Friday, 27 January 2012

Review: Chocolate S.O.S by Sue Limb


Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Released: January 5th, 2012
Rating: 8/10


Amazon summary:

Jess has broken up with Fred, though really she is waiting for him to come to her door and beg to get back together again. But is that the sort of thing Fred would do? He has said himself that he has no backbone ...Meanwhile, a gorgeous boy has moved in next door and, to Jess's mingled horror and delight, is making it very, very obvious that he would like to be a lot closer than next door ...Surely, now, Fred will be driven, in a fit of jealousy, to sweep Jess back off her feet? Won't he?

Review:

Chocolate S.O.S is the latest instalment in Sue Limb's side-splittingly funny Jess Jordan series, and features more madness from all the characters I've grown to love. There's mad granny who's still obsessed with murder, Jess and Fred the wacky comedic duo and a new arrival who goes by the name of Luke. Obviously that can only spell trouble!

This book is a bit different to others in the series as Jess and Fred are (gasp!) no longer an item. Jess broke up with Fred after the disastrous events at a recent comedy performance, and so this book's dynamic has changed. Jess is single, still pining for Fred and Fred is quiet, reserved and gaining lots of attention from fellow female school students. Jess is obviously jealous, but starts hanging around with new boy Luke, who's also a bit mental in his own way. It's all change for Jess Jordan!

I liked this book a lot more than the last one, Five-Star Fiasco, as it was funnier. I like nothing more than YA books injected with humour, and that's exactly what I got here. Jess has a knack for finding herself in stupid, but funny, situations, and most of them end up causing trouble. Even when she tells a little white lie to help someone out, the whole thing backfires and she suddenly finds herself on the phone talking to a friend's mum and pretending to be her own mother! Honestly, you just couldn't make this stuff up.

I'm eagerly anticipating the next book in this series, titled Party Disaster. I'm hoping that a few things are resolved, though: I want Jess and Fred to get back together, I want Flora to stop being so self-centred and I want Jess's dad to get a new boyfriend. It's not much to ask really, is it?! As I've said before when talking about this series, it's absolutely perfect for readers of Louise Rennison and Carmen Reid. Each author should win some kind of comedy award for their contributions to YA girl's fiction, because their take on teen life is easily the most lighthearted. In these often dismal times, I think that's exactly what we need!

Monday, 23 January 2012

EXCLUSIVE: UK Cover Reveal - Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster, I can exclusively present you with the ace new UK cover for Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. I can't wait for this book to be published - I loved Morgan's debut novel!

It's published in the UK on June 7th, and here's what Morgan herself has to say about it:

I couldn’t be more excited about the Second Chance Summer cover! I love it so much, it’s been my phone background for the last two months. I think it perfectly captures the spirit of the novel, and like the Amy & Roger cover, there are lots of little details from the novel that show up in the art here. The cover just evokes the feeling of summer (and makes me really, really want a strawberry milkshake). I hope you like it too!


And here's the cover...





What do you think?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

3 Year Blogoversary + UK Giveaway!

[Image from Google]



Today is my 3 year blog birthday! I started Wondrous Reads on January 17th 2009 after a random day at work bookselling at Borders, and I never imagined it would end up anything like it is today. I've met so many lovely people through blogging - fellow bloggers, readers, publicists, authors - and I'm so glad for whatever made me do it. I've also discovered some really amazing books, a giant handful of them thanks to my publisher friends, and it's definitely broadened my reading mind and made me try new authors and genres. Here's to another 3 years!

To celebrate, I have a pretty cool giveaway for all my friends in the UK. Sorry to those in the US and worldwide, but I'll hopefully have something for you guys soon. Postage is even more expensive these days!


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Here's all the details:

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster, I have a selection of new and upcoming titles to give away. They are:
  • The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
  • Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale
  • Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  • Falling Fast by Sophie McKenzie
  • Smoulder by Brenna Yovanoff
  • Fated by Sarah Alderson

And courtesy of Orion/Indigo, I have chosen my 3 favourite books they've published from my 3 years of blogging, which are:
  • The Raven Mysteries: Flood & Fang by Marcus Sedgwick
  • Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
  • My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher


Rules & info:
  • One (1) winner will win ALL the books!
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • End date: January 31st, 2012.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Books will be sent out by the very kind publishers.

Fill in the form below to enter. Good luck, and thanks for reading my blog! :)


Monday, 16 January 2012

Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Format: Paperback
Released: January 5th, 2012
Rating: 6/10


Amazon summary:

It's 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on - and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they'll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

Review:

I'd been looking forward to reading this book for months, ever since I first heard about what could only be described as an epic collaboration. While I liked it and read it super quick, I didn't love it like everyone else seems to. Something didn't quite sit right with me, and I think it comes down to the lack of explanation for why Facebook suddenly appears on Emma's new computer and how it's possible for Emma and Josh to change their futures so quickly and easily. I have no problem believing in time-travel and other such things, but here I think I needed more information to support it.

