Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Crossed

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Crossed by Ally Condie

* Published by: Puffin (UK), Dutton Juvenile (US)
* Format: Trade paperback (UK), Hardcover (US)
* Release Date: November 24th, 2011 (UK), November 1st, 2011 (US)
* On Amazon: here


Summary from Amazon.com:

*CONTAINS MATCHED SPOILERS*


In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake. Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.



I LOVED Matched when I read it last year. It was one of my top 5 reads of 2010 and I've been [im]patiently waiting for Crossed ever since. I know quite a few people who didn't like it, but I personally thought it was really well written, exciting and original. (I haven't read The Giver, though, so I don't get those comparisons yet). Anyway, the point of this post is to share my excitement for this book. I'm counting down the days!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Review: Vampire Academy - A Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead, Leigh Dragoon and Emma Vieceli


Publisher: Puffin
Format: Trade paperback
Released: August 23rd, 2011
Grade rating: A-


Amazon summary:

St Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school - hidden away, it's a place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St Vladimir's where the girls must survive a world of forbidden romances, a ruthless social scene and terrifying night time rituals. But most of all, they must stay alive.

Review:

Adapting anything into graphic novel format is never an easy job, but Leigh Dragoon has proved that it can be done, and very successfully too. With excellent artwork from Emma Vieceli, plus full support from Vampire Academy author Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy: A Graphic Novel should be set to fly off the shelves!

All the important plot twists and turns from the novel are presented here, with clever placing of the important facts that any new reader needs to know. Rather than read like a run-down list of what Strigoi, Moroi, guardian etc. means, it's all fitted seamlessly into the narrative and never weighs the pace down. That's an accomplishment in itself, as the Vampire Academy series has such a rich mythology and backstory that to explain it all literally takes whole novels. Obviously you just can't do that in comics, so Dragoon has adapted Mead's first novel and condensed it into a 120-page little gem of a book.

Now for the art. Rose and Lissa look exactly how I imagined them, but Dimitri is the real star here (of course!). Simply put, he looks HOTT. Yes, hot - with two T's! From his long hair to his chiseled features and body that makes me Rose swoon, he's perfection in ink. Honestly, I couldn't have asked for Vieceli to draw him any better than she has. SAWOON!

If you're a fan of the Vampire Academy novels, or even if you're a reader new to all its epicness, you'll love Vampire Academy: A Graphic Novel. It's the most enjoyable book I've read for a while, and manages to look awesome while doing Mead's original story justice at the same time. I only hope there will be one volume per book, and that we'll get a graphic novel of Frostbite very soon. Fangtastic!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

In My Mailbox #136: 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 received some really exciting books in the post this week. I've heard lots of good stuff about Ashes and Virtuosity, so I hope I enjoy them as much as other people have. I also bought loads of Marvel graphic novels but I'm feeling too lazy to type all those up. I had a bit of an Amazon spending spree in celebration of Monday's bank holiday. Well, that's my excuse anyway ;)

Here are my new books this week! (Oh, and sorry for the bad pics. My camera's charging).


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For review:
I need to read the first one of these, and soon!

Sounds cool and I've never read anything by this author. Will give it a go.

  • Pure by Julianna Baggott (UK proof/ARC)
Looking forward to this one, and love the shiny new proof!

  • Ashes by Ilsa Bick (UK proof/ARC)
Can't wait to read this one!

Also need to read Birthmarked...

Been looking forward to this one for a while. Hope it's good!

This sounds fun!

Yay, I love this series! *dances!*


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Bought:
These two films are possibly my favourites of the year so far, and these books are beautiful. It's really interesting to see the whole process of bringing these comic book heroes to life.

Saw this for £2.99 so obviously I bought it immediately!

This is going to keep me busy for a LONG time!

Saw this for £6.99 in one of my favourite shops: The Works. Same again on keeping me busy for a while.

Marcus Sedgwick recommended this book to me the other month. It sounds ace and right up my street.





Happy reading!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Keren David Guest Post: Ten Things I'd Do if I Won the Lottery

Keren David's latest excellent book, Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery, is out now in the UK (you can read my review here), and is all about winning eight million pounds on the UK lottery. Wow, right?! I asked Keren what she'd do if she won that much money, and here is her response. What do you think? What would YOU do if you won the lottery? I think I'd raid Foyles and HMV, and buy shares in Amazon...


~


Keren David





Ten things I’d do if I won the Lottery


Obviously we’re talking mega-millions here…

1) I’d buy a big house with a huge garden. In this house I would have a swimming pool, a gym, a walk-in closet and an office where all admin would be carried out by a highly efficient personal assistant.

2) I’d design a writing room in my house. The walls would be painted white, there would be tons of natural light and no internet. A huge desk, lots of coloured pencils for doodling, a cork board for pinning stuff, a huge squashy sifa which I can lie on when I need to think things through. A fridge full of cherries and chilled water. An exercise bike.

3) I’d buy stuff for my kids, like a trampoline (to put in our ginormous garden), a table tennis table, a den where they could hang out with their friends. Obviously I’d have to find some way of making sure they didn’t become complete spoilt brats. So I’d also be emphasising that they shouldn’t expect to inherit my windfall, but they need to carry on working hard at school. However I would pay their university costs.

