Monday, 28 February 2011

Across the Universe: Across the Blogosphere Challenge!



ENTER THE ‘ACROSS THE BLOGOSPHERE’ CHALLENGE AND WIN A ZERO GRAVITY EXPERIENCE FOR YOU AND A FRIEND!!

Come on board and enter the ‘Across the Blogosphere’ challenge to celebrate the UK launch of Across the Universe by Beth Revis & WIN the chance to experience zero-gravity!

All you need to do is follow the blog schedule below and make a note of just ONE item that ONE of the bloggers would like to add to a time capsule of 2011. You will also need to make note of Beth Revis’ time capsule item, which will be uploaded to the Across the Universe UK Facebook page AT RANDOM during this week.

Become a Facebook fan now, so you don’t miss out. Click HERE!

So, that’s only TWO items in total you need - ONE from any of the blog sites listed and ONE from Beth Revis that you’ll find on facebook.


ACROSS THE BLOGOSPHERE CHALLENGE BLOG SCHEDULE

The Prize is Airkix Kik-Start vouchers for you and a friend to experience the thrill of indoor skydiving! (Manchester & Milton Keynes). Find out more here: http://www.airkix.com/

As soon as you have your two time capsule items, ENTER HERE to win!


~

I'm the first stop on the Across the Blogosphere challenge, so here is the one object I would put into a time capsule. Why, you ask? Read on for a (relatively) quick explanation:

For those of you who don't know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my FAVOURITE. THING. EVER. I collect everything, I've watched it more times than I can count, and I've basically had a very large obsession for the last 13 years. I chose the Season 4 DVD because I *think* it's the best - I agonised over this decision for ages... Season 3 or 4? Faith and Graduation or Chipped Spike and Adam? Such a hard choice, but I think I made the right one.

People of the future, if you're reading this and you don't know who Buffy Summers or Joss Whedon is, you've come to the right place. Enjoy, and thank me later ;)


Buffy Season 4 DVD, AKA. the best thing ever to grace TV screens.


Good luck with the challenge guys, and remember it's open to UK residents only!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

In My Mailbox #109 & #110: 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've had 2 epic weeks for books - seriously, it's been better than Christmas in my house! I was away at a Twilight convention last weekend, so I'm posting both IMMs today. The con was amazing as always, and I met some cool actors from the movies. Now we just have to wait until October for the sixth one... noooo! Anyway, my mail this week has helped me get over my post-con depression, so thanks to all the ace people who sent parcels my way! :)

Here's what's new in the life of Wondrous Reads...


~


In My Mailbox #109




For review:



Bought:

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In My Mailbox #110






For review:



Bought:


Happy reading!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Desires of the Dead Competition: Violet & Jay Song Rewrite!


To celebrate the upcoming release of Desires of the Dead, I have a very cool creative competition for you guys on behalf of my friends at Headline. So, if you're a Kimberly Derting fan, read on...


We at Headline are super excited about the forthcoming release of Kimberly Derting’s Desires of the Dead. So excited in fact that we’ve adapted a classic song in honour of our two favourite fictional lovers Violet and Jay! Read our AMAZING efforts below. Now, if you think you can do better (which let’s face it you can, we’ve set the bar pretty low!), submit your own songs in the comments to win a Desires of the Dead goodie bag. And, if your entry is REALLY good, we might even sing it for you!


Headline's entry:
Total Eclipse of the Heart - The Violet & Jay Edition

Turn around (Violet)
Every now and then I fall apart
Turn around (Violet)
Every now and then I fall apart

And I need you Jay tonight
And I need you more than ever
And if he'll only hold me tight
We'll be holding on forever
And we'll only be making it right
Cause we'll never be wrong together
We can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time
I don't know what to do and there are echoes in the dark
There are souls that need saving and they’re giving off sparks.
I really need Jay tonight!
Forever's gonna start tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight

Once upon a time we were doing homework
Now we find the dead in the dark.
Nothing left to say,
Read Desires of the Dead!
Once upon a time Jay was only a friend.
Now we are falling in love.
Nothing left to say,
Read Desires of the Dead!


The winner of the competition will get this bundle of awesomeness, which includes:
  • Copies of The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead
  • A hoodie
  • Desires of the Dead cinch bag
  • Signed posters
  • Desires of the Dead bracelets
  • Desires of the Dead buttons
  • Desires of the Dead stickers
  • Desires of the Dead bookmarks
  • Plus if the winning entrant is good enough, the lovely ladies at Headline might even sing it!

Rules & info:
  • Open to worldwide!
  • Please leave your song entries in the comments of this post, that way Headline can keep a track of the competition.
  • End date: March 17th, 2011. (DotD publication day!)
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Prizes will be sent out by the publisher.

Good luck! Now, which song shall I rewrite? Hmm...

