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I'm a librarian based in the UK who loves books. I'm happiest when I'm either talking about them, reading them or buying them. This blog is dedicated mainly to my addiction to YA fiction but you will also find some adult and non-fiction book reviews as well.

Friday, 31 December 2010

Top 10 books of 2010

2011 is nearly here so I just wanted to wish everyone a very happy new year!!!

2010 has been amazing in terms of some of the fantastic books I've read and new authors I've discovered.  I've bought so many new books that my bookshelves are really starting to sag and I'm going to have to spend some time trying to sort out all the piles that are also stacking up on my bedroom floor.  My blog is just over 4 months old and I'm looking forward to trying to make it even better next year, with lots of new content and reviews.  I've really enjoyed my blogging experience so far and I'd just like to thank everyone who has been encouraging or clicked the follow button, or taken the time to comment on my posts.  I really appreciate it.

I thought I'd finish the year off by posting my list of 'Top 10 Books of 2010'.  These are titles that I've read this year and loved, but they haven't necessaily been published this year.  Also, I tried to put them in order but gave up because I couldn't decide which I enjoyed the most, so here they are (in no particular order!).

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


2. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore


3. Need by Carrie Jones


4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore


5. Fat Cat by Robin Brande


6. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han


7. Wildthorn by Jane Eagland


8. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer


9. Spells by Aprilynne Pike


10. Glass Houses by Rachel Caine


It was really hard to narrow down the list to just ten books!  Some of these I've chosen because I discovered the series this year (such as the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine) and love them, so I've picked the first book because it introduced me to a great new author.

I'll be posting my 'Top 10 Most Eagerly Anticipated 2011 Books' in the next week.  So come back to check it out!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Review: Forget-Her-Nots - Amy Brecount White

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White, published by Greenwillow Books in 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
Something, some power is blooming inside Laurel. She can use flowers to do things. Like bringing back lost memories. Or helping her friends ace tests. Or making people fall in love.
Laurel suspects her newfound ability has something to do with an ancient family secret, one that her mother meant to share with Laurel when the time was right. But then time ran out.
Clues and signs and secret messages seem to be all around Laurel at Avondale School, where her mother had also boarded as a student. Can Laurel piece everything together quickly enough to control her power, which is growing more potent every day? Or will she set the stage for the most lovestruck, infamous prom in the history of the school?


Review:
Laurel's mother has died and she's now attending Avondale School.  It's here that her 'gift' starts to show itself and she learns about her new talent and her family history.  The other girls at the school realise that Laurel's flowers may have the ability to make certain boys interested in them, so they start asking Laurel to make them arrangements, but these don't always seem to have the desired effect.

I had mixed feelings about this book so I'm going to start with what I liked about it first.  I enjoyed the whole concept of 'Flowerspeak' and the language of flowers and the idea that certain people in the world have a gift to enhance the feelings and emotions in those around them by using different flowers.  It was interesting finding out exactly what meanings all the flowers held and there was an additional index in the back of the book which I referred to several times. 

What I didn't like quite so much about the book was the slow pace of the story.  It was a little too sedate for me and I kept waiting for something more to happen which never transpired.  It felt a bit like the story wasn't headed in any real direction and so didn't make enough of a point.  I think it might appeal more to slightly younger readers but there wasn't enough content to keep me interested all the way through.  It's a shame because I had high hopes for 'Forget-Her-Nots' and it has such a pretty cover but I don't think it's one that I'll be re-reading.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Book Blogging / Reading Resolutions 2011

I thought I should put together some of my book blogging and reading resolutions for 2011. I always try to set myself some targets as it's nice to see what you've achieved at the end of the year.  My blog will be just over 4 months old in January and I'm looking forward to a fresh year stretching ahead for me to make my blog even better and do heaps and heaps of reading.

So here are some of my resolutions:

1. To read 250 books 
This year I've read 215 books and I still have a couple of days to go.  My target was to read 200 so I'm pleased that I've managed to reach that.  That's the most I've read in the last couple of years and I think it's partly down to all the amazing books that have been out.  Also, since I started blogging, I've discovered so many new authors and new titles that I've added to my wishlist and nearly every other day, I find more, so my reading output has increased because I want to get to everything!  There's just never enough time in the day to read everything you want to!

I think 250 books sounds like a good target as I do like to try and increase the number I read each year.  I also want to try and make a big dent in my TBR pile which is literally taking over my house at the moment.

2. Complete blogging challenges 
For 2011, I've signed up for 3 blog challenges: YA Debut Author Challenge; British Books Challenge and YA Historical Fiction.  I've hoping to complete all of these but I need to go out and buy some of the books on my list first!

3. Become active on Twitter
I've used Twitter a little but I'm not very active on the site.  I'm going to try and make more of an effort to interact with people, publishers and authors and post links to my reviews. 