4) I’d hire a personal trainer, a driver, a housekeeper, a hairdresser, beautician and a cook (as well as the efficient personal assistant - who would, in fact do all the boring hiring for me). Hyper-ventilating just thinking about how scary but wonderful this would be.

5) I’d buy a lot of very nice clothes - chosen by a stylist with god taste - in which I will look elegant and smart, but will feel comfortable. And ditto shoes.

6) I’d book several holidays - New York, California, Australia, Italy, South East Asia.

7) I’d have to get a flat on the Cornelisschuytstraat in Amsterdam. We used to live here, and I love it. I’ll go there as often as I can to drink koffie verkeerd in the Café De Joffers, buy bouquets of flowers and cycle around the Vondelpark.

8) Generous gifts for family and friends, so they wouldn’t hate me. A nice big trust fund which will give me a massive annual income.

9) I’d book theatre tickets for lots of opening nights.

10) I’d set up a fund which would support my favourite causes. I’d split my time between giving away cash and writing. That’s when I’m not on holiday, working out with the personal trainer, having my hair done, whizzing off to Amsterdam, going to the theatre and making sure my kids are on track with their school work.

Hmm… I wonder how much writing I’d actually get done?


Visit Keren's blog here: wheniwasjoe.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 25 August 2011

US Vs. UK: A Long, Long Sleep Covers

US // UK

I really like both of these covers, even though they're very different. For me the UK one stands out that little bit more, just because of the bright blue colours and pattern that follows the cover round. I own that edition, and when it arrived I immediately thought of how much it stands out from other YA at the moment. The UK market is still into its black covers, with some white creeping in (see our Fury cover), and I've always thought we need more blue. Now we've got it!

I do like the US cover too. It's simple and pretty, and the white stands out like our UK one. I prefer the US font too, as well as the author name placement. I don't think either cover gives much about the actual book away, which is both a good and bad thing. They're both very strong, different, non-black covers, and that will always get points from me.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: The Killables

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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The Killables by Gemma Malley

* Published by: Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
* Format: Trade paperback (UK)
* Release Date: March 29th, 2012 (UK)
* On Amazon: here


Summary from Amazon.co.uk:

Evil has been eradicated. The City has been established. And citizens may only enter after having the 'evil' part of their brain removed. They are labelled on the System according to how 'good' they are. If they show signs of the evil emerging, they are labelled a K... But no one knows quite what that means. Only that they disappear, never to be seen again...


I am a huge, HUGE fan of Gemma Malley's books. The Declaration trilogy is one of my all-time favourites, and I think she's probably my favourite dystopian writer. Hodder have bought her new series, and although the first book, The Killables, isn't published until March 2012 (*weep*), I wanted to highlight it anyway. I think it sounds brilliant and I can't wait to read a new book from Gemma - her last, The Legacy, blew my mind! I'm also looking forward to seeing Hodder's cover for this one. I'm sure it'll be fantastic!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Review: Fury by Elizabeth Miles


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Format: Hardcover
Released: September 1st, 2011
Grade rating: B+/A-


Amazon summary:

After Em hooks up with her best friend's boyfriend and Chase's secret harassment of a social outcast spirals out of control, three mysterious Furies-paranormal creatures that often assume the form of beautiful women-come to town to make sure that Em and Chase get what they deserve. Not everyone will survive-and those who do will discover there are worse punishments than death. But when Em befriends outcast Drea and learns more about who and what the Furies really are, she becomes resolved above all to take them down and stop their plans. Little does Em know that, by confronting the Furies, she could become inextricably bound to them for life.

Review:

Fury is a 2011 debut I've been looking forward to for a while. I really enjoyed it and, while it isn't my all-time favourite book, it certainly hit my paranormal-loving mark. I've never read anything like this and have never encountered the Furies before, so to me it was all new. Revenge and karma is something that often crops up in YA books and movies, but not usually to this extent. The Furies in Fury take the form of three beautiful girls, Ty, Meg and Ali, and though they might look sexy and harmless, they're anything but. These girls are seductive, scheming and deadly, and I loved them!

I loved the whole idea behind the Furies and everything they stand for, even if they might actually be quite evil at their core. They exact revenge on wrong-doers, which is where main characters Em, Chase and Zach come into the story. They're basically liars and cheaters, and though Chase may seem innocent for most of the book, he's harbouring a secret that changes everything. The Furies are rooted in Greek mythology which is an area I've always wanted to know more about, and an area that I think has so far been overlooked in YA. I know a few more books along these lines have been published this year, so maybe Greek mythology could be a new trend for the future. Elizabeth Miles is a great author to start with if, like me, you're interested in getting your Greek on. It's so interesting!