Friday, 25 February 2011

Review: Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin


Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Released: March 7th, 2011
Grade rating: B+


Amazon summary:

Teen TV celebrities Jenna and Jonah (real names, Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers) make more money in a month than most people do in a lifetime. They can't stand to be in the same room as each other, but to boost the TV ratings their agents make them a 'real life' couple. Then the deception is uncovered by the paparazzi, and Charlie and Fielding have to disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realise there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

Review:

I really enjoyed Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance. It's probably the best of all the collaborative novels I've read so far, and I'm glad I have Franklin and Halpin's other book, The Half-Life of Planets, waiting patiently in my bedroom-turned-library. I've found two new authors I like here, and I hope they write lots more together!

This book is light, fun and romantic, not to mention incredibly interesting for those of us obsessed with TV shows. It gives an insight into what happens behind the scenes of teen dramas and, though some points have obviously been exaggerated for the purpose of the story, it really got me thinking about how much of what we see in the public eye is the truth. How many celebrities have rules and regulations firmly in place saying what they can and can't do, and just how many of them are hiding secrets from the media? It's so interesting to think about, and I thought weaving this lifestyle into the plot was a great move.

Although both main characters -- Charlie, who plays Jenna, and Fielding, who plays Jonah on the Jenna & Jonah TV show -- are a world away from my own lifestyle, I still identified and sympathised with them. Everyone can feel restricted, no matter what profession they're in, and Charlie and Fielding are no different. They're just normal teenagers thrown into a world of money and fame, and just because they do it doesn't mean they're completely happy with their lives and decisions. The witty, friendly banter between these two is funny and quick, and it immediately gave me an understanding of their relationship.

I'd say Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance is, like several other novels in this genre, delightfully predictable. I knew what was coming, but I still lapped up every drama-filled sentence as I neared the conclusion. I was in just the right mood to read this, and it left me with a shiny feeling usually reserved for contemporary romance books published in the throes of summer. The character development is good, the dialogue fast-paced and the romance just how I like it: believable and swoonworthy. More, please!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Review: Vordak the Incomprehensible by Scott Seegert


Publisher: Egmont
Format: Paperback
Released: February 7th, 2011
Grade rating: B-


Amazon summary:

Vordak the Incomprehensible has one aim in life - to rule the world. He's big, he's bad and he's brash. Writing his first published title, Vordak shows us how to grow into a villain of epic proportions. Whether it is planning strategies to take over the government, finding a new secret lair or choosing a suitably evil costume, Vordak will be there with plenty of hints and tips. With Vordak's help, you too can become an evil mastermind and rule the world.

Review:

Boys everywhere will find a new hero in the form of Vordak the Incomprehensible. Gone are the goody-two-shoes superheroes we're all used to, and in their place is a self-centred megalomaniac who makes no secret of his plan for world domination. Seriously, Vordak has no boundaries. This guy is EVIL. MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

Saying that, Vordak the Incomprehensible never quite hooked me. It was funny, yes, but not overly compelling. I didn't connect with the style of writing, though I did really enjoy how the story was presented. It's packed with lists and diagrams, and cool illustrations mark almost every page. Visually it's absolutely brilliant, and I can't fault its fun, easy to read format.

Vordak himself is basically a lunatic. He's an over the top nutter, but that's what makes him so endearing. He's honest to the point of disbelief, and he doesn't give two hoots about humanity. As far as he's concerned, humans are just pesky things that get in the way of his quest to rule the world and, if he could, I'm sure he'd stamp on the whole population. He's a dastardly dude, let me tell you!

While Vordak the Incomprehensible wasn't quite as good as I thought it would be and I'm now of the belief that Vordak is an acquired taste, I have no doubt that it will make its mark on the world of children's fiction. Readers will be enchanted by the pure evilness and hilarity that ensues, and I'm sure maniacal laughs will be heard through many a bookshop.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Iron King Blog Tour: Julie Kagawa Talks the Fey!

To celebrate the UK publication of The Iron King, I asked author Julie Kagawa about her interest in the fey and why she decided to write about them. Here's what she had to say...



Julie Kagawa


Why faeries?

I get this question a lot. Why faeries, and not vampires, werewolves, fallen angels, ect? What made you write about the fey?

Faeries, the real fey, have always fascinated me. And by real fey, I don’t mean the glittery winged Tinkerbelles, or the cute flower fairies of children’s books. I mean the fey of old, the proud, ancient creatures who stole infants and poisoned cattle and led humans off the path to starve in the woods. I mean the fey of the Grimm Brothers faery tales, or the Erlkoing ballad, or even A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Faeries have been largely sanitized by Disney and children’s stories, and it is only recently that they are beginning to make a comeback as what they always were; dangerous, capricious creatures who view humans as either playthings or light snacks.

Another reason faeries are so fascinating is that there are so many of them. Unlike vampires or werewolves, were there is just the one creature, the variety of different fey is staggering. Sidhe and phoukas, goblins and redcaps, trolls and spriggans and bogies and nixies. And every one of them has their own myths, their own legends. Whatever type of creature you need—evil, savage, benevolent, mischievous—there is a faery somewhere that fits that description.

