Sunday, 31 July 2011

In My Mailbox #132: 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!

So this week was AWESOME! I, along with I think 8 other UK bloggers and some other cool people, went to the Poison Diaries book launch at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland! We stayed over on the Wednesday night, met the Duchess of Northumberland, did lots of cool stuff and saw where they filmed parts of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I also received lots of ace books in the post what a week! I'll be writing an Alnwick trip report soon, so look out for that if you like castles!



Anyways, here are the books I got this week:


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For review:
This was a nice surprise as I really like Chris Priestley's books. Looking forward to this one!

YAY! Even though I still haven't read book 2 (shame on me) I really did love book 1 so I'll try and catch up soon. Michelle thanked me and my mum in the acknowledgements of this one too - so cool!

I have this in hardback but this new paperback is lovely. Another unexpected surprise!

I had never heard of this before I opened the parcel, and I think it's an adult novel they're maybe trying to aim at teens too. Not sure on that, though. It has a quote on the front from Florence Welch (aka my musical female idol) so I'll definitely be reading it!

Another YAY for this one! We each got given a copy of this at the Alnwick event and I can't wait to read it. The Duchess of Northumberland also signed it.

I like the sound of this one!

I didn't like the first book in this series so I doubt I'll read it. Pretty cover though.

This is also a lovely looking book - and a hardback! I need to catch up with this series pronto.

Sequel to Black Swan Rising. Sounds ace.

  • Hades by Alexandra Adornetto
I still haven't read Halo, and to be honest I've heard some pretty bad reports.

Sounds intriguing!

This is another adult novel that randomly arrived, but it sounds brilliant. It has teenage characters again, so maybe it's a bit of a crossover.

I read the first 2 books in this series and they were ok. I'll probably give this one a go.

Hurrah, my paperback collection is complete! I read this in hardback last year, and it was my favourite book of 2010. My review is here.


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Bought:
Bought this at the castle and the Duchess signed it. It's such a lovely book with illustrations and a new Weed story.

Gotta have finished copies of all Jenn's books!

I've heard nothing but good things about this (especially from Cat) so I bought a copy. Really looking forward to it!





Happy reading!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

We Can be Heroes Blog Tour: Catherine Bruton Author Interview!

Catherine Bruton is the debut author of We Can be Heroes, which is a story about friendship, 9/11, bombs and an unforgettable summer. It's published by Egmont on August 1st, and you can find out more about Catherine and the book at her official site: Catherine Bruton.com.

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What inspired you to write We Can be Heroes?

Lots and lots of things. The central idea came from an article I wrote for The Times in 2008 about children who lost a parent in the September 11th terrorist attacks http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article4706754.ece

I included interviews with four American teenagers who had lost a mum or dad on 9/11. They talked about fear of forgetting (‘Some of my memories of Dad are fading and it scares me’); anger at the media (‘They’re showing my dad’s death on TV all the time and it’s just really offensive’); growing up in the shadow of 9/11 (‘You can’t escape it. It’s just everywhere you go’) and about looking to the future and wanting to help others (‘I don’t think I would be the same person if 9/11 didn’t happen to me’, ‘Maybe if I can help give back it will spread and people won’t do things like hijack airplanes and take the lives of other people.’)

I also interviewed a British boy whose father had been one of the victims of the July 7th London terrorist attacks. ‘When my dad was killed it felt like I didn’t have time to grieve,’ he told me. ‘Suddenly I was the man of the house and all the responsibility that entailed was suddenly foisted upon me.’

Those voices are at the heart of the story I decided to tell about a 12 year old British boy who lost his father in the 9/11 attacks and the friendship he forms with a crazy madcap little Muslim girl who thinks her brother is a suicide bomber.

With my shrink head on I can now see that it also probably had something to do with the fact that my own father had just died of cancer (something I only just figured out a couple of months ago – duh!) and also about the effect I could see my grief having on my own little boy who was the original inspiration for the character of Ben.

After that about a million other things inspired me, from a couple of other quite serious articles I’d been writing for The Times – on mothers who live apart from their children, bereaved children, 9/11, eating disorders etc. – to silly stuff like the Year 9 boys doodling manga cartoons in my lessons; my daughter’s obsession with wheelie shoes; re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird; the mischief my kids and their pals got up to (nibbled washing machines, disappearing lap top keys etc!); reading teen spy books to my son at bedtime (I LOVE Alex Ryder!); a joke somebody made about a terrorist moving in across the road; watching Son of Rambo and Juno; the Muhammed family wedding on Elm Grove . . . and lots more that I’ve probably forgotten. The whole lot seemed to come together in a big muddle and the silly stuff was as big an inspiration as the serious bits.

Oh, and I’ve been told to add that my hubbie and kiddy-winkles are an inspiration to me every day and in every way! Here’s hoping that makes up for dereliction of wifely duties, complete absence of house-wifery and general away-with-the-fairy-ness whilst I’ve been writing the book. Thanks, guys, couldn’t have done it without you!




Was your publication process an easy one?

