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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.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #38

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! 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Published by Hodder and Stoughton on 29th September 2011


Featuring necklaces made of wishes; an underground shop dealing in teeth; magical tattoos; a wishbone on a cord, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a thrilling story about Karou and her secret life as an apprentice to a wishmonger. Karou manages to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she is a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to an inhuman creature who deals in wishes and is the closest thing she has to family. Her life is surrounded by mysteries she is desperate to unveil.

I haven't read anything by Laini Taylor before but I have read some amazing reviews of this book and immediately had to add it to my huge wishlist.  It sounds like it has a very unique storyline and the synopsis definitely has me well and truly intrigued.  Luckily it's published in a few weeks so I won't have too long to wait to get my hands on a copy. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Review: Misfit - Jon Skovron

Misfit by Jon Skovron, published by Amulet Books on 1st August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict—but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.

Review:
The concept of 'Misfit' is one that sounded really appealing to me prior to actually reading the book but on finishing this title I'm not sure if it completely managed to win me over although it gave it a good shot. The story centres on Jael, a teenager who is half-demon and half-mortal.  She lives with her father and has spent most of her life running from something she doesn't really understand.  She only knows that her father never lets them stay in the same place for long.  When Jael turns sixteen she finally gets the opportunity to explore and embrace her demon side but as a half-breed, a powerful demon wants her dead and she may not be able to stop him.

I liked the main character of Jael and I found that she had a really interesting personality which drew me into her story.  Being half-demon is a lot for one teenager to handle but she faces this head-on and I enjoyed seeing her discover and grow into the powers and abilities that she has.  She's pretty spirited and feisty and I liked the way she was determined to lead a normal life at high school as well as taking on the job of defeating evil demons.  There's romance for her too in the shape of skater boy, Rob who I found incredibly sweet and cute and I liked the way in which they started off as friends and their romance gradually developed throughout the book. 

I also enjoyed some of the chapters exploring the history of Jael's family, more specifically the relationship between her mother and father, but although this was interesting, I did sometimes find that these interspersed passages occasionally broke up the flow of the narrative and took the focus away from Jael herself.  Similarly, the story itself was told using a third-person narrative which didn't completely work for me.  I would have liked to have seen events more through Jael's eyes, instead of feeling slightly distant from what was happening.

There is quite a strong religious element to the book too and a proportion of the story takes place in Jael's Catholic school.  There's also talk of things like exorcisms, which may not appeal to all readers.

This is a paranormal story featuring mythology, demons and otherworldly creatures and exploring hell in all its glory.  It's quite different from most other books I've read in this genre but was quite slow to engage me and didn't have that wow factor which normally makes me fall in love with a book.  That aside, this was still an interesting read which those who are looking for something different may like to try.      

Monday, 29 August 2011

Review: Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen

Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen, published by Puffin on 1st September 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
 For the bright young things of 1929, the beautiful days seem endless, filled with romance and heartbreak, adventure and intrigue, friendship and rivalry.
 
After a month in New York, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur are small-town girls no longer. They spend their afternoons with Astrid Donal at the Greys’ lush Long Island estate and their nights in Manhattan’s bustling metropolis. But Letty’s not content to be a mere socialite. She is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams—no matter the cost.
 
Cordelia is still reeling from the death of her father at the hands of Thom Hale, the man she thought she loved. Now she is set to honor Darius Grey’s legacy . . . and take her revenge.
 
Promised to Cordelia’s half brother, Astrid is caught up in a world of dazzling jewels and glittering nights—and the sparkle is blinding. Charlie Grey is a gangster playing a dangerous game; and for Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty, the stakes could be deadly.


Review:
This is the second book in the Bright Young Things series by Anna Godbersen which is set in the jazz age of the 1920s.  This is a decade which I love!  Flappers, bootleggers, fringed dresses and jazz music all feature to help set the scene for this particular period in time and Godbersen's wonderful prose and gorgeous descriptions combine to transport the reader back to 1929. 

The roaring twenties are often seen as a glamorous decade with gorgeous fashions, decadence in abundance and where decisions are no more important than where to be seen and what to wear.  However, one of the things I love about this series is that although we are shown the glamour, wealth and privilege of many of the families in the book, the emptiness and shallowness of the lives that characters such as Astrid in particular are living is also depicted.  This is particularly echoed by Letty who has spent an idle and empty summer with Cordelia.  Gradually she begins to realise that she has begun to let her dreams slip away and that if she truly wants to become a star then she must create her own luck and work her way up to the top.

Although Cordelia was my favourite character in the first novel, I really warmed to Letty in 'Beautiful Days'.  Her story is full of ups and downs as she tries to fulfil her dreams to star on Broadway.  She also has the chance at a real romance but even with this things don't go smoothy for her.  I found that I could identify with her the most out of the three girls and I enjoyed seeing her personality develop further and see her struggle to become something and make a name for herself.