But perhaps the most intriguing part about faeries is that they could be anywhere, right under our noses, and we wouldn’t know. Faery glamour allows them to be invisible to human eyes, unless they want to be seen, of course. Have you ever gotten the sensation that you’re being watched? Or you’ve seen something move out of the corner of your eye, but when you turn around there’s nothing? You might have caught the attention of the fey. In fact, they could be watching you right now, unseen and invisible, waiting for that perfect time to stri—


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The Sunday Express currently have an Iron King e-book giveaway, and you can find out more here.

To find out more about The Iron King, Julie Kagawa and Mira Ink's upcoming titles, visit their site!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Review: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull


Publisher: Aladdin
Format: Paperback
Released: April 24th, 2007
Grade rating: B+/A-


Amazon summary:

For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite. Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken -- Seth is a bit too curious and reckless for his own good -- powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most.

Review:

Up until a few months ago, I had never even heard of the Fablehaven series. I've been reading a lot of fantasy recently (Especially anything with faeries. I want recommendations!), so I asked my good friend Cat at Beyond Books for some help on what to read next. Being the fantasy and faerie expert that she is, she recommended this series. Thanks, Cat! I loved the first book, only putting it down so I could go to work. I mean really, who thought up the concept of work? Didn't they realise there would be reading to be done? *shakes head*

Fablehaven is exactly my kind of fantasy. It has mystical creatures galore, including faeries, imps and satyrs, wonderfully endearing characters, and a magical setting I wish I could visit. I was excited the whole time I was reading this book, and kept updating my dad on all the goings on. He too likes fantasy and small creatures, which is obviously where I get it from.

The idea of a sanctuary for fey folk and other creatures is pretty genius in my opinion. I'm sure it's been done before somewhere, but I've never come across it. I also like how the faeries of Fablehaven seemed like dragonflies and butterflies at first, and it wasn't until Kendra and Seth gained the sight that they realised they were actually faeries of all different kinds. I'm holding out hope for this happening in my own garden, but I don't think it will. Bah humbug.

Kendra and Seth were great characters that I liked instantly, though poor Seth could be a bit stupid. I lost count of how many times I shouted at my book, willing him to not be so daft and to stop opening the bloody window! He didn't hear me though 'cos he did it anyway. Boys will be boys, eh? I thought he'd learn from his first mistake, but no. He didn't. Instead he endangered Fablehaven and himself far too many times, much to the chagrin of his sensible sister. Kendra was like the voice of reason in the story, though even she too fell under Fablehaven's spell a few times. It seems curiosity is something that can't be avoided.

Fablehaven was a thrilling read, and I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Rise of the Evening Star. I can't wait to see what happens next, and am particularly excited to see if any new faeries will arrive on the scene. Brandon Mull set up some intriguing stuff in Fablehaven, and I have no doubt it will cause some trouble for Kendra, Seth and their family. I'm glad there are another 4 books for me to read, 'cos this is just what I was after!

Monday, 21 February 2011

News: City of Fallen Angels First Chapter!


Following on from last week's City of Fallen Angels Chapter ShadowHunt, tomorrow Kristi at The Story Siren will be posting a link to the full un-redacted first chapter, along with the last 13 pages that haven't yet been posted anywhere.

This will all be available tomorrow, with a link from Kristi's blog to Mortal Instruments.com.

Enjoy!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney


Publisher: Little, Brown
Format: Hardcover
Released: November 2nd, 2010
Grade rating: B-


Amazon summary:

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

Review:

I was looking forward to reading The Mockingbirds for months, and I can't help but say I was a little disappointed. I found it difficult to get into and hard going, thanks to my dislike of main protagonist Alex. Of course I felt bad for her and sympathised with her horrible situation, but I just never warmed to her. I thought my opinion would change as I got further into the book, but unfortunately it didn't. She just didn't engage me as a narrator, and I never picked up on the chemistry between her and Martin, which was a shame as I do think they were an overall good fit.

The parts of The Mockingbirds that were good were really good, especially the last 100 or so pages when things kick off for Alex and Carter, the boy accused of her date rape. I couldn't stand him; he was a loathsome character. He thought he was above everything and clearly didn't understand that sex is a choice, and requires an uttered "yes". The trial scenes that took place were gripping, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The Mockingbirds themselves were also a fantastic idea, as I love secret societies and that whole sense of camaraderie between the student body.

Where The Mockingbirds didn't work for me was in the justice system. I know from reading the author's note at the end that she experienced date rape herself, and had to go through the University Disciplinary Committee in order to press charges. Things don't work the same over here: if you're raped, you generally go to the police. For that reason, I couldn't wrap my head around not going to the authorities with a crime that disgusting. Yes, Themis Academy saw itself as the perfect school, but surely even they wouldn't have overlooked something as serious as rape? In the past I've known people who have gone through a similar ordeal, and each time the police or guardians were welcomed and involved. Without the option of being protected by them, what's left for us? Secret societies are all well and good, but do they really serve the punishment needed?

