’ Raucous laughter. ‘See if he smiles when he’s burning!’
‘The Satan-spawn won’t smile when he’s burning in Hell!’
Hatred rushes over me in such a hot violent tide I’m dizzy with it. It’s the tail-end of the sixteenth century, for gods’ sake: when do these people plan to evolve?
My fingers tighten on the crossbow. Then I can feel his mind inside mine, soothing, reassuring, the way it’s been since I was a feral snarling infant and he tamed me.
~ Murlainn. Little brother. Don’t lose your focus!
~ Conal, I can’t fire twice! I haven’t time!
~ Yes, you have. Don’t panic. Turning his face briefly to the girl, Conal manages to kiss her hacked and shorn scalp before she is yanked away and hauled up onto the pile of firewood.
~ She’s nothing to us. She’s one of them!
Conal’s head angles very slightly upwards, as if he’d like to look right at me and give me a real piece of his mind. I see the flicker of a smile.
~ She has a name, Seth.
I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know her damned name. I’m here for Conal.
~ Catriona. Her name’s Catriona. His eyes almost find mine across the hazy dusk, and he half-smiles. And with that he knows I’ll do it. He must have known I’d do it anyway. I’d do anything for him.
He’s dragged up behind her and bound to the same stake, ropes tightened around them both. He strains his fingers enough to touch the girl’s, and he’s speaking to her again, but I doubt she can hear him above the noise of the baying crowd. The pale-eyed priest steps forward, robes billowing, a black crow hungry for carrion. He stays in the long shadow of the courtyard wall; I notice that. Smiling, he raises his bible.
~ Be calm, Seth. Hands steady, both eyes open, remember.
~ Conal, I…
~ I love you, little brother. I’ll see you again, I promise.
Oh, no, we’ll never meet again. I stare down at the priest, his ringing declamations of hatred raised above the yells of the mob. Not in that devil’s heaven. It doesn’t exist, and worse, there’s no hell for him to go to after he’s died screaming at my hands.
That’s my promise, Cù Chaorach.
But I don’t let Conal hear it. I block it coldly away, because he wouldn’t approve, even now. My hands are steady now; my hatred helps a lot. I’m glad I don’t have time to shoot the priest as well. A bolt to the heart would be too fast.
~ I love you, Cù Chaorach. I’m sorry.
~ I’m glad you’re here. Don’t be sorry. Be quick.
I roll onto my stomach. I won’t be seen; I do have time. No one’s looking upwards toward my hiding place, no one wants to miss a moment of the spectacle. Probably they’ll take a while to realise what’s happened in the confusion. I may hate crossbows but I’m good with them: he taught me himself. I can get in two shots. I can reload, fire, and still get away. Yes.
I level my gaze and aim. The girl first, so she’ll know nothing, and so Conal will know I’ve done it and be pleased with me.
And then, Conal. My brother, my friend, my Captain. My father in every way that ever mattered. Oh, please, you nonexistent gods, please give me the strength.
Two men step from behind the priest, blazing torches held high.
That’s it. I blink away the sweat and the tears and the terror. And my mind is as cold as my heart as I tighten my finger on the trigger.

Waiting On Wednesday: Pegasus

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Pegasus by Robin McKinley

* Published by: Putnam Juvenile (US)
* Format: Hardcover (US)
* Release Date: November 2nd, 2010 (US)

* On Amazon: here


Amazon.com summary:

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication. But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

It's the cover that first drew me to this book, because look at it - isn't it amazing?! I would honestly buy it just for that cover. I like fantasy anyway, but Pegasus sounds like something different. Whenever there's mythical creatures and a threat to nations involved, count me in!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Review: Chocolate Box Girls - Cherry Crush by Cathy Cassidy


Publisher: Puffin
Format: Hardcover
Released: September 2nd, 2010
Grade rating: A-


Amazon summary:

Cherry Costello’s life is about to change forever. She and Dad are moving to Somerset where a new mum and a bunch of brand-new sisters await. And on Cherry’s first day there she meets Shay Fletcher; with suntanned skin and sea-green eyes he’s the kind of boy who should carry a government health warning. But Shay already has a girlfriend, Cherry’s new stepsister, Honey. Cherry knows her friendship with Shay is dangerous – it could destroy everything. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to stay away from him...