All three of the main characters have numerous romantic entanglements.  I must admit that I've always found something slightly sinister about the relationship between Astrid and Cordelia's half-brother Charlie.  Their relationship has progressed a step further by the end of the book but I feel like there's a continual threat of something going terribly wrong between them.  Their romance is incredibly tempestuous so it will be interesting to see whether they're still together by the end of the series.  Cordelia is still recovering from her betrayal in the first book so she starts to put business first and pleasure second although she too forms a romantic attachment in the form of a handsome pilot.

One of the things I love about this series is that it may be set in the past, during a period of history which I find absolutely fascinating, but all the girls are dealing with situations which are still relevant today.  They get their hearts broken and their dreams dashed just like modern girls.  Anna Godbersen is currently working on the next book in the series and I can't wait to see what's going to happen to all the characters next.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

In My Mailbox #39

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.

These are the books that I was sent for review this week. 

(I'm a massive fan of this series about the Drake family)

Jaws of Death by Paul Adams
(I loved the first Max Cassdy book and it seems like I've been waiting forever for a second installment)

The Haunting of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck
(Sounds interesting and is a really cute little book)

The Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
(I've heard good things about this title. It sounds scary though!)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Giveaway - Bloodlines - Richelle Mead

Fans of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series will be extremely excited about the release of her new book 'Bloodlines' which is a spin-off from the series.  I know I can't wait to read it!


To celebrate the release, the very lovely people at Penguin have provided a copy of the book for me to giveaway.  This giveaway is only open to entrants within the UK at the request of the publisher. To enter just fill out the form below.  Good luck!

Giveaway rules.
  • There will be one winner.
  • 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 - including email address 
  • You do not have to be a follower to enter but it would be appreciated
  • Deadline for entries will be on 4 September 2011
  • 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, 25 August 2011

Review: Stealing Phoenix - Joss Stirling

Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling, published by Oxford University Press on 1st September 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Phoenix belongs to the Community - a gang of thieves with paranormal powers. Yves Benedict - an American student visiting London - is her mark. But Yves turns out to be more than just a target. He is her destiny. Her soulmate. But the Community owns Phoenix's past and it wants her future too.


Review:
‘Stealing Phoenix’ is a companion book to last year’s stellar debut from Joss Stirling, entitled ‘Finding Sky’. As I’m sure fans of the latter would agree, I was desperately hoping that this wouldn't be a stand-alone novel.  It seemed like the seeds had been planted perfectly for further books in the series, featuring Zac’s brothers and their own searches for their soulfinders. However, I wasn't certain that this was actually going to become a series so when I first heard about ‘Stealing Phoenix’ I was unbelievably excited and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. When it finally arrived I started and finished it the same day! Simply put, it was so amazing that there was no way I was going to be able to put it down until I’d reached the story’s conclusion. The book was everything I was hoping it would be and more!  I absolutely loved it!

The book is set in London and this made a good contrast to the first book which featured an English girl in America.  I also loved the fact that London was the backdrop to the story because Joss Stirling mentions so many familiar landmarks and places. There’s a chapter which takes place at the Apollo Victoria Theatre (which is one of my favourite places) as the characters go to see Wicked (which also happens to be my favourite current musical).  The opening chapter also takes place at the London Olympic Stadium and I really felt like I could visualise all the places which are featured because I've either been there myself or they were described so perfectly that I could picture them easily.

This time the plot revolved around the second youngest Benedict brother Yves and his soulfinder Phoenix.  Phoenix is mixed up with a group of savants who are controlled by the Seer, a threatening and controlling presence in her life.  When she meets Yves and they discover the link between them, he tries to extract her from the community, whilst attempting to convince her about the future life they're destined to have together, but it turns out to be harder for Phoenix to escape than they'd anticipated.

What attracts me to a book more than anything else and what then hooks me into a story, is a romance that literally makes my toes tingle and 'Stealing Phoenix' definitely didn't disappoint on that front.  Joss Stirling seems to have an incredible gift for writing a romance which is completely believable.  Her heroines do not fall hook, line and sinker for the boy until he's proved himself and wooed and won her over.  The romance is about more than just kisses (although there are plenty of those too!) but it's also about the boy being gentle, protective and devoted.  It's about gentle caresses, hands touching and just being in each others presence.  More than anything, it's about two people being totally devoted to each other, which is what I felt between Yves and Phoenix.  You can't help but cheer them along and hope that in the end they'll end up together.  The idea of having a soulfinder really appeals to me and is something which works beautifully in the books.

I loved both Yves and Phoenix as individual characters too.  Phoenix is fiery, stubborn and determined and has had to learn to survive on her own.  The concept of a proper family is unknown to her so I loved the bits which featured her getting to know all the Benedicts.  Yves is clever and somewhat of a genius but he's also a magnet for little old ladies and knows how to treat a girl right.  I do in fact, love all of the Benedict brothers.  With their alphabetical names and quest to find the girl of their dreams, they remind me a little bit of the brothers from 'Seven Brides For Seven Brothers' which is one of my favourite old musicals.  I'd love to know if it actually inspired Joss Stirling at all!