As you can see, I kinda liked The Mockingbirds, but I did have some problems with it. I will say that the writing was brilliant and I admire debut author Daisy Whitney for tackling such a difficult, but important, subject. She has my utmost respect for speaking out and raising awareness of date rape, and for that I think this book deserves to be read and heard by teenagers everywhere.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

EXCLUSIVE: UK Cover Reveal - Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster, I can exclusively present you with the lovely new UK cover for Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson! I loved this book, and you can read my review here.

It's published in the UK on July 7th, 2011, and is basically brilliant. A contemporary road trip... what's not to love?!




What do you think of the UK cover? I really like how important landmarks and objects from the story are featured - so cool!

US Vs. UK: Angel/Angel Burn Covers

US // UK

In the interest of being completely honest, I should admit that I have a big problem with the UK cover of Angel, and that's the model. I can't stand her. I think she looks creepy and all wrong for the book, and the chosen image spoils what could have been a mind-blowing cover. The background design and colours are spot-on, the strapline isn't out of place and the title font is brilliant. If a different image had been used, I have no doubt that this would have been one of my favourite covers of 2010! Instead, every time I see this, I see a horrible demon girl who will kill me in my sleep. *shudder*

The US edition, aside from having a different title, has a better cover for me. It's mysterious and pretty, and also reminds me of Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. As soon as I saw it I thought of James Patterson's book, which isn't as daft as it sounds if you've read it, I promise. Is it just me with that comparison?

I've already pre-ordered myself a US copy of Angel Burn, because it's also hardback. *grin* I much prefer hardbacks, especially if they have a lovely cover to boot. How about you? Which version of this book grabs you more?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann


Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Released: February 8th, 2011
Grade rating: A-


Amazon summary:

The small town of Cryer’s Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn’t that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain. When a second student goes missing—someone close to Kendall’s heart—the community is in an uproar. When Kendall starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she’s losing her grip on reality. Something’s not right in Cryer’s Cross—and Kendall’s about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

Review:

I'm a big fan of Lisa McMann and the Wake trilogy. However, I'll gladly admit to strongly disliking Gone, the final book in that series. Because of that, I was a bit worried what I'd think of Cryer's Cross, but my excitement won out and I decided to give it a chance. What an idiot I would have been if I hadn't!

Cryer's Cross is a creepy, old-school horror story set in a quiet hick town, where something evil is lurking. Kendall fins herself smack in the middle of it all, and when students start going missing, she realises things aren't all they seem in the sleepy town of Cryer's Cross. Think atmospheric scenes and a drawn-out mystery, and you pretty much have Cryer's Cross in a nutshell. As my friend mentioned last year, it's reminiscent of early Stephen King novels, which is obviously awesome!

Main characters Kendall and Jacian are about as far removed from Janie and Cabel as you could get, and starting a new series has been no problem for Lisa McMann. I immediately loved both Kendall and Jacian; I related to her OCD and sympathised with his unwanted move to Cryer's Cross. They worked well together as a team, and I liked how their friendship progressed - none of it was easy, but they did it.

McMann kept me in the dark for most of the book, and I guessed nothing. I had an inkling about what was going on, but I didn't quite tie the clues together, and was pleasantly surprised at the end. As always, McMann writes in a unique style, using the third person present tense to her full advantage. The plot moves speedily, description is kept to the essentials, and characterisation is allowed to progress realistically. I don't think I can fault Cryer's Cross, so I'm just going to leave it there. Read it!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

City of Fallen Angels Chapter Hunt + Giveaway!


This is possibly the coolest Tuesday on my blog ever, and I'm so excited to be part of the Chapter Shadowhunt for City of Fallen Angels by Cassie Clare! By the end of the week, you'll be able to piece together the full first chapter, by visiting the following blogs:

14th: Mundie Moms
15th: Wondrous Reads
16th: Novel Novice
17th: The Naughty Book Kitties
18th: The Story Siren


Click HERE to read chapter 1!


What do you guys think? Is this how you thought the book would open? Let me know!

[Don't forget that each blog is posting a redacted chapter, which means that bits will, and are supposed to be, missing. It will all be complete by Friday!]

Also, thanks to the generous people at the US branch of Simon & Schuster, I have one (1) copy of City of Fallen Angels to give away! This giveaway is open to US and UK only, and all you have to do is fill in the form below.

Rules & info:
  • Open to US and UK residents only!
  • End date: February 28th, 2011.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Book will be sent out by the publisher for the April 5th release, unless the winner is from the UK, in which case I'll be sending it on as soon as it reaches me.

Good luck, Shadowhunters!


