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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.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

On My Wishlist #10

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.


 
 
Alex Rider is a teenage orphan facing adult-sized challenges. After Scorpia killed his parents, the terrorist group fixed their targets on him. In struggle after struggle, Alex saves himself and others, but Scorpia continues their relentless drive for power. In this intense novel, they set their incendiary sights on the very combustible Middle East. A young protagonist worth following.

I'm a big fan of the Alex Rider series and I can't wait to read this final installment.  According to Horowitz a character who has been in all eight books will die and there's no doubt that this is the very last Alex Rider book!  It was published by Walker on 31st March 2011.



Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all.

This book sounds incredible and I've wanted to read it for ages!  I think I might have to break my self-imposed book buying ban to go out and get it ;)  It was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 6th September 2010.



The faeries of the Oak are dying, and it’s up to a lone faery named Linden to find a way to restore their magic. Linden travels bravely into dangerous new territory, where she enlists the help of an unlikely friend—a human named Timothy. Soon they discover something much worse than the Oakenfolk’s loss of magic: a potent evil that threatens the fate of all faeries. In a fevered, desperate chase across the country, Timothy and Linden risk their lives to seek an ancient power before it’s too late to save everyone they love.

I recently read Knife which is the first book in the series and I really loved it.  I now definitely want to read the rest - Rebel is the second book and was published by Orchard Books on January 7th 2010.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Review: Only the Good Spy Young - Ally Carter

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter, published by Orchard Books on 5th May 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. What she didn’t know was that the serious, real-life danger would start during her junior year of high school. But that’s exactly what happened two months ago when she faced off against an ancient terrorist organization dead set on kidnapping her.

Now the danger follows her everywhere and even Cammie “The Chameleon” can’t hide. When a terrifying encounter in London reveals that one of her most-trusted allies is actually a rogue double-agent Cammie no longer knows if she can trust her classmates, her teachers—or even her own heart.


Review:
This is the fourth installment of the Gallagher Girls series and the most explosive and action-packed so far.  It was so gripping that I read it in one evening because I couldn't go to bed until I knew how the story was going to end.  In typical Ally Carter fashion it left me desperately wanting more but I've heard that there won't be a new Gallagher Girls book now until 2012, which is far too long to have to wait!

If I could describe the series in one word it would be fun.  The books are absolute pure entertainment and always provide such an enjoyable read that they're a bit like chocolate - a sweet treat that you can't get enough of! 

The story starts with Cammie on winter break with Bex and her parents.  Closely guarded after the events of the preceding book 'You Can't Tell a Girl By Her Cover', she believes she's safe but then her whole world is turned upside down and she begins to question everything that she thought she knew.  With the help of best friends Bex, Macey and Liz, she's soon on a mission to uncover the truth about the mysterious Circle of Cavan but she may not like what she discovers. 

The Gallagher Girls books are littered with kick-ass characters.  Cammie is like a 21st century Nancy Drew but with skills and abilities that Nancy could only dream about.  Bex and co never fail to let me down with their loyalty and devotion to keeping Cammie safe, plus there's a new teacher on the scene who may or may not be on the same side as the good guys.  The elusive Zach is also back and some incredible secrets are spilled about who he really is.

'Only the Good Spy Young' is brimming with adventure and excitement and there are some thrilling revelations that there's no way you'll see coming.  Although answers are provided to plenty of the questions that have been bubbling away throughout the series, Ally Carter has also thrown in several more curveballs which take the books to a whole new level.  This installment provided adventure, mystery and romance in abundance and has completely solidified my love for the Gallagher Girls.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #23

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! 
Crossed by Ally Condie
Published by Dutton Juvenile on 1st November 2011
 

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.


'Matched' was one of my favourite books of last year and I can't wait for the sequel.  I was on Team Xander, so I shall be keeping my fingers crossed that they end up together!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Review: Cat's Cradle - Julia Golding

Cat's Cradle by Julia Golding, published by Egmont on 4th April 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Royal...Cat's Cradle.In which Cat Royal spins a tale about the search for her family, weaving in friends and foes, old and new. Her journey takes her from riotous London to a revolutionary cotton mill on the River Clyde in Scotland. And a mysterious newcomer is introduced...So take your seats, ladies and gentlemen: the Industrial Age has arrived.


Review:
This is the sixth book in the series about Cat Royal, self-professed orphan, adventurer and actress.  I haven't actually read any of the preceding books but it didn't take me long to get acquainted with the all the characters.  There was also a handy who's who guide in the front which I consulted a couple of times and was a big help.  The only thing I would have liked to have known (and I assume this is mentioned at the start of the series) is how old Cat actually is.  I couldn't quite work this out - the cover girl looks about 13 which is much younger than I pictured Cat being, as she often seems to be off on an adventure of her own and I would have thought she was closer to 16 or 17.