For those that loved Zed and Sky from the first book in the series then have no fear, they also return about half-way through.  It was great seeing how their relationship has matured and grown and lovely to see some familiar faces. 

I simply can't gush about this book enough.  It has an amazing romance which will make your heart skip a beat, wonderful characters, an exciting plot and is so incredible that as soon as you've finished it you'll want to start it all over again! I'm guessing that the next book in the series will be about Xav. I'm simply dying for more from the Benedict boys and this fantastic author. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #37

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! 
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Published by Puffin on 18th October 2011
 Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?
 
For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.
 
Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

This is the third book in the Caster Chronicles series and it sounds sooo good!  The black and gold cover is pretty striking and I'm sure that this is going to be another wonderful installment to the series.  It's also yet another fabulous October release.  My wishlist is getting bigger by the day! 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Review: The Power of Six - Pittacus Lore

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore, published by Penguin on 23rd August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he's a mystery. But to me . . . he's one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we'll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?



Review:
I've been feverishly awaiting the release of 'The Power of Six' ever since reading and loving 'I Am Number Four' which is the first book in the series and which completely blew me away.  I was captivated by the story of John Smith and his heritage as one of the remaining Lorien Six and have been dying to find out what happens to him next.

Initially, when I knew the second book was going to be about number six I was a bit worried that the focus wouldn't be on John anymore but I needn't have worried because he's still at the heart of the story and much of the action continues to revolve around him as he faces new threats to his existence.  As the next to be killed, he's in an extremely precarious situation and danger follows him wherever he goes.

The narrative is shared between John who is still on the run along with Sam and Six, and Marina, who we're introduced to for the first time as number seven.  Marina is currently living in a convent in Spain, which doubles as an orphanage.  She's been there so long that her Cepan no longer seems to believe in the Lorien legacy and the the threat of the Mogs taking over Earth.  Marina is desperate to leave the orphanage and locate the others, even if it means leaving her Cepan behind.  It was great finally getting to see another of the Lorien survivors and although I started off being more intent on following John's journey, Marina grew on me quickly and soon her narrative had me totally engrossed.

One of the things that I really like about this series is the friendship between John and Sam.  Sam is a human and doesn't have special powers but he's incredibly loyal to John and an extremely good friend.  I love the way in which they each try to help the other out of various difficult and dangerous situations.  There are also some surprising revelations about Sam's dad and I'm looking forward to learning more about these.

Plenty more is also revealed about Six and the story she has to tell is shocking and horrifying.  It was interesting finding out how she'd survived on her own for so long and great to see her in typical kick-ass mode.  I enjoyed the interactions between her and John and the seeing the seed of romance growing between them. 

I love these books so much, from the fast-paced and unique stories, to the adventure and excitement which grabs hold from the very first page, to the continual shocks and surprises which are frequently sprung on the reader throughout.  This is a series to rival anything else on the market at the moment and anything else that's come before.  'I Am Number Six' is a breathless, unputdownable book which was mind-blowing and amazing.  Hopefully there won't be too long to wait until the next gripping installment.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Review: Darkness Becomes Her - Kelly Keaton

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton, published by Simon & Schuster Children's Books on 9th June 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very…different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.



Review:
I hadn't actually heard much about this book prior to reading it, so I was totally unspoiled as far as the plot went.  What attracted me to the book originally was the gorgeous cover.  I love the purple and black colouring and the tag line 'Beneath every beauty. Evil stirs'.  The girl on the cover is also extremely hypnotic with her green eyes and mass of silvery hair.

The story gets off to an intriguing start with Ari finding out about the circumstances surrounding her mother's death.  Soon after she ventures into what used to be New Orleans before it was devastated by hurricanes which destroyed the city.  It's now called New 2 and is under the control of the Novem, a group of nine families.  In New 2, Ari hopes to discover more about her heritage and the curse which seems to have blighted female members of her family.  She ends up uncovering a whole lot more than she bargained for.

'Darkness Becomes Her' contains elements of Greek mythology which is something that I absolutely love.  I've always enjoyed reading about myths and legends and the Greek Gods and this turns out to be an important aspect of the story which I'm looking forward to being developed further in future installments.

Ari meets lots of interesting characters throughout the book, including love interest Sebastian.  I've always loved boys called Sebastian and the one in the story is no exception.  Dark and mysterious and knock-down gorgeous, I loved the developing romance between him and Ari.  He certainly made me feel weak at the knees too!

I loved the way that Kelly Keaton provided a real mixture of romance, paranormal, horror and mythology and only wish that the book had been longer.  There's plenty to grab readers' attention and as the story doesn't conform to the usual paranormal template, there's lots of surprises in store too. 

The second book in the Gods and Monsters series is called 'A Beautiful Evil' and will be published in 2012.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

In My Mailbox #38

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.

These are the books that I was sent for review this week. 