4. Read 12 classics
I set myself this target in 2010, but I only managed to read 5 classics (Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy; Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert; The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde; Colonel Chabert by Honore De Balzac and The Spell by Charlotte Bronte).  I was trying for one per month, but a lot of the classics I have on my list are so long that I cheated a little and read some short ones.  I'm going to attempt this again though.

5. To be organised and schedule posts
I've found that one of the biggest challenges to book blogging is the amount of time that it takes.  It's not just writing posts and reviews, but also making sure to visit other's blogs and check out book related news.  I'm going to try to be a bit more organised this year and schedule some of my posts in advance so I'm not worrying about having to write them each day. 

6. Give my blog a makeover
I have absolutely no idea about using HTML and when I first set my blog up the design was very basic.  I'd like to have a go at freshening it up for 2011.

That should keep me pretty busy!!!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Review: Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, published by Dutton 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?


Review:
J'adore Anna and the French Kiss! 

There was only ever one book I was hoping desperately to find under the tree on Christmas day.  The year's most eagerly anticipated debut YA novel by Stephanie Perkins.  And my wish came true!  I got a gorgeous shiny brand new hardback copy from my Mum and Dad which I started reading immediately...and couldn't put down because it was as amazingly wonderful as I was expecting it to be. 

I first stumbled across Stephanie Perkin's blog nearly a year ago and was immediately attracted to her funny and illuminating and thoughtful posts.  I eagerly followed the news about 'Anna' before the book was even published and I've been dying to read it for the longest time ever.  Since then it's been the hot topic of conversation across the blogosphere and I've read so many reviews raving about how brilliant it is.  I've been desperate to get my hands on a copy and now that I have, I've found my book of 2010.  This tops anything else that I've read this year. 

I don't even know where to start with describing all the things that I loved about it.  I'm just so full of admiration for a debut novel that literally left me breathless for more.  The book is set in Paris and there are so many wonderful descriptions of the sights, sounds and delights of the city.  I could almost taste the macaroons, I could sense the giddy heights of Notre Dame, I shared Anna's confusion over the language and I experienced the same feelings of lust and desire for the very hot Etienne St Clair.  Way to go Stephanie Perkins!  That's how you write a perfect boy with amazing hair, charm, good taste, a cute accent and sexiness in abundance.  I wonder if Anna would mind sharing?!  The ups and downs of their relationship is the main focus of the novel but it also teaches about loneliness, independence, family, friends and finding a place or a person that you can call home.

One of the things I loved the most was the fresh tone of the writing.  It reminded me a lot of Meg Cabot (another of my favourite authors) because it was just like having a conversation or reading a letter from your best friend.  Down to earth, real and not pretentious in the slightest.  This is the sort of book that on finishing it, you just want to pick it up and start all over again.   

Stephanie Perkins has two further books planned.  'Lola and the Boy Next Door' which is published in September 2011, followed by 'Isla and the Happily Ever After' which is out in 2012.  I'm sure there will also be many more to come, because Stephanie Perkins is one of the most talented new writers I've come across and I'm convinced she'll have a long writing career ahead of her.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Review: Entice - Carrie Jones

Entice by Carrie Jones, published by Bloomsbury in January 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever. But that's not quite how things have worked out.

For starters, well, Nick is dead. Supposedly, he's been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it's taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla?

And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there's that other small problem: Zara's been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn't just turned. She's Astley's queen.



Review:
I was so excited to get an advance review copy of this book from Bloomsbury, who very kindly sent me this one.  I'm such a massive Carrie Jones fan and I've been telling anyone who'll listen (and plenty of people who don't as well!) that they must read this series.  I couldn't wait to pick it up and get stuck in but I also wanted to prolong the enjoyment of starting it.  Finally, I had to cave in because the suspense was killing me!

Zara is now the Pixie Queen after being turned by Astley and she's having to cope with not only the reactions of her friends and family but also her own feelings about what she has become.  She's made a monumental sacrifice to try and save her boyfriend Nick, but now she's not even sure if he'll want her anymore.  He obviously dislikes pixies intensely and she worries that he'll be horrified by the fact that she is one.  I love the way that although she's scared she still goes out there and not only kicks some pixie butt but also never gives up on finding a way to get Nick back.  She's determined and brave and not afraid to do what she believes is right, even when people tell her otherwise.

My only disappointment with 'Entice' was that although the book is about Zara's hunt to find Nick, there is very little of Nick himself.  I love his character so much and although Astley has definitely grown on me, there's only one true soulmate for Zara and that just has to be Nick!  I'm hoping that book 4 will deliver all the Zara/Nick scenes that I'm craving.  If they don't end up together then I'm going to be so disappointed!

Astley's character is definitely developed more throughout.  He's protective and caring towards Zara and not only does she get to see another side to him, but we, as readers, also get to see the softer, more fragile, aspects of his personality.  He's got serious mother issues too which come to the fore in the story and we learn about some of his backstory before meeting Zara which was interesting and intriguing.