'Cat's Cradle' is set in London in 1792, as Cat arrives home from her escapades in the Caribbean.  No sooner have her feet touched solid ground than she's off again, this time to Scotland, to try to uncover long-buried family secrets.  The story follows her attempts to discover the identity of her mother and to determine if she actually does have a family after all - an orphan no more.

This was an enjoyable story with an engaging and unconventional heroine, who's feisty and doesn't conform to what's expected of a conventional young lady.  She speaks her mind and isn't afraid to stick to her guns even when those around her might question her actions.  This is refreshing and is part of what makes Cat such a brilliant main character.  She can often be found with her close friend Syd and his London gang, but in this installment she is trying to keep some distance between herself and Syd who harbours romantic feelings towards her. 

There's some interesting new characters as well, such as Bridget, an Irish girl who she meets and takes under her wing and who joins her on her journey to Scotland. 

I love historical fiction and liked the way in which Julia Golding wonderfully evokes the sights and sounds first of eighteenth century London and then Scotland, through both the landscapes and the dialects of the characters.  I felt like I was transported back in time to join Cat on her adventure!    

The Cat Royal books are hugely popular with a young teen audience but I think would also appeal to anyone that likes beautifully written historical fiction that's engaging and entertaining, as well as touching on more serious issues such as social equality.   I'm now going to go and read the first five books in the series to see where Cat's story began!

You can find out more about Julia Golding and the Cat Royal books at: http://juliagolding.co.uk   

Monday, 25 April 2011

Review: Starcrossed - Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, published by Macmillan on 3rd June 2011 

Goodreads synopsis:
Set on the island of Nantucket, Starcrossed tells the tale of Helen Hamilton, a young woman whose destiny is forever altered when she meets Lucas Delos and tries to kill him in front of her entire high school. Which is terribly inconvenient, not only because Lucas is the most beautiful boy on the island, but also because Helen is so achingly shy she suffers physical pain whenever she is given too much attention.

Making matters worse, Helen is beginning to suspect she’s going crazy. Whenever she’s near Lucas or any member of his family she sees the ghostly apparitions of three women weeping bloody tears, and suffers the burden of an intense and irrational hate. She soon learns that she and Lucas are destined to play the leading roles in a Greek tragedy that the Three Fates insist on repeating over and over again throughout history. Like her namesake, Helen of Troy, she’s destined to start a war by falling in love. But even though Lucas and Helen can see their own star-crossed destiny, they’re still powerfully attracted to each other. Will they give up their personal happiness for the greater good, or risk it all to be together?



Review:
Want a book which combines elements of mythology with a sizzling hot romance?  Want a book with a stunning plot and fabulous characters?  If the answer to both is yes, then look no further than 'Starcrossed' by Josephine Angelini.

The story centres on Helen Hamilton who lives on the small island of Nantucket.  She's painfully shy and doesn't have many friends except for her loyal sidekick Claire.  For as long as she can remember it's just been her and her father ans she's happy with things that way.  Everything changes when the Delos family arrive on the island and Helen finds herself experiencing overwhelming feelings of hatred towards Lucas Delos; feelings that she can't explain and can't resist.  As the two are drawn towards each other Helen eventually discovers the secret surrounding the Delos family and as everyone knows, there's a fine love between love and hate.

I really loved the whole concept of 'Starcrossed'.  Angelini has interwoven elements of Greek tragedy into the story which is a spin on the classic tale of Helen (the face that launched a thousand ships) and Paris of Troy.  I'm a big fan of the classics and Greek and Roman tragedies so this really appealed to me.  There are further similarities with the famous starcrossed lovers of  Romeo and Juliet, with Helen and Lucas desperate to be together but afraid of starting a war if they give into their feelings for each other.  However, although the book reminded me of elements of other stories, it's also totally unique and unlike anything else I've read in the YA paranormal romance genre.  It's incredibly intelligent and clever which means that you do have to follow the plot carefully as there are quite a lot of different plot threads combined and a hefty back story to understand.

Although I found that the story started off a little slow in the first few chapters, it soon picked up the pace, so it's worth persevering if you find it difficult to get into at the start.  The ending blew me away and concluded with such a big cliffhanger.  Josephine Angelini certainly knows how to leave you in suspense!   