 Naked by Kevin Brooks
(I haven't read anything by Kevin Brooks before but this one comes highly recommended)

Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen
(I've already read this and loved it! My review will be up soon)

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
(I've been feverishly awaiting this one for months)

This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel
(Sounds brilliant! It's based on the novel Frankenstein which is a huge favourite of mine)

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel
(Zombies and the walking dead)

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Review: Lord Oda's Revenge - Nick Lake

Lord Oda's Revenge by Nick Lake, published by Corvus on 11th August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Taro - A Japanese fisherman's son and silent assassin trained in the arts of death - is back in a second thrilling novel of ancient curses, epic battles, scheming warlords,and blood-sucking ninjas.


Review:
This is the second book in the Blood Ninja series by Nick Lake.  I thoroughly enjoyed the previous installment so started this one soon after.  It picked up straight after the events of the first book and as the background and characters had already been established, it was straight back into the action, rejoining Taro and co.

One of the things I really like about this series is that it portrays an epic struggle between good and evil.  Lord Oda is pretty much evil personified and is truly bone chillingly bad.  He's an awesome nemesis for Taro who also has to face an enemy in the form of Yukiko.  She's determined to avenge her sister's death and has become consumed by thoughts of revenge.  She appears even more threatening because as a young girl she's as far removed from a deadly killing machine as you can get.  However, she's no longer who she once was and can think of nothing but bringing her sister's killer to justice.  Because of this she's depicted as an even bigger threat to Taro's existence. 

Nick Lake has obviously done incredible amounts of research into Japanese culture, the ninja way of life and also the religious and spiritual beliefs and philosophies which are described in the book.  There is an amazing amount of detail about all of these things and they really enrich the overall story.  I love reading about the country of Japan and found this a wonderful setting. 

There are subtle romantic undertones in some chapters in the book, as Taro and Hana are drawn closer together. The romance between them is a periphery element of the plot however, rather than being the main focus.  Personally, I'd like to see this being developed further as the series progresses. 

Fans of the series won't be able to resist grabbing this new installment of Taro's story.  For those that haven't discovered Nick Lake's writing yet then I would definitely recommend trying these.  Teenage boys in particular will be drawn to the idea of a ninja who's also a vampire!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #36

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! 
Twisted Heart by Eden Maguire
Published by Hodder Children's Books on 3rd November 2011
 

Tania has moved on. Her gap year takes her across Europe, leaving beloved Orlando in college in Dallas. But despite this, life is a new and exciting vibe of artists, sculptures, parties and passion. But the threat of revenge is never far away. Zoran's mission to destroy young love and steal their souls is not over. Far from home, Tanya needs Orlando more than ever as she must find a way to thwart the Dark Angel's sinister power.

This is the second book in Eden Maguire's new series.  I really enjoyed 'Dark Angel' and I'm excited to see where the story is going to go next.  The cover is stunning too!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Review + giveaway: Bumped - Megan McCafferty

Bumped by Megan McCafferty, published by Corgi on 4th August 2011 

Goodreads synopsis:
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.  

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.
 
Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.
 
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

Review:
Dystopian novels are a big favourite of mine.  I love the fact that nobody knows what's going to happen in the future so there are endless possibilities available to authors to create a world of their choosing.  Although some of these possibilities may seem quite fantastical there is always a chance that these may actually happen.  'Bumped' provides a snapshot of a future society where anyone over the age of eighteen is infertile and where teens are therefore the most valuable commodity on the planet.  Some of these teens are paid huge sums of money to become surrogate mothers for needy couples.  This is a concept which is so scary because it's immensely believable.  It could actually happen one day.  It's such a bold story idea but it really works incredibly well. 

The first thing which struck me immediately about this novel is the language used.  Megan McCafferty has created a completely new set of slang terms which are littered throughout the characters' speech.  Terms such as neggy, fertilicious and pregging are used often throughout the book.  I did eventually adjust to this but I still found it a bit distracting at times because of the frequency in which these terms are used.  On the other hand, the language did help to create the sense of this being a unique society, set apart from the present day.

The book deals with wider themes and topical issues such as teenage pregnancy and underage sex.  Some of the things which happen to the characters are almost shocking but these are treated as the norm and as everyday occurrences.  Although I think that there are some important messages to be taken away from the novel, I also think that readers shouldn't get swamped by these and to remember that McCafferty is also writing the story for pure enjoyment.  It shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Overall, this was a unique and interesting read and I'm looking forward to finding out what's going to happen to all the characters next.  I think there are plenty more surprises still to come!

To celebrate the release of 'Bumped' and the fact that it's my one year blogoversary, I am personally giving away one copy of the book.  The giveaway is international as I wanted to give everyone a chance to enter but you must be a follower of my blog.  Just fill out the form below with the required details.  Good luck! 

Giveaway rules.
  • There will be one winner.
  • Open to International entrants.
  • Please fill out the form completely - especially the required details.
  • You must be a follower to enter.
  • Deadline for entries will be on 31 August.
  • Winner will be drawn by random.org
  • Winner 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.