Good question! Because my agent thought We Can be Heroes was a crossover book - which meant it would appeal to adults and younger readers - this posed a question about which publishers to pitch it to. In the initial version the kids were a lot younger and my agent made me redraft it and make them a couple of years older, which required huge rewrites!

Then we submitted to a couple of adult publishers who were really enthusiastic about the book but they all said that the character of Ben was missing something – that he didn’t engage the reader’s sympathy enough. So my wonderful, super- astute and ever so patient agent suggested yet another rewrite before approaching more publishers.

Now I’m generally of the opinion that if you are ever in need of inspiration, kids will usually provide it. So I used my Year 10s as guinea pigs and took in an article on 9/11 to class (we were studying media at the time so there was an educational point to this as well – honestly!) After the lesson one of the boys, Ollie said to me, ‘You know, Miss, after 9/11 I just kept doodling cartoons of planes flying into towers.’ I had a proper light-bulb moment and that evening I went home and rewrote the whole novel, weaving in the thread about Ben and his doodling and the way he interprets all the events of the novel through his manga comic strip (which now appears in the back of the book!). It’s funny because that is now my favourite part of the whole novel and such a key part of Ben that I can’t quite believe it wasn’t there from the beginning. It also means Ollie gets a massive thank you at the back of the book!

And that must have been the missing ingredient because Egmont made an offer for it a couple of weeks later. They invited me to a meeting, gave me chocolate cake and Mr Gum books and told me they loved We Can be Heroes and it was one of the loveliest days of my life!

So I think I’m really lucky to have such a fab agent who spotted what the book was missing and also to have such a great editor at Egmont who then went on to work with me to make We Can be Heroes even better still. People often don’t realise how much an editor does but there is so much creative input in the editing stages. I found it incredibly exciting and a really wonderful collaborative process which I have loved every minute of.


Photo by Chris Frost.


How have you handled the subject of the 9/11 terrorist attacks? With humour, gritty realism?

Does it sound really odd to say that I hope it is quite funny? I mean, I draw my inspiration from heart-breaking real life stories and I really, really hope that I’ve been true to them in the novel, but I was also really chuffed with the ‘Curious Incident’ and ‘Millions’ comparisons - because those are both amazing books that deal with very serious topics but with humour, so that you are laughing one minute and crying the next. I’d love to think that’s what Heroes does too.
I also think that’s actually quite true to life. The thing I noticed about my own son after my dad died was that he’d be asking really complex questions about cancer and the after-life one minute, then dressing up as Hannah Montana and feeding his sister slug pies the next (he won’t thank me for telling you the Hannah Montana bit but I have the photos to prove it!). I think that’s what I wanted to inject into the book. The main characters are confronted with some really troubling things: racism, extremism, the terrorist threat, kidnap, family breakdown and eating disorders – and there are some dark and difficult elements to the book, but there’s a lot of crazy, mad-cap laugh-out-loud silliness too!

I haven't come across many children's books that deal with 9/11 so honestly. Did you ever think it would be too much for your younger readers to handle?

This is such an important question and, yes, I have worried about this. My own children asked me recently to tell them the story of We Can be Heroes and it meant telling them about 9/11, which they knew nothing about (they are only 8 and 6). For a long time afterwards they wanted to talk about the terrorist attacks and why they happened and, if I’m honest, a bit of me just wants to shelter them from all the bad and scary stuff out there and for them never to have to know that awful things happen in the world.

But then I read the recent article in the ‘Wall Street Journal’ that was calling for ‘no-go’ areas in teen fiction and it got me all riled because I also passionately believe that fiction is an amazing safe space for readers, young and old, to confront the more troubling realities of our world and of human nature and work through them. I’ve written more extensively on this (check out the blog I’m doing on 5th August at Serendipity Reviews) but in a nutshell I don’t think that writers/publishers/parents/teachers should underestimate young readers - or patronise them. And I also think that fiction has an important role to play in helping young readers see things from new perspectives, opening their eyes to other people’s views on the world and – to borrow a phrase from Harper Lee – encouraging them to, ‘climb into [another person’s] skin and walk around in it.’

I did a lot of research though because I did take the responsibility of writing about such a controversial topic very seriously. I think writers need to be honest when dealing with complex and troubling themes but also to leave room for readers to form their own opinions. I also feel that fiction dealing with controversial topics needs to offer hope. Not answers or pat solutions but hope.

So, basically, I hope the novel will challenge readers - young and old - but in a good way.
Oh, and I’ve realised I need to stop wrapping my own kids up in cotton wool quite so much – must work on that one!


What do you hope your readers take away from your book?

Well, I guess fundamentally the novel is about prejudice of all different kinds, and, although I really don’t think it is the place of fiction to preach or convert, I suppose at the heart of We Can be Heroes there is a message about the need for tolerance and reconciliation.

But that makes it sound horribly didactic! Mainly I hope readers will get so caught up in the story they won’t be able to put it down. I hope it will make them laugh and cry and then laugh again. And I hope and that afterwards the characters and the story will stay in their minds because that’s what the best stories do, isn’t it?

Mind you, it’s really hard to know with your own book because you are so close to it. I just hope readers enjoy it and I’m really looking forward to hearing what readers think which might be completely different to the way I see it!