Review:

Cathy Cassidy is yet another prolific UK children's author I'd never read until now. I'm not going to lie: I've always thought her books looked too young, which is why I avoided them. Pretty bad, I know. I'm really surprised by how much I enjoyed Cherry Crush, as I had no idea it'd be so fun or addictive.

This is the first in a brand new 5-book series, which I believe is Cassidy's first, and came about due to fan demand. It's the story of Cherry Costello who, along with her father, moves from Glasgow to Somerset to be with his new girlfriend, Charlotte, and her large family. Charlotte has 4 daughters - Honey, Skye, Summer and Coco. They're all roughly around the same age as Cherry, and are like the sisters she never had. I liked all the sisters, though Honey left something to be desired. I know I'm supposed to sympathise with her situation, but I can't be doing with people who behave like that. She's the only aspect of the book I really didn't like, but I can see that her emotional journey was an important part of her family's lives.

Cherry Crush has a great sense of family values, which is what I loved most about it. I'm really close to my family, and seeing that portrayed in books always makes me smile. Family is the most important thing after all, and Cassidy effortlessly shows that with her story of change and self-discovery. Of course, Cherry Crush wouldn't be complete without a little romance, which comes in the form of Honey's boyfriend Shay. He's sweet, supportive and struggling with family problems of his own. He instantly connects with Cherry, and the way their friendship develops is subtle and unassuming.

Cassidy covers so many themes here that it's difficult to mention them all. Loss, truth and acceptance play a big part in Cherry's story, but there's so much more waiting for you within these pages. It's an absolute joy to read, and I think teenagers will love it - if I'd read it when I was 14, I'd have thought I'd won the book lottery. The next instalment, Vanilla Skye, is published in September 2011, and I can't wait. If I could read it now, I would!

Monday, 23 August 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Scarlett Dedd Doorhangers!

Once again, thanks to the lovely people at Headline, I have another cool Wondrous Reads exclusive to share with you guys. To celebrate the UK publication of Cathy Brett's Scarlett Dedd on September 2nd, Headline have created two doorhangers that you can print off and use to ensure no-one will ever enter your room uninvited.

I don't know about you, but my door will soon be rockin' the 'Disturb Me and You're Dead' one. It seems only fitting for my vampire-themed room, don't you think?!

Anyway, feel free to print these and use them, and remember to spread the word about Scarlett Dedd. I posted the trailer last week, and you can find out more info on Amazon or Cathy Brett's blog. Happy reading!




Review: Single in the City by Michele Gorman


Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
Released: June 24th, 2010
Grade rating: B/B+


Amazon summary:

It’s official. Hannah has left her friends and family in the US behind and is following her dream. To live in London. Unfortunately she's completely unprepared for what's in store. She’s going to find: 1. Her dream guy. A prince or Hugh Grant would be nice. Or does she have to settle for her half-naked Australian housemate or an "English gentleman" with terrible hygiene habits? 2. Her dream job. Something fantastic in fashion. So how has she ended up being the mini-me for an evil party planner who doesn’t even trust her to arrange the paperclips? 3. Her dream friends. But everyone in London seems to have known each other for years and Hannah’s having trouble getting to know nice people. Who’s she going to have fun with? Dream life? Should Hannah just dream on? Maybe it would have been simpler and cheaper to just get a new haircut. Was she mad to move 3,000 miles away from everyone she knows? Will she ever find love and her perfect life in England?

Review:

I don't read a lot of adult chick-lit but, when I do, I like it to be of the lighthearted variety. Single in the City was a fun, humorous read about a subject that interests me: the difference in US and UK culture. Gorman is an expert transitioning from one continent to another, and it definitely showed through in her story.

Single in the City started off a little bit slow for my taste, and I did wonder if I'd like it. It took me a good 50-75 pages to warm to Hannah and her decision to move from Connecticut to London, and it could quite well be because she was older than characters I usually read about. I'm used to high school drama, not 26-year-old life-changing decisions. I quickly got used to reading about (shock horror!) adults and adult problems, and soon enough I was invested in Hannah and her hilarious adventures in England.