Monday, 15 August 2011

Review: Dark Angel - Eden Maguire

Dark Angel by Eden Maguire, published by Hodder Children's Books on 4th August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Tania's heart belongs to Orlando. Nothing can rip them apart. Until the seduction begins in a flurry of glamour and magic, music and parties all orchestrated by the mysterious and mesmerising Zoran, an iconic rock star who has retired to a remote ranch in the nearby mountains. And there Tania meets the dark side. Can she resist temptation?


Review:
Eden Maguire is the bestselling author of 'The Beautiful Dead' series.  I have to say that I wasn't a huge fan of these books (although I might give them another try) but when I saw the cover of 'Dark Angel' and read the synopsis, I knew that I wanted to read it.  I'm a sucker for a pretty cover and this one is gorgeous!  Plus the story sounded really intriguing so I got started on it as soon as it arrived. 

The story centres around main character Tania, who seems to live a pretty charmed life.  She has fantastic friends, a gorgeous boyfriend called Orlando and parents who treat her like an adult and give her the freedom to make her own decisions and choices about her life.  One night, Tania, along with her best friends Grace and Holly attend the party of well known rock star Zoran Brancusi.  The party is wild, their host hypnotic and at the end of the night they return home with strange gaps in their memories.  From that moment on everything seems to change as they're sucked into Zoran's mysterious world.  Only Tania may have the necessary strength in the forthcoming fight against an evil presence which seems to have penetrated their world. 

I loved the mystery which surrounded Zoran and co.  At no point did I guess their secret or even have an inkling about the direction in which the story was going to go.  Some of the events throughout took me completely by surprise and kept me on my toes and I enjoyed seeing the plot twists and turns unravel up to the point of a completely epic conclusion to the story.  This was definitely not another formulaic paranormal romance. 

Eden Maguire has a really fast-paced and engaging writing style which kept me immersed from the word go.  Some parts of the book had me on the edge of my seat and I was totally gripped by Tania's story which really has something for everyone.  There's a swoonworthy romance, a battle between good and evil, magic and mystery and a fantastic heroine who must make some major decisions to save not only herself but the lives of her friends and family. 

I would just say that there are some adult themes in this book, so I think it's more suited to slightly older teen readers.  I thought that overall 'Dark Angel' was a fantastic read.  I curled up in my favourite chair to start this one evening and found myself finishing it in one sitting because it was that good! 

The second book in the series, 'Twisted Heart' is due out on 3rd November and I'm looking forward to revisiting Tania once more and seeing what will happen to her next.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

In My Mailbox #37

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.

These are the books that I was sent for review this week.  I had some very exciting titles!

After Obsession by Carrie Jones
(Carrie Jones is one of my favourite YA authors and so I've been waiting for this book for months and months.  So excited when it arrived!  The cover is gorgeous!)

Velvet by Mary Hooper
(I haven't actually read anything by Mary Hooper before but I really like the sound of this one)

(This is the first book in a brand new series and it looks awesome)

VIII by H.M. Castor
(Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres and this book sounds exactly like one I'm going to love.  It's all about Henry VII and is described as 'Wolf Hall' for young-adults)

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
(Another one that I've been super-excited about)

Misfit by Jon Skovron
(I'm reading this one at the moment and it's very good so far.  It's about a high school student who discovers that she's half-demon)

Abandon by Meg Cabot
(Yay!  My all-time favourite YA author - dying to start this one)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Review: Blood Ninja - Nick Lake

Blood Ninja by Nick Lake, published by Corvus on 1st April 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
Taro is a boy from a coastal village in rural Japan, fated to become a fisherman like his father. But in just one night, Taro's world is turned upside down - and his destiny is changed forever.

Review:
This is the perfect book for teenage boys looking for an exciting read with a gutsy hero and plenty of thrills and spills along the way.  It appealed to me mainly because it's set in sixteenth century Japan, which is a country I always find endlessly fascinating and also because the concept for the story sounded so fantastic and amazing.  The title itself, 'Blood Ninja' was hugely intriguing and had me reaching for the book nearly as soon as it arrived.

The story is about a young fisherman's son who at the beginning of the book is attacked by ninjas.  His life is saved by a blood ninja who rescues him from those seeking to kidnap and kill him.  There are however a lot of secrets surrounding Taro's heritage and from this moment on, his life, and the only existence he's ever known, is changed forever.  He becomes a pawn in the power struggle between Lord Oda and Lord Tokugawa who are the two most powerful men in the country and are both ultimately seeking to gain total control over Japan. 

I don't think it's giving anything away by saying that Nick Lake has come up with a genuinely clever and hugely original idea - ninjas who also happen to be vampires which is where they get their incredible speed, strength and agility from.  They are an almost unstoppable force but are still susceptible to the usual vampire weaknesses, such as sunlight.  I really enjoyed learning about how they all became vampires and the training they have to undergo to become fully fledged ninjas.  This will strongly appeal to boys who will love all the action and fighting in the book, along with a generous helping of guts and glory.