Monday, 14 February 2011

Review: Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley


Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Paperback
Released: February 8th, 2011
Grade rating: B+


Amazon summary:

Meet Corrinne. She's living every girl's dream in New York City—shopping sprees at Barneys, open access to the best clubs and parties, and her own horse at the country club. Her perfect life is perfectly on track. At least it was... When Corrinne's father is laid off, her world suddenly falls apart. Instead of heading to boarding school, she's stripped of her credit cards and shipped off to the boonies of Texas to live with her grandparents. On her own in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the life she's supposed to be living. She doesn't care who she stomps on in the process. But when Corrinne makes an unlikely friend and discovers a total hottie at work, she begins to wonder if her life B.R.—before the recession—was as perfect as it seemed.

Review:

Until last week, I had heard absolutely nothing about this book. Not a word. Then I saw it in Kristi at The Story Siren's In My Mailbox post, and I bought it straight away. I mean, just look at the cover... does this book not scream HOT TEXAN COWBOY?! Why yes, yes it does. And there are! I must own any book set in Texas that features boys wearing cowboy boots as they stroll around fields saying "Y'all". It's a rule.

Where I Belong is fresh and funny, and full of Texan charm. It also reminded me of Melissa Walker's Lovestruck Summer, which is a book I almost proposed to in 2009. (Seriously, I was *this* close). I have a mini fascination with stories about people moving to new states or just Texas in general, though I have never (and probably will never - I'm scared of flying) been there. I don't know much about the state, but I am an avid Friday Night Lights fan. That show has taught me a lot, including how important football is to Texans, and how Friday night is usually spent watching the games. I also know there are lots of fields and a cool accent, but that's about as far as my knowledge goes. Unless you want to know what kind of jeans Tim Riggins wears...

My point is that I love learning about different places in the US. Things across the pond are so different to here in the UK, and Gwendolyn Heasley does a brilliant job of setting the scene. I felt I was actually in Texas with Corrinne, preparing for rodeos and driving a truck like something out of Twilight. Talking of Corrinne, our dear protagonist, I didn't like her at first. She's like Blair Waldorf in the heart of NYC, with bitchy friends and more money than sense. When her father loses everything in the recession, she's forced to leave her whole life behind, and move to Broken Spoke, Texas. Boys there are called Bubby and Rider, there's no mall and *gasp* money is earned by working. If ever there was a fall from grace, this is it.

Just like Texas grew on Corrinne, she grew on me. I ended up really liking her, not least because she actually evolves and accepts her situation. She makes a few friends, gets a job and realises that money isn't everything. The end was kind of a cliffhanger and I have questions left, dammit. What happened after the final page? Will I ever find out? A sequel has been set up perfectly, and I hope one is already in the works. I want to find out what happens to Corrinne!

I very rarely mention grammar in my reviews but in this case I feel the need to, as it affected my reading experience. Instead of using contractions like "I'm" and "we're" etc., almost every instance of these words being used in thoughts or dialogue is written as "I am" or "we are". It really bothered me, and slowed the sentences down. Most of the dialogue was coming from teenagers who would abbreviate anyway, but by talking this way they lost their realism. It came across as too formal and grammatically correct, which just didn't work in this context. I don't know if I've made sense here, but I hope I have.

Overall, Where I Belong is a fun, light read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to fans of contemporary fiction along the lines of Elizabeth Scott and Jenny Han. It isn't quite as established or deep as these authors' books, but it's equally as readable. I love nothing better than discovering new books through the blogging community, and this is one example of word of mouth working well and helping me find a new author to enjoy. Two thumbs up!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

In My Mailbox #108: 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 great week for books: I received some exciting titles for review and also bought some adult books in a 3 for £5 promo at a shop called The Works. I don't buy a lot of adult books, but I'd heard that Gail Carriger's were good and kind of a crossover. I think I'll like them. I also saw the Never Let Me Go movie this week, and wow! I'm now really excited to read the book which, luckily, I bought the other week. I've been thinking about the story all day... powerful stuff!

I'm at the fifth UK Twilight Saga convention next weekend, so my IMM will either be on the Monday or the weekend after. Can't wait!


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For review:
I'm looking forward to reading this one. It sounds fun!

My friend at Puffin got this hardcover finished copy signed for me, including Simon Scarrow's special seal. How cool?! It was a lovely surprise.

I'd heard nothing about this until it arrived in the post, but I must say it sounds brilliant. The cover is ace too, though doesn't show up on photos very well.

These sound quite funny, and a little bit mad. Another surprise for this week.

Can't wait to read this one. The UK proof is lovely too... so white and the inside of each cover is bright gold. Exciting!

This is another I hadn't ever heard of, but it's about Irish folklore - fairies and stuff. I think it's right up my street.

I read this about two years ago when it first came out in the US. My review is here.

I have all three books in this series now, so I should probably start reading them. I hear they're good!