Now, as we Brits all know, we're very different to our American friends. We have strange foods (not strange to us, obviously), ridiculously ancient buildings, a habit of saying "sorry" a lot, and a Queen complete with a whole Royal family. An American moving, or even visiting, here for the first time would see many cultural differences, and not all of them for the positive. Gorman did a top job of highlighting the randomness of England, and I did feel sorry for poor Hannah as she tried to navigate her way through it all.

From questionable men to crazy Aussie roommates and a boss that should be removed from the country, Hannah experienced it all. In fact, there was never a dull moment with her, and she had her fair share of embarrassing occurences. I mean, seriously, who flies over the handlebars of a mountain bike because they don't know how to use it?!

Gorman has written a great story about making friends and fitting in, and it should be an inspiration to anyone with a hankering to dramatically change their life and/or move here to sunny England. The characters were realistic, the setting familiar and the plot fascinating. Whether you like to read adult chick-lit or YA, Single in the City is definitely a book worth devoting some of your time to.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

In My Mailbox #83: New Books This Week

In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, and all links take you to Amazon. Click images for a bigger picture!

I had another good (but very busy) week this week. Some exciting books arrived in the post (Clockwork Angel! Yay!), and I went to one of my best friend's weddings, which went really well. Apologies I've hardly commented on blogs... I need to catch up!

Here are the books I got this week:




For review:
  • Scat by Carl Hiaasen
  • Solid by Shelley Workinger (Thanks Shelley!)



Bought:



Won:
Thanks to Carolyn at Book Chick City for holding this giveaway - I can't wait to read them!


Happy reading everyone. Hope you all have a good week!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Report & Pics: John Green Talk & Signing!

Last Saturday the 14th August, me and Carla from The Crooked Shelf went to London to meet John Green. JOHN GREEN. Yep, we were excited. When we got to Waterstone's Piccadilly, we met up with Liz from My Favourite Books, Ana from The Book Smugglers, and 2011 debut authors Kaz Mahoney (The Iron Witch) and Cat Clarke (Entangled).

John Green then read from Paper Towns, and talked for a while about lots of highly intellectual stuff I can't remember. I do remember he talked about how we can never ever know what it's like to be someone else, and also about when he realised his parents were just normal people. He mentioned his vlogbrothers YouTube channel and all the Nerdfighters - he was very cool, and very funny!

After the talk it was time for a loooong book signing. When it was my turn to meet him, he said "Are you Jenny the famous blogger?", to which I said nothing and instead just stood there with my mouth open. I think it's safe to say my life is now complete! He also thanked me for everything us bloggers do, then congratulated me on my Snow Patrol t-shirt. Clearly John not only writes great books, but also has excellent taste in music! :)

After the event, Sophie from So Many Books, So Little Time, Becky from The Bookette and Caroline from Portrait of a Woman joined us, and we all went for food and book shopping. Fun times indeed. Thanks to John and Bloomsbury for a great day, and you can see John's video about his trip to England here. Now, here are some pictures...









Friday, 20 August 2010

Review: The Radleys by Matt Haig


Publisher: Walker Canongate
Format: Large paperback
Released: July 5th, 2010
Grade rating: B


Amazon summary:

Meet the Radleys: Peter, Helen and their teenage kids Clara and Rowan. An everyday family who live in a pretty English village and juggle dysfunctional lives. So far, so normal. Except, as Peter and Helen know (but the kids have yet to find out), the Radleys happen to be a family of abstaining vampires. When one night Clara finds herself driven to commit a bloodthirsty act of violence, her parents need to explain a few things: why is their skin is so sensitive to light, why do they all find garlic so repulsive, and why has Clara's recent decision to go vegan had quite such an effect on her behaviour...? But when mysterious Uncle Will swoops into the village, he unleashes a host of shadowy truths and dark secrets that threaten to destroy the Radleys and the world around them.

Review:

The Radleys is darker than most YA vampire books I've read, which is thanks to the fact that it's a crossover title. Adults reading it probably won't even notice, though I think teenagers will see quite a significant change in tone, content and plot. Personally I liked the more mature nature of the book, but then I am a pretty hardcore fan of the undead.