Zara and Astley, with the help of Issie, Devyn and Cassidy, are looking for a way to Valhalla, where they hope to rescue Nick.  Their journey unfolds throughout the book as they have to overcome a multitide of obstacles in their path.  Zara never becomes defeated though and through her struggle to be reunited with Nick, she learns a lot about herself and her new responsibilities as the Pixie Queen.

Just like in 'Captivate' there are a lot of unexpected plot twists and I love the fact that I can never predict what's going to happen.  I've given up trying to guess - I just sit back and enjoy the ride!  Carrie Jones is an incredible writer.  I love the world she's created and the characters that inhabit it and I'm going to be on tenterhooks waiting for the next installment.  I hope she writes quickly!

Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending this one.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Waiting on Wednesday #11

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases.  Head on over there to take part or to check out all the other fabulous books that people are looking forward to reading! 
Published by Scholastic Press in May 2011

 
From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.
 
Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

How awesome does this sound!!  I always get excited about new books by Libba Bray who is an amazing author.  I love the concept for this - beauty queens surviving on a desert island.  Should be a great read.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Teaser Tuesday #4

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading
  • Grab your read
  • Share two (2) "teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and the author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers
Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White


Goodreads synopsis:
 Something, some power, is blooming inside Laurel. She can use flowers to do things. Like bringing back lost memories. Or helping her friends ace tests. Or making people fall in love.  
Laurel suspects her newfound ability has something to do with an ancient family secret, one that her mother meant to share with Laurel when the time was right. But then time ran out.
 
Clues and signs and secret messages seem to be all around Laurel at Avondale School, where her mother had also boarded as a student. Can Laurel piece everything together quickly enough to control her power, which is growing more potent every day? Or will she set the stage for the most lovestruck, infamous prom in the history of the school?

Teaser:
"Like a match struck into a flame, the tingling sparked and spread through her body.  Energy hummed into her, and she shut her eyes to ride its wave..." [Page 69]

Monday, 20 December 2010

Review: Captivate - Carrie Jones

Captivate by Carrie Jones, published by Bloomsbury in 2009

Goodreads synopsis:
Zara and her friends thought they'd solved the pixie problem. And they had - sort of. They're locked away, deep in the woods. But the king's needs grow stronger each day that he's in captivity, while his control over his people weakens. Who will fill the power vacuum? Astley. He claims he's different. He claims that it doesn't have to be violence and nastiness all the time. Zara wants to believe him...until Astley also claims that she's fated to be his queen.

There's not way Zara would ever turn pixie. And she's got good friends who'll make sure of that. But besides, she and Nick are so in love they're practically inseparable. But when the very thing Zara most wants to protect is exactly what's at risk, she's forced to make choices she never imagined.


Review:
Amazing.  Incredible.  Exciting.  Phenomenal.  Brilliant.  Stupendous.  There aren't enough adjectives available to describe just how mind-blowingly fantastic this book was.  I found myself savouring every single word on the page and reading slower and slower as the story progressed because I just didn't want it to end.  I am so in love with this series.  'Need', the first book in the series, is one of my favourite reads of the year, but if possible I think Carrie Jones has done the impossible and written an even more amazing installment, that was so gripping it literally made my heart pound.  

'Captivate' picks up where 'Need' left off.  Zara and her friends are still battling against the evil pixies, while also trying to protect the people around them.  There are several new challenges which now face them and some new characters are introduced into the story.  Astley and Cassidy in particular are great additions.  Astley is the new pixie King, who wants Zara to be his Queen.  He causes Zara to question some of notions she has about pixies and shakes up the romance between Zara and Nick.  Oh Nick!  He has to be one of my favourite male characters ever!  I love the way that he's protective and heroic and is always there looking out for Zara and making sure that she's safe.  My stomach kept fluttering as I read some of the scenes between them because they are so cute and perfect for each other.  They are destined to be together even though there are several obstacles which look like getting in the way.  

I really like the friendship between Zara, Nick, Issie and Devyn.  They are always there to back each other up and support each other.  They have complimentary strengths and each bring something to the table which will help them in the fight against the pixies.  You know that they're always going to watch each other's backs.  Zara is also one of my favourite protagonists.  She's determined to make sure that her friends and family are safe, she's self-sacrificing and brave and she's not one to back down from a challenge.  She's also smart, self-assured and stubborn and her character comes alive off the page.  I really felt like I was experiencing everything she was going through as I read the book.     

There are some awesome twists and turns in the story too.  Some of these completely took me by surprise and I'm so excited about the direction in which Carrie Jones is taking the story.  She's not afraid to take risks and to shake things up and I don't think there's any risk that the series is going to stray into predictable territory.  Everything is very fresh and original and some parts had me gasping with shock and amazement.

