About Me

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United Kingdom
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.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes - Maureen Johnson


Goodreads synopsis:
When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.
Review:
’13 Little Blue Envelopes’ follows the journey of Ginny, as she globe-trots her way around the world according to the instructions, left in a series of 13 letters, by her deceased aunt.  Her travelling adventure takes Ginny on a trip of self-discovery, opening her eyes to new experiences, emotions and people.  It’s also an opportunity for her to let her hair down for once and just have fun!

This wasn’t a stand-out book but I still enjoyed it.  I’m not a traveller myself so I had the pleasure of living vicariously through Ginny instead!  It was a quick read (I finished it in one evening) and would probably appeal to a slightly younger teen audience.  I liked the way that by the end of the book Ginny had become more self-assured and confident (but I reckon she was pretty confident to start with to go gallavanting around Europe on her own).  It did surprise me a little bit that Ginny’s mother would let her go alone, without any idea of where she was going to end up, but maybe that's just me.

There are certain aspects of the story that I would have liked to have seen developed further and a bit like Ginny's journey I felt it was all rather a whirlwind at time, skimming the surface without digging deeper into the story itself.  However, I loved reading about all the places she visited...I only wish I was as brave as her!

I haven’t read anything by Maureen Johnson before but I'm now interested enough to try some of her other books now.  I've heard that 'Girl at Sea' is very good and of course there's going to be a follow-up to '13 Little Blue Envelopes', so I shall be looking out for that too.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Waiting on Wednesday #3: Steel - Carrie Vaughn

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! 

My choice this week is a book that looks amazingly good.  I have another, 'Voices of Dragons' by Carrie Vaughn, on my wishlist too.  They both sound sensational. 
Steel by Carrie Vaughn
Published March 1st 2011 
HarperTeen

When Jill, a competitive high school fencer, goes with her family on vacation to the Bahamas, she is magically transported to an early eighteenth century pirate ship in the middle of the ocean.

I love pirate stories!  I love the gorgeous front cover!  This just sounds so intriguing that it's riding high on my wishlist at the moment. 

Monday, 27 September 2010

Review: I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore

Goodreads synopsis:
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.



Review:
When I first heard about this book it was described as basically being a story about an alien invasion.  If that’s enough to put you off wanting to read ‘I Am Number Four’, then don’t let it because this book is about so much more.  It’s about being the newcomer in a small town and trying to fit in, it’s about the bond between fathers and sons, it’s about those pangs of first love and it’s about growing-up and discovering who you are and who you want to be.

John Smith is not your average teenager.  He's actually an alien from the planet Lorien, sent to earth, along with eight others, to be protected against attack from the evil Mogadorians.  The Mogadorians (who are crazy scary!) are intent on tracking down the nine escapees and killing them, although they can only be killed in the correct order.  3 have been dealt with already and number four (John) is next.

This is not your typical sci-fi fare.  'I Am Number Four' makes a cracking good read, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The first half of the book is about introducing the characters and developing the emotional attachment between them and the reader.  The second half picks up the pace nicely and I found myself turning pages ever more rapidly to find out what was going to happen next.  I was rooting for John and his friends and I think my knuckles turned white from gripping the book so tightly!  The story ends leaving you wanting more, which is why 'The Power of Six' (book 2 in the Lorien Legacy) has swiftly shot to the top of my wishlist. 

I can easily see why this has already been optioned for a major movie adaptation.  I can't wait to see who they're going to cast as John.  The story just leaps off the page and you can see it clearly happening right in front of your eyes.  I would heartily recommend this book to anyone.  I loved it!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Book Blogger Hop (September 24 - 27)

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 the hop, 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:-
Elizabeth at Silver's Reviews.