I found 'Blood Ninja' to be a thrilling and exciting read which was packed full of action and a real rollercoaster ride of a story.  The Japanese backdrop was the perfect setting for the book and I was fascinated by the system of hierarchy and honour which Lake describes and which is integral to the lives of all the characters.  It reminded me a little bit of the Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn which is a big favourite of mine.  It did take me a few chapters to get completely into the story and to familiarise myself with all the characters and their loyalties but the story just kept getting better and better as it went on.  This is genuinely a vampire book unlike anything else you will have read before.  There are lots of surprises to keep you on your toes and the ending is both shocking and awesome at the same time. 

The second book in the planned trilogy has just been released and is called 'Lord Oda's Revenge'.  Expect my review soon as I'm reading this one at the moment and literally can't put it down!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Review: The Black Banner - Helen Hart

The Black Banner by Helen Hart, published by SilverWood Books on 21st June 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Set sail on the high seas of adventure with Becky Baxter and her band of pirates! A swashbuckling pirate novel for young teens. Penniless Becky Baxter crops her hair, dresses in breeches, and leaves the dangerous backstreets of Bristol for a life of adventure and fortune on the high seas. But she quickly discovers that there are far more dangerous enemies than her drunken Ma and evil Mr Crudder… Pirates!


Review:
How can you resist a book which features pirates, swashbuckling adventures on the high seas, adventure and excitement?  The answer is you can't, which is why I enjoyed 'The Black Banner' so much.

Set in 1719, thirteen year old Becky pretends to be Billy Baxter so that she can escape from her mother and their squalid existence.  Disguised as a boy, she signs up as a ship hand on the Bonny Marie.  When the ship is attacked by pirates, it looks like the adventure might be over but it's really only just beginning as Becky becomes a pirate on the high seas and must draw upon every ounce of bravery and determination she has to survive. 

One of the things I loved the most about this book was the vivid descriptions and imagery which conjure up the experience of being at sea: the salty spray of the sea, the heat of the sun, the rocking of the ship and the excitement of looting and plundering other ships' cargoes.  I felt swept away by the story and could easily imagine myself in Becky's place, transported back in time.

The story is told in the format of journal entries by Becky herself as she encounters all kinds of dangers on her voyage.  I loved all the characters that she meets along the way, such as Captain Scabrill, carpenter's mate Zac Price, friendly and kind Welshman Tarron Jones, Mary and Anne, fellow female pirates and the kindly Jonquil.  These people are like a second family to Becky and are wonderfully described and imagined.

What was interesting as well was discovering what the pirates' lives were actually like as Helen Hart weaves a fascinating tale combining historical details of the eighteenth century.  You can tell that a lot of research has been done into this particular time period and this adds an extra layer of richness to the story.   

This book will definitely appeal to female readers who know that anything boys can do, girls can do just as well.  It will also be a big hit with boys who have always dreamed of becoming a pirate.  For those that love films such as 'Cutthroat Island' and 'Pirates of the Caribbean' then this book will also be instantly appealing. I've always loved pirate adventures, so I found this was a cracking read featuring pirate ships and hangings, an adventure at sea, plus plenty of danger and excitement.  'The Black Banner' has it all as we join Becky Baxter on the adventure of a lifetime.  




Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #35

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! 
Dark Parties by Sara Grant
Published by Indigo on 20th October 2011
 

Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield "protects" them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there's nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says...

Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a "dark party" to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she's ever known, including the people she loves the most.


This book looks awesome!  It's one of the releases lined up for new YA imprint Indigo.  The cover is gorgeous and the story sounds really intriguing.  There are lots of other exciting books being published by Indigo from September so look out for more news about this soon. 
 

Monday, 8 August 2011

Review: Shimmer - Alyson Noel

Shimmer by Alyson Noel, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 5th August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a little time-off. But then Riley encounters a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca's sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she's not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, Rebecca is furious about being murdered during the slave revolt of 1733. Her uncontrollable anger is keeping other ghosts, who also died in the revolt, trapped in a shimmering bubble. And when Bodhi and Buttercup inadvertently fall into Rebecca's trap, Riley is the only one who can save them.


Review:
This is the second book in Alyson Noel's series based around a periphery character from her bestselling Immortals books.  I loved 'Radiance' so I couldn't wait to get started on this one as soon as it arrived.  I think the cover is gorgeous too!  The pink and purple colours are really pretty and I adore the fact that Buttercup, Riley's dog, gets to feature on the cover as well.  He's really sweet!

Riley is a soul catcher; tasked with guiding those spirits who refuse to cross over to the Here and Now.  In 'Shimmer' she finds herself having to save Bodhi and Buttercup and free a number of lost and trapped souls.  Some of the incidences in the book are based around the 1733 slave revolt on the Danish Island.  I thought that the way Noel had incorporated elements of real life historical events was very clever as this added another dimension to the story. 