These all arrived so that I could see the new covers that Bloomsbury are launching next month. I've only read the third book, so I'm really happy to have the other two. The new covers are so nice!

This is another one I read about two years ago when it was published in the US. It's an amazing book. I loved it. Review here.

Looking forward to reading this - Gillian is a great writer!


~




Bought:
I love the cover of this book. And it's about fairies. :)

I'm a crazy book collector, and I buy US editions too. So when I saw the US cover for Delirium, I had to buy it. I'm going to do a comparative US/UK post soon with lots of pictures, as it's beautiful!

Another book I'd never heard of until last Sunday, when I saw it mentioned in The Story Siren's IMM post. I'm reading it now and I love it!

I hear Lindsey is a funny chick-lit writer. Now I just need to get the first two in the series.

These sound great, and I've been meaning to buy them for ages. Hope I like them. Also: all three for £5!!

J.R. Ward is another author who I hear is brilliant and well worth a read. I have book one in her BDB vampires series, and now the first two in the Fallen Angels series. I'll give 'em a go!


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Gift:
This was a late Christmas present from my mum and dad. They had originally ordered the paperback for me, but I don't know what's going on with that - it doesn't seem to exist. The hardback was only a bit more expensive and Amazon.co.uk had one in stock, so... here we are!



Happy reading everyone!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Guest Post: Karen Mahoney Talks Social Media

Karen Mahoney



How the Internet Saved My Life
by Karen Mahoney


Social Media. The latest ‘buzz’ phrase to hit the Internet, especially in the world of writers and writing and bloggers and reviewers and readers and publishers and agents and… and… (You get the idea. *g*)

Social Media is a term I can't get behind. I’m sorry, I know it’s a popular phrase, but I started blogging before it took off quite to the extent that it has today. I was blogging before Twitter – although I LOVE Twitter and have fully embraced it.

Facebook? Please. Don’t talk to me about Facebook. I know it’s hugely popular, and I swear I’ve tried to love it, but I just don’t ‘get’ it. I can’t explain it better than that, because I really have attempted to throw myself into the Facebook world, but it’s not for me. Maybe I’ll give it another chance one day, but for now it’s over for us. I’m sorry… ;)

I love my blog. I love Twitter.

Jenny asked: As a debut author, has being active online helped me?

Absolutely.

Do I recommend aspiring authors to get online and ‘social network’ to their heart’s content?

Not necessarily.

Let me clarify: I think anyone who wants to become a published author needs some kind of online presence (a basic website would be the minimum), but I think it’s important not to spread yourself too thin. I don’t think it’s possible to have meaningful online presence in half-a-dozen places. (The key word there is ‘meaningful.’)

My advice would be to find the one or two things that work for you – things you actually enjoy – and stick with those. Be good at them. Have some real, meaningful interactions with people on those forums, and don’t try to be ‘all things’ to all social media platforms. You’ll just end up scattered and unable to do any single one of them well. It’s about what you enjoy – what you find genuinely fun and rewarding – not doing something because you feel you ‘should,’ maybe because ‘everyone else is doing it.’ Honestly, you’ll come unstuck that way.

The thing for me as a debut author, is that I suppose I’m quite lucky: when I first set up a blog at the very start of 2007, I didn’t have any notion of ‘networking’ or doing something to further my career. What career? At the beginning of 2007 I was taking my first tentative steps back into writing, having given up for the previous 5 years. (Seriously. Five whole years!) My blog became my way of journaling my journey as a writer – I wanted to make friends, not contacts, which is why I started my blogging life on LiveJournal. LJ is an awesome place for community, and many writers seem to gravitate there – especially when they’re just starting out.

The difficulty some authors have (imho) is starting out online quite ‘late’ – for example, after they have a book deal. Not that I’m saying it’s ever really ‘too late’ (better late than never!); we’re not talking about something of Dire Importance. It’s just blogging. Or tweeting. Or… facebooking. ;) But I think if you start out online when you start taking your writing seriously – or even before then – you’ll find yourself naturally making friends and ‘contacts,’ so that the process is organic and not in any way contrived. That’s what happened for me, I think. I had a wonderful circle of genuine online friends way before I signed with my agent or got a book deal; friends who became critique partners and beta readers, and some who even became actual Real Life friends.

I think the trick is not to let yourself get overwhelmed: start small. Try each thing out and find one you like, then stick with that. I love Twitter now, and I do put a lot of time into it; but that’s honestly because I love chatting to people on there. I find out so much about the publishing industry, too, and people are always tweeting links to cool articles and blog posts that can help you to keep up-to-date with what’s going on. I still blog, though I do let it slip occasionally. With that in mind, I attempted to blog every day of January to coincide with the release of The Iron Witch – just to see if I could manage it. I didn’t quite do all the days… I managed to post 26 days out of 30, but at least it proved to me that I could still make a regular commitment to updating my blog. I won’t be blogging every day for the rest of the year (eek!), but I’ll still make sure to post more consistently because I actually do enjoy it.