When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

I always wait until I have read the entire book before writing my reviews.  Mainly because sometimes when I start a book, I might find it a little slow or can't really get into it properly, but there nearly always comes a turning point in the book where it either becomes magical and amazing or it just doesn't get any better.  I like to give it a fair chance before writing any thoughts down about it.  Once or twice I've completely changed my mind about a book!  I do need to write my reviews pretty soon after finishing the book though because I nearly always forget some key details otherwise. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Waiting on Wednesday #2: Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

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! 

My choice this week is a book that I have been dying (and I mean dying!) to read for ages and ages.  I've been very jealous of the review copies that have been landing in everyone's mailboxes lately!
 
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Published December 2nd 2010 
Dutton

Anna was 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. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris — until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.


I've posted about this book before but I am literally on tenterhooks waiting for this to be released.  I'm an avid follower of Stephanie Perkins's blog and I've been hearing about this for so long that I just want it in my possession now and in pride of place on my bookshelf :)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Bath Festival of Children's Literature 2010

The Bath Festival of Children's Literature has been an annual event for the last few years.  This year it's running from Friday 24th September - Sunday 3rd October.  The festival brochure dropped through my letterbox yesterday and look what I saw listed!

Maggie Stiefvater and Jennifer Lynn Barnes (K18)

Organisation: Bath Festival of Children's Literature

Date: Sunday 3 October, 6-7pm

Price: £5.00

Venue: Guildhall, High Street, Bath, BA1 5AW

If you’re Team Jacob, this is the event for you! Join Maggie Stiefvater, the author of Shiver and Linger, and Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the author of Raised by Wolves, as they discuss the irresistible appeal of werewolves.
Hear about how they came to write their haunting, breathtaking and totally original supernatural love stories.

If that wasn't enough to make you feel giddy, then Cornelia Funke is also appearing on the same day to talk about her new book, 'Reckless'.
                                           I mean what a line-up!




And of course I want to go desperately now because it sounds amazing!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Uglies - Scott Westerfeld

My bookclub has chosen 'Uglies' by Scott Westerfeld as its October pick.  I haven't read it before (or indeed read anything by Scott Westerfeld) but it sounds really intriguing.  I like reading books that are in a series as well because if it's amazingly good then you know you've got more to come!

Goodreads synopsis:
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license—for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world—and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.



I'd love to hear what other people thought of the book, so if you've read it, drop me a comment and let me know if you loved or hated it!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

In My Mailbox #2

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for holding this meme every week.
I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes. As for me, I had a couple of new arrivals this week!


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

Raised By Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Bought)

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink (Bought)

The Haunted by Jessica Verday (Bought)

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (Swapped)

Hourglass by Claudia Gray (Swapped)

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Review: Marked (House of Night #1) - P.C and Kristin Cast

Goodreads synopsis:
The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed.  In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire--that is, if she makes it through the Change.  Not all of those who are chosen do.  It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling.  She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx.  But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers.  When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.


Review:
I'm a latecomer to the House of Night series but I've seen it mentioned in so many reviews and on so many peoples' blogs that I thought it was about time I checked it out.  What really fascinates me about the series as a whole is the collaborative process of mother and daughter, P.C and Kristin Cast writing the books together.  As I was reading it, I kept wondering who had written which bit and who'd come up with certain ideas or scenes in the story.  Obviously P.C Cast is already a hugely successful author so it's interesting that she's teamed up with her daughter for this series.  I'm intrigued by how different they might have been had they been a solo effort.

Anyway, back to 'Marked' itself - from reading some of the reviews it seems that people either love it or hate it.  It's been criticised a lot for it's weak portrayal of teens and for it's 'been done before' storylines.  Personally, I didn't think it was quite as good as some other vampire books I've read.  It's certainly not in the same league as Stephenie Meyer's 'Twilight' series or Richelle Mead's 'Vampire Academy' books but it was still an enjoyable spin on the vampire genre.  The main character Zoey has to cope with the changes she's going through after having been marked as a vampyre and shipped off to vampyre finishing school, The House of Night.  Once there, she has to contend with a lot of the same issues that teens at a brand new school face...a raging crush on the hot guy at school, making new friends and steering her way through the cliques and groups, whilst at the same time dealing with the whole changing-into-a-vampyre thing.  