This is the first book in a trilogy and I can't wait for more!  I have a feeling that I'm going to get absolutely addicted to this series.  'Starcrossed' is going to appeal to a wide-audience of readers as the book contains something for everyone.  Action, mystery, romance and an intriguing and gripping plot are all combined to make this one of the hits of the year.

Visit Josephine at: http://www.josephineangelini.com/ or follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/josieangelini

Sunday, 24 April 2011

In My Mailbox #22

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 got two books for review this week which I'm really excited about reading!

(I'm enjoying the Gallagher Girls series so much - these books are always fun and entertaining)

(I loved Jenny Han's first book 'The Summer I Turned Pretty' and I'm going to be starting this one soon)

I also couldn't resist buying the new Twilight Saga Official Guide as it was half-price in Waterstones.  It's got some gorgeous illustrations and pictures inside but weighs an absolute ton.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Review: Pretty Little Liars - Sara Shepard

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, published by ATOM on 4th November 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
Three years ago, Alison disappeared after a slumber party, not to be seen since. Her friends at the elite Pennsylvania school mourned her, but they also breathed secret sighs of relief. Each of them guarded a secret that only Alison had known. Now they have other dirty little secrets, secrets that could sink them in their gossip-hungry world. When each of them begins receiving anonymous emails and text messages, panic sets in. Are they being betrayed by some one in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back?


Review:
The 'Pretty Little Liars' series is one that I've been meaning to read for a while now.  With the launch of the TV series in the UK, I thought that it was about time I caught up with the books.  The story is basically about five best-friends who do everything together until one of them disappears and the friendship between the other girls falls apart.  An investigation is launched into what happened to Alison but no one knows how or why she disappeared.  Fast-forward three years and the girls are reunited in Rosewood.  When they start receiving mysterious text messages, emails and letters from someone calling themselves 'A', they begin to wonder if someone knows what really happened to Alison after all.

This was a fantastic start to what I suspect is going to be an addictive series.  The story is fast-paced and exciting and although on the surface it may first appear to be no more than a shallow story about a group of glamorous girls, it's actually pretty gritty, with everything from eating disorders to shoplifting to issues about sexual identity being discussed.  It's also really creepy and puzzling as the identity of 'A' remains a secret both to the girls and to the reader.  I tried puzzling it out but frankly I don't have a clue who it is yet!

Each chapter presents an alternative viewpoint from each of the girls and this helps to establish their very unique characters, feelings and motivations.  My favourite characters were Spencer and Aria and I'm loving both of their story lines so far.  All of the girls present very particular images, from fun-loving party girl, to school swot, to sports star, to arty culture fan but underneath they seem to be another person entirely with deep, dark hidden secrets which they'd go to any lengths to protect.

This book reminded me a little bit of Kate Brian's Private series and if you love gossipy, back-stabbing, scheming fun then you'll definitely enjoy 'Pretty Little Liars'.  The ending is absolutely tantalising and has left me desperate for more.  Sara Shepard is giving very few clues away which only makes me want to read the next book even more.      

I'm looking forward to the scandal and intrigue unravelling further in future installments of the series which I have lined up and waiting for me to read next.  Now, I just need to resist peeking at the end to see 'who did it'!  
  

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Review: Knife - R.J. Anderson

Knife by R.J. Anderson, published by Orchard Books on 8th January 2009

Goodreads synopsis:
Deep inside the great Oak lies a dying faery realm, bursting with secrets instead of magic. Long ago the faeries mysteriously lost their magic. Robbed of their powers, they have become selfish and dull-witted. Now their numbers are dwindling and their very survival is at stake.

Only one young faery—Knife—is determined to find out where her people's magic has gone and try to get it back. Unlike her sisters, Knife is fierce and independent. She's not afraid of anything—not the vicious crows, the strict Faery Queen, or the fascinating humans living nearby. But when Knife disobeys the Faery Queen and befriends a human named Paul, her quest becomes more dangerous than she realizes. Can Knife trust Paul to help, or has she brought the faeries even closer to the brink of destruction?


Review:
Faeries!  Magic!  Adventure!  Mystery!  'Knife' by R.J. Anderson combines them all and more.  This was such a delightful and lovely book.  I have to say that when I picked it up I didn't have particularly high expectations, it was just such a pretty shiny cover that I thought I'd give it a try but after the first few chapters I was well and truly hooked.  There are quite a lot of books about faeries out at the moment but this one really stands out because the faeries have such human qualities.  They live hidden from humans in a tree at the end of the garden.  Much of the story is centred around a faerie called Knife, who is curious about the world outside of the tree and who is brave and courageous and inquisitive.