Meanwhile, please follow me on Twitter – I’d love to talk to you there. I always try to reply to everyone and would love to hear from you! :)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Review: Almost True by Keren David


Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Format: Paperback
Released: September 2nd, 2010
Grade rating: A-


Amazon summary:

Ruthless killers are hunting Ty so the police move him and his mum to a quiet seaside town. But a horrific attack and a bullet meant for Ty prove that he’s not safe. On the road again, Ty’s in hiding with complete strangers . . . who seem to know a lot about him. Meanwhile he’s desperate to see his girlfriend Claire, and terrified that she may betray him. Ty can’t trust his own judgement and he’s making dangerous decisions that could deliver him straight to the gangsters.

Review:

Almost True is the sequel to When I Was Joe, a brilliant, important book about knife crime and how it affects families and victims. These books have been critically acclaimed by almost everyone, and it's praise that is very well-deserved. Keren David kind of came out of nowhere early last year, quickly taking readers by storm and building a huge fan base for herself. She's so good at what she does, and her writing seems almost effortless.

I read When I Was Joe and Almost True about a year apart, and I'd forgotten just how easy it is to fall back into Ty's world. I think this is largely due to the quality of writing and ease of the prose; once you start reading, it's very hard to stop. Each character in these books is so realistic, they could easily be someone you know or are acquainted with. There are no ridiculously over the top shoot-outs or gang life, instead what you get is a family trying their bets to stay alive and out of the limelight. It's such a hard way to live, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it. I'd constantly be looking over my shoulder and worrying that the Witness Protection Program had failed. I couldn't live like that.

Almost True carries on where When I Was Joe left off, but now Ty and his mum are in a new town. Tragedy strikes again, and they find themselves on the run, just like before. A family of gangsters are trying to stop Ty from testifying against them in court, and they are relentless. Rather than run away scared, Ty just deals with it. It's a testament to his character that he faces the danger head-on, and won't be forced to change his statement or lie in court. He has copious amounts of courage, and really is an inspiration to everyday people in similar situations.

Due to its subject matter, Almost True isn't by any means an easy read. Violence and murder are par for the course in Ty's life, and the realisation that things like this actually happen in the world, and are happening right now, is one of the scariest aspects of unravelling this story. It's a compelling read, though I did marginally prefer When I Was Joe. I think the shock of the first book, and it being one of the first to tackle knife crime in this way, slightly elevated its impact on me.

Almost True
is no less terrifying, and is just as well written and addictive as the first book. As I said in my When I Was Joe review last year, I still think everyone, especially in schools, should be introduced to Ty's story. I'm positive it would have a knock-on effect, and would show students that knife crime can happen anywhere, to anyone. Awareness is key, and that's what Keren David brings to the table here. Well done to her.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Perfect

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

* Published by: Margaret K. McElderry (US)
* Format: Hardcover (US)
* Release Date: September 13th, 2011 (US)
* On Amazon: here


Summary from Amazon.com:

Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.

Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never understand.

Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?

A riveting and startling companion to the bestselling Impulse, Ellen Hopkins's Perfect exposes the harsh truths about what it takes to grow up and grow into our own skins, our own selves.


I love everything that Ellen Hopkins writes. Her style and poetry is amazing, and she never ever shies away from hard-hitting, realistic subjects. Her Crank trilogy is one of my favourites, and every year I look forward to a new book from her. Perfect is a companion novel to Impulse, which I also read and loved. I can't wait to see how everything fits together. Oh, and I also think this is Ellen's best cover yet - wow!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Review: The Real Rebecca by Anna Carey


Publisher: O'Brien Press
Format: Paperback
Released: February 1st, 2011
Grade rating: B/B+


Amazon summary:

My name is Rebecca Rafferty, and my mother has ruined my life. Again. I didn't mind her writing boring books for grown-ups. But now she's written one about an awful girl my age and everyone thinks it's me! Including the boy who delivers our newspapers, aka Paperboy, aka the most gorgeous boy in the whole world. Oh, the shame! And if that wasn't awful enough, the biggest pain in my class wants to use my 'fame' to get herself on the reality show My Big Birthday Bash. I've just got to show everyone the REAL Rebecca. But how?

Review:

When it comes to YA books for girls, I'm a big fan of the diary-entry style perfected by such authors as Louise Rennison and Liz Rettig. They're always fun and easy to read, and often very, very funny. I hadn't even heard of The Real Rebecca before it arrived in my post box, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it. While not quite as funny as books by the aformentioned authors, it definitely had a certain spark to it - I read it in one sitting!

Rebecca isn't your typical 14-year-old girl. She attends an all-girls school in Ireland, doesn't know many boys and has a popular author for a mother. This causes many embarrassing moments, especially when her mum writes a teen book about a teenage girl. Everyone automatically assumes it's based on Rebecca herself, and what follows is a painful amount of media attention and school teasing. Along with best friends Cass and Alice, Rebecca takes it all in her stride. The way she deals with all her embarrassing teen moments reminded me of one of my literary heroines, Georgia Nicolson. No-one handled things quite like her!