Throughout the book, Riley learns more about the Here and Now and discovers that she may eventually get her wish to turn thirteen.  How this will happen is something that I'm  looking forward to learning more about.  I also enjoyed discovering a little more about Riley's guide Bodhi and I hope in the future that further information surrounding his past life will be revealed.  He's quite a complex and intriguing character and whereas Riley is often an open-book, he seems to have a lot of layers to his personality. 

I'm a big fan of this series.  It's designed for slightly younger teen readers and trust me, you can't help but fall in love with Riley and her sweet and adorable Labrador, Buttercup.  One of the things I love the most about it is that the books are so mystical and magical.  I really like Alyson Noel's version of the afterlife and the fact that in her vision, death isn't the end and life really does go on and on.  I also liked the message that was conveyed in this story about forgiveness and how by forgiving those around you and letting go, you can finally move onto a better future.   

The next book in the series is called 'Dreamland' and is out later this year.  I'm going to be counting down the days!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

In My Mailbox #36

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.

These are the books that I was sent for review this week:
 

(I've read Kate Harrison's adult novels and love them so I can't wait to see what her foray into YA is going to be like)

(I haven't heard of this title before but it's endorsed by Carrie Jones who is one of my favourite authors so I reckon it's going to be good!)

I also had some book vouchers to spend so I bought these yesterday:


(I've been after this one for ages.  Finally bought it as it was on 3 for 2 in Waterstones)
 
(This book has the prettiest cover)
 
(I haven't read anything by Lauren Oliver before but I've read some good reviews of this title and I liked the idea for the story)
 
(Yay!  Another one I've wanted for ages!)

Friday, 5 August 2011

Review: Forbidden - Jana Oliver

Forbidden (The Demon Trappers #2) by Jana Oliver, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 5th August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Riley's beginning to think being a demon trapper isn't all it's cracked up to be. Her dad's been stolen by a necromancer, her boyfriend's gone all weird and she's getting warm and fuzzy feelings for someone who's seriously bad news. It's tempting to give it all up and try to be normal, but that's not an option. Because the demons have plans for Riley. And they're not the only ones.


Review:
The Demon Trapper's daughter is back to stop the end of the world and kick some demon butt!

This is the sequel to last year's stellar debut 'Forsaken'.  It picks up straight after the events of the previous book with main character Riley dealing with the aftermath of a terrible attack which left her boyfriend Simon fighting for his life.  Riley's now trying to find out who reanimated her Dad, dealing with boyfriend problems and uncovering a major conspiracy, at the same time as trying to stop the end of the world from occurring.  It's all in a day's work for demon trapper Riley Blackthorne! 

Set in the future, 2018, one of my favourite things about this series is the incredible world which Jana Oliver has created.  Demons are an everyday occurrence and a constant danger, while demon trappers and hunters roam around trying to rid them from places they're not wanted.  I love the way the demons are graded and find all the different types and their unique characteristics really interesting. 

The fantastic characters are also one of the elements which really drew me into the series and as the story progresses they get even more complex and fascinating.  The love/hate relationship between Riley and Beck is awesome.  Beck is extremely private and quite a closed-book.  He doesn't let people in but he's now beginning to see Riley as much more than just his mentor's daughter and someone to protect.  He has very real feelings for her now but they never seem to get their timing right.  I'm desperate for them to end up together!  They're perfect for each other.  I liked finding out more about Beck throughout the book and learning about some of the parts of his personality that up until now he's kept hidden. 

Riley is an incredible protagonist.  She's smart and sassy and brave.  She never backs down from a fight and she always follows her gut even when those around her may try to get her to do otherwise.  She's gradually learning more about the world around her and some questions are answered in 'Forbidden' but a whole heap more questions are raised to keep the reader continually guessing. 

I also enjoyed discovering more about the mysterious Ori who I thought was a little lacking in the first book.  Now he's back on the scene, a major secret about him is revealed which is seriously jaw-dropping. 

'Forbidden' was gripping and enthralling.  I enjoyed it even more than the opening installment to the series as I feel like Jana Oliver's cranked the story up to an even higher gear.  I found this one really difficult to put down with a multi-layered plot which had so many twists and turns that I read it almost in one sitting.  I can't wait to see what happens to Riley and co next.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Review: Eight Keys - Suzanne LaFleur

Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur, published by Puffin on 11th August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Elise and Franklin have always been best friends. Elise has always lived in the big house with her loving Uncle and Aunt, because Elise's parents died when she was too young to remember them. There's always been a barn behind the house with eight locked doors on the second floor.

When Elise and Franklin start middle school, things feel all wrong. Bullying. Not fitting in. Franklin suddenly seems babyish. Then, soon after her 12th birthday, Elise receives a mysterious key left for her by her father. A key that unlocks one of the eight doors upstairs in the barn...



Review:
‘Eight Keys’ is the first book I’ve read by Suzanne LaFleur but it certainly won’t be the last!  I’d heard fantastic things about LaFleur’s debut novel ‘Love, Aubrey’ so I was really excited to read her second book which sounded wonderfully intriguing.