Fury is written in the third person, which actually surprised me. It didn't suffer for it, but I personally would have liked to get to know the characters a bit better. I'm a fan of first-person narration because I can get into a character's head and experience their thoughts and feelings for myself, rather than be on the outside looking in. It always takes me a while to adjust to third person, and it was no different here. However, now I can't imagine Fury being written any other way. Miles's writing is brilliant to read, and she's another one who I can't believe is a debut author! Her storytelling is compelling, and her slower pace reminds me of Becca Fitzpatrick's style. These two ladies take things slow at first, but everything they write is important to the story and their endings are always explosive.

Fury would make an awesome film, I have no doubt about it. It draws attention to bullying and unbdesirable behaviour, and has three supernatural beings at the centre of everything. Think Mean Girls with revenge-seeking Furies as the main stars, and you get the gist. I'm excited that this is the first book in a trilogy, though I'm more than intrigued as to where things will go next. If I've learnt anything from the Furies, it's that nobody is safe, every action has repercussions and they'll always be watching... you have been warned!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Review: He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Format: Paperback
Released: September 1st, 2011
Grade rating: B+/A-


Amazon summary:

Ally Ryan, come on down to the Jersey Shore! Have you recently been humiliated at your former best friend's birthday party? Was your almost-boyfriend partly responsible for that humiliation by withholding some vital information about your estranged father? Did you come home to find said estranged father sitting on your doorstep? If so, you really need a vacation! Sun, sea and sand are the perfect way to unwind and forget about your frenemies.

Review:

If I was to compare He's So Not Worth It to a current TV show (as I often do), I'd have to go with 90210. There is nothing else that can rival Kieran Scott's ingenious blend of drama, back-stabbing bitchiness and hormonally charged teenagers finding true love at their summer vacation homes. In fact, reading this book is like drinking a cold glass of water on a hot day: you gulp it down, feel momentarily refreshed and then immediately want more. NOW!

This sequel to last year's She's So Dead to Us picks up shortly after where the first book ended. It's vacation time for the residents of Orchard Hill, and Ally Ryan is heading to the Jersey Shore. She needs to escape the humiliation she suffered at the hands of her old Crestie friends, which also means escaping love interest and totally smoking hot Jake Graydon. Ally is definitely someone to admire because I would NEVER have left him alone!

This book digs deeper into Ally's home life and past, with her father gaining a starring role in her life. The dynamic between Ally and her father is great to read, and their relationship shines as one of the best in the series. Ally is still his little girl, no matter what mistakes he's made in the past, and I really like that. Family loyalty goes a long way in life and I'm glad Kieran Scott addressed that in such a strong way. I like her dad, and I'm sure I'm not the only one!

He's So Not Worth It is so addictive it's like the pages turn themselves. Ally's relationship with Jake progresses further in the emotional sense, even though for most of the book they aren't together. I love that the story I told from both Ally and Jake's point of view as it really helps to know what they're both thinking. It can also be frustrating at times, though, especially when I know something the characters don't and I just want them to work everything out and live happily ever after. That, however, is looking unlikely thanks to the awful cliffhanger ending of this book. My jaw was literally on the floor after reading it, and I have no idea how my beloved Ally and Jake will get over this little bombshell. Life in Orchard Hill is never quiet (or easy), but I can't wait to find out what happens next. Even more drama is on the horizon!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

In My Mailbox #135: 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 been very out of the blogging loop this week as I went to Bath for 3 days with my friend. We visited the Jane Austen Centre, the almost 2000-year-old Roman Baths (which were AMAZING - pic above!), Bath Abbey, the Royal Crescent and lots of other random places. I came home to a huge pile of books waiting for me, most of which I can't wait to read.

Here's what was waiting for me this week:


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For review:
  • Fury by Elizabeth Miles
A LOVELY finished copy. It looks amazing! I'll be posting my review this week.

This is a fun book!

Can't wait to read this!

These are all part of a new series of novels for teen girls. Looking forward to them!

This also sounds right up my street!

This was a nice surprise - really looking forward to this one.

I've never heard of this but it sounds like a powerful read.

I enjoyed Bright Young Things, so hopefully I'll like this one too.

I still need to read Angel...

Another one that sounds like an important book.

Duplicate copy - my local school library will be having this one.

A very nice finished copy, and the first title from the Indigo imprint!

This paperback looks aces and I'll be reading it soon(ish).

Duplicate copy. I'm reading this at the moment and enjoying it so far.

I already have a copy of this from when I visited Alnwick Castle for the launch. Will be reading soon.

Looking forward to starting this series!


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Bought:
I saw this as soon as I got to Bath for £5. Needless to say I grabbed it and hauled it home!

I love this show and I saw this in HMV, also for £5. I'm seeing the movie today - can't wait!!


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Won:
I won this from one of Waterstone's Deansgate's Twitter giveaways (@wsdeansgate). I'm reading it at the moment - yay!)






Happy reading, everyone!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Review: Scream Street #11 - Hunger of the Yeti by Tommy Donbavand


Publisher: Walker Books
Format: Paperback
Released: April 7th, 2011
Grade rating: A


Amazon summary:

Given that rock zombie Vein is now living in deepest darkest Tibet, the quest to return his tongue proves surprisingly easy for Luke, Resus and Cleo. What the trio hadn't bargained on, however, was a ravenous baby yeti stowed away in Resus's cloak and following them home! When the yeti's angry mother appears in Scream Street in search of her missing offspring, things really start to get hairy. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking...