I really love your UK cover, it reminds me of a movie poster. Did you have any input into its design?

Thank you! I love it too! It went through several versions before it landed up on the one we have now and I can take no credit for its brilliance because it was all down to the incredible Tom at Egmont. I did request the slightly wackier clothes for Priti but I think that’s the full extent of my involvement apart from a lot of excited squeaking, jumping up and down and saying. ‘I just love it’!

Egmont wanted the book to really stand out on the shelves and look totally different from anything else out there which I think it really does.

You can check out the German version of the cover on my website too - www.catherinebruton.com. It even has a different title: it’s called The 9/11 Boy which was my original title for the book. I’d love to hear what people think about the different covers and titles!

Can you tell us anything about what you're writing next?

Yes! I’m working on a novel called Pop! which comes out next year and which I am very excited about. The tag-line will be something along the lines of: ‘Never mess with the rules of Talent TV’ (or something like that) because it’s about these kids from oop North (like me) who decide to enter a TV talent contest (X-factor/BGT style) as a way to escape the from the credit-crunch crapness of their lives: striking dads, walkabout mams and pushy parents with Olympic dreams and celeb-gossip obsessions. It’s Billy Elliot meets Slumdog Millionaire via Britain’s got Talent and it has been great fun to write because finally I have been able to indulge my guilty passion for reality TV and justify it as research!!

I’ve also written the first draft of another novel which I am quietly excited and terrified about. Excited because I really love the idea and terrified because my first drafts are always PANTS and I know I’m going to have to do a lot of work to make it into what I want it to be. I can’t tell you about it now because it’s a fragile wee thing and I fear if I say too much it may curl up and die on me! New ideas are like that! So wish me luck and watch this space!


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Thanks for answering all of my questions, Catherine! Check out the next blog tour stop at Fluttering Butterflies on Sunday July 31st.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Review: Skellig by David Almond


Publisher: Hodder
Format: Paperback
Released: April 19th, 2007 (new ed.)
Grade rating: B/B+


Amazon summary:

Michael can feel his sick baby sister's heart beating inside him, and as long as he can feel it he knows she is alive. But as her condition becomes life-threatening and the family faces the nightmare of an operation to save her life, Michael turns to his new friend Mina and the strange being, Skellig, who has been living beneath the crumbling garage at the family's new home.

Review:

Skellig is one of those books I've heard a lot about but never got around to reading. Even the TV adaptation didn't make me rush out and buy a copy (as is usually the case), but this week I finally got hold of it. I'm glad I did because it's a lovely book - I now see why everyone speaks so highly of it!

Skellig is simply written and quite short, but Almond packs so much in to its 170 pages. There's lots of character development, mystery and emphasis on friendship which, when you put them all together, makes for a fantastic read.

The story itself deals with a baby born prematurely, and what happens afterwards. Michael worries for his newborn sister, and in the process makes friends with home-schooled Mina. One day he finds a strange man in his garage, a man who eats flies and has a liming for Chinese food. The man is a special creature, and one that can help Michael and his family more than he realises.

I enjoyed Skellig, with it's haunting prose and underlying themes of grief and loss. I imagine it would be a comfort to anyone in a similar situation to Michael and his family, and I completely understand why it's become somewhat of a children's classic. It certainly leaves an impression on everyone who reads it, and I'll be starting on the prequel, My Name is Mina, very soon. I'm intrigued to see what Almond does with her complex character - I definitely want to know more about the mysterious Mina!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Exclusive Trailer Reveal: Soul Beach by Kate Harrison!


Soul Beach is the first title to be launched as part of Orion's new YA imprint, Indigo. It's by Kate Harrison, who has previously written adult novels, and is a brilliant thriller with many an intriguing twist. I've read it myself and really enjoyed it - it's creepy and unusual, and it made me think about the internet and this virtual life we've all become so accustomed to.


Above: Kate Harrison. Photo by Ed Miller.


Here's a bit more information from Amazon:

When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . . . But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next?

Soul Beach is published on September 1st, 2011, and I'm very excited to be debuting the trailer. Click here to see it or watch the video below. Take a look and let me know what you think!


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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Review: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt


Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Paperback
Released: July 7th, 2011
Grade rating: B/B+


Amazon summary:

After discovering her father has Multiple Sclerosis, Payton Gritas'slife crumbles. Aiming to save Payton from denial the school counselorgets Payton to write Focus Exercises. But all Payton can see is the over-sized head of the boy who sits in front of her: Sean Griswold. Payton's stared at the back of Sean Griswold's head every day of her high school life. So why does it suddenly seem so, um, gorgeous?!

Review:

I was pleasantly surprised by Sean Griswold's Head, though I must admit that I didn't like it as much as other bloggers seemed to. I think my expectations may have been too high, and it was also different to what I thought it would be. Still, it's well worth a read, and it made me laugh out loud in places. That's always a good thing in my book!