Of course, The Future of Us has many good, even excellent, aspects. The references to 1996 are almost all accurate (I don't think Leonardo DiCaprio would have been as popular as the writers make out, though - Romeo and Juliet wasn't even on anyone's radar then and he didn't hit it big until late 1997/early 1998!) and the dual narrative gets full marks from me. I do like alternating points of view, and it made this book move quickly and keep its momentum. I also liked the characters, especially Tyson and Josh. Emma got on my nerves after a while, always trying to change things and being blind to what was right in front of her. The males in the book definitely made this book for me, and I'm assuming Josh's chapters were written by Jay Asher, who is brilliant. I could be wrong, though!

The Future of Us made me think about the future and what I'd do if I could see into mine and even change things. Sometimes I think I'd love to know what will have happened by 2027, but then other times the idea freaks me out too much. I wouldn't want to know because I don't think I could change anything, and I'd live the next 15 years waiting for things, good or bad, to happen. All this is addressed in The Future of Us but, like I mentioned earlier, the ripple effects from the present that ultimately change the future weren't quite so believable. When it comes to time-travel and future-changing, I ALWAYS need a good explanation. But that's just me.

As a contemporary novel, The Future of Us is a quick, engrossing read. It's really about a journey of self-discovery and seizing the moment (that didn't work so well for Willow in Buffy, remember? Ha!), and in that respect it's a must-read for fans of the genre. It's an interesting, original concept that for me required more in-depth exploration into the why and how. It's still one to add to the to-be-read pile, though!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

In My Mailbox #151: 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! (And I'm quoted on the cover of Manic Days, which was an unexpected surprise!) I'm reading Under the Never Sky at the moment (it's getting better) and I'm still debating whether to read The Fault in Our Stars. I usually stay well away from its subject matter but I want to read this one. Can anyone tell me how sad it is?

Here's what was in my mailbox this week:


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For review:

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Bought:





Happy reading!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

15 Days Without a Head Blog Tour: Dave Cousins Guest Post!


15 Days Without a Head is a brilliant book about two brothers and how they deal with living on their own when their alcoholic mother leaves for over two weeks. I finished reading it yesterday and it's really good - so well written and the characters are realistic and down to earth. It's also quite funny too! It's available in the UK, and I would highly recommend it.

As part of the book's blog tour, Dave has written a guest post for me about his favourite books. For more information about him and his book, visit the following links:



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Dave’s Dozen Wondrous Reads!

Robert Westall – The Machine Gunners. My favourite book by my favourite author. I’ve been collecting and reading Robert Westall since I was eleven and he never disappoints. A supreme craftsman who knows how to tell a story!

Jan Mark – Thunder and Lightnings. I read this when I had just started a new school in a new town. Being able to share some of my experience and anxieties with Andrew in the book, made those first few weeks a little easier. It was the first time I realised that stories can provide companionship and sometimes help us through difficult times in our lives. This book made me want to write, and continues to influence the kind of stories I want to tell.

Keith Gray – Creepers. When I first read Creepers I thought it was the perfect story: simple, clever, surprising and cool. I realised this was how I wanted to write. I’ve read all of Keith Gray’s books and they’re all brilliant. To have his endorsement on the cover of my debut novel makes me grin every time I see it.

Tim Bowler – Storm Catchers. Another book that had a huge influence on my writing. My wife bought it for our eldest because it sounded good; he never got around to reading it, but I did. I thought it was so great, I emailed Tim Bowler to tell him. To my delight and amazement, Tim emailed back, offering advice and best wishes for my own writing career. The fact that we now share the same publisher is something of which I am very proud.

Robert Cormier – I am the Cheese. Cormier’s books are dark, taut and edgy. I have great admiration for his writing, and the fact that he never flinches from what are often brutal truths, handling difficult, sometimes shocking subjects, with heart and honesty, never for effect.

Bill Watterson – Calvin & Hobbes. It’s an over-used term, but Bill Watterson is actually a genius. Calvin and Hobbes is as near to perfection as it is possible to get. Funny, wise and heart-felt, Watterson’s strips are beautifully drawn stories featuring two of the best characters ever created. Reading a few pages of Calvin and Hobbes never fails to inspire, enlighten and put a smile on my face.

Lucy Christopher – Stolen. A masterclass in character, setting and suspense. This beautifully crafted book is surprising, disturbing and kept me thinking, long after I finished reading.

Louis Sachar – Holes. Another perfect book. The idea and execution are sublime. Anybody serious about writing should read this book – twice. The sequel Small Steps is also excellent as is The Cardturner, which made me want to take up Bridge!

Frank Cottrell Boyce – Framed. I learned a lot from this book. Frank Cottrell Boyce is the master of understatement. Funny without being cheap, and heart-breaking without resorting to melodrama. I was lucky enough to hear him speak recently and he’s a lovely fella too!

Roger McGough – Waving at Trains. I like poetry (and song lyrics) and am often in awe of writers who can capture the essence of a moment in a few words. I love the sound of McGough’s poems, the rhythm of the lines and the way he plays with language. He can be laugh-out-loud funny and brutally dark in the same verse, and always makes me think.