Review:

By now, with this being my eleventh Scream Street review, I'm sure you're mostly familiar with the series, characters and premise. It's supernatural, comedic fiction for the 8+ age range and features some of the funniest lines of dialogue of recent years. Basically, if you have a child of this age, you should make this series a permanent fixture on their bookcase.

Hunger of the Yeti not only left me with aching sides, it also left me with a desire to own a baby yeti (these things are so cute, I promise!) and Resus's magical cape that isn't unlike Hermione's bottomless bag. Honestly, the boy has everything in that cape - corridors, furniture, rotting meat to feed Dave the Leech... you name it, it's in there! So yes, a cape and a tiny yeti will definitely be finding themselves on my Christmas list this year.

My favourite three young paranormals end up in Tibet, land of the yetis, because they need to return zombie Vein's tongue and that's now where he lives. They sort that quite easily, but what they don't plan on is a baby yeti hitching a ride back to Scream Street with them. Chaos ensues in the usual Scream Street way, with many a surprise twist and turn cropping up before the end of the book. Something really clever happens too, but you'll have to read the book to find out what I'm talking about. It's fun, though not for poor Resus!

I only have one more Scream Street book to read, and this fact saddens me greatly. I read (when I say read, I mean devoured) book twelve, Secret of the Changeling, last week, and the final book is due for publication in October. It has a dragon on the cover so I already know I'm going to love it. Bring it on, Mr. Donbavand!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Review: The Secret Circle - Initiation by L. J. Smith


Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Paperback
Released: July 22nd, 2008
Grade rating: B/B+

Amazon summary:

Forced to move from sunny California to gloomy New England, Cassie longs for her old life. Even so, she feels a strange kinship to a terrifying group of teens who seem to rule her school. Initiated into the coven of witches that's controlled New Salem for hundreds of years, she's drawn into the Secret Circle, a thrill that's both intoxicating and deadly. But when she falls for the mysterious and intriguing Adam, Cassie must choose whether to resist temptation or risk dark forces to get what she wants—even if it means that one wrong move could ultimately destroy her.

Review:

The Secret Circle: The Initiation is the first L. J. Smith book I've read since I was 15 and still at secondary school. I've still never read The Vampire Diaries, though I am a big fan of Night World. I've heard a lot of negative things about Smith's books and writing over the last couple of years, but my friend Cat and the upcoming Secret Circle TV show made me want to unearth this from my bookshelf and give it a go. While I wasn't blown away like I was, and still am, with Night World, I genuinely enjoyed it and will be continuing the series. I hear it's very different to the TV show, though, so I'm quite glad I read this first!

The Secret Circle is about witches. It focuses on Cassie and her move to New England (Salem - eek!), and a secret circle of witches who already live there. I won't go into her family and lineage for fear of spoilers, and instead I'll just say that Cassie has a connection to them that turns her life upside down. I saw it coming a mile away, but it's hard to miss seeing as it's the premise of the whole series.

I liked the characters in this book, even horrid Faye. Diana was probably my favourite, based on her kind nature and her instant offering of friendship to Cassie. Cassie was surprisingly good too, and she was a great lead for the rather large cast of people that made up the story. I'd say she was a bit bland at times, though I think she will grow on me as I read more of the series.

Reading about witches was a nice change for me, as recently it's been more angels, werewolves and my staple diet of vampires (no pun intended there). I don't know much about witchcraft aside from what I've picked up from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Vampire Diaries, but I think I like it. It's all powers and spells and old witches in creepy towns. I'll be reading more witchcraft books, I'm sure.

I liked The Initiation; it was fast moving and easy to read. Before I knew it I was halfway through the book and fully immersed in everything going on. I think that's always been L. J. Smith's strong suit: once you're a few chapters into her books, you're generally hooked and can't bear to put it down. I'll have to try The Vampire Diaries one day, as I think I've just rekindled my love for old-school paranormal YA. And you know what? It's still just as good over a decade later!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Doc Mortis by Barry Hutchison: Review, Guest Post + UK Giveaway!


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


Amazon summary:

Kyle wakes up in hospital – which is strange, because he doesn't remember being ill. And that's not all. He's also deliriously flitting in and out of the Darkest Corners, and in the shadow version of the hospital the surfaces aren't clean, and the sharp instruments aren't used for healing. It's Kyle's most terrifying experience yet, and it's about to get much, much worse. The doctor will see him now…

Review:

Doc Mortis is the second Invisible Fiends book I've read, and what a creepy one it was! I was expecting a certain level of horror but, quite frankly, I wasn't expecting Doctor Mortis - I bet he'd give every reader of any age a case of the goosebumps. Believe me, the word 'terror' was invented with him in mind!