Sean Griswold's Head was a lot more serious than I initially thought it would be. Not that that's a bad thing, it just wasn't what I was expecting. It focuses heavily on Payton's dad's MS, which isn't an illness I knew an awful lot about before reading this book. I now feel more educated about it, but whether that's good for my hypochondria, I'm not sure (ha!). It sounds like a truly terrible thing to live with, and Leavitt does a fantastic job of explaining it to people unfamiliar with the illness.

Although this book is serious, it's also very funny, thanks to Peyton's sarcasm and I-don't-care-attitude. After seeing a therapist she chooses Sean Griswold's head as her focus, and what follows is quite an unconventional relationship. I was drawn in and believed in Payton and Sean as a couple almost instantly, but the fact that they never showed any affection bothered me. I know this book is written for younger YA readers, but it took some of the realism away for me. I'm sure teenagers can't keep their hands off each other usually, so why the veto on any physical contact? I was a bit puzzled by that.

Sean Griswold's Head is a great summer read, and it's one that is layered, clever and witty. Payton will make you laugh, her best friend Jac will make you want to act just like her and Sean will make you swoon. It has all the ingredients to make a perfect contemporary romantic novel, but it also has that older, serious side to it. I'm looking forward to whatever Leavitt comes up with next - she's definitely an author to look out for!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Review: Boys for Beginners by Lil Chase


Publisher: Quercus
Format: Paperback
Released: August 4th, 2011
Grade rating: B+


Amazon summary:

Thirteen-year-old Gwynnie is just about to turn fourteen. While other girls in her year are all about boys and make-up, the closest she's got to a boy is in a tackle on the football field. But when the totally hot Charlie Notts starts at school, Gwynnie decides now might be the time to start being a girl. Gwynnie enlists the help of a gang of girls at school, headed by the super-confident Jenny. But is it really safe for Gwynnie to be let loose with lash curlers and strong eye-shadow? Has Jenny got a hidden agenda while giving Gwynnie her make-over? And will Charlie ever see her as more than a killer football player with skinny legs? When everything comes to a head at the school prom, Gwynnie will learn some truths about herself and her new found girly friends. Has she risked the firm friendships she has with boys for that first kiss?

Review:

I'd been in a bit of a reading slump before I read Boys for Beginners, but I'm happy to report that it brought me right out of it! It reminded me of Louise Rennison's hilarious Georgia Nicolson series which got me through my teen years, and I can see Boys for Beginners doing exactly the same for teenagers today.

I really identified with main character Gwynnie because, like her, I was always the tomboy in secondary school (and primary school, actually!). I was the one who would play football with the boys and who wouldn't have a clue about fashion or make-up. I must admit, nothing's really changed now! I like reading about different female YA characters, as not every single girl in the world is obsessed with how they look or dress. It's refreshing to see a different perspective when it comes to being a teenage girl, and Lil Chase does a great job of showing that it's okay to be on the outskirts of the cool kids. You know the type... they're like the rulers of the school who can make your life hell at the drop of a hat. I knew there was a reason I don't miss my school days. *shudder*

Aside from Boys for Beginners being very funny (which it is), realistic (cringe-worthingly so) and scarily relatable (was I really like that? Yes, yes I was...) it's also a great commentary on modern social ideals and what's deemed cool or acceptable. Teenagers these days face so many pressures, it's a wonder they manage to function at all. Between fitting in and looking right, there really isn't much room for anything else, and the media does nothing to help. Chase showcases Gwynnie's insecurities through humour and a change of direction, which ultimately leads Gwynnie to realise that you don't have to give up things you love in order to make new friends and be one of those cool kids. People should like you for who you are, and she sees that eventually. She has to go through a fair few embarrassments and learning curves first, but she gets there.

I really enjoyed this book; it's the prefer blend of light humour and serious life lessons. Fans of Louise Rennison, Liz Rettig and Carmen Reid will love every page, and will find a fab new author in the process. There's lots of boy tips too, though I wouldn't recommend paying attention to all of them - learn from Gwynnie's mistakes, just as she does. Oh, and don't wish your teen years away - looking back, they're actually quite fun!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

In My Mailbox #131: 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!

Another great week this week - SO many good books that I can't wait to read! Also, let it be known that my blogging friends are the best! :)

Here's what was in my mailbox this week:


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For review:
  • Between by Jessica Warman (UK proof/ARC)
This sounds great - it's been called 'The Lovely Bones for teenagers'!

Now *this* is exciting! Thanks to Penguin USA for shipping it all the way here!

Another one that sounds like it'll be a great read.

These sound like The Famous Five so I'm really looking forward to reading them!

I need to read Linger...

I started this and didn't get very far. I loved Genesis but this is very different and I couldn't get into it at all. I might come back to it sometime.

I need to read the first one in this series too!

This looks kooky. Hope it's as funny as it sounds!

This was a nice surprise - yay angels!

I love these new paperback editions - they have coloured page edges!!

Read this the other day and it was brilliant. Suzanne is a fantastic writer.


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Bought:
I like Lauren's other books so fingers crossed I like this one too.

Another book to add to the undead collection!

Lovestruck Summer was one of the best books I read in 2009, and I can't wait to read this!

I read Skellig this week: it's a lovely book. I look forward to My Name is Mina!