For me, the high point of The Radleys is Matt Haig's incredibly unusual Radley family. There's teenagers Clara and Rowan, who don't realise they're vampires, and parents Helen and Peter who have been abstaining from human blood for a long time. The thirst and temptation is starting to get to them and, with the arrival of Peter's brother Will, long buried secrets are inevitably revealed. Each separate family member is fascinating in their own way, whether it's because of their very human struggles, or the way they deal with their newfound vampirism. Rowan is my favourite by far, and I really related to him (No, I don't have fangs... stay with me). He's a teenage boy who's far too sensitive for his peers, with more feelings and compassion than he's given credit for. I loved him.

Where it went wrong for me was around the time Will arrived. He's pivotal to the story and how everything unravels, but I just had a hard time liking him. I could quite happily have read about the four core members of the Radley family for the duration of the book, because alone they were captivating. The inclusion of Will changed the whole tone of the book for me, and though he did make it darker, I thought he took too much focus away from Clara and Rowan, whose stories I thought were so much more important.

The dark humour and irony present in The Radleys is something vampire fans will immediately recognise, especially when Peter has his bloody daydreams or their next door neighbours pop round for an unexpected visit. It's satirical yet subtle, and I appreciated Haig's obvious love of the genre he's writing in.

Overall, The Radleys is a vampire novel with a bit of a difference, and I think fans of fangs and horror will take something away from it. It's very well written, and even has some action thrown in for good measure. If you're looking for a vampire that isn't of the sparkly fall-in-love-with-me-now variety, I think this one's right up your street.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

US Vs. UK: Forest Born Covers

US // UK

Don't you just love Shannon Hale's covers, both US and UK? They're always so eye-catching and fantasy based, even though they take very different approaches when it comes to jacket design. I wasn't sure about the US one at first, but it's really grown on me. Everything from the background landscape to the model's pose says fairytale, and it all works better than I thought it did.

The UK cover also has a fantasy vibe to it, thanks to the colours and leaves etc. I love how Shannon's name is displayed in a swirly section, and the strong colours at the forefront mean it'll easily stand out on shelves. To me, the UK edition looks like it's aimed at a slightly younger audience than the US one, though I'm not sure if it actually is. Either way, I don't have a clear favourite here... how about you?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

EXCLUSIVE: UK Cover Reveal - Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster, I can exclusively present you with the lovely new UK cover for Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld!

It's published in hardcover on October 1st in the UK, and is the much anticipated sequel to Leviathan, which is one of my personal favourites.

*drumroll*




What do you think? I love it! LOVE it! The colours and the whole design are just brilliant... I can't wait to have it on my shelf!

Waiting On Wednesday: Behemoth

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

* Published by: Simon & Schuster (US & UK)
* Format: Hardcover (US & UK)
* Release Date: October 5th, 2010 (US)
, October 1st, 2010 (UK)
* On Amazon: here


Amazon.com summary:

*
Possible Leviathan spoilers*

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.


I seriously can't wait to read this book. Leviathan was a bit of a surprise for me - I didn't think I'd like it at first, and now it's one of my favourite books. It's Edwardian Steampunk (so Mr. Westerfeld told me), and is illustrated throughout by the brilliant Keith Thompson. If you haven't yet read Leviathan, you really should check it out!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

News: Headline's Scarlett Dedd Trailer Released!


Scarlett Dedd by Cathy Brett is published by here in the UK on September 2nd, and uber cool publishers Headline have very kindly let me be the first to post it here. What's it about, you ask?

Scarlett is absolutely mortified (in more ways than one) to discover that she's accidentally killed herself while trying to get out of a school trip. Even worse, she's taken her entire family with her. Life as a ghost is pretty dull - if only some of her friends were dead too...


Check the trailer out below, or here on YouTube. It's made by the author herself, and is well worth a watch! Doesn't Scarlett look creepy?!



Review: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson


Publisher: Simon & Schuster (US)
Format: Hardcover
Released: May 4th, 2010
Grade rating: A


Amazon summary:

Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

Review:

I've never wanted to go on a road trip across the US as much as I do now, and it's all thanks to reading Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. I want to jump in a clapped out old car (with Carla from The Crooked Shelf), stock up on tasty American treats and drive for 8 hours down Route 50 in Nevada, aka. The Loneliest Road in America. I want to go to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream, and then I want to sleep in my car in front of a Walmart. It might not sound like the most enjoyable experience ever, but it would be. I just know it.