Doc Mortis continued straight on from book three, The Crowmaster, with Kyle soon finding himself in a hospital in the Darkest Corners. It's there that he met I.C., a trapped (and very lovely) little boy, as well as the evil Doc Mortis and even a familiar old friend. The choices Kyle had to make were difficult and horrifying, and I was on tenterhooks for much of the book's second half. I shivered with every screech and scrape that signalled the Doc's arrival, and I was so glad I wasn't in Kyle's shoes!

Even though Doctor Mortis was like one of the creepiest horror movie monster you could think of, he didn't come across as threatening as he could have been. I think the Crowmaster had more of a presence, but I didn't find him that scary. I'm sure I've got things the wrong way round, but I'd be interested to see what other readers make of this one.

I enjoy this series more with each book I read, and I'm already looking forward to book five, The Beast. Barry Hutchison has a very twisted mind when it comes to his Invisible Fiends, and you'll find out just how twisted if you read Doc Mortis. Well done to him for being gruesome - we need more children's horror writers to follow in his footsteps!


~



Barry Hutchison


What’s next for the Invisible Fiends?

From the moment I started the INVISIBLE FIENDS series, I knew what the end was going to be. If you go and read the prologue of any of the books you’ll get some idea what the final book is going to be about. It’s the end of the world, and it’s all Kyle’s fault!

In DOC MORTIS I’ve started pulling some of the story strands together so I can start moving everything towards that prologue, which is actually a scene from about half way through the sixth book.

A lot more starts to come together in book five, and some big revelations are made about some of the main characters in the story. Some of them you may be expecting. Others… probably not so much.

Over the past three books, things have steadily been becoming scarier. DOC MORTIS, in my opinion, is the scariest book of the series so far, delving deeper into the murky depths of horror than any of the previous books have.

Book five – THE BEAST – on the other hand, is a bit more like the first book in tone. It’s scary, of course, but it’s an exciting scary, rather than a disturbing one. There are no dead(ish) mutant babies here. Instead there’s fast-paced action and thrilling adventure to go along with the scares and the monsters and the ever-increasing body count.

Much of the story is set back in Kyle’s village, so we’re almost going full circle as the larger plot of the series starts to draw to a close. A lot of the locations will be familiar to those who read the first book. We get to see inside The Keller House, for example, and Kyle returns to the church and the police station where he and Ameena first hid from Mr Mumbles.

A few characters from earlier books return, too, but I won’t spoil things by saying who or why. Let’s just say the claustrophobia of DOC MORTIS has been replaced by wide-open spaces and more enemies than Kyle has ever had to face before.

Big things will happen in the fifth book when it is published in January 2012. Major characters die. Others wish that they could. And the story ends with a truly shocking moment that will have you counting down the days until the sixth – and final - book is published in August.

And as if all that isn’t exciting enough, I have another book being published in March next year, which is completely unlike the INVISIBLE FIENDS series. It’s called THE 13TH HORSEMAN, but that’s a story for another time…


~


Thanks to HarperCollins, I have one (1) set of Invisible Fiends books to give away, which includes: Mr Mumbles, Raggy Maggie, The Crowmaster and Doc Mortis.


Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • End date: August 21st, 2011.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Books will be sent out by the publisher.

Just fill in the form below to enter. Good luck!

In My Mailbox #134: 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 received so many exciting books this week that I just don't know where to start. Dark Inside, Naked and Dust and Decay are all high on my list to read soon, and I'm beyond ecstatic that my copy of Chain Reaction showed up from Amazon. What a week!

Here's what was in my mailbox:


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For review:
I need to read The Haunted before I get to this one. Lovely cover though.

This sounds ace!

SO excited to read this - it's next up on my list!

  • Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (UK proof/ARC)
Really looking forward to this one too!

Thanks to Keris for this! :)

I'm looking forward to seeing what I make of this one as I like Carrie's Need series.

Mary Hooper is excellent!

I've never read this book but I'll definitely give the graphic novel a go.

This also sounds very good. Looking forward to it.

I loved Ian's last book, Pastworld, so I'll be reading this one soon.

YAY! Rot and Ruin ROCKED!

  • Naked by Kevin Brooks (UK proof/ARC)
I'm a big Kevin Brooks fan and I've heard many good things about this one. Plus, the British punk scene is aces - what a great setting!


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Bought:
YAY YAY YAY!!!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Inbetweeners. That is all.

Also loved The Eternal Ones and I have high hopes for this.

I read this the other day and thoroughly enjoyed it as always.

Ah, FNL. Please marry me.

Susie Day was raving about this one on Twitter, so I thought I'd investigate.





Happy reading, guys!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Review: Siren by Tricia Rayburn


Publisher: Faber and Faber
Format: Paperback
Released: January 20th, 2011
Grade rating: B/B+

Amazon summary:

Something deadly waits beneath the waves off Winter Harbour, and this summer, no one's safe. Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of the dark. And heights. And the ocean. And pretty much everything else. Fortunately, Vanessa’s fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to comfort her. That is until Justine jumps off a cliff near their family’s holiday home in Winter Harbour, her lifeless body washing ashore the next day. Everyone assumes that the tragedy is an accidental result of Justine’s adventurous ways. Everyone, that is, except Vanessa. Vanessa returns to Winter Harbour alone, looking for answers from Caleb Carmichael, Justine’s summer love who was with her when she jumped. But when Vanessa learns that Caleb has been missing since Justine’s death, she joins forces with Caleb’s older brother, Simon, to try to find him.