I've read this but I buy this series in paperback so I had to buy a copy. It was half price though so not too bad.


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Gifts:
The lovely Sab from YA Bliss sent me these. The Dessen is... wait for it... SIGNED!!! Ahhhhh! It says my name and everything. I did a dance when it arrived and I think my dad thought I'd gone mad! The Always War sounds good too, so a big thanks for that!



My Canadian BFF Cat from Beyond Books for this book for me, because it was only published in Canada and also cos she's the awesomest. Thank you, Cat! :D




Happy reading!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Review: The Donut Diaries by Dermot Milligan


Publisher: Corgi
Format: Paperback
Released: August 4th, 2011
Grade rating: B+


Amazon summary:

Dermot Milligan’s got problems. He’s overweight and hooked on donuts. He has a pushy, over-achieving mother, and a father who spends all his time hiding in the loo, and now, he's being sent to a nutritionist, Doctor Morlock, who looks like a Dementor from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This diary is Doc Morlock's idea. Not only does Dermot have to write down how many donuts he eats, but also - and this is the really rubbish part - he has to talk about HIS FEELINGS!

Review:

I had never heard of this book until a friend suggested I read it, and I'm glad she did. It's a great addition to boy's fiction and diary-style books, and is basically the male counterpart of The Dork Diaries. It's written with the kind of humour you'd expect from 12-year-old boys, which is the kind that makes me laugh my head off. It's a quick but fun read and I'm glad there's a sequel planned - sometimes I just need to read a really light-hearted book!

The Donut Diaries is about Dermot Milligan (he also appears to be the author, who is actually a well-known children's writer) who, as you might have guessed, has an addiction to donuts. His mum threatens him with Fatso Camp, and sends him to a nutritionist where he's forces to keep track of how many donuts he eats. On top of all that he's also starting secondary school, where he needs to make friends and dodge FHK (floppy-haired kid) the school bully. Phew!

Dermot's voice is blunt and hilarious, exactly what you'd expect from a boy of his age. He's bigger than other boys in his class, yes, but he never let's it get him down and even goes so far as to try and make fun of himself. He makes new friends as strange as him, cuts down on donuts and stands up to the FHK, all while realising that secondary school isn't as bad as he thought it would be.

The Donut Diaries is the perfect book for readers aged 9+, especially those who will soon be starting big school themselves. Dermot is a great character with lots of personality, and I think a lot of children will relate to him. At the very least, you'll come away from this book craving many different types of donuts. I know I did!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Money Run by Jack Heath Blog Tour: AU Vs. UK Covers

AU // UK

If I knew nothing about this book and had to choose which edition to own, I wouldn't even think twice before picking the UK cover on the right. It's bright, vibrant, eye-catching, and it looks like a good action read for both boys and girls. I like the title placement, the font is bold and the actual cover images remind me of an episode of 24. Fire, skyscrapers, helicopters... surely Jack Bauer isn't far away?!

If I'm honest, I don't think I'd look at the Australian cover twice. Though, saying that, I do like the title font and the faint images of the man and woman that I can just about make out. Everything's in place for a great cover - the author's name stands out, there's a strapline that obviously works because the UK cover has also used it, but I personally don't think the mustard colour does anything for it. It's a shame really as the cover concept is a good one - maybe it looks better in real life? I've never seen it. but I'm sure there are some Aussies out there who have!

What do you think? Which cover would you choose? My vote is firmly with the UK this week!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Pure

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Pure by Julianna Baggott

* Published by: Headline (UK), Grand Central Publishing (US)
* Format: Hardcover (UK & US)
* Release Date: February 2nd, 2012 (UK), February 8th, 2012 (US)
* On Amazon: here


Summary from Amazon.co.uk:

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters. We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace. For now, we watch from afar, benevolently.

Pressia Belze has lived outside of the Dome ever since the detonations. Struggling for survival she dreams of life inside the safety of the Dome with the 'Pure'. Partridge, himself a Pure, knows that life inside the Dome, under the strict control of the leaders' regime, isn't as perfect as others think. Bound by a history that neither can clearly remember, Pressia and Partridge are destined to forge a new world.


I'm really looking forward to reading Pure because my friend at Headline publishing is SO excited/enthusiastic about it. I always trust her judgement (she bought The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which is ACE!), which is why I'm now excited for Pure too. You can never have too many dystopians (in my opinion) and I'm interested to see how this one brings something new to the table. Domes, regimes, detonations... I think Pure is going to be one to watch!

Note: The cover above is the US cover as the UK one hasn't been revealed yet. Can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

EXCLUSIVE: UK Cover Reveal - The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith!

Thanks to my lovely friends over at Headline publishing, today I am exclusively revealing the UK cover for Jennifer E. Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight! The book is published here early next year, and I can tell you it's brilliant. I read an early copy a few months ago and I couldn't put it down - it's that good!

Here's the summary from Amazon:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything? Imagine if she hadn't fogotten the book. Or if there hadn't been traffic on the expressway. Or if she hadn't fumbled the coins for the toll. What if she'd run just that little bit faster and caught the flight she was supposed to be on. Would it have been something else - the weather over the atlantic or a fault with the plane? Hadley isn't sure if she believes in destiny or fate but, on what is potentially the worst day of each of their lives, it's the quirks of timing and chance events that mean Hadley meets Oliver... Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.