I can't really describe just how much I'm loving this series - but trust me when I say that if you haven't discovered Carrie Jones yet then what are you waiting for!  You won't be disappointed!  I've already started book three which is entitled 'Entice' and I have a feeling I won't be getting much sleep tonight!

You can read my review of 'Need', book one in the series, here.        

Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending this one for review.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Review: Graceling - Kristin Cashore


Graceling by Kristin Cashore, published by Gollancz in 2009
 
Goodreads synopsis:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.


Review:
I have been looking forward to reading 'Graceling' for such a long time.  The book has been sitting on my bookshelf for months and months and a number of times I nearly picked it up but decided on something else at the last minute.  I thought it was about time I really got stuck in and read it before the end of the year.  I actually did something I don't normally like to do and read 'Fire' the second book in the trilogy before this one, but I don't think it really mattered in this case because 'Fire' is actually more of a prequel anyway so it wasn't difficult to pick up the story.  It was however, so good, that I was then desperate to read 'Graceling' even more!

This book just had everything you could possibly want and more!  It had equal parts excitement, mystery, adventure and romance.  The plot was fast-paced and thrilling, which was balanced with amazing characters who were brilliantly depicted with striking individual traits.  Kristin Cashore has also created such an incredibly realised fantasy world with perfect attention to detail that it literally almost seems real.  I love the idea of a world where people are born with special talents, such as mind-reading, singing, dancing or cooking.  They can be identified by the fact that their eyes are different colours.

Katsa, the central figure, is a strong, feisty heroine.  From birth, she has been graced with the power to kill.  A grace that often seems more of a curse.  She has been used as a weapon by her uncle, King Randa - a kind of hired-hand, but she becomes sick of the violence she's forced to commit on his behalf and becomes determined to strike out on her own and seek her independence.  She's encouraged to follow this path by Po, who is also graced and who believes that she can use her grace for good.

The relationship between Katsa and Po is one of the central elements of the book.  It encompasses everything from mutual hostility, to friendship, love and companionship.  I completely fell in love with Po and thought that he was so perfect for Katsa.  He allows her to be the person she truly is, instead of what everyone around her wants her to be.  From Cashore's descriptions he's gorgeous (which can't hurt!), kind, brave, strong, heroic and sensitive.  Their story is beautifully written and I liked the fact that their relationship is one of equality and mutual trust.  They don't necessarily have to be married to be bonded to each other and I loved the fact that Po is willing to let Katsa decide, giving her the freedom to make her own decisions and choices. 

In the latter part of the book, Katsa and Po have to come together to protect King Leck's daughter Bitterblue when her life is put in danger.  I sped through this section of 'Graceling' because by this point, there was no way I was going to put the book down until I'd finished it.  The tension and excitement kept on building to a peak and there was so many unpredictable twists and turns that I didn't know what to expect next.

'Graceling' is an extraordinary book by such a talented and incredible writer.  I loved 'Fire' but I think, if possible, that I enjoyed 'Graceling' even more.  I became completely swept up in the story and I'm looking forward to reading many more books penned by the talented Kristin Cashore.        

My review of 'Fire' can be read here if you'd like to see what I thought of #2 in the trilogy.

Book 3 in The Seven Kingdoms trilogy will be called 'Bitterblue'.  Here's what Kristin says about it on her blog:

"Book 3, tentatively titled Bitterblue and currently in progress, is a companion book to both Graceling and Fire and takes place in the seven kingdoms six years after Graceling. As you may have gathered, the protagonist is Bitterblue. Yes, Katsa, Po, and others from Graceling whom I'm not yet willing to name do appear in the book. I don't know yet when it'll be coming out, and heartily invite you not to ask ^_^. That's all I can say about it at this point."

Saturday, 18 December 2010

British Books Challenge 2011

I've decided to take part in the British Books Challenge hosted by The Bookette.  You can find out more about it and sign-up to take part here


So what is the British Books Challenge?
The BBC (hee hee) is a reading challenge where bloggers sign up to read books by British writers throughout 2011. 

The books can be in print or out.  Old or new titles.  They can be from any genre and for any age. 

There are two entry categories for the challenge and as a British blogger, I fall within Home Grown.  The target is to read 12 novels. 