William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet. (Not strictly speaking a book, and maybe too obvious to mention, but I wanted to anyway.) I’m not a huge aficionado of Shakespeare, but his writing has the ability to move me to tears and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The plays were written to be performed, so I prefer watching a play, film adaptation, or listening to a sound recording, rather than reading the text. Baz Luhrmann’s film of Romeo and Juliet is brilliant. The contemporary setting shows how universal some of Shakespeare’s stories are. A great production of a superb, timeless story.

Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol. I try to read this every Christmas and it always amazes me how modern it feels, despite the fact it was written nearly two hundred years ago. It encapsulates many of the things that Dickens was so good at: exquisite description and use of language; social commentary within the context of a great story; subtle humour, and some of the most memorable characters ever created. It’s also guaranteed to warm my humbug heart and spark the first flickering of festive feeling.



Friday, 13 January 2012

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Publisher: Puffin
Format: Paperback
Released: January 5th, 2012
Rating: 8/10


Amazon summary:

Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation. Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future.

Review:

I'd heard lots of good things about Cinder before I read it: the general consensus was that it was a must-read. So I promptly forgot about my own aversion to fairytales and cracked open my pretty red copy of the book. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed! Cinder was unlike any fairytale retelling I've read before; it wasn't flowery and Disney-esque, instead it was dark and brutal. Now *that* is my kind of fairytale!

Cinder is a twist on the famous story of Cinderella. Cinder is a mechanic living in New Beijing in the future, years after a devastating war has taken place. She's part android, has two (not ugly) sisters and is basically considered to be the lowest of the low by most of her immediate family. New Beijing isn't everything it's cracked up to be, though. There's a virus called Letumosis sweeping the nation, and anyone infected will most likely die once it reaches Stage 4. There's no cure, no hope of an imminent antidote, until Cinder meets a helpful doctor, a prince called Kai and a queen who is up to no good. Things quickly spiral out of control and Cinder's life is changed beyond repair, especially when someone close to her is exposed to Letumosis...

My little plot summary there does not do this book justice. I've tried to describe its awesomeness, but it's difficult - there's so much going on and the book moves at breakneck speed. Cinder kicks ass, the romantic elements are subtle but strong and the world Meyer has created is beyond cool. Just like the back of the book says, this is a fairytale but not as you know it!

I have very little to add in the way of criticisms when talking about Cinder. My only complaint would be that I think it's a bit long - I got 350 pages in and there was *still* lots more to come! Oh, and I guessed a major plot twist very early on in the book. That doesn't usually happen to me, so either this was a one-off or I'm finally starting to think ahead when I read. Either way, I wasn't surprised when I reached the end, and I think the shock was a bit lost on me because of that.

Cinder is such a brilliant debut novel, exciting and fresh and totally unexpected. The way everything unfolds is clever, and the parallels with Cinderella are fun to spot. There are three more books coming in this Lunar Chronicles series, each centred around three other female fairytale heroes, and OMG I cannot wait to read them. If they're anything like Cinder, we are in for a real literary treat.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Fated by Sarah Alderson: Book Extract!


Sarah Alderson's new book, Fated, was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster last week, and here is a sneak peek at the book. Here's an Amazon synopsis to get you started:

What happens when you discover you aren't who you thought you were? And that the person you love is the person who will betray you? If your fate is already determined, can you fight it?

When Evie Tremain discovers that she’s the last in a long line of Demon slayers and that she’s being hunted by an elite band of assassins –Shapeshifters, Vampires and Mixen demons amongst them – she knows she can’t run. They’ll find her wherever she goes. Instead she must learn to stand and fight.

But when the half-human, half-Shadow Warrior Lucas Gray - is sent to spy on Evie and then ordered to kill her before she can fulfil a dangerous prophecy, their fates become inextricably linked. The war that has raged for one thousand years between humans and demons is about to reach a devastating and inevitable conclusion. Either one or both of them will die before this war ends.

If your life becomes bound to another’s, what will it take to sever it?


Hope you enjoy!


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Fated by Sarah Alderson – Chapter 15