And here's the UK cover...

*drumroll*




So, what do you think? Do you love it as much as I do? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback
Released: April 1st, 2008 (new edition, first in 1937)
Grade rating: B+


Amazon summary:

Bilbo Baggins enjoys a quiet and contented life, with no desire to travel far from the comforts of home; then one day the wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves arrive unexpectedly and enlist his services -- as a burglar -- on a dangerous expedition to raid the treasure-hoard of Smaug the dragon. Bilbo's life is never to be the same again.

Review:

I know everyone has probably already read The Hobbit, but I want to review it anyway. I last read it when I was about 9-years-old, but all the recent movie excitement made me want to dig it out and read it again. I hardly remembered anything about it so it was like reading it for the first time. I still loved it though, and now I can read The Lord of the Rings!

I usually struggle reading old books, especially ones written before the 1950s. I find the language and style difficult to get through, which is why I was so surprised by how easily and quickly I read The Hobbit. It's hard to believe it was first published in 1937, and it doesn't read like that at all. Tolkien was so ahead of his time and it's amazing what he had swirling around in his incredible imagination.

I'm sure the story of The Hobbit is familiar to almost everyone, but in case it isn't, basically it's about Bilbo the hobbit, who sets out on an adventure with Gandalf the wizard and a group of dwarves. Their goal is to steal treasure from Smaug the dragon, which means travelling across the dangerous lands of Middle Earth. They encounter many things along the way, including trolls, goblins, giant spiders, elves, Gollum and a shape-changing man. Middle Earth holds many fantastical creatures and races, and Bilbo has the best adventure of his life.

The Hobbit was such an enjoyable read, even though I did think it lagged in the middle. The pace seemed to slow down before picking up again towards the end, which though not a bad thing it did make my mind wander. I'm fascinated with Tolkien's characters and the world he created, in particular the hobbits and elves. The hobbits are small, round and cute, but they're so brave and loyal. Bilbo proves himself more than once throughout The Hobbit, and he gains the respect of everyone on the adventure. Even Thorin Oakenshield, a very important dwarf! The elves of Rivendell are also a favourite of mine, as they're so ethereal and quietly powerful. It was good to see Elrond make an appearance - he's my favourite elf after Legolas and Arwen!

I read The Hobbit so I would be all prepared to start on The Lord of the Rings. I'm really looking forward to getting back to Middle Earth and the magic it holds, though I'm prepared for some hard reading. The Hobbit is a brilliant book, whether read as a standalone or as part of Tolkien's most famous series, and it still stands out seventy four years after it first hit shelves. Amazing.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

In My Mailbox #130: 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 a GREAT week this week, for many reasons! I received lots of surprise books in the post, I went to London for a blogger's launch of new Orion imprint Indigo, I saw the new Harry Potter film at midnight, met Alyson Noel and sat on the Game of Thrones iron throne. Awesome!!


Here's what was in my mailbox this week:


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For review:
Yay, I really enjoyed the first one of these!

I saw this at work and thought it sounded good. Then it arrived today!

Been looking forward to this one!

Yay! Dark Life was ace, and I'm quoted on the back of this one. Very cool.

I still need to read Nightshade so I better get a move on.

I didn't know much about this before it arrived but I'll give it a go.

This sounds fun and I like the cover.

Big Morris fan here so I can't wait to read this!

I will be starting this series very soon so I'm glad I have them all.

Again, I need to read Claire de Lune before I read this. Must catch up!

See above... I started Neversuch House but didn't get far back at the beginning of the year. Will go back to it soon.

These books are creepy!

I haven't read the first book in this series but it sounds pretty good.

I'm really excited about this one. I met Sara on Tuesday in London and she signed this for me. It sounds ace!

Another cool cover!

I'm very behind with the HoN series but I believe you can read this regardless.

YAY! I looove Marcus Sedgwick. He signed this for me on Tuesday, can't wait to read it.

This is a lovely paperback edition of one of my favourite 2011 books so far. And I'm quoted inside with some blogging friends (Carla!).

I really enjoyed The Spiderwick Chronicles when I read them the other week so my friend sent me these Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles books, as well as the Field Guide which is brilliant!

Another I didn't know much about but that sounds quite good.

I'm behind with this series too, but I will catch up. This cover is great, and I met Alyson on Friday in Manchester. She's lovely!

This sounds fun!

I'm looking forward to this, it's YA urban fantasy I think.


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Bought:
I haven't read the A Song of Ice and Fire series yet but this was on offer at work so I bought it while I could. It's HUGE.

Read and loved this. Review here.

I bought this at Alyson's signing. Sounds good.

I needed to buy something to make it up to £15 with ADWD, so I got this (got both for £9.70. Can't argue with that!). It sounds pretty good and creepy/weird.