This was quite a quick and easy read.  The story got better as it progressed and it certainly finished leaving me wanting more.  I definitely enjoyed it enough to want to go out and get the rest of the books so I can find out what happens to Zoey next. 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Waiting on Wednesday #1: Entice - Carrie Jones

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 week is the first time that I'm taking part!
Entice by Carrie Jones
Book #3 Need series
Published December 7th 2010 
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Zara and Nick are soul-mates - they're meant to be together for ever. But that's not quite how things have worked out. For starters, Nick is dead, and has been taken to Valhalla, a mystical resting place for warriors. If they can find the way there, Zara and her friends will try to get him back. But even if they do, Zara has turned pixie - and now she's Astley's queen! Meanwhile, more teenagers go missing as a group of evil pixies devastates the town of Bedford. An all-out war seems imminent and Zara and her friends need all the warriors they can find...

This just sounds amazingly good!  Roll on December!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Review: Shadows (Dark Touch #1) - Amy Meredith

Goodreads synopsis:
Fifteen-year-old Eve Evergold is cute, sassy and enjoying a busy social life. What she doesn't know yet is that someone close to her is an evil demon that only she has the supernatural power to defeat. She needs to work out who it is - and fast! Because although there's something very attractive about the dark side...dating a demon? Pure hell!

Review:
I thought that this book was a really promising start to the series.  Basically, the premise is that demons have arrived in the small town of Deepdene where our heroine Eve lives and goes to school.  Local legend says that only the Deepdene witch is capable of ridding them from the town once and for all, but in the meantime the residents are starting to see strange shadows and gradually seem to be losing their minds.

I think the Dark Touch series is aimed at a slightly younger teen audience.  It's quite a slim novel and I read it easily in one evening.  The story is entertaining and fans of the supernatural will love it, but I would have liked to have seen a little more backstory to some of the characters.  Things happened very quickly in the book and although there were some interesting twists and turns, most were predictable and I could see coming a mile off.. 

Overall, I did enjoy it though and I really liked the relationship between Eve and her best friend Jess, although their obsession with fancy designer clothes takes shopping to a whole new level (!). 

This is the first book in the series, which is followed by #2 The Hunt and #3 Fever.  I'm interested to see where Amy Meredith's going to take the story next and I'll be sticking along for the ride :) 

Monday, 13 September 2010

Review: Fat Cat - Robin Brande

Goodreads synopsis:
You are what you eat. . . .

Cat is smart, sassy, and funny—but thin, she’s not. Until her class science project. That’s when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have their benefits.

As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren’t too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. . . .

This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves.
 
 
Review:
I saw this book recommended on Meg Cabot's blog.  Since I am a massive fan of hers I obviously had to get hold of a copy to see what all the fuss was about.  What amused me a lot when I was reading this is that the book seems so much like somthing Meg herself would write.  But that's also one of the things I loved about this book!
 
And loved it I did!!!
 
The story centres on Cat, a high school teenager who just happens to be fat.  She decides to conduct a scientific experiment on herself, to see if she can go prehistoric, following the lifestyle and eating habits of early humans.  That involves not eating anything with additives or unnecessary sugars and not using electrical items.  Along the way, Cat finds herself becoming hot and the object of a lot of attention from the opposite sex but has it also made her happy?
 
This book was amazingly good.  Throughout each chapter Cat records the results of her experiment and we gradually see how her project is also changing her life.  I thought that the issue of weight and health-eating was handled very sensitively (but also in a funny way) by Brande, which is quite difficult when it's a tricky subject for a lot of teenage girls.  We get to see the affect that her weight loss is also having not just on Cat, but also her best-friend, family, boys and the people around her.
 