Lucas kept circling the cornfield. At one point he’d had an uninterrupted view of the circle with Evie stood in the centre blindfolded. He’d watched Victor give the orders and the others
converge. He knew Victor, of course, and he had heard about Earl, a long-standing member of the Hunters, recognised him by the baldness and the crossed swords on his back. The older red-headed lady, Jocelyn, lived in town. She was the one he had to avoid every day on his way to the Del Rey ranch. The fourth one, a girl called Risper, was an unknown. He didn’t think even Tristan knew of her. And clearly she was not a fan of Evie’s.
He decided to follow her, keeping his distance. He didn’t want to give himself away but they were all concentrating so hard on sneaking up on Evie in the centre of the circle that they weren’t paying any attention to their own instincts or the fact that an Unhuman was stalking them. But he didn’t want to throw Evie’s instincts – as delicately balanced as they were – she needed them all focused on Risper’s whereabouts.
Because he didn’t want to distract her, he had pulled back, just far enough to see the attack – Risper springing out of the corn straight at Evie, Evie ducking and rolling blind, spinning out of Risper’s way, narrowly avoiding a roundhouse kick to the ribs and firing a dart blind but hitting Risper’s arm.
He had smiled despite himself but now he was stalking Risper, who was stalking Evie, and his eyes were on the metal circles she was holding between her thumb and forefinger. He had no doubt that Risper intended to use them, no matter what Victor’s warnings had been, and his curiosity was piqued. Someone else with vengeance on their mind? Or was there some other drive? Either way it was strange for Victor to have her in the field. Mind you, it would save the Brotherhood a job if he just sat back and let her get on with it.
He felt Earl to his left – the man was light-footed for his size, but the sound of him unsheathing his swords was a dead giveaway. Luckily Evie heard it too. She froze and he watched her close her eyes and take a deep breath. When she let it out she started running full tilt and he had to sprint to keep pace with her, running a parallel course, getting flashes of her dark hair flying. At one point she came to a skidding stop, her blue eyes darting towards him, and he realised that she could sense him. Could she even see him? He had dived backwards well out of range, almost to the edge of the field, and waited until finally he heard a bullet crack and Earl shout, ‘I’m hit.’
Lucas couldn’t stop from smiling this time. Good hit. He wished he could have seen it. He edged further into the field, still anxious to keep an eye on Risper. It was easier to find Evie, he knew her scent by now, the strong smell of the lavender shampoo she used and the softer, more subtle scent of her skin. She was running at a crouch now, weaving in-between stalks but on a clear path, as though she was being drawn somewhere. He saw the wire on the ground a split second before she did and had to stop from yelling at her to jump. He didn’t need to. She saw it in time and leapt over it, diving onto her back with the gun pointed into the air. When she saw no one there she looked confused. And that’s when the red-haired woman stepped out from behind her, and tapped her on the back of the neck with
the tip of an arrow.
Silently she bent down and offered her hand to Evie and helped her up. Then she took Evie’s gun and fired it at the ground, making sure she got the wet paint on her shoe. ‘I’m out,’ she yelled, her eyes not leaving Evie’s the whole time. She then pointed with her arrow into the corn and whispered, ‘Watch your back.’
Evie nodded silently and moved off. Lucas followed.
Risper was almost as silent as he was. Almost as undetectable.
Almost.
Lucas picked her up first. She was stalking them, circling around Evie to come at her from behind. Lucas dropped back and hovered just out of range but Risper was like a panther, focused only on dropping her prey and not on the Unhuman right beside her that could drop her at any moment if he chose. He found his breathing was running rapid, his hands reaching for his father’s blade, and he had to force himself to hold back. There would be another time. Not right here. He wouldn’t stand a chance if he blew his cover taking out a girl who wasn’t even his target.
Risper was about ten metres to Evie’s left when he caught the circle of silver glinting in the sun. Evie paused too, as though suddenly alert to the danger, and Lucas watched as Risper drew back her arm.
He had to choose. And in the instant that Risper brought her arm forward, Lucas chose. He ran straight at Risper, knocking the wind out of her, managing to jolt her arm as she let the disc fly. She tore around, her eyes desperately searching for whatever had bumped her, but he was gone before she could piece it together. Her reaction would be panic, her senses screaming at her that there was an Unhuman out there, but maybe there was doubt too. No Unhuman would be stupid enough to enter a space with that many Hunters in it – would they? He tracked back to Evie, who was crouched down, her eyes fixed on the disc lying on the ground by her side.
An ear of corn lay next to it. She picked up the disc and turned it over, seeming to realise that it had been a kill shot but not understanding fully how she had avoided it. She got to her feet and started running, silently. She reached the clearing and dropped to her knees, her head bowed, her eyes shut.
Lucas felt himself tense, his ears tuned to the sound of Risper heading this way. What was Evie doing? He took a step towards her, instinctively wanting to shield her, realised what he was doing and stepped back into the shadows. Evie’s eyes suddenly flew
open. She was staring right at him but then she frowned before screwing her eyes shut again. He melted backwards and when she opened her eyes again he saw the confusion as she stared at the empty space around her.
And then in a move he couldn’t have foreseen she hurled the circular blade right at him. It grazed the air a millimetre to his left. Damn it. She was aware of him. She was feeling him. And he was endangering her more than Risper by being here.
And then he saw Risper stepping into the circle between him and Evie, levelling the blade and hurling it with force. He felt the wind still and heard the single whisper of steel cutting air and it felt like he was waiting for it to slice into him.
‘Hit!’ Risper yelled.
He stepped forward into the circle of light, saw his shadow fall ahead of him, announcing him. He heard the footsteps of the others running full tilt towards them and he stepped back into the shadows as they burst into the clearing.
And then he turned and vanished.


For more information, visit www.sarahalderson.com and follow Sarah on Twitter at @sarahalderson.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Chocolate S.O.S Blog Tour: Sue Limb's Fantasy Dinner Party + UK Giveaway!


Chocolate S.O.S, the latest instalment in the hilarious Jess Jordan series, was published in the UK last week and Bloomsbury are blog-touring it all this week. I absolutely love this series: it's laugh-out-loud funny and has nicely filled the void left by Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson series. I've just read Chocloate S.O.S myself and can't wait for Party Disaster later in the year!

Here's the very funny Sue Limb talking about her fantasy dinner party... I don't know about you, but I'd like to be invited! And for more information on the Jess Jordan series, laugh your way over to www.jessjordan.co.uk.