That's it from me this week. Happy reading everyone!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Review: The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder


Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Released: June 28th, 2011
Grade rating: A


Amazon summary:

Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself. Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets. The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

Review:

I've been a Lisa Schroeder ever since I read I Heart You, You Haunt Me, her first YA book and my first foray into verse novels. I thought she could do no better than Chasing Brooklyn, but I was wrong - The Day Before is miles better and then some. If you go off the word count, I'm sure it's a fairly short book that makes for a quick read. But when you dig deeper and realise the severity of what Amber and Cade are going through, you instantly see that this is by no means an easy book to read. It's thought-provoking and shocking, and I loved every word. A re-read is definitely on my agenda for the near future!

When reading verse novels, I sometimes find myself wishing there could be more characterisation. Fewer words mean the author has to do a lot more in a shorter time, and it doesn't always seem to work. Lisa Schroeder has no such problem with The Day Before - I feel like I know each character as well as I would in a regular novel, which to me is a sign of verse greatness.

Amber and Cade meet by chance when both of them are observing sealife by themselves. They strike up a conversation, have an instant connection and help each other in more ways than I thought possible in just one day. Both of them want just one day away from everything before their lives change forever, and each finds what they're looking for in each other. The 24-hour time period depicted in The Day Before is one of utmost importance to Amber and Cade, but you need to read the book to find out why. I was shocked when everything unraveled and fell into place, and Schroeder's no-holds-barred, heartbreaking but hopeful storytelling is just one of the reasons why this is now my favourite book of hers.

As with many verse novels I read, I wish they was longer. I'm wishing the same thing here; not because I want more development or information, but because I want to spend more time with Amber and Cade. I want to know everything about their lives and what happens next, which to me is the sign of a brilliant book. To make me care that much about two fictional people is a great skill to have, and Schroeder has that and a lot more. The Day Before surprised me, in a good way. I was expecting something good, but I wasn't expecting this. I really recommend you read this one; in my opinion it's in the same league as the best Ellen Hopkins books.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Cover News: Hollow Pike by James Dawson!

James Dawson is a UK debut author for 2012, with Hollow Pike being published under Orion's new YA imprint Indigo. He has just released the cover over on his site, and I love it so much that I have to blog about it. We don't know too much about the book yet, besides that it contains a town and some kind of witchcraft, but still it's one of my most anticipated reads for next year. What do you think of the cover? I really like the colours and the whole design - it's brilliant!



Hollow Pike is published on February 2nd, 2012, and you can find out more about James and his book at his site here, or follow him on Twitter here.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Immortals Blog Tour: US Vs. UK - Everlasting Covers + UK Giveaway!

US // UK

I actually like both of these covers, but I like the UK one more. In real life, Ever's half of the cover comes away like a flap, revealing more of Damen underneath. It's a really nice way to end the series and is very eye-catching on the shelf! Even though these two covers are quite similar when it comes to the colours used, I do think the UK one has done it a bit better. It reminds me of different auras, which I hope was the intention! I also like the UK strapline 'Will their love pass its greatest test?' I suppose we'll have to read it to find out...

The girl used on the US cover reminds me of Dianna Agron (Quinn) from Glee - anyone else? Random comment there, but I thought it was her when I first saw the cover! I prefer the US title font and the smaller author name at the top, though I don't think the image of the flower works as well as it could have. It looks like it's just been photoshopped onto the middle of the cover, and I personally don't think it adds a lot to the whole image.

So the pretty UK cover wins this one for me. How about you guys? Which do you like best?


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Giveaway!

Thanks to the nice people at Macmillan, I have one (1) Immortals goodie bag to give away, plus one (1) copy of Evermore for the runner up. The first winner will receive:



  • Immortals t-shirt (small size)
  • Immortals tote bag
  • My Kinda Book card wallet
  • Copy of Evermore by Alyson Noel
And the second winner will receive a copy of Evermore by Alyson Noel.


Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • End date: July 20th, 2011.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Prizes will be sent out by me!


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Wuthering Hearts Blog Tour: Review + Kay Woodward Author Interview!



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Publisher:
Andersen Press
Format: Paperback
Released: July 7th, 2011
Grade rating: B/B+


Amazon summary:

Passion, the Yorkshire moors, a wild and handsome stranger... sound familiar? When Robert arrives in town with his dark good looks and mysterious background, Emily has a huge crush! It’s almost enough to take her mind off this year’s school play... miserable, wailing Wuthering Heights. But Robert is no prince, with his black moods and fierce temper. The beautiful untamed moors would be the perfect backdrop to their fiery romance, if only Emily could work it out. On stage or off stage, will Emily ever be the Cathy to his Heathcliff?

Review:

It feels like I waited AGES for a new Kay Woodward book. I thoroughly enjoyed her teen debut, Jane Airhead, and Wuthering Hearts was well worth the wait. It's a fast, fun, romantic read with humorous characters and one or two embarrassing situations. Oh, to be a teenager again!

Set in the moors of Yorkshire, England, Wuthering Hearts follows the life of Emily. She's crushing on an attractive new boy, reading Wuthering Heights and trying to act it out in her school play. Sound like a recipe for disaster? It very nearly is!