I'm still deciding which 12 novels I want to read but so far these are the ones I have on my list:




Friday, 17 December 2010

Book Blogger Hop (17-20 December)

This week I am taking part in Friday's Book Blogger Hop, which is hosted by 
Crazy for Books


If you've just stumbled upon me via one of these, then welcome to my blog. I hope you find something that interests you!  The Hop is a great opportunity to visit lots of new blogs and meet like-minded book lovers from around the world.  I love taking part :)

I'm going to go and explore some of the other links over the weekend.  If you'd like to join in the fun too, then head on over to Crazy for Books, read the rules, post your own link and away you go :)

The question this week for the book hop is from Alex at Geek on the Brink:

 "What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?"
That's a really good question.  When I'm browsing books in a shop or online, it's usually the plot synopsis that first gets me interested and makes me want to pick it up and read it.  However, when I start reading, if the characters don't click with me then often not even a good plot can save it.  So I guess I consider them both equally important!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Teaser Tuesday #3

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading
  • Grab your read
  • Share two (2) "teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and the author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers
Graceling by Kristin Cashore


Goodreads synopsis:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight — she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme, and in her case horrifying, skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace — or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away... a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

Teaser:
"Her mind raced.  He was Graced, a fighter.  That much was clear.  And unless he had no feeling in the hand that raked her chest, he knew she was a woman" [Page 9]

I'm loving this book so far.  I'm nearly finished because I'm finding it difficult to put down so I hope to get a review up on the blog very soon.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

On My Wishlist #4

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. Each week I'm going to choose 3 of the books on my wishlist that I am dying to get my hands on but haven't bought yet.  These will be a mixture of released, unreleased, old and new.


This week I've picked 3 books which have gorgeous cover artwork.  If I saw these books in a shop and knew nothing at all about them, I think I'd still pick them up on the basis of the front covers alone!



Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

I LOVE the sound of this book and I absoutely adore how pretty the cover is!  This one is right at the top of my wishlist.  It's published by ATOM on 20th January 2011.



Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?

Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .

Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry.


This is another very pretty cover!  It's the first in a new series and it looks like it's going to be amazing.  It's published on 14th December 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.  As far as I know, there's no UK release date...yet.



Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone--one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship--tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.


Wow!  How great does this sound!  I've already heard amazing things about 'Across the Universe' and I'm very excited to get my hands on a copy.  Only a little longer to wait!  This one's published 20th January 2011 by Razorbill. 

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Review: Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, published by Bloomsbury in 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.


 

Review:
'Revolution' is Jennifer Donnelly's second young-adult novel and is an outstanding and extraordinary book.  I'd only heard good things about it before I picked this up in the library and I was so excited to get my hands on it at last!  I definitely wasn't disappointed!

The story is set both in present day Brooklyn and eigtheenth century France.  There's an incredible amount of historical detail woven into the book, which serves to evoke the sights, sounds and smells of Paris.  I felt like I was transported back in time to a period that's always fascinated me. 

What's so clever about 'Revolution' is that one narrative and one story is contained within another.  First, I was absorbed by the story of Andi, an American teenager whose coping with the traumatic aftermath of her brother Truman's accidental death.  This event is ripping Andi apart as she blames herself for his death and can no longer face up to life anymore.  The only solace she finds is in her music.  When her father takes her to Paris, she discovers the diary of a young French girl, Alexandrine, who lived during the time of the French Revolution.  As Andi is sucked into Alex's story, so I was drawn into reading about Andi discovering Alex's secrets and the events of her life.  The two narratives are knit together seamlessly and just as Andi is desperate to read Alex's diary - a few more entries each night, I too was desperate to read on and on.  Trust me, once you've picked this up, you won't want to put it down.

The story delivers a real emotional punch and some of the incidents narrated in the book are so breathtakingly sad that I really felt myself sympathising with the characters.  I don't think I was quite prepared for how difficult it was going to be to read about some of the things they had to go through.

I absolutely loved the richness of detail that went into creating Alex's world.  The history of France and Marie Antoinette has always interested me and so I enjoyed finding out about her and her family.  I certainly learned a lot of things that I wasn't aware of before.

The only bit of the book that didn't work quite so well for me was sequence near the end.  I don't want to say too much about it because it will spoil it for people who haven't yet read 'Revolution', but although it worked well as a device to bring the story neatly together and wrap up all the loose ends, I'm not sure if it was entirely in keeping with the rest of the book.  I think it might have worked more effectively without it.

Regardless of that, 'Revolution' is a superb book that will whisk you back in time and  make you both smile and cry as you unravel the events of both Alex and Andi's stories. 

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

YA Historical Fiction Challenge 2011

I'm going to take part in YA Bliss's YA Historical Challenge for 2011 because this is a genre which I absolutely love.

You can find out more about the challenge and also join to take part here.

Historical fiction: tells a story that is set in the past. That setting is usually real and drawn from history, and often contains actual historical persons, but the principal characters tend to be fictional. Writers of stories in this genre, while penning fiction, attempt to capture the spirit, manners, and social conditions of the persons or time(s) presented in the story, with due attention paid to period detail and fidelity. (Wikipedia)

I'm going to try the Level 3 Challenge which is to read 15 YA HF books in 2011.

Here are the Rules:
  • All Historical Fiction books must be YA or MG
  • Books don't have to be 2011 releases.
  • Anyone can join. Please link to a public (web) place I can find you.
  • You can join at anytime. The challenge runs from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011

Here are some of the books I want to read (I will be adding to this list shortly):




Sunday, 5 December 2010

In My Mailbox #9

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for holding this meme every week.