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Giving a dinner party is my worst nightmare, but I’ll be fine as long as somebody else can do the cooking (Jamie Oliver’s my favourite, and as this is a fantasy, I’d like Nigella to do the puds). Four comedy greats as my guests: what could be more fun? The only problem is, I have to confine myself to four. It’s a bit like choosing a pudding, except with puddings I usually confine myself to five.
I have to start with Stephen Fry, because he’s not only witty but has a brain the size of a planet – no, a universe. I could ask him questions that have always bothered me, such as, ‘What’s the capital of Poshbeckistan?’ and ‘Where do babies come from?’ He’s also urbane and imperturbable and could act as co-host, because I’d be far too tongue-tied to speak.
Jo Brand would be next. I have always adored her as she’s madly unpredictable and can be naughtily rude in a potty-mouth kind of way. I like that in a woman. (Though not in a man – men should be polite, give up their seats on buses, and wear smart suits and highly-polished shoes). I love Jo’s devastating and earthy wit. ‘You’ll have to heckle better than that, mate, or your face is going to be sat on.’ I get the feeling she’d be very relaxing company and as she was a psychiatric nurse for ten years, she’d know what to do if my teddy bear had one of his obsessive-compulsive attacks.
Reginald D Hunter is my third guest. What could be more enchanting than a big Afro-American guy wearing a little girl’s hairdo? I’ve seen him with bunches, I’ve seen him with an Alice band, and what I’d like at the dinner party is Reg in a bonnet with pink bows. He’s one of the most daring and edgy comedians around, but I want him to concentrate on mocking us Brits, because, as an outsider, he sees our weirdness in sharp perspective, and yet, bless him, he seems to like us for it.
Lastly, sorry if this is predictable, but it has to be Sarah Millican. I know she’s massively successful right now, and probably can’t even find time for a fantasy virtual dinner party, but there’s a reason she’s flavour of the decade. She’s chatty and matey like a best friend, and her material is about the domestic life we all recognize and share – socks down the back of the sofa, breakfast-in-your-pajamas stuff. She also takes photographs of puddings she has eaten, and posts them on her website. I’m sure she’d do justice to Nigella’s.


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Also, here's a video of Sue talking about her Jess series:





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Giveaway!

Thanks to Bloomsbury, I three (3) copies of Chocolate S.O.S to give away! Usual rules apply, and this one is UK only (sorry international friends!).

Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • End date: January 17th, 2012.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Books will be sent out by the publisher.


Monday, 9 January 2012

Review: Fracture by Megan Miranda


Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Released: January 5th, 2012
Rating: 7.5/10


Amazon summary:

By the time seventeen-year-old Delaney Maxwell is pulled out of the icy waters of a frozen lake, her heart has stopped beating. She is in a coma and officially dead. But Delaney pulls through. How? Doctors are mystified. Outwardly she has completely recovered. But Delaney knows something is very wrong. Pulled by sensations she can't control, she finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her brain predicting death or causing it? Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who lost his whole family in a car accident and emerged from a coma with the same powers as Delaney. At last she's found a kindred spirit who'll understand what she's going through. But Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature - or something much more frightening?

Review:

Fracture is probably one of the best YA thrillers I've ever read. It was less supernatural than I thought it would be, very well written and hard to put down. Megan Miranda created a selection of characters that were both likeable and realistic, and even her romantic elements didn't come across as forced or false like many do these days. It was a really refreshing read and a great book to choose to end my reading funk - I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Without giving too much of the plot away, I can say that Fracture is about 17-year-old Delaney Maxwell, a girl who survives after being under icy water for eleven minutes. Technically, she was dead and should have been permanently brain damaged. Instead she's something of a medical miracle, waking up and living her life as normal. Only things aren't normal: she feels a strange pull in the direction of dead people.

This whole concept was something I don't remember coming across before which, I have to say, is rather unusual these days. It was cleverly executed, and it was believable without being too far out in the realms of impossibility. It was an interesting gift that Delaney found herself with, and as she meets Troy and learns more about it, proceedings unfold at quite an alarming speed. The course of life and death could easily be messed with and altered, the only question is: will she do it?

Along with Delaney and Troy, Decker, Delaney's best friend and next door neighbour, was also a major part in Fracture. He wasn't just the token male romantic interest or the boy needed to make the girl come out of her shell. He was a genuinely well-written, likeable guy who had an important role to play in Delaney's life. In fact, he's one of the most memorable male characters I've read about recently, and I think Miranda did a great job of bringing him, and his friends, to life.

Fracture didn't affect me like my all-time favourite books have done, but it kept me hooked and made me think. It raised all kinds of questions about life, death and the universe - some of which I'm still pondering a few days later. I was pleasantly surprised with this one and I hope you will be too. It was a great debut novel to end 2011 on!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

GIVEAWAY: Win The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith! (UK only)



The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was published in the UK last week and, thanks to the lovely Sam at Headline, I have one (1) shiny very nice finished copy to give away!

Here's a summary from Amazon:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Imagine if she hadn't forgotten 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.

Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • End date: January 15th, 2012.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Book will be sent out by the publisher.

Fill in the form below to enter, and good luck!


In My Mailbox #150: New Books Last Month


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

Hello IMM, how I've missed you! As some of you may have noticed, I didn't post anything for the whole of December. I also didn't really read anything except one or two small books. I really needed a break from books and the internet, but now I'm back and excited about books again. Yay! From the beginning of December until now, I still had lots of books arrive in my mailbox - some for review and some I'd bought - so here's a rundown of everything that hasn't been mentioned on my blog. Sorry there are no links to Amazon, I just haven't got time to do that this weekend.

Happy New Year, everyone!


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For review:
  • Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
  • Spaceheadz Save the World! by Jon Scieszka
  • Slide by Jill Hathaway (UK proof/ARC)
  • Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
  • The Dead of the Night by John Marsden
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
  • Dark Warning by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
  • Socks Are Not Enough by Mark Lowery (UK proof/ARC)
  • The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda (UK proof/ARC)
  • Noah's Child by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
  • In Darkness by Nick Lake
  • The Double-Edged Sword by Sarah Silverwood
  • The Medusa Project: Hit Squad by Sophie McKenzie
  • Invisible Fiends: The Beast by Barry Hutchison
  • Torn by Cat Clarke
  • Saving Daisy by Phil Earle
  • Falling Fast by Sophie McKenzie (UK proof/ARC)
  • The Rising by Will Hill (UK proof/ARC)
  • Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk by Curtis Jobling
  • Chocolate S.O.S by Sue Limb
  • Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk
  • Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
  • Black Arts by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil (UK proof/ARC)
  • Switched by Amanda Hocking
  • Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson (UK proof/ARC)
  • The Book of Blood & Shadow by Robin Wasserman
  • Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  • 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins (UK proof/ARC)
  • Night School by C.J. Daugherty
  • The Donut Diaries: Revenge is Sweet by Dermot Milligan
  • Crossing Over by Anna Kendall
  • Advent by James Treadwell
  • The Things We Did for Love by Natasha Farrant
  • Pulse by Tricia Rayburn
  • Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (UK proof/ARC)
  • After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (UK proof/ARC)
  • The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler (not pictured)

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Bought:
  • Dragon Art by Graeme Aymer
  • Breaking Dawn Movie Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz
  • The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth by Robert Foster
  • The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films by Doug Adams
  • A Field Guide to Narnia by Colin Duriez
  • Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
  • Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
  • Gin O'Clock by The Queen of Twitter
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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Christmas Gifts:
  • The Alien Vault by Ian Nathan
  • The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook by Alan Lee
  • Love You to Death: Season 2 by Crissy Calhoun
  • The Big Bang Theory A-Z by Amy Rickman
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman





Happy reading!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Author Interview: Mark Griffiths (Space Lizards Stole My Brain!)

Mark Griffiths is the author of Space Lizards Stole My Brain!, a really fun book for younger readers. It was published in the UK this week and features illustrations by the brilliant Pete Williamson. If you like humour and stories of intergalactic mind-swaps, make sure you grab a copy!

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Hello Mark! For anyone who hasn't yet heard of your book, what do they need to know before reading?

The book is a sci-fi comedy aimed at kids aged 7-12. It’s about what happens when an evil alien lizard gets his mind transferred into the body of an ordinary Earth boy. Other than that the reader doesn’t need to know anything except how to read English and how to laugh!

What inspired Space Lizards Stole My Brain!? Any old sci-fi movies?

I was writing a TV script about a group of kids and there was one minor character in it who was this geeky 11 year old boy who talked like he was some inhuman alien warrior. It was never explained why the kid talked like that – maybe he’d read one too many weird fantasy novels or spent too long immersed in role-playing games. The TV script went nowhere but the idea of this character stayed with me for some reason. Then one day I realised that the reason why this kid talked like he was an inhuman alien warrior was because he WAS an inhuman alien warrior trapped in the body of an Earth kid! It was in working out who the alien and kid were that the story of Space Lizards Stole My Brain! came about. I was inspired more by comedy than by science fiction films – classic TV shows like Blackadder and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Roald Dahl and Douglas Adams were big influences too.

You've worked with a great illustrator on Space Lizards: Pete Williamson. Did you write and send him snippets to illustrate or was he involved throughout the whole process?

Pete Williamson is amazing! His stuff has this wonderful bittersweet quality. He came aboard once the text of the book was finished. The book’s editor and designer created a brief for him based on the scenes they felt would make good illustrations. I had some input into this. One scene I was particularly keen to see illustrated was the bit where a Triceratops runs amok in a town centre. It’s one of my favourite pictures in the whole book. I also love the cover. It’s totally eye-catching and fun.



If your book was ever made into an animated film, which actors do you think would be perfect for voicing your characters? (For some reason I imagine Ray Winstone as Admiral Skink!)

Ray Winstone as Admiral Skink would be brilliant! I think Rupert Grint would make a great voice for Lance. He does that lovely put-upon, world-weary thing. Ramona Marquez (Karen in Outnumbered) would be great as Lance’s annoying sister, Sally. Dawn French would be loads of fun as Lance’s peevish Mum. I’ll make a note of these for when Mr Spielberg calls...