Besides a newfound enthusiasm for road tripping, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour has also left me with a love for two more fictional characters. Amy is coming to terms with her father's death 3 months previously, which in itself is reason enough to make me cry. I sympathised with her completely, and wanted more than anything for her to be okay. Family friend Roger is her loyal road trip companion, who is also dealing with some problems of his own. They connect instantly, and it's so cool to see their friendship unfolding. I originally thought Amy and Roger would have a big intense romance, but that's not the focus here at all - it's about friendship, grieving and learning to live again.

Morgan Matson is a bit of a genius in my mind. Not only does she include actual pictures of Amy & Roger's trip, but she also includes images of receipts, flyers and some seriously kick-ass music playlists (Roger, I love your taste in tunes. Will you marry me?). They include Snow Patrol. And Jack's Mannequin. What's better than that?

When not living in the US, it can be hard to imagine what things look like, or where landmarks are, and that's why I loved the added features in this book. When I wanted to see roads or hotels, I could see them there on the page in black and white. It added a lot to the story, and made me feel like I was in a car with Amy and Roger, driving from one place to the next. It's an eye-opening, realistic adventure to disappear into.

Aside from the section at Roger's college dragging a little bit, I don't really have anything bad to say about this epic detour. Amy's journey will break your heart and mend it all over again, while Roger will make you wish you knew someone just like him. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is a fantastic debut novel from a promising talent, and I can't wait to see what music-loving-Matson writes next.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Review: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller


Publisher: Puffin Razorbill
Format: Paperback
Released: August 19th, 2010
Grade rating: A-


Amazon summary:

Haven Moore has always known she's different: there are the talents that can't be explained; the knowledge of places she's never been; and then there are the visions that overwhelm her - terrifying visions of a life that ended tragically two decades earlier and more than a thousand miles away in New York City. The citizens of Haven's rural, highly religious community, believe that she's been possessed by a demon. But this is no demon: it's reincarnation. Haven journeys all the way to Manhattan in search of clues about her past life and a decades-old murder. One wrong move could lead her into the clutches of the sinister villain at the center of a conspiracy much larger than she could have ever imagined. But if she makes the right choices, Haven will find the answers she's been seeking her entire life.

Review:

Some of you are probably thinking, "Oh no, not *another* paranormal YA with a love story that spans centuries. Haven't I read a dozen of them over the last year?!". The answer to that is most probably yes, though I doubt any of them are quite as unique as The Eternal Ones. By unique I mean there isn't a vampire or werewolf in sight, and instead the subject of past lives and reincarnation is given some attention.

The Eternal Ones is in no way a perfect book -- Haven can be irritatingly trusting, the writing gets a little choppy towards the middle section, and things seem to slot into place a little too easily. However, looking past all that, what you will find is an incredibly compelling voice and style, an interesting idea and a twist at the end that will leave you feeling like you've solved a puzzle you've been trying to finish for days.

The charming southern setting of Snope City really appealed to me, as I love learning about new American accents and places, and the South isn't somewhere I'm overly familiar with. Haven's best friend Beau also lives there, which is part of the reason why he's so cool. He's a gay teenager in a constricted town, but isn't afraid to be himself or stand out. Miller also provides him with dialogue so utterly deadpan and witty that I can't help but love him. The plot jump to New York allows Haven's story to move forward without seeming forced, and also introduces awesome characters like Iain and Adam. Both potentially dangerous and mysterious, they add the romance and mystery that makes The Eternal Ones so addictive.

The Eternal Ones is a great book that hooked me after the first couple of pages, and didn't let up until I'd reached its surprising conclusion. I'm so glad this is the first in a series because, after that ending, I'm dying for more. Though if it means I'll have to join the creepy Ouroboros Society, count me out!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

In My Mailbox #82: New Books This Week

In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, and all links take you to Amazon. Click images for a bigger picture!

This week was amazing for a number of reasons. I got some great books in the post, read an amazing book (Matched by Ally Condie, in case you're wondering), and went to London on Saturday to meet John Green. Yes, *the* John Green (along with a couple of debut author friends who go by the names of Kaz Mahoney and Cat Clarke!). A mini report and pics will be posted soon! Let's just say it was AWESOME.


Anyway, let's talk this week's books!




For review:
  • Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (UK proof/ARC)
  • Scarlett Dedd by Cathy Brett (Yay! And I'm quoted at the back! Double yay!)