I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes. 

          All links go to Goodreads, where you can add the books to your wishlist if you like the look of  them.

I bought a few books this week that were on 3 for 2 in WHSmiths:




I also received a book to review from Bloomsbury.   Thanks for this one - it sounds really interesting! 


Friday, 3 December 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow My Book Blog Friday (3 - 6 December)

This week I am taking part in Friday's Book Blogger Hop, which is hosted by 
Crazy for Books


And I'm also joining in Follow My Book Blog Friday, which is hosted by Parajunkee's View


If you've just stumbled upon me via one of these, then welcome to my blog. I hope you find something that interests you!  The Hop and Follow Friday are great opportunities to visit lots of new blogs and meet like-minded book lovers from around the world.  I love taking part :)

I'm going to go and explore some of the other links over the weekend.  If you'd like to join in the fun too, then head on over to these sites, read the rules, post your own link and away you go :)

The question this week for the book hop is from Marce at Tea Time With Marce 

 "What very popular and hyped book in the blogosphere did you NOT enjoy and how did you feel about posting your review?"

Hmm, this is a really interesting question and its taken me a while to come up with an answer!  I wouldn't say that they're particularly hyped or popular but I have to say that I was a little disappointed with 'Ballad' and 'Lament' by Maggie Steifvater.  It wasn't that I didn't enjoy them but they fell a little short of my initial expectations.  Saying that, I'm still really looking forward to reading 'Shiver' and 'Linger'.  I've heard great things about them and I'm excited to start this series.  In terms of posting a more negative review, I always try to be honest about what I think of books but if I didn't enjoy any then I try to specify why that might be.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Review: The Dark Divine - Bree Despain

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, published by Egmont Books in 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel's returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.


Review:
When I first saw this book I knew immediately that I had to read it.  The cover is simply stunning and I was on the hunt for new authors to try so this ticked all the boxes.  I'm happy to report that Bree Despain has just got herself a new fan!

This book is deliciously dark and mysterious.  I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen or where the story was going to end up.  The many twists and turns genuinely took me completely by surprise and just when I thought that I might have an inkling of what was coming next, the story went off in a totally different direction.  It certainly stands out among the rest of the YA paranormal romance genre.

The book has a really strong religious undercurrent which I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy but it was integrated very naturally into the story and it never seemed too forced.  The main character Grace Divine is a pastor's daughter and a really great central figure.  She's torn between being loyal to her brother Jude and her feelings for childhood friend Daniel, who has returned after a long absence.  Grace has some difficult dilemmas and hard situations to deal with in the book but I think she faces them with bravery and strength.  She's very giving and caring of the people around her but without being self-righteous or too much of a goody-goody. 

There are some stand-out moments between her and Daniel but although I adored the book, I have to say that I didn't fall head-over-heels for him.  I'm not sure why but I just didn't entirely click with Daniel.  He's quite a complex character and a bit of a bad boy but Grace feels an irresistible attraction to him.

'The Dark Divine' is fresh and original.  It doesn't feature any vampires and it's nice to find a book which really keeps you on your toes and expecting almost anything to happen.  The follow-up 'The Lost Saint' is published by Egmont on 28th December so not too long to wait now!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Waiting on Wednesday #10

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases.  Head on over there to take part or to check out all the other fabulous books that people are looking forward to reading! 
 
This one's published just before my birthday so I'll be hoping that I might get it as a present :)


What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Published May 20th 2011
Viking Children's Books

What Happened to Goodbye is about a high school senior who, after her parents’ divorce, has taken up the practice of assuming a new identity in each of the four towns she’s lived in.

Come on!  Who wouldn't be excited about a new Sarah Dessen book!  She's an awesome author and her books are always amazing. 

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Versatile Blogger award

Thanks so much to Kay-c at The Deranged Book Lovers for this award!


To accept this award, the rules are that you have to thank the blogger that gave it to you, choose 15 bloggers to pass the award onto and say 7 things about yourself.

So here I go:

1. I currently have 6 bookshelves which are absolutely jam packed with books.  I'm going to need a bigger house soon to keep them all in!  It also hasn't stopped me from still buying more!

2. I work in a library and absolutely love being surrounded by books on a daily basis.  I always enjoy making recommendations to people for books I think they'd enjoy.

3. I'm a Shakespeare buff.  It's my goal to have eventually seen every single one of Shakespeare's plays performed on the stage.

4. I'm addicted to chocolate :)

5. I don't have any pets but one day I would like to own a West Highland Terrier.  They're my favourite dogs because they're so cute.