This book is funny, witty, amusing...I could go on forever!  Cat's voice and feelings are articulated so clearly that it almost feels like your best friend having a conversation with you or telling you a story.  It was so enjoyable, that I know I'm definitely going to be rereading it over and over again.
 
I want to read more by Robin Brande now and if they're all as good as this then she's got herself one big fan!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

In My Mailbox #1

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for holding this meme every week. 
It's my first time taking part which I'm really excited about.


I bought and received some amazing books this week.  There's just not enough hours in the day to cram in all the reading that I want to do!  Perhaps I could give up on sleep and do nothing but read instead!

Anyway, books that I got this week -


 

They look so pretty all laid out like this!
All links go to Goodreads, where you can add them to your list if you like the look of any of them.

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead (thanks to the awesome Lindsay)

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead (thanks to the awesome Lindsay)

Captivate by Carrie Jones (bought because I loved 'Need' so much)

Claire De Lune by Christine Johnson (bought)

Evernight by Claudia Gray (bought)

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow (won on Book Chick City's site)

Betrayals by Lili St. Crow (won on Book Chick City's site)

Jealousy by Lili St. Crow (won on Book Chick City's site)

I need to try and make room for them all now on my overflowing bookcases :)

Friday, 10 September 2010

Book Blogger Hop (September 10th-13th)

I am taking part in Book Blogger Hop, which I read about at
Crazy for Books

I thought it was a good opportunity to not only say hello to some new followers (hopefully!) to my blog, but also to visit others and meet new people.  So if you've just stumbled upon me then welcome, I hope you find something that interests you!

I'm certainly 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:-


Post a link to a favorite post or book review that you have written in the past three months.

I have chosen my review of 'Fire' by Kristin Cashore.  I really loved this book, more so because it totally took my by surprise how much I enjoyed it.  I'd love people to try reading one of Cashore's books as I'm sure you'd become a fan fast!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

'Life is Good' blog award

Wow!  A big thank you to Rachel of Thoughts of a Compulsive Reader for this award.  I'm a new blogger but enjoying it so much and it's lovely to know that others are reading it too.


Now for the criteria:
To accept the award you must link back and thank the person who gave you the Life is Good award and answer the 10 questions and pass it along to 6 other blogs :)

1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?

I do blog anonymously because I sometimes worry about giving out too much personal information in such a public space.  I'm always open and honest though and I like to think you do experience a little bit of me in all my posts.

2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

It's not one incident but I would say that the whole experience of learning to drive summons up my stubborn side!  I lost count of the number of lessons I had to have and I would definitely say that I'm not gifted when I get behind the wheel but even though there were a lot of times that I wanted to give it up I persevered and happily passed my test. I've been driving now for a year.

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

A smily, happy face belonging to a slim brunette who has always secretly wished she was a redhead!

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

A big glass of ice-cold lemonade with loads of ice-cubes and a slice of lemon.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

I LOVE going to the theatre to see musicals or plays or the ballet.  I'm a massive Shakespeare fan so I make several trips to see the RSC at Stratford each year.  I'm also a bit of a TV addict, so can always be found with a book in my hand.  In addition, I enjoy running and baking too.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?

I would like to be a published author one day.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching?

I have always been pretty shy although I've worked hard to overcome that over the years.  I was quite studious at school and loved English but there were some subjects I hated....namely maths!

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see?

My younger brother being born.  There's a 9 year age gap between us but we're extremely close.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

Well, my blog is dedicated to my love of YA books so I don't reveal much about my personal life but there's always a little bit of me thrown in.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

Sit down and read!  I'm actually slightly phone phobic ;)


I am passing this award on to:

Bloody Bookaholic

ASAMUM Booktopia

The Bibliophile's Journal

Everything to do with books

Westie Julep

I was a teenage book geek

Carrie Jones - Captivate book trailer

Okay, since reading 'Need', I think I'm in love with Carrie Jones writing.  I rushed out to buy 'Captivate' the 2nd book in the series straight away so to celebrate I thought I'd post the awesome trailer.