The story reminded me a little bit of the children's classic 'The Borrowers' with the faeries living close to, but not in plain view of the humans and having to hunt and survive in their own small community.  They are vulnerable to many of the things that we wouldn't ever think about and this makes for some really entertaining scenes throughout.  However, Knife is a Gatherer, so her role gives her access to the human world and piques her interest further about the people she observes. 

Knife is such a lovely character, along with the other wonderfully unique faeries that she lives with.  She's adventurous and a bit of a rebel but she always does what she believes is right.  I loved the friendship she develops with Paul, a human boy and I can't wait to see how their relationship is going to progress from here onwards. 

I didn't guess the ending at all but its set things up nicely for the rest of the books in the series (all of which I'm going to have to track down now!).  The story is wonderfully written, the characters are equally fantastic and the plot kept me glued to the pages.  I only wish it hadn't taken me so long to discover R.J. Anderson's faerie world.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #22

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! 
Heist Society by Ally Carter
Published by Orchard on 1st September 2011
 
 
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.

For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history-or at least her family's (very crooked) history.
 
I'm a big fan of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls books and so I'm really excited about her having a new series coming out in the UK.  'Heist Society' sounds awesome and I'm definitely adding it to my wishlist!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Review: Dark Heart Forever - Lee Monroe

Dark Heart Forever by Lee Monroe, published by Hodder Children's Books on 7th October 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
Jane Jonas is nearing her 16th birthday and troubled by unsettling recurring dreams where the same mysterious boy her age comes to her, telling Jane that they are each other's destiny. Her mother is increasingly anxious about Jane's disruptive sleepwalking episodes, but for Jane her dream world and reality are about to collide ...When she develops a friendship with an enigmatic stranger in town, the blond, uber-cool Evan, it's exciting, it's new, and Jane wants him more than she's ever wanted anybody - until her mystery dream boy gets in the way. Now Jane is caught between two worlds: one familiar, but tinged with romance and excitement; the other dark and dangerous, where angels, werewolves, and an irresistible stranger are trying to seduce her ...


Review:
This was a really intriguing start to the series.  Initially I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book - was it going to be about vampires or werewolves or angels?  It turned out to combine all three and is a fantastic addition to the paranormal romance genre.  The plot was original and unlike anything else I've read recently.  It will appeal to those who like a good mystery, as well as a tangled love triangle!  Also that cover...!!  I know some people have said that it's very similar to Lauren Kate's Fallen series but I love it - it's so pretty.

The central character Jane is approaching her 16th birthday when she starts having strange dreams which she can't explain.  Soon after, she finds herself the lucky recipient of two gorgeous guys' attention and a love triangle starts to develop.  I really liked Jane who is home schooled after being bullied by another girl at her school.  She finds it difficult to fit in and doesn't have any friends, except for her sister Dot, but she's swept off her feet by Evan, the new guy in town.  He quickly integrates himself with her family and seems perfect in every way.  At the same time, the mysterious and enigmatic Luca keeps appearing to her in her dreams.  He seems to know how she feels and what she's thinking and like her he's somewhat of a loner who likes his own company at times.  Whereas Evan is blond and fair, Luca is dark and brooding and appears to have a number of secrets which intrigue Jane.

I liked the way that Jane gradually begins to change and develop throughout the book.  She grows in confidence and self-assurance as the two boys appear on the scene.  She's still Jane - needing time alone, but she also matures and becomes more confident.  Luca gives Jane a journal to read which he believes holds great importance.  The journal helps her to understand the strange world of Nissilum and the feelings that she's experiencing.  I guessed quite early on what the real significance of the journal was going to turn out to be and I thought that this was a clever plot device.

The love triangle aspect may immediately make you think of the Twilight series but although there are admittedly a few similarities, 'Dark Heart Forever' has definitely found it's own niche in the genre.  It's also nice to find a British author writing a cracking paranormal romance and I shall be keeping a keen eye on Lee Monroe and future books by her. 

'Dark Heart Rising', the second book in the trilogy, is due to be published on 2nd June 2011 by Hodder Children's Books.      

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Fool's Girl - Celia Rees - UK giveaway

To celebrate the paperback release of 'The Fool's Girl' by Celia Rees, I have two copies of the book to giveaway courtesy of Bloomsbury.  This giveaway is only open to entrants within the UK by request of the publisher.  To enter just fill out the form below.


Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end. Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest—and their most unusual story—lead?

You can find out more about Celia and her fantastic books by visiting her website at www.celiarees.com or by stopping by her facebook page www.facebook.com/theofficialceliareesfanpage

Giveaway rules.