Bought:


Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

UK Publisher Spotlight: Macmillan


I don't know about you guys, but I love looking forward to new titles coming up. It's not always easy to find out what's due to be published, which is why I thought I'd do a series of UK publisher spotlights. These posts will tell you about upcoming 2010 books, and will include a synopsis and cover image when available (all descriptions and images are from Amazon and Dom!).

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This week's spotlight is Macmillan, famously home to Meg Cabot and Alyson Noel. They've also got an exciting vampire debut publishing in September, which is a great read. Bear in mind that most of these titles are part of a series, so don't read the synopsis if you're avoiding spoilers!





August 2010



Whisper My Name
by Jane Eagland
Published 6th August 2010

Since she was twelve, Meriel Garland has lived with her grandfather in London, exiled from her beloved India following the death of her mother. Now sixteen, Meriel chafes against the strict regime of tests and study that her grandfather imposes on her. Escaping, she discovers a world outside her narrow existence – one that promises admiration for her acting skills, social success and the dark mysteries of séances. Disbelieving at first, she is drawn in when the young medium Sophie Casson passes on a message apparently from beyond the grave – and Meriel begins to suspect she might not be alone in the world after all. In searching for the truth about her past, Meriel uncovers a sinister scheme – and soon it’s hard to know who she can really trust . . .


September 2010



Gifted: Speak No Evil
by Marilyn Kaye
Published 3rd September 2010

Everyone in the Gifted class has a secret, but Carter Street is the most mysterious student of all. He never speaks, and no one knows who he is or where he came from; they just know that like them, he's special.

But there's something going on behind Carter's blank stare - something dangerous . . .





Infinite Days
by Rebecca Maizel
Published 3rd September 2010

For 500 years Lenah Beaudonte has been a vampire. 500 years of seduction, blood and destruction. But she is sickened by her dark powers – and longs to feel the sun on her skin, grass under her bare feet, and share the breath of a human kiss. She wants to be mortal again. But is she really capable of being human, after her long years of darkness? Waking up as a sixteen-year-old girl brings Lenah many things – the life she has missed, taste, touch, love. But a vampire soul is not easily shed. And her coven – the four vampires she led in decadence and thrilling destruction – want their queen back . . .




Airhead: Runaway
by Meg Cabot
Published 3rd September 2010

Emerson Watts is on the run: from school, from her family and from herself. She's reeling from the shock that Nikki, the girl whose body her brain was forced to inhabit, is still alive. And she's furious. Manipulative Brandon plans to use Em to discover a secret that will ensure his success, whilst Christopher is out for revenge, fuelled by his jealousy. With everyone around her playing a dangerous game, maybe Em should just keep on running...




Changeling: Demon Games
by Steve Feasey
Published 3rd September 2010

Teenage werewolf Trey is facing the most important and dangerous mission of his life. He must journey into the dark Netherworld and rescue Alexa, daughter of his vampire guardian Lucien, who is being held hostage by a powerful demon lord. But strength and courage alone are not enough to succeed – instead Trey must ‘win’ both their freedoms by participating in a death-match against his deadliest nemesis yet. The forces of evil are stacked against him and Trey can only be certain of one thing... one of them WILL die.


October 2010



The Immortals: Dark Flame
by Alyson Noel
Published 1st October 2010

Once it seemed being immortal was a gift to Ever Bloom - now it's a curse. And she's a danger to herself.

Ever has been dabbling in Magyck - seeking to explore her own powers, hoping to find a future for her relationship with Damen. But she's not in control - in fact, the magyck has bound her eternally to her immortal enemy, Roman. Whenever he's near, she feels his heartbeat, his breath, his blood racing in her veins. Ever is in deep - and the one person who might be able to help her must never find out what she's done...



November 2010



Young Sherlock Holmes: Red Leech
by Andrew Lane
Published 5th November 2010

Sherlock knows that Amyus Crow, his mysterious American tutor, has some dark secrets. But he didn't expect to find a notorious killer, hanged by the US government, apparently alive and well in Surrey - and Crow somehow mixed up in it. When no one will tell you the truth, sometimes you have to risk all to discover it for yourself. And so begins an adventure that will take Sherlock across the ocean to America, to the centre of a deadly web - where life and death are cheap, and truth has a price no sane person would pay...