6. The book I'm hoping to receive for Christmas is 'Anna and the French Kiss' by Stephanie Perkins.

7. I adore old black and white movies and my favourite actor is Cary Grant.

I'm passing this award onto:


















Friday, 26 November 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow My Book Blog Friday (26 - 29 November)

This week I am taking part in Friday's Book Blogger Hop, which is hosted by 
Crazy for Books


And I'm also joining in Follow My Book Blog Friday, which is hosted by Parajunkee's View


If you've just stumbled upon me via one of these, then welcome to my blog. I hope you find something that interests you!  The Hop and Follow Friday are great opportunities to visit lots of new blogs and meet like-minded book lovers from around the world.  I love taking part :)

I'm going to go and explore some of the other links over the weekend.  If you'd like to join in the fun too, then head on over to these sites, read the rules, post your own link and away you go :)

The question this week for the book hop is from Sarah at Writer, Reader, Dreamer:  
 
 "What is your favorite book cover?"

There are some absolutely gorgeous book covers out at the moment.  One of the ones I love is for 'Fallen' by Lauren Kate.  It's a beautifully striking cover, with lovely muted shades of blue and the figure of a girl in the middle.  The follow-up, 'Torment' has an amazing cover too!   
 
 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Review: Crusade - Linda Press Wulf

Crusade by Linda Press Wulf, published by Bloomsbury in January 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Robert: Left on the steps of a church as a baby, Robert was often hungry but never stole food like the other orphans in town. Introverted and extraordinarily intelligent, he knew all the Latin prayers and hymns by heart by the time he was five years old. Georgette: Her own mother died in childbirth, leaving Georgette with a father who, seventeen at the time, had neither experience nor aptitude as a nurturing parent, and a brother known in town as Le Fuer - The Spitfire - for his terrible temper. Perhaps to replace something missing from their own lives, both Robert and Georgette are drawn to the news of a crusader, twelve or thirteen, no older than themselves, travelling down through France with thousands of followers - all, unbelievably, children too. Of those thousands, this is the incredible story of two. This is a story of hardship, loss and love.


Review:
I received an uncorrected proof copy of this book which has a plain red cover with a very simple design.  I have to just start by saying that I've posted the actual cover of 'Crusade' which I think is absolutely gorgeous.  The girl on the front has a lovely face and I really like the overall design.  I think this is definitely going to stand out on the shelves.

'Crusade' tells the story of the Children's Crusade in France, 1212.  There are a number of different versions of what actually took place, but Linda Press Wulf has written a beautifully evocative re-telling of one particular version of events.  History buffs will love this book and for those, like me, that didn't really know anything about the Crusade, then this is an opportunity to enjoy a wonderful story as well as fill in some of those gaps in knowledge.  

Press Wulf has created two fictional characters who guide the reader through the events of the book: Georgette, a peasant girl and Robert, an orphan who was adopted by the Abbey when he was just a small boy.  They are brought together on a shared journey to the Holy Lands, by a young boy called Stephen, who is gathering children to lead on a crusade to Jerusalem, where he prophecises that they will be able to peacefully persuade the Muslims to convert to Christianity.  Georgette and her brother Gregor, along with a band of children from their village, set off with Stephen, believing that they are on a mission to carry out the work of God.  They are joined by Robert, who has become disillusioned at the Abbey and is seeking a higher purpose in life. 

The story follows them on their journey through extreme hardship and hunger, sickness and poverty.  Some of the things that the children have to face are heart-breaking and several times I felt very emotional reading it and imagining what they had to go through.  At one point in the story, the older children have to leave the younger ones behind as they're too weak to go on.  I can only imagine what they must have felt having to abandon their siblings and friends. 

Eventually Georgette and Robert do meet and I enjoyed seeing how their two stories merged.  My only criticism would be that I would have liked to have followed them further, as in a way it seemed the book finished just as their story was getting started.  However, their relationship is very sweet and touching and I was glad that they eventually did find each other.

Overall, I thought that this was a fantastic account of a significant event in Medieval history.  It's informative and educational, but also a really moving read that was both touching and poignant and beautifully written.       

This one's published in January 2011 so add it to your wishlist now!

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending this one for review

Review: Out For Blood - Alyxandra Harvey

Out For Blood (The Drake Chronicles #3) by Alyxandra Harvey, published by Bloomsbury in 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
Hunter Wild is the youngest in a long line of elite vampire hunters, a legacy that is both a blessing and a curse at the secret Helios-Ra Academy, where she excels at just about everything. Thanks to her friendship with Kieran Black, Hunter receives a special invitation to attend the coronation of Helena Drake, and for the first time, she sees the difference between vampires that must be hunted and vampires that can become friends—or even more. When students at the academy fall victim to a mysterious illness, Hunter suspects they are under attack from within. She will need someone she can trust to help her save the future of Helios-Ra . . . help that shockingly comes in the form of Quinn Drake, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire. Who said senior year would be easy?


Review:
Move over Buffy, there's a new vampire hunter in town!