'Entice' is published on 3rd January 2011 and in even better news, there will definitely be a book 4.  News which I very happily read on Carrie's website: http://www.carriejonesbooks.com/

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Review: Prophecy of Days, #1 The Daykeeper's Grimoire - Christy Raedeke

Goodreads synopsis:
The story of Caity Mac Fireland, a girl from San Francisco whose parents drag her to an isle off the coast of Scotland to manage some family property. Caity finds that a Mayan relic is concealed there, intentionally left centuries ago by Mayan Daykeepers in an attempt to keep their profound knowledge about the year 2012 alive into the current era.

As she delves into this world of secret knowledge, Caity is helped along by a visiting family friend and Feng Shui master, Uncle Li; a Mayan elder named Bolon; and Mr. Papers, her pet monkey that communicates through origami. A handsome Scottish lad gets pulled into the intrigue, as do several other people with questionable motives and loyalties. Caity must weave together a tapestry of information in order to make her radical discovery, a mystery protected by an elite coterie of power-brokers who influence world events. Caity’s twenty-first century mind is put to the test as she tries to uncover the answer to an ancient riddle while trying to outwit this powerful group that will stop at nothing to control the secret, and her.
 

Review:
I had really high hopes for this book.  This is Christy Raedeke's debut YA novel and at first glance it looks to be extremely promising.  It's centred around a mystery involving the discovery of a prophecy linked to the Mayan calendar and the saviour of humanity.  So far, so good.  I like books which get me thinking, I'm all for a good mystery and the first few chapters were intriguing but it just seemed to go downhill from there.  I felt like the premise of the plot was potentially brilliant but the execution wasn't so good.  I found it flat with quite one-dimensional characters that didn't leap off the page at me.  I like books where I can be completely transported out of real life but instead of feeling like a pleasure, reading this was more like hard work.

There were some strange inclusions as well. I mean, a pet monkey that can communicate through origami!  That's just too weird for me!

I got about a third of the way through this and then lost interest completely but I hate giving up on a book so I did persevere with the hope that it might get better.  Sadly it didn't.  It's such a shame because this is the first book in the series and I really thought it was going to have me hooked but in my opinion, fell a long way short.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Review: Carrie Jones - Need

Goodreads synopsis:
Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.
 
Review:
God, I loved this book!  I literally had to read it in one sitting because I couldn't tear myself away.  I am in love with Carrie Jone's incredible writing.  I feel the immense need to go out and buy all of her other books immediately, including 'Captivate' the follow-up to Need.  I'm even more thrilled that there's going to be a third book too called 'Entice'.  I must have them now!!  Plus everything else that Carrie Jones has ever written.
 
The story centres around a young girl called Zara, who goes to live with her grandmother in Maine, after the death of her step-father.  She soon becomes embroiled in the mystery of a strange stalker who seems to be following her everywhere but is distracted by the even more mysterious boy at school, Nick, who she's attracted to immediately.  Instead of wallowing in the feelings of emptiness and fear she's been experiencing since her father's death, she finds herself welcomed into a friendship at her new school, battling with her emotions for hot guy (no, make that very hot guy) Nick and trying to get life back on track...even with her stalker following her every step.
 
This book is described on the back cover as a fusion of Stephen King with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series but I think it stands on it's own as a truly wonderful read.  If you want a generous dash of the paranormal, served up with a whole heap of romance then you need to go and get yourself a copy of this book pronto!  I loved how mysterious and magical it felt and I literally could not put it down because I had to keep turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next.  It was a real rollercoaster ride of a book, with no chance to gather yourself before the next twist and turn.

I loved the way in which Jones perfectly captured the cold and misery of Maine, reflecting Zara's initial feelings on arriving in the small town.  It made me want to shiver alongside her and curl up into a ball under my duvet!  The characterisations were brilliant and I also liked the way in which each chapter was named after a particular phobia - very different and inventive.