Say you were Admiral Skink, and your mind had just arrived on Earth from another planet. What 3 things would you have to take back with you to show the other space lizards how cool our planet is?

Ooh, good question! I would take a tree, probably the most beautiful thing our world has yet produced. I’d also take a boxset of The Simpsons, probably the funniest thing our planet has yet produced. Finally I’d take a pork pie from the bakers in my home town in North Wales, without doubt the tastiest thing our planet has ever produced.

What's next for Lance, Skink and the other Swerdlixians?

The sequel Space Lizards Ate My Sister! is out in August and I’m really excited already. It’s even wilder, weirder and funnier than the first book and I’m really pleased with it. It’s the first book I’ve written knowing it’s definitely going to be published and that was an amazing liberating feeling.

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Related links:

Friday, 6 January 2012

News: Phil Earle's Saving Daisy Trailer!


My lovely friend Phil has a new book out this week, titled Saving Daisy. His debut novel, Being Billy, was excellent, so I'm expecting this one to be just as good. I'm really looking forward to reading it! Anyhow, check out the below trailer and let him know what you think. Oh, and in case you want to know more, here's a summary from Amazon:

Daisy's mum is gone. Her dad refuses to talk about it. As far as Daisy's concerned, it's all her fault. As her life starts to spiral out of control, panic leads to tragedy and Daisy's left alone.

But sometimes the kindness of a stranger can turn things around. A stranger who desperately wants to save Daisy - if she'll only let herself be saved...

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Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Future of Us Blog Tour: 1996 Trivia!


The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler is published in the UK today and, because the internet is so relevant to the book, Simon and Schuster UK have organised a really fun blog tour. Here's more information about the book, taken from the S&S website:

It's 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on - and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they'll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

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1996 Trivia

Here's some trivia from the year 1996. How much do you remember? I was around nine years old at the time so I can recall most of it, especially Take That splitting up and the Spice Girls arriving on the music scene. Feel free to add any of your own 1996 trivia in the comments - I'm sure there's loads we've missed out here!


  • It was a leap year.
  • Everyone was doing the Macarena.
  • Everyone was reading Angela’s Ashes.
  • Toy Story was released.
  • Oprah started her book club.
  • Take That split up.
  • Dolly the cloned sheep was born.
  • The first ever Pokemon game was released in Japan.
  • The Spice Girls released their first single.
  • Independence Day was one of the year's biggest movies.
  • There were 45 million people online worldwide – in 2011 it’s over 2 billion.
  • Google and Hotmail were born.
  • The chess computer named "Deep Blue" defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov for the first time.
  • The English Patient won best film at the Oscars.

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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk Blog Tour - Introduction by Curtis Jobling!


WEREWORLD “7 REALMS, 7 BEASTS” BLOG TOUR


It’s come round fast.

January 5th sees the release of my third novel in the WEREWORLD series, “Shadow of the Hawk”, hopping out of the nest and taking flight into the wild. It’s been a busy couple of years for me, immersed in the writing of the books while also getting out of my hobbit-hole on occasion. It’s not enough for an author to sit at home and write: one of the biggest thrills for me is to go out and meet audiences, via festivals, school visits, book signings and even online. Children’s and YA is a crowded marketplace, bookshops jam-packed with a plethora of top titles, each grabbing the eye of passing book-lovers and cooing temptingly, inviting the potential reader to take a peek inside their covers. As an author, not only do I need to get out there and meet audiences, I love to: I get a thrill from hearing/seeing the reaction of people when I read from the novels, a constant reminder of why I got into the business of tale-telling in the first place. The fact that I’m ‘that bloke who designed Bob The Builder’ tends to be a bit of a curve-ball, throwing the audience who are expecting a cuddly preschool yarn, instead getting a face-full of tooth, claw, blood and gore.

Since the writing of “Rise of the Wolf”, the online community of bloggers, champions of authors and their books, has really opened up to me. I’ve met a ton of passionate, book-obsessed people through Twitter, blogs and other social media, so it’s a huge thrill to have a gang of said reviewers on board for the “7 REALMS, 7 BEASTS” Blog Tour. Big thanks go to Jenny at Wondrous Reads for kicking the shindig off!

There’ll be eight stops on the Tour, featuring reviews of the novel as well as introductions to seven of the new Werelords who appear in the third volume. I’ve picked the particular character descriptions to give readers a flavour of what they can expect in “Shadow of the Hawk”, a wider range of therianthropes making their presence known within the tale including Captain Klay (Barracuda), Krieg (Rhino), Queen Slotha (Walrus), Lady Shah (Hawk), Baron Bosa (Whale), Ignus (Lizard) and Arik & Balk (Apes). That’s really only scratching the surface though – there’s a whole host of new shapeshifting therians who come up against Drew and his allies within “Shadow...”

I’ll also be touring for “Shadow...” in January, with myself and the good folk from Puffin whizzing all over the country to meet audiences in the flesh and hopefully scare them silly. Can only hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it!

Curtis, December 13th 2011



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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

SPoLaFS Blog Tour: 5 Reasons Why Jen E. Smith Loves London!