  • There will be two winners.
  • Open to entrants with UK addresses only. International entrants may enter, provided they have a UK address to send the books to.
  • Please fill out the form completely - especially the required details.
  • You do not have to be a follower to enter.
  • Deadline for entries will be on 30th April.
  • Winner(s) will be drawn by random.org
  • Winner(s) will be contacted via e-mail, and will be given 48 hours to response. Otherwise, a new winner will be drawn.
  • Any details will be deleted after use and will not be passed on to any third party.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Review: Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover - Ally Carter

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter, published by Orchard Books on 3rd March 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
When Cammie "the Chameleon" Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's there to watch Macey's father accept a nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), "exciting" and "deadly" are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnapper's dangerous plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.

As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can they keep her safe?

Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth...



Review:
The Gallagher Girls rock!  Cammie and co are back in the third installment of the teenage spy series, following a group of girls at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women.  It's taken me a little while to completely fall head over heels for this series but it's finally happened!  I really enjoyed this book which was a fun and extremely entertaining read.  Although I'm a huge fan of many of the current series about teenage boy spies, it's refreshing to see the girls kicking butt instead.  I wish I'd gone to a school like the Gallagher Academy.

This time around boy troubles are still on the horizon for Cammie but the focus is on her friendships with the other girls and particularly Macey whose life may be in danger while she's out on the campaign trail with her parents.  In typical Cammie fashion, she's soon embroiled in the action and determined to keep her friend safe no matter what.  I love Cammie - she's a great character to base the series around.  She's always hurtling head-first into dangerous situations but she's incredibly loyal and always puts her friends first.

Zach, the boy that she was involved with in the last book, appears mid-way through the book.  He seems to keep getting more and more mysterious and I'm looking forward to finding out what secrets he's hiding.  I would have liked to have seen more of him but on the other hand I think it was good that their romance took a backseat while the focus of the story was on Macey and Cammie.  I'm sure there's plenty more Zach to come.

A little more about Cammie's family history is laid bare and her Aunt Abby is a new character in the story.  It was interesting seeing a Gallagher girl actually out there in the world doing such a high powered job.  She came across as having quite a mercurial personality and I wasn't sure whether or not she was entirely on the level but I thought she was a good addition to the series.  I hope she appears again in later installments. 

This is such a fun series and I'm enjoying it more and more with each new book.  The characters are hugely appealing, the plots are always action packed and running high on adrenaline and I'm finding myself really getting hooked on them now.  'Only the Good Spy Young' is published by Orchard Books on 5th May 2011 and I for one can't wait!

Review: Firelight - Sophie Jordan

Firelight by Sophie Jordan, published by Oxford University Press on 3rd March 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

Review:
'Firelight' was a breathtaking read!  I got hooked into the story from the very first page and I didn't want the book to end.  I'm so relieved that Sophie Jordan has planned this series as a trilogy because I need more of Jacinda and Will.  I'm a huge fan of the paranormal romance genre and I've read a lot of these books recently but very few have gripped me like 'Firelight' did.  The narrative fairly flew along and the story was utterly compulsive.  This is a book that I'm going to be recommending a lot! 

Jacinda is a draki - a descendant of dragons.  Her Pride have the power to shift into human form but Jacinda also has a special ability in that she can breathe fire.  When Jacinda breaks the rules of the draki, she is made to flee with her mother and twin sister Tamra.  Her mother wants nothing more than for Jacinda to embrace her human form but Jacinda won't deny who she truly is.  When Jacinda encounters Will, whose family hunt draki, she feels an unquestionable attraction for him but they stand on opposite sides of a great divide.  Can they ever be together or will their families come between them?

I honestly could gush all day about this book.  It's an incredible YA debut and a brilliant opening to a trilogy which I'm sure is only going to get better and better (if that's possible!).  It has a great love story at it's heart with the romance between Jacinda and Will.  The pull they feel towards each other is impossible for them to deny and there's a great deal of longing looks, shared glances and tingling touches shared between them.  Will makes Jacinda come alive in a way that no one else can and I'm going to enjoy seeing how they overcome all the obstacles that have been placed in their path.  

I loved Jacinda and I sympathised with the situation she found herself in.  She has to give up what makes her whole when she leaves the Pride and although she wants her family to be happy, she risks her own happiness by staying with them.  I also liked the family angle with her twin sister who never manifested.  Although they're twins, they have different lives and vastly different longings and it's interesting seeing how the two try to connect.  Tamra just wants a normal high school experience and is desperate for Jacinda to try and fit in too but Jacinda won't conform to other peoples' expectations and tries to stay true to herself. 