The Real Rebecca deals with all sorts of teenage problems: boys and the age-old does-he-like-me? conundrum, ridiculous family wars and the longing to fit in among school peers. Carey tackles each subject with humour and realism, not to mention deadpan one-liners that will have you laughing out loud. Teen girls will no doubt see themselves in Rebecca, especially when it comes to talking to attractive paper boys who appear on their doorstep every Friday night. If you're stuck for what to do in that situation, this book just might help you!

Judging by the ending, I'm guessing that The Real Rebecca is the start of a new series, which I'm glad about. I love books like this, and they're always a welcome break from the more serious YA I read. If you're looking for an enjoyable, angst-ridden account of a 14-year-old's life, I think you've found the right book. It's well worth a read.

Monday, 7 February 2011

News: City of Fallen Angels Chapter Hunt!


Simon & Schuster US and Cassie Clare have just announced the City of Fallen Angels Chapter Hunt, which means I can finally talk about it! :D The hunt will take place during the week of February 14th, and each day five blogs will be posting a redacted version of the first chapter. By the end of the week you'll be able to piece them all together to get the full thing.

This is the only CoFA sneak peek until April 5th! Here's the schedule:

February:

14th: Mundie Moms
15th: Wondrous Reads
16th: Novel Novice
17th: The Naughty Book Kitties
18th: The Story Siren

I'm really excited to post my chapter section up next Tuesday, and even more excited to read the whole sneak peek. See you then!



Review: Quarry by Ally Kennen + Giveaway! (UK only)


Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Paperback
Released: February 7th, 2011
Grade rating: B


Amazon summary:

When he receives anonymous texts challenging him to bizarre dares, Scrappy's sure one of his mates is having a laugh. Anyway, his confusing teenage life just got more exciting. But the unknow sender cannot be a friend - and the challenges become increasingly dangerous. Someone knows all the secrets of Scrappy's troubled family - and is luring him into a deadly trap...

Review:

YA thriller isn't a genre I've read a lot of, as there just doesn't seem to be many out there. I like thrillers, though - suspense and scares are high on my list of 'likes', and I'm happy to have found a new author with a backlist of titles for me to wade through. Quarry is Ally Kennen's latest offering - as well as the first of her books I've read - and I liked it.

I didn't know what to expect when I started Quarry. What I ended up getting was a fast-paced, chilling story of dares and boundaries, with an underlying message of just how far would you go? Main character Scrappy lives with his father and sister, along with his slightly batty grandad who thinks bad people called 'Geebos' exist and are out to get him. Grandad Ted provided much of the book's humour, and he was my favourite character. I liked his impulsiveness and his ability to ignore those around him - getting old and finding your mind deteriorating isn't by any means a fun thing to go through, but the way Ted deals with it is fairly light and easy to read.

Although I sympathised with Scrappy and his situation, I never became as attached to him as I would have liked. He was a bit too much of a mystery for me to completely get inside his head, and I also had some trouble believing he wouldn't have involved an adult when strange, dangerous text messages started appearing on his phone. I'd be too scared to not talk to someone about it, though maybe that's just me!

Quarry is tense and genuinely chilling, with a conclusion that never even occurred to me. Honestly, I think I've been born without the gene to work things out. It never, ever happens! In this case, at least I was as gobsmacked as Scrappy was, and I experienced the shock at the same time he did. I'm interested in reading more of Ally Kennen's books, as they appeal to my jumpy, thriller-loving side. A refreshing read with a sinister twist, Quarry isn't for those of a nervous disposition!


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Giveaway!

Scholastic have very kindly offered to give away one (1) set of signed Ally Kennen books, including: Beast, Bedlam, Berserk, Sparks and Quarry. To be in with a chance of winning, just fill in the form below!

Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only!
  • End date: February 14th, 2011.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Book will be sent out by the publisher.


Sunday, 6 February 2011

In My Mailbox #107: New Books This Week (+ vlog)


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

I had such a good week this week! On Wednesday I went out to dinner with Barry Hutchison (author of the Invisible Fiends series) and Tiffany from HarperCollins, and on Thursday I went to London to a Simon & Schuster blogger event. We met authors, listened to a Q&A session and got to chat to bloggers, said authors and lovely S&S people. It was a great 2 hours!

I've attempted a vlog this week, though it isn't very good quality. I'll post it anyway, but go easy on me... I'm not at all good with videos ;)




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For review:
  • Stories by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

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Bought:

Gift:
(Thanks to Caroline from Portrait of a Woman for this exclusive gold edition!)


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[Quote from the back of Raising Demons].


[Quote from the inside of Out of Shadows].



Happy reading, everyone!