This is an outstanding start to the series and I have a feeling I'm going to be heading out tomorrow to buy book 2!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Lili St. Crow - Strange Angels, Betrayals & Jealousy

Thanks to the awesome Lili St. Crow competition on Book Chick City's website, I won copies of the first three books in her 'Strange Angels' series.


I am super excited about this!  Reviews will follow as soon as I have the books in my possession. 

Here's the synopsis of book 1 in the series -

Goodreads synopsis:
Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.)

Then her dad turns up dead—but still walking—and Dru knows she’s next. Even worse, she’s got two guys hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever—or whoever— is hunting her?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Review: Paper Towns - John Green

Goodreads synopsis:
When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.


Review:
To start off, this is the first book by John Green that I've read, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  On finishing it last night, I have to say that I've got really mixed feelings about it.  On the one hand, I did enjoy parts of it but on the other, there were a lot of things about it that made it far from my perfect book.  John Green writes extemely intelligently from the viewpoint of Q, who has spent almost all of his teenage life in love with his next-door-neighbour Margo.  After spending one perfect night of adventure together, Margo disappears and Q takes it upon himself to be the one to try and track her down.

I think my biggest problem with 'Paper Towns' was that I didn't care enough about what happened to the characters.  I found Margo quite a dislikeable figure and although Q was sweet and funny, I didn't understand why he felt like he had to abandon everything in his single-minded quest to locate her.  I really just wanted to shout at him to leave her to it!  Part of the reason why I probably didn't love it, is the fact that it had a male narrator.  It reminded me a little bit of 'Zoology' by Ben Dolnick.  Guy has huge crush on girl, girl doesn't return his feelings, guy spends entire book trying to fix things for her.  It's been done before.  I would have thought it would have been more interesting to write a book from the perspective of a boy, perhaps dealing with a girl who has a huge crush on him that he doesn't return.  How would be cope if her feelings for him were getting out of control?  What impact would that have on his life?      

I thought that the cleverest thing about the book was the way in which John Green linked a lot of  the characters feelings and emotions with literature and poetry (Whitman, Plath, Melville), helping to enhance our understanding of them.

I don't think that this is the sort of book that would appeal to everyone.  However, saying all that, I would still give John Green another chance to redeem himself.  'Looking For Alaska' is supposed to be very good, so I might try that one next.

Review: Jane Eagland - Wildthorn

Goodreads synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor's daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labeled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free. And love may be the key...


Review:
What attracted me to this book originally was the lovely cover!  I hadn't heard of Jane Eagland before but the cover and the intriguing blurb was enough to get me picking this one up to buy.  I love trying out new authors.  The book is inspired by the stories of the women incarcerated in asylums in the nineteenth century.  As the latter is one of my favourite time-periods, I definitely had to read this.

Louisa Cosgrove is thrown into Wildthorn Hall after an accusation of lunacy.  Imprisoned in an asylum for the insane, she has to unravel the secret of the person responsible for her incarceration, whilst also finding a means of escape and a new path for her future.

I absolutely adored this book! Each chapter alternated between Louisa's present day predicament and her recollections of growing up.  This leads the reader with her on a journey towards discovering the acts that lead to her imprisonment.  I thought that this was a really clever way of narrating the story, because like Louisa, the reader has to only guess at why she's ended up in Wildthorn Hall and share her confusion over the behaviour of the people from her past.  When everything is finally revealed it's a shock to all parties. 

The book had wonderful characterizations throughout and an extremely likable heroine.  It had an intriguing and gripping plot and has introduced me to a fantastic new author who I am definitely going to keep an eye on.  It actually reminded me a little bit of 'Fingersmith' by Sarah Waters but for young adults, mixed-in with 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins, for the overall gothic feel of the story.

The ending, in my opinion, was perfect, although I would love to read more about Louisa and find out what happens to her next.  I think Jane Eagland should write a sequel!