Hunter Wild is a student at the Helios-Ra academy, where she's being trained in the art of hunting vampires.  She is fast, strong, beautiful and intelligent but needs all her wits and cunning to figure out what's afflicting her fellow students when they all mysteriously start becoming ill.  Her grandfather, who raised her after the death of her parents, has taught her that vampires are the enemy and must be stopped at all costs, but when she meets Quinn Drake, up close and in person, she starts developing a whole new set of feelings about vampires - of which her grandfather would most definitely not approve!

This was definitely my favourite installment in the series so far.  I loved the character of Hunter who's definitely someone you'd want fighting on your side and I liked the fact that a lot of the plot took place in the school.  The story alternates between Hunter's narrative and Quinn's and I liked seeing how they both coped with their new-found feelings for each other.  Quinn has always had a reputation for having an eye for the ladies, but when he meets Hunter and their relationship starts to develop romantically, he has to adjust to being a one-woman vampire.  I thought their romance was brilliantly written and the scenes between the two of them were very natural and realistic. 

I also liked the fact that we got to see the vampires being afraid for the humans around them and struggling with their emotions and natural instinct for blood.  They have to weigh up their own feelings, against what will keep the people they love safe - even if that means keeping them as far away from them as possible.

Many featured characters from throughout the series were also part of the book, including Logan and Isabeau, Nicholas and Lucy and Kieran and Solange.  It was nice seeing some familiar faces again and revisiting old friends.  I love Nicholas and Lucy so much - I want to see more of them.

I read somewhere that the next book's going to be based around Quinn's twin brother Connor, who I think would be perfect for Chloe as they're both computer geniuses.  It's due to be published in 2011.  This is such a fantastic series and I can't sing its praises enough.  I don't know how many books Alyxandra Harvey has planned but I hope she goes on and on and on! 

Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this book for review

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

I'm really excited about taking part in The Story Siren's 'Debut Author Challenge' for 2011.


There are so many debut novels that I want to read and they all sound amazing!

Here's just a few of the titles that I have on my list, although I'm sure I'll be adding more:













A lot of these are US debut novels, so hopefully I'll be able to get hold of a copy.  I can't wait to get started!

Review: The Demon's Covenant - Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon's Covenant (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan, published by Simon & Schuster

Goodreads Synopsis:
Mae Crawford's always thought of herself as in control, but in the last few weeks her life has changed. Her younger brother, Jamie, suddenly has magical powers, and she's even more unsettled when she realizes that Gerald, the new leader of the Obsidian Circle, is trying to persuade Jamie to join the magicians. Even worse? Jamie hasn't told Mae a thing about any of it. Mae turns to brothers Nick and Alan to help her rescue Jamie, but they are in danger from Gerald themselves because he wants to steal Nick's powers. Will Mae be able to find a way to save everyone she cares about from the power-hungry magician's carefully laid trap?


Review
This is book 2 in Sarah Rees Brennan's trilogy which began with 'The Demon's Lexicon' and will conclude in 2011 with 'The Demon's Surrender'.  The striking front cover was the first thing to attract me initially.  I love the picture of the girl's face with her red hair, half in shadow, with something lurking in the shadows behind her.  It's an attractive cover which really catches your eye.

One of the things I also loved about this book is the fact that it's set in my home city.  As I was reading, I kept coming across references to places, landmarks and sculptures that I walk past every day on my way to work and which certainly helped me to visualise the story even more clearly.  Sarah Rees Brennan must surely have spent some time in my home town!  I think this is actually the first book I've read that's set here which is pretty thrilling!  Also, the characters go to Tintagel which is one of my favourite places.  I almost felt like I was there right along with them.

In the first book Mae discovers that her brother Jamie is a magician.  He's in danger from the Obsidian Circle and their new leader Gerald, who want him to join them.  Mae's determined to do everything in her power to stop them, so she calls upon Nick and Alan for help, although they too are dealing with their own set of problems.  Unfortunately, Mae soon becomes embroiled in the affairs of the two brothers with potentially dangerous consequences. 

One of the main things I did like, was the element of family which lies at the heart of the book.  Nick and Alan, along with Mae and Jamie, are siblings who would do anything to protect each other, even when they are pushed to their limits.  The bonds they share are stronger than any of the parental relationships featured or mentioned.  Interspersed throughout are excerpts from Alan's father's diary, reflecting on his son's childhood and relationship with Nick.  I particularly enjoyed these passages and I think they shed quite a bit of light on the characters of Alan and Nick and why they are so close.

'The Demon's Covenant' is fast-paced, dark and gripping.  The story was thrilling and exciting and I loved the whole idea of demons and magicians living among humans.  The only problem I had was that because I haven't actually read the first book, it took me a little while to pick up the whole thread of the story and what had happened previously to all the characters.  I don't really think it can be read as a stand-alone book because there are so many references to things that happened earlier in the series.  For that reason only, I found the start a little slow going but the pace of the story soon picked up and the climax comes at you head-on.
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