I think Kay Woodward is one of the funniest British authors out there. Her writing is witty and her humour blunt, not to mention quite northern in this book. Being from up north myself, I appreciated the laughs and references. I think we need more books set outside London - I'm sure there are many stories to be told about the rest of the UK!

Wuthering Hearts is a charming book about romance, friendship and Cathy and Heathcliff. It's short and sweet, but by 'eck will it make you laugh. There's nothing like a deserted Yorkshire moor to inspire an angsty teenage love story, and that's exactly what you'll get here!


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Author Interview: Kay Woodward


Hello Kay!

Hello! Thanks ever so much for interviewing me on Wondrous Reads – I’m delighted to be here.

Can you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?

My favourite foods are cheese, chilli, chocolate and curry.
I know nine words of Russian: yes, no, please, thank you, Red Square, goodbye and summer.
I rarely leave the house without wearing at least one item of navy blue clothing.
I can’t click my fingers.
I have a mortal fear of bungee jumping.

I agree with your fear of bungee jumping - eek! You've now written Jane Airhead and Wuthering Hearts for older readers. Which classic do you plan to pay homage to next?

There are SO many to choose from. I’ve always had a soft spot for Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Jo March is one of my favourite heroines ever. I love her dream of being an author and her talent for putting her foot in it – which is something I’m very good at. ;-)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has been done a million times (well, er, at least twice), but that would be a stonker. Oh, and Northanger Abbey (also by Austen) is very tempting too. It’s a mad, gothic tale – totally riveting.

If you could only choose one classic book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

It would be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I always longed to be Jane when I was younger and meet my own Mr Rochester, who would of course leap out of mist on a stallion. (He actually appeared in a brown Mini 1275GT, but that worked too.) It’s the reason I wrote Jane Airhead and then Wuthering Hearts and the book I’ve read more times than any other. I even have three copies of it, which on bookshelves as rammed as mine is pretty good going.

I've never read Jane Eyre. Will look into it. Like characters in your new book, do you have any embarrassing school play stories you can share?

Yes. When I was eleven, our school put on a play of Cinderella. But instead of casting me in the lead role that I so wanted, they made me … an ugly sister. And, because it was a musical too, they also made me and the other ugly sister sing this:



The icing on the cake was that they made me wear orange flares on stage and because the zip broke halfway through the actual performance, I had to spend the rest of it hanging onto the zip for dear life. Because if there’s one thing more embarrassing than being a singing, dancing ugly sister… it’s your trousers falling down.

Ha, brilliant! *laughs uncontrollably* You also write the Skate School stories for smaller people. Can you actually skate?

I can skate in a straight line and round corners. I can do a triple Salchow perfectly in my head – we’re talking 6.0 scores here – but I haven’t attempted it on ice yet. I wouldn’t want to show all the other skaters up, you see. ;-)

Now for the important question: are you Team Edward or Team Jacob? Choose your answer carefully... ;)

But there’s only one answer, surely? Team Edward. Always.

I'm proud that I didn't even need to bribe you to answer that way! :D Lastly, please recommend us some YA books we *have* to read!

Ooh, there are so many to choose from! But here are three that I’ve read recently and LOVED.

When I Was Joe by Keren David – totally riveting read about a boy who witnesses a crime and has to go into witness protection. I read it in one go.

Wonderland by Joanna Nadin – one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Fabulous, gritty stuff.

Split by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja – this is another one that I read in a single sitting. It’s a quirky, romantic comedy, with a hint of magic. Gorgeous.
Thanks, Kay!


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Be sure to stop by The Squeee tomorrow for the next stop on Kay's blog tour!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Review: Glee - Summer Break by Sophia Lowell


Publisher: Headline
Format: Paperback
Released: July 7th, 2011
Grade rating: B/B+

Amazon summary:

Mr. Schuester doesn't want the Glee club to lose its momentum over summer break, so he's talked Rachel, Finn and the crew into running a singing workshop for local kids.

Review:

Like thousands of other people, I love Glee. Love it. And like everyone else, I'm pretty lost now that Season 2 has wrapped. My Monday nights just aren't the same! Lucky for me there's a new original novel just been published, and it's a pretty good one. I didn't like it as much as Glee: The Beginning, but I still enjoyed it. I am a proud Gleek, after all!

With Summer Break, my main problem was that a lot of the show continuity didn't match up. I know it's because the author has to write the books so far in advance, but it's still frustrating to know things the author unfortunately didn't at the time. I'm a stickler for continuity when it comes to tie-in novels, but I can understand why it wasn't possible in this instance.

Once again, Sophia Lowell managed to write the character's dialogue as if it was lifted from one of the episodes. Rachel was irritating, Kurt was sarcastic and Santana was still her own favourite person. I can't fault the characterisation at all, and that was definitely Lowell's best achievement. She was true to the characters and their differing personalities, and that's all I could really ask for.

The plot of this book went in a completely different direction than I thought it would, which was slightly confusing after reading the jacket summary. I won't spoil anything and say why, but it was a bit of a surprise. It turned out to be a good surprise, though, and it was fun to see things from a new perspective. I hope more Glee books are on the way because I really enjoy them. They're the perfect solution to filling the void between seasons, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to other Gleeks!