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is published by Headline in the UK this Thursday, and it is ACE. Really, really ace. You can read my review here, where I rave on about how Oliver is so swoonworthy and Jen E. Smith just plain rocks. Because she does!

My US counterpart for today's stop on the SPoLaFS blog tour is Kristi over at The Story Siren, and the next stops on the blog tour will be posted tomorrow over at Serendipity Reviews (UK) and Good Books and Good Wine (US). Before I get to Jen's post about why she loves England (Well, London. But yay!), here are two book trailers for you to watch. SWOON!







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Five Reasons Why I Love London:
by Jennifer E. Smith

1. There’s so much history to London. Once, a friend from the UK was visiting me in New York, and I pointed out a building from the early 1800s. She looked at me like I was crazy for thinking it was out of the ordinary. As it turned out, her house – just a regular old suburban home in the UK – was from the early 1800s. Everywhere you turn in London, there’s something that’s breathtakingly monumental, from the Tower of London to the Parliament building, and Westminster Abbey to St. Paul’s Cathedral. And the literary history is equally amazing. The fact that you can still visit pubs that were once frequented by everyone from Charles Dickens to Virginia Woolf is amazing to me.

2. The doors. I’m not talking about the band. I mean the actual doors. They’re all so colorful! I think other cities should take note. The world would be a much brighter and happier place if there were more pink, green, and blue front doors.

3. If my time in the UK has taught me one thing, it’s that American chocolate is no match for British chocolate. As much as I love Hershey’s kisses, I’m afraid they just don’t compare to white chocolate buttons. I recently discovered a place in New York called The London Candy Company, and when I walked in and saw those buckets of Minstrels and Cadbury bars, it was like running into old friends.

4. There’s nothing like a London pub. I’ve spent a lot of time in New York searching for an equivalent, and while there are a lot of them here as well, it’s not quite the same. I can think of few things better than spending a Saturday afternoon in a pub in London, sitting in a booth with some friends and having a few pints while watching rugby. If I’m ever in the UK, and you’re having trouble tracking me down, the pubs would be a good place to start.

5. I know this sounds crazy, but I love the rain in London. It makes the whole city feel somehow more dramatic, and there’s an odd beauty to it. In some places, rain is a nuisance. But in London, it’s simply a fact. It’s like background noise. It’s a part of the city.


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Monday, 2 January 2012

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith


Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardcover
Released: January 5th, 2012
Rating: 9/10


Amazon summary:

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A. Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. 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.

Review:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, or Statistical as I will now refer to it, is one of those books that makes me sigh every time I think about it. It's contemporary YA fiction at its best, and kept me up reading late into the night. Once I started it I couldn't put it down, and I was willing to forego sleep to find out what happened to Hadley and Oliver. That's how much I love these people: they feel like friends now, and I want more. Whether I'm going to get it, I don't know, but I'm not above grovelling. Jennifer E. Smith, are you listening?!

Everything starts at an airport, where Hadley is running slightly late. She had to go back for her book, gave herself a papercut and ran into traffic on the way to the airport. She misses her flight, a flight that will get her to her father's wedding in England, and has to wait for the next one, where she's assigned seat 18A. It's because of those few lost minutes that she meets Oliver, a boy booked on the same London-bound flight, and the holder of ticket 18B. What follows is a lovely, lovely day of getting to know each other, which quickly moves into a drama-filled day of stress and emotion. I won't say why, and instead I'll just let you read it and peel away the story layer by layer. It's so worth it.

When I first heard about this book, I thought it would be a cheesy, unbelievable story about two people who meet, lock eyes and vow to spend eternity together. However, that isn't the case. I believed in every word Hadley and Oliver shared and, when their eyes inevitably locked, I felt it. I also wanted to climb into my book and steal Oliver away for myself, but we can't have everything, can we? Seriously though, if I could manifest my perfect boy, it would be him. I imagine him to be a mix of Ed Westwick (Chuck, Gossip Girl) and Darren Criss (Blaine, Glee), AKA. Swoony and Swoonier. In my mind he has Ed's Britishness and Darren's beautiful hair. *sigh* If any movie casting people are reading this, please see to it that these two audition. Thanks. ;)

Anyway, back to reality. Hadley and Oliver have chemistry, and I'm talking instant chemistry. If they sat next to a bunsen burner, it would flare and light up the room in a second. They're the best contemporary characters I've encountered in a long while, which leads me to my only complaint: I wanted more of them. Hundreds of pages more. The page count is fairly short, but wow could I have read on. As soon as I turned the final page, I wanted to flip back to the beginning and start all over again.

Statistical is like an old-school romance in a contemporary setting: think chance meetings, lingering looks and endless possibilities that all take place within a whirlwind 24-hours. It's the perfect example of how everything happens for a reason, and that even the most irritating displays of self-inflicted tardiness can lead to something way beyond what you imagined. Jennifer E. Smith will make even the hardest of hearts believe in love at first sight, and I think this book will cement her place in the YA contemp world. Readers will fall in love with her story and characters, and I'm sure she'll soon be inundated with requests for a sequel. I'll tell you right now: I will be first in line!