Review:

I first heard about Siren when it was published in the US last year. Something about it just didn't grab me so I never bought a copy, and it wasn't until a review copy arrived that I decided to give it a chance. Turns out it's actually quite good and I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed it - it's well written, engaging and something new to me. I don't think I've actually ever read a book about sirens/mermaids before this one, but I now want to read more. They're fascinating creatures, even if they do have a tendency to kill the male population!

Vanessa is left devastated after her sister, Justine, is found dead, and her grief is palpable on the page. She finds comfort in Justine's boyfriend Caleb and his older brother Simon and, as more people turn up dead, they realise the townsfolk are keeping deadly secrets that will ruin everything.

Tricia Rayburn definitely knows how to write YA characters. They all sound as you'd expect teenagers to sound, and there's no unnecessary slang or language inserted to draw attention to their age. Their friends Paige and Raina are less appealing than the main characters, Raina especially, but even they are true to form and hard to find fault with.

Siren gets quite dark in parts, and it isn't a lighthearted read. People die in this story, and not in a magical come-back-to-life way. As the town's number of men diminishes, Vanessa, Caleb and Simon put themselves in danger time and time again to protect Winter Harbor and the people living there. Solving Justine's untimely death is also at the forefront of the plot, and I like how everything unravels and connects as the book progresses.

I enjoyed Siren a lot more than I thought I would. It fits nicely into the paranormal genre, but it's different enough to stand out. If, like me, you've been skimming past it on account of the dark cover and paranormal elements, do pick it up and give it a read. Aside from a few clunky slow parts and one less than desirable character, Siren is a solid book to start this series with. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Review: Party by Tom Leveen


Publisher: Random House US
Format: Paperback
Released: April 5th, 2011
Grade rating: B+/A-


Amazon summary:

It's Saturday night in Santa Barbara and it seems like everyone is headed to the same destination. The reason is simple: to celebrate the end of school. But for eleven different people the motives are bit more complicated—to be noticed, to hook up, to make friends, to numb the pain, to get over an ex, to say goodbye. As each character takes a turn and tells his/her story, the eleven individuals intersect, reconnect, and combine in ways that none of them ever saw coming.

Review:

I love contemporary books like this, when they can be real and make me feel like I know each and every character inside out, as if they could be my own friends or students from my own school days. For me there's nothing better than getting inside someone's head and learning enough to form an instant opinion of them. I didn't think that Party, with its multiple narrations and fairly short chapters, would let me do that, but it did. Each of the eleven protagonists who make up this novel get between 15-35 pages to tell their side of the night's proceedings, and each one couldn't be more different from the last.

I liked every person in Party, especially Beckett, Max, Azize and Ashley. Their stories struck a chord with me, and I think they made the most progress that night. I loved the way each individual story somehow connected to another one, as it really made me realise that things are going on all around us. People we don't know notice us, they think about us and maybe even cross our paths. Each person is dealing with their own life as best they can, and everyone, EVERYONE, has secrets. Whether it be something small or something completely life-changing, it's there and it's personal. Party uses this to its advantage, and though it does end up more dramatic than an everyday group of friends and acquaintances would usually be, the point of the story is still highly relevant.

This book shows how fragile high school relationships can be, and how even the biggest argument can be forgotten and forgiven. One night changes everything for eleven people just looking to party: they find parental acceptance, old and new friendships and, perhaps most importantly, they find each other. If Tom Leveen wrote a sequel to Party, I would read it right away. His candid storytelling and realistic situations make this book a must-read for teenagers navigating high school, and I only wish I could have read it then too.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Virtuosity

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

* Published by: Simon and Schuster (US & UK)
* Format: Hardcover (US), Paperback (UK)
* Release Date: October 18th, 2011 (US), October 27th, 2011 (UK)
* On Amazon: here


Summary from Amazon.co.uk:

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot ...what if Jeremy is better than her? Carmen knows that dating Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her - and riles her up - like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform and what started as a quick fix has become a hungry addiction. But now Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she's told, doing what's expected. And, as Carmen starts to open up to Jeremy, she realises that sometimes being on top just means you have a long way to fall...


I heard about this book ages ago when my friend read it and told me how good it was. She has good taste when it comes to books (especially S&S ones) and I've been looking forward to Virtuosity ever since! I have a feeling that the above summary doesn't give everything away, which is clever if that's the case. Also, I really love the UK cover shown above. Classy or what?!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Review: Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur


Publisher: Puffin
Format: Hardcover
Released: August 11th, 2011
Grade rating: A-


Amazon summary:

Eleven-year-old Elise feels stuck. Her school locker-buddy squashes her lunch and laughs at her, every day. She doesn't want to go to school - and her best friend Franklin just makes things worse.One day Elise discovers an incredible secret. A secret that might just help her unlock her past, and take a chance on the future.