I found the unravelling of the history of the draki absolutely fascinating.  They have a system whereby the alpha makes the rules and leads the Pride and this hierarchy has to be rigidly adhered to.  Many of the draki have special abilities and a great deal of attention was paid to building up a picture of them and their lives.

I adored this book!  The concept is really original and the plot is brilliantly executed.  I never thought I was particularly a fan of stories about dragons but 'Firelight' has definitely won me over.  I'm counting down the days now until 'Vanish', the next book in the trilogy, is published.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #21

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! 
Perfectly Reflected by S.C. Ransom
Published by Nosy Crow on 2nd June 2011
 

Still recovering from her earlier brush with death, Alex’s source of strength and comfort is Callum, still locked in a sad half-life after drowing in the river Fleet that flows into the Thames. And she needs all the strength and comfort she can get: someone is out to make her life a misery, and someone is out to get hold of the extraordinary bracelet that enables her to communicate with Callum.

I've recently read the first book in this trilogy, 'Small Blue Thing' which I really enjoyed.  I love supporting British authors and I'm intrigued to find out what's going to happen to Callum and Alex next, so I shall definitely be buying this when it's released.
 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Review: Small Blue Thing - S.C. Ransom

Small Blue Thing by S.C. Ransom, published by Nosy Crow on 13th January 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Celebrating the end of exams with best friend Grace, 17 year-old Alex rescues a swan caught on a wire in the Thames mud and finds an extraordinary bracelet. Through its disturbing and compelling powers, she finds Callum, a soul locked in a half-life of sadness and mystery following a terrible accident, and his persuasive and sinister sister, Catherine. As Alex and Callum grow closer despite the enormous obstacles to their love, the dangers mount until Alex must risk everything to save Grace and Callum must risk everything to save Alex.


Review:
The beautiful shiny cover attracted me to 'Small Blue Thing' and it just leapt off the shelf and into my shopping basket!  I started it as soon as I got home and found the story so gripping that I finished it the same night.  I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy now!

The story centres on Alex who finds an exquisitely unique bracelet in the river Thames.  She fishes it out and takes it home but soon discovers that the bracelet has some strange powers.  It enables her to communicate with the river's dead which leads her to the handsome and mysterious Callum.  Callum and Alex fall in love but they cannot be together because Callum is a dirge - destined to live on the other side and feed off peoples' happy memories to keep his own misery at bay.  Alex is determined to find a way in which they can be together properly but when Callum's sister Catherine appears, she has to decide who she can trust and who holds her future happiness in their hands.

I thought that this book was brilliant and a fabulous debut from a British author.  The story was unlike anything else in the paranormal YA genre at the moment and kept me guessing throughout.  I loved the combination of a fascinating mystery, ghostly going-ons, a generous helping of intrigue and a strong romantic thread running throughout.  The storyline was compelling and the ending was most definitely jaw-dropping and has left me in a state of high anticipation for what's going to come next.

My only criticism and it's a very small thing, is that I thought the romance between Callum and Alex developed extremely quickly.  In under 100 pages, they were already declaring their love for each other which seemed a bit fast.  I would have liked to have seen their relationship develop more first but then I guess that's love at first sight!

The second book in the trilogy, 'Perfectly Reflected' is published by Nosy Crow in June 2011.  I'm looking forward to seeing how S.C. Ransom is going to resolve the problem of Callum and Alex's romance and I have a feeling that there are going to be a lot of twists and turns still to come.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Review: Witch and Wizard - James Patterson

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson with Gabrielle Charbonnet, published by Young Arrow on 8th October 2009

Goodreads synopsis:
The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they'd never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents--and maybe the world?


Review:
I've read quite a few of James Patterson's adult novels so I was intrigued to see what his contribution to the young-adult genre was going to be like.  The plot sounded interesting and the cover caught my eye so I gave this one a go.

Patterson (co-authoring this book with Gabrielle Charbonnet) has created a world under the control of a government which rules with an iron fist.  The New Order are intent on locking up children who they believe to be subversive and a challenge to their strict rules and regulations.  When Whit and Wisty are taken away in the middle of the night and locked up in a prison, they don't know why anyone would see them as a threat.  However, as they learn more about their magical abilities, they discover that they are a witch and wizard and might just be the only people that can save the world. 

I thought that this book got off to a really strong start.  I enjoyed becoming acquainted with Whit and his feisty sister Wisty and I liked the dual narrative which alternated for each chapter between the siblings.  The opening couple of chapters were gripping and I really enjoyed it.  However, as the story progressed, I found the pace slowed and this wasn't helped by the chapters being so incredibly short that the narration felt quite stilted and abrupt.  The story wasn't given a proper chance to flow which meant that my attention started to wander a bit.