If you have read this and enjoyed it, like me, you will probably want to read Jane Eagland's second YA novel, 'Whisper My Name', which is luckily out now.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Review: Kristin Cashore - Fire

Goodreads synopsis:
Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.

Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
 
Review:
When I started this book I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. I haven’t read Cashore’s debut novel ‘Graceling’ (although it is sitting on my bookshelf at home), so technically I guess I read these the wrong way around. However, I really don’t think it mattered because from what I’ve heard they’re more like stand-alone books than a series which follows on and has to be read in strictly the right order. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it because this was in the science-fiction section of my local library and I’m not normally a SF fan. In addition, after a quick perusal of the blurb, I was still unconvinced that this was going to be my cup of tea. How wrong I was!!

The book charts the story of Fire, a beautiful human-monster living in the Dells, who attracts the lust of all those around her and who is particularly tempting to other monsters. She has spent her whole life trying to protect the people around her and stay out of sight. However, when war threatens, she decides that she has to use whatever power and control she has for good, so sets out on a dangerous journey to the Kings City. One of the things I admire most about this book is the incredible world that Cashore has invented. What an imagination she has! Places and people are created vividly and seem so real at times that you forget it’s all made-up. There are some wonderfully descriptive passages throughout and the language itself is rich and magical, weaving a complex tale which never fails to surprise.

To begin with, I wasn’t sure about the opening prequel section of the book and I couldn’t really see how it was going to fit into the story. However, I think that may be due to me not having read ‘Graceling’ yet, and by the time I got about two-thirds in, everything did fit together. Cashore takes her time building up the layers of the story and the characters, presenting a number of ethical situations for her main protagonist, which really involve the reader and get them thinking.  The climax of the book was tremendous with several twists thrown in for good measure and I enjoyed seeing how it all unravelled.
 
For those who like a spot of romance, you won't be disappointed and I have to just say how much I adored the relationship between Fire and her horse Small.  When you read the book you'll see what I mean!
 
 
I would definitely recommend picking this book up and giving it a try, even if it doesn't initially look like your normal book fare.  Some of my favourite books are the ones that I normally would never ever have even contemplated reading and it's always a lovely surprise to find out how much you enjoy them after all.
 
The third book in the Seven Kingdoms trilogy, Bitterblue, is due out in 2011.  I shall be first in the queue to buy a copy :)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Kirsten Miller - The Eternal Ones

Yay!  I won a competition for a copy of 'The Eternal Ones' by Kirsten Miller, thanks to the lovely people at Bellaandedward.com


I have been eyeing this one up in Waterstones a lot lately, so I can't wait for it to arrive.  It's going to go straight to the top of my to-read pile.

Goodreads synopsis: What if love refused to die? Haven Moore can’t control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother’s house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.

In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Review: Malinda Lo - Ash

Ash by Malinda Lo, published by Hodder Children's Books on 4th March 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, re-reading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.



Review:
Ash is a beautifully reimagined take on the classic Cinderella fairytale. I had heard so many amazing things about this book from other bloggers that I couldn’t wait to read it and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed. I love books that incorporate fairytales and twist them around to create something new and in ‘Ash’ this was done in such a clever and inventive way. I’ll probably never read Cinderella in the same way again!!

I thought that the pacing of the book could have been a little better.  I felt that the second half was better than the first. This was mainly because the narrative in the first part seemed a little drawn out and I was expecting more to happen, whereas the latter part focused on the relationships between the characters and the action really seemed to kick-off, so it gripped my attention more.  I think that's the only criticism I could have of it though! 

Malinda Lo’s writing is gorgeously eloquent, weaving cautionary tales throughout, which instead of being distracting, added so much more depth to the book. It was almost like stories within a story.

She has another book on the way, ‘The Huntress’, which I’m looking forward to reading next.  I believe it picks up where Ash left off, but it's not out until 2011.
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