Review:

Like with Suzanne's debut novel, Love, Aubrey, I instantly fell in love with Eight Keys. Her writing draws me in so quickly and easily, and within mere minutes I'm hooked. I don't know what it is - whether it's her seemingly effortless prose or realistic characters - but something makes her books stand out to me. I get lost in the story on the page and I never want it to end. Simply put, Suzanne LaFleur is a brilliant and, in my opinion, understated writer who deserves so much more recognition.

Eight Keys is a coming-of-age novel with a sweet mystery and enough emotion to ensure there isn't a dry eye in sight. Eleven-year-old Elise is starting middle school, re-evaluating her friendship with lovely boy Franklin and experiencing bullying firsthand. She's also discovering that her now deceased parents loved her more than she ever knew, and that somebody dying doesn't necessarily mean the end. Her story is one of hope and learning, and what it means to be a good person.

Eight Keys deals with a variety of different themes and issues, including death, grief and bullying. LaFleur approaches each topic with a sense of respect, to both her characters and readers. She tugs at heartstrings and creates hope in a single sentence, making even me - someone scared of death and everything it brings with it - realise that it's an inevitable part of life but that it doesn't have to mean the end for a family or a relationship. Just because people aren't with us anymore doesn't mean they haven't left an indelible mark on our lives.

I've taken a lot away from Eight Keys, and I wish I'd been able to read it when I was younger. It's a must-read for any girl starting or getting through high school, and every theme is beautifully written and sensitively handled. Suzanne LaFleur is absolutely brilliant; she's one of my favourite writers for younger readers. I'd recommend her to everyone - her books are a real treat!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Flight to Dragon Isle Blog Tour: Extract!


Flight to Dragon Isle is Lucinda Hare's second Dragonsdome Chronicles book, and I hope you enjoy the following extract. They're brilliant children's fantasy novels, so do check them out if you can!


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Sunday, 7 August 2011

In My Mailbox #133: 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 for (mostly surprise) books! I'm excited for a lot of these, especially Supernaturally. This week I also went to see Captain America, which was EXCELLENT. They filmed some of it in Manchester which is even better!

Here's what I got this week:


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For review:
This is another adult crossover that sounds good!

I've heard great things about this and was very surprised to receive a copy. Yay!

I enjoyed Struts and Frets so I hope this is just as good.

I'm intrigued by these. Will give them a go!

I need to start this series...

Sounds awesome!

Can't wait to read this!

  • Pure by Julianna Baggott
Ditto the above... soooo excited for this one!

Now that this series has finished, I'll have time to catch up. :D

Sounds ace!

I love this cover. :D

Sounds like a fun read!


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Bought:
WOOHOO! I loved loved loved Paranormalcy. Can't wait to read this.

Someone on Twitter mentioned that this was about dragons, and I remembered seeing it in discount book shop The Works. So I had a look and they still had one copy for 99p! Score!

I really enjoyed The Midnight Guardian so I'm looking forward to this one. I seem to have been waiting forever for it!

This just sounds fun and I've heard great things from other bloggers.


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Gift:
Thanks to my dad for this one. Another yay for dragons!




Have a great week, and happy reading!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Review: Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery by Keren David


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


Amazon summary:

Money can’t buy you love. But it can buy many other very nice things. Lia’s mum is a nag, her sister’s a pain and she’s getting nowhere in pursuit of the potentially paranormal Raf. Then she wins £8 million in the lottery, and suddenly everything is different. But will Lia’s fortune create more problems than it solves? Everyone dreams of winning the lottery - but what’s it really like?

Review:

Okay, so imagine winning the lottery. Eight million English pounds, to be exact. You'd be ecstatic, right? All your problems would be solved, you'd have no worries or cares, and everyone would love you. Or so you think. The truth is, money can cause just as many problems as it solves, and that's what Keren David explores here with Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery. As Lia soon finds out, having a huge amount of money can cause more grief than you ever imagined, but it can also change your life for the better.

Through winning the lottery, Lia learns a lot about her family and friends and just what they're really like. Her beat friends start treating her differently, her friend's mum demands money for her son who bought Lia the winning ticket, and her family start planning their lives around money that doesn't belong to them. It's a tough situation to be in, but Lia manages to cope and stay relatively grounded. Sure, she travels in more taxis than usual and buys her friends extravagant gifts, but being rich isn't all she's interested in and she doesn't let it define her. I think that's such an important message to get across, and Keren David handles it all brilliantly.

As with most YA novels, there's a love interest in the form of mystery boy Raf. He and Lia get very close, and Lia helps him in more ways than she knows. Their relationship is mature and never forced, with issues of sex and feelings handled very carefully. These are older teenage characters making decisions for themselves, and all consequences are subsequently dealt with in the right ways. What I like about Keren's books is that she understands teenagers and how they think and act, and she never writes them as idealistic people. Instead she gives them flaws and bad decisions, not to mention a mind of their own. If her characters want to have sex, they have sex, and that subject is handled respectfully rather than being shied away from. It's refreshing to read about characters like Lia and Raf and I liked them both. They could easily have been my friends when I was a teenager, though I think my friends definitely had less drama in their lives.

Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery is another winner from Keren David, and it was so worth what seemed like an unbearably long wait. It's serious, funny, realistic and light-hearted, which is basically everything I've come to expect from this author. It made me think about how money - however big or small the quantity - has such a bearing on our lives, and how people's perceptions and motives can easily change. It's a thought-provoking read, but a highly enjoyable one!

Friday, 5 August 2011

UK News: Fury Website & Trailer!


The UK website for Fury by Elizabeth Miles (an excellent book, in my opinion) is now live and kicking! www.furybooks.com is the link, and there you'll find Fury info, an 'about Elizabeth Miles' section, and the chance to win some Fury goodies! All you have to do is submit your revenge story through the website here, or tweet Simon & Schuster at @simonkids_UK using the hashtag #revengeissweetfury. You can also read other people's revenge stories on the site, including Becca Fitzpatrick's (and mine!).

As if all *that* isn't enough, S&S have also just launched the Fury book trailer. See it below or on the site, and let them know what you think!


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Guest Post: Karen Wallace Talks Emerald!

Emerald is published in the UK today by Simon & Schuster, and Karen has written a great guest post for me to celebrate its release. Emerald is a historical fiction novel for teens, and includes romance, spies, kingdoms and a plot to poison Queen Elizabeth I. Read on to find out more!


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Karen Wallace



EMERALD. What’s in a name? First and foremost, green is a powerful colour. It conveys the wonder of nature but it is also the colour of envy and jealousy.
A really fine emerald is rare and worth more than a flawless diamond.
A spirited woman born with startling green eyes and the courage to seek out her destiny is a rare thing as well.
EMERALD took a long time to write. The Elizabethan period is so rich in detail and texture and complicated social dynamics that it is all too easy to get side tracked by research. I read shelves of books on medicine, costume, manners, cooking and social behaviour, all fascinating and there are hundreds more I could still read.
However, the challenge of writing a historical novel is to set aside the research and create a world that is utterly convincing in its time and in its own right.
When I first began to write EMERALD, I wrote it in the third person just as I had written my two earlier historical novels WENDY and THE UNRIVALLED SPANGLES but this time it didn’t work. The story became stiff and unwieldy and the character of Emerald, too remote. So after many false starts, the breakthrough came when I changed to first person and built up the character of Emerald in the same way as I built up the narrator, Nancy, in RASPBERRIES ON THE YANGTZE and CLIMBING A MONKEY PUZZLE TREE.
As soon as I looked at the world through Emerald’s eyes, she became alive and as it turned out, a lot of the emotional territory she had to learn to cross was territory I had travelled myself. And some of the scenes were very uncomfortable to write.
As much as EMERALD is about a young woman who rises to challenges set by others and in doing so, saves her Queen and finds the man she will marry, it is also an exploration of love and the absence of it and the role mothers play in a young life.
Even Queen Elizabeth I, the only ‘real’ person in the story, was brought up without a mother.
In EMERALD, characters cope with this challenge in different ways and with greater or lesser success. Some of the friendships that develop are as much a healing process as anything else. The need for mother love is supplanted by kindness and loyalty. Other attempts to cope end in disaster.
Betrayal, deceit and overweening ambition are other themes that I have explored in EMERALD. However, within these dark and troubled threads, there are comic, intimate, laugh out loud moments, which serve to keep the novel in balance.
My favourite comic character in the book is Meg. An urchin of a girl who is fiercely loyal to Emerald, yet mischievous and in many ways completely uncontrollable. Meg brings comic lightness to the events around her but she also brings the clear thinking of the innocent. And Emerald instinctively listens to her.
Sarah straddles the world between Meg and Emerald. She is a young woman from a decent family whose circumstances have forced her to work for a living. When they were little, she and Emerald played together. When the story begins Sarah is working as a kitchen maid but as events unfold, her role changes and she becomes Emerald’s greatest ally.
And of course, there is Arabella - the ‘baddie’ of this particular group. It is always interesting for me to look back on the different ‘baddies,’ I have created in other novels and to a certain extent, they share similar traits. They are bullies and liars and seem not to know or care about the different between right and wrong. They are entirely self centred and destructive. In the case of Arabella, I have tried to take this even further.
There is an old maxim that you write best about what you know. When I was creating Emerald’s mother and her guardians Lady Frances and Sir Charles Mount and indeed her brother Richard and Evelyn of Lambeth I drew on people in my own life, mixing their characters like colours on a palette until I had the shades I wanted.
The same applied to the character of Lord Suckley. Although I have to admit that I have never met anyone as disgusting as him!
So we come to the character of the Queen herself. Someone asked me once if I was stuck in a lift who would I choose as a companion. I said Queen Elizabeth I because she seems to me to have been the most extraordinary woman. Passionate, cunning, hugely intelligent and above all a servant of her country. It was fun to write her dialogue because I could make her speak as I imagine she thought.
As for Sam Pemberton and Molly the bear…all I can say is yes, please!

In EMERALD, I wanted to bring a new, distinctive, fresh voice to writing historical fiction.
I do hope my readers will like it!