An interesting assortment of characters were introduced throughout, including a female ghost, a talking weazel and a reformed hellhound.  I started to wonder what was going to pop up next!  There were also an array of different worlds to get my head around and at times it seemed somewhat bewildering.

Overall, I loved the opening and enjoyed the first-half of the book but I don't think Patterson was able to sustain a sufficient level of interest throughout the rest of the story.  It picked up again at the end and certainly finished with a cliffhanger ending so even saying all that, I am interested to know what's going to happen to the characters next which means I will be checking out the next book in the series.  This would probably appeal to both male and female readers who enjoy books which feature magical adventures.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

In My Mailbox #21

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 received four books for review this week:


The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by Yasutaka Tsutsui
(Not sure what to expect with this book but I always like trying something different)

Montacute House by Lucy Jago
(Sounds interesting - I'll be reading this for the Historical Fiction Challenge)

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
(I've heard really good things about this book and I love the cover!)

Wintercraft: Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw
(I loved Jenna Burtenshaw's first book and I can't wait to start reading this one)

Friday, 8 April 2011

Review: Paradise Red - K.M. Grant

Paradise Red by K.M. Grant, published by Quercus on 10th May 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
As Raimon and Aimery set off to re-gain the flame and the heart of the Occitan, Hugh prepares to lay siege to the Cathar stronghold where the flame burns. Unbeknown to him, his wife Yolanda flees his castle and into the freezing snow. What is Yolanda running from? What underhand game is Aimery about to bring in to play? And will Raimon's passion for the flame cause him to lose Yolanda and even himself? K M Grant's spectacular novel weaves together the friendship, love and bitter rivalry of her wonderfully evoked characters in a finale to a superb trilogy of romance and adventure.


Review:
This is the final and concluding part of the Perfect fire trilogy by K.M. Grant.  It's one of my favourite historical fiction series that I've come across in the last couple of years.  It's a winning combinaton of amazing characters that you really do care about; an exciting and fast-paced story which blends together romance, adventure and excitement and a stunning historical backdrop.  I'm really sad that the adventure is over because these books have provided me with so much enjoyment.

'Paradise Red' picks up the story from 'Blue Flame' and 'White Heat'.  Raimon is still desperate to retrieve the blue flame from the White Wolf and save the Occitan while Yolanda is torn between her husband and her love for Raimon.  The romance between Yolanda and Raimon is one of the central elements of the series.  I love the fact that whatever they are faced with and however much it looks impossible for them to be together, they always have complete trust and faith in each other and they never give up hope.  They've grown up together and their love has grown with them and matured from that between childhood sweethearts to adults who know that they belong together.

The other significant relationship is between Yolanda and her dog Brees!  He's adorable and such a faithful companion that he provides her with the strength to go on when she needs it most.

Their story is framed by an intricately detailed historical backdrop, with an ongoing war between the Catholics and the Cathars.  Religious hatred and intolerance are key themes throughout the book which highlights the destruction that these can cause.

This is an absolutely superb and fitting conclusion to an oustanding series by an amazing author.  I even had tears in my eyes at the end! 

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Review: The Shadowing: Hunted - Adam Slater

The Shadowing: Hunted by Adam Slater, published by Egmont on 2nd May 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
The girl lies by the canal, her face turned upwards like a stargazer. But she will never see the stars again. Her eyes have been torn out. The rain fills the empty sockets until they brim over, spilling bloody tears down her cold, white cheeks. Once every century, the boundary between the demon Netherworld and the human world weakens. Legions of creatures gather, preparing to cross over, to bring death and destruction. This time is called The Shadowing.

Callum has always known that there is something beyond the mortal world - he can see ghosts. Lately, he's started to have horrific visions of children murdered by some terrible, unseen creature. And then the visions start to come true - and Callum realises he is being hunted too. But Callum must stay alive. He is bound by a dark destiny, and must stand against the demon forces that threaten our world forever. For it is nearly time. The Shadowing is coming...


Review:
'The Shadowing' is chock-full of thrills and packed with enough creepy supernatural goings-on to keep you up all night. You'll most definitely have to read this book with the lights on!

I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive about reading this to begin with, as I'm not usually a fan of the horror genre. It's certainly not something that I would normally have picked for myself. It has the scariest cover ever! However, I'm so glad that I was sent a copy of this and gave it a go because it's a stellar opening to the series and has left me dying for more. I got sucked into the story and found it incredibly difficult to put it down as the suspense was unbearable. I couldn't go to bed until I'd reached the end.

The story centres around Callum Scott, a young boy who has the ability to see ghosts and who starts having strange premonitions which warn him about events to come. He lives with his Gran who is dismissive of anything to do with magic or the supernatural. When children start getting murdered, Callum may be the only one that can stop the strange creature responsible. But how can one boy stop a terrible evil?

Callum is a great central character as he seems so normal but has an incredible ability which may be the only thing that can save the human world from what lies on the other side. A little is told about Callum's family history but I feel like there's much more to come. I suspect a big secret could end up being revealed.

What I loved about 'The Shadowing' was that it was such a fast-paced and exciting read. Each chapter was full of thrills and spills and interesting plot twists. I had no idea what was coming next and spent most of the time on the edge of my seat. It had a stunning opening which really set the tone for the rest of the book and a fantastic ending which was jaw-droppingly brilliant.

This book will appeal hugely to a male audience who are looking for the next big thing in this genre but that's not to say that females won't love it too. I did! There are a couple of bits which made me a bit squeamish as Slater doesn't hold back from the gore-factor, so I probably wouldn't recommend this to very young readers but those who are slightly older will lap this up.

I'm eagerly anticipating getting my hands on 'The Shadowing: Skinned' which is the next book in the series. Who knows what's coming next!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Review: Defiance - Lili St. Crow

Defiance by Lili St. Crow, published by Quercus on 4th April 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Now that sixteen-year-old Dru's worst fears have come true and Sergej has kidnapped her best friend Graves, she'll have to go on a suicidal rescue mission to bring him back in one piece.  That is, if she can put all of Christophe's training to good use, defeat her mother's traitor, Anna, once and for all, and manage to survive another day...


Review:
'Defiance' is another scorching ride to hell and back with kick-ass heroine Dru Anderson.  This fourth installment of the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow is even more fast-paced and exciting with a narrative which hurtles along at break-neck speed. 

This time around Dru is intent on rescuing her best-friend Graves from the clutches of her greatest enemy.  Christophe is determined to train Dru and ensure she is fully prepared before she tries to save Graves but he may have ulterior motives.  Dru is caught up in a love triangle with Graves and Christophe as she attempts to make sense of her feelings for them both, whilst also finally being on the brink of blooming.

This series got off to a brilliant start although I thought it dipped a little bit with 'Jealousy'.  Now though, the action has been ramped up a notch and it's up to the reader to see if they can hang on for the ride!  Nothing is ever what it seems and no one can be trusted as Dru faces a terrible danger.  Dru is one of my favourite female protagonists.  She's smart and snarky and can kick butt with the best of them.  Although she doesn't often let her guard down with the people around her, in 'Defiance' she confronts some of the romantic feelings she's been having for Graves and Christophe.  It's refreshing to see Dru begin to open up and face her emotions for once.  She's been adept at suppressing them so far.  Although I'm definitely in Team Christophe, there's plenty to satisy Graves fans too.

It's also nice to see Dru having some female interaction for once as she's protected, among others, by Nathalie, a female werwulfen.  I thought that some of the scenes between the two of them were great and really crackled with smart dialogue.

There's no time to get your breath back as there's the most exciting climax in the series so far.  Absolutely gripping and nerve-jangling, this will have you on the edge of your seat.  Dru Anderson is back and she's back with a bang!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Alyxandra Harvey in the UK

Exciting news!  Alyxandra Harvey will be in the UK in May promoting her new book 'Haunting Violet'.


I love Alyxandra's Drake Chronicles books and I'm eagerly awaiting the release of this one.  If you fancy meeting Alyxandra then you should definitely try to get to one of the following events. 

7pm Tuesday 24th May
Alyxandra will be talking about Haunting Violet in the Simpson Room at Waterstones, 203 / 206 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9HD
Tickets priced £2 redeemable against a copy of Haunting Violet on the night
http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayDetailEvent.do?searchType=1&author=AlyxandraHarvey

4.30pm Wednesday 25th May
Alyxandra will be signing copies of the Drake Chronicles and Haunting Violet at Waterstones 4/5 Milsom Street, Bath, BA1 1DA
http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayDetailEvent.do?searchType=1&author=AlyxandraHarvey

11.30am Saturday 28th May
Alyxandra will be appearing at the world famous Hay Festival with Marcus Sedgwick, author of Revolver and White Crow
Tickets priced £4
http://www.hayfestival.com/p-3122-alyxandra-harvey-marcus-sedgwick.aspx
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