Aimed at a slightly younger teen audience, ‘Eight Keys’ absolutely captured my heart.  It was a quick read but it’s one that stayed with me long after reading the final page.  Some bits had me absolutely sobbing and I found the story incredibly moving and touching.

Eleven year old Elise lives with her Aunt and Uncle.  Her parents both died when she was young but she’s grown up with no shortage of loving people around her.  She’s known her best friend Franklin forever and indeed he seems to spend more time at her house than his own.  When she starts at a new school she thinks everything will continue the way it always has but she has a lot of lessons to learn as she turns twelve and discovers a secret mystery about her family’s past.

The beauty of this book is that the story is quite simplistic but this allows the focus to be placed solely on the characters and the themes which are interwoven throughout.  I absolutely loved the friendship between Elise and Franklin and the way that it comes full circle by the end of the story.  They’ve shared so many landmark moments as they’ve grown up together and that’s depicted as a being a gift in itself.  Not many people have someone like that in their lives and this is something to be treasured.    

The book also touches upon life lessons and the process of growing-up, which can sometimes be difficult and painful, but which always shapes us into the people we are today.  I liked the device of the eight keys and the mystery surrounding them and I was as excited as Elise to find out what they were going to lead to.

‘Eight Keys’ was an emotional and hugely enjoyable read.  What came across for me from the story is that the things to be treasured most in life are the family and friends we have around us.  I will definitely be recommending this book to people I know and will be eagerly looking out for anything else by Suzanne LaFleur in the future.       

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Blog Tour: Lil Chase - Boys For Beginners

Today I'm welcoming Lil Chase who's stopping by as part of the blog tour for her fabulous debut book, 'Boys For Beginners'.  I really enjoyed Lil's debut, which made me laugh and smile and was a thoroughly awesome read!


So, without further ado, over to Lil!

High School Mafia

Check out the two pictures below.  I know which trio I find more terrifying.


While the western world believes in democracy and equality for all, these rules do not reach as far as high school. In fact, high school politics runs something like the gangster mafia culture.  Who cares about the Sopranos when there are hierarchies and power struggles going on just down the road?  Not convinced?  Let me show you the similarities.

Mafia Boss

Each mafia family has to have a mafia boss and each clique has to have a queen bee.  Ths boss will have a consigliere or 'best friend' who advises them in their dealings. The lowly soldiers or 'friends' are useful yet expendable. They come and go.

Reputation

Attempts can be made to seize power and overthrow the boss, but they must be enacted with steely ruthlessness. Reputation is everything so when someone tries to ruin the boss, the boss needs to retailiate quickly and viciously. The mafia might cut off your horse's head.  The queen bee will make out with your boyfriend.

Territories

Each mafia family has their terriroty and as long as they stick to that territory no blood is shed.  The same is true for high school. Most years have their clique and they respect each other's sovereignty. Some cliques will even mix and parlay on school trips and private functions. In my school, everyone knew where each clique would sit in the lunch hall and no one dared to take their seats. If they did it was an act of war.

Police

If the cliques are gangsters then the teachers are police. You can only copy so many homeworks, bunk so many lessons, intimidate so many classmates before the teachers pay attention. Teachers can't be bribed but some will turn a blind eye. And there is normally one teacher who has the reputation of hanging out with the older students: the corrupt cop.

Omerta
The code of silence. Whether you are in the mafia or not, you must obey the code of silence. A rat, a grass, a snitch, whatever you want to call it, telling tales is the lowest of the low. Even if you’ve been accused of something you didn’t do, do not rat out the real perpetrator. On pain of death!

Death In mafia terms, death is death. In high school, humiliation is death. Think of the phrases we use to describe embarrassment: ‘mortifying’, ‘I could have died’, ‘I wished the earth would swallow me’.

Shooting someone seems a lot simpler than exposing someone’s secrets in a way that will harm them but won’t backfire on you. This is why I wonder if clique politics are even more nasty than mafia politics.

Do you remember the Queen Bee at your old school? Do you know what she’s up to now?

Here are my top five high school mafia stories:
  1. Cruel Intentions – a reworking of Les Liasons Dangereuses. The 18th century power play fits perfectly in the high school environment.
  2. Mean Girls – it’s funny, it’s brutal, it’s very, very realistic.
  3. Sweet Valley High – Jessica’s relationship with Lila Fowler was what I loved in that series. Are they best friends or worst enemies?
  4. Mallory Towers – it’s been a long time since I read them but I never forgot the mean tricks they used to play. Apple pie bed anyone?
  5. Heathers – this one is a little darker but probably the archetypal clique story. Must watch that film again.
Find out more about Lil Chase at: http://www.lilchase.com

Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/lilchasewriter

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Review: Boys For Beginners - Lil Chase


Boys For Beginners by Lil Chase, published by Quercus on 4th August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Thirteen-year-old Gwynnie is just about to turn fourteen. While other girls in her year are all about boys and make-up, the closest she's got to a boy is in a tackle on the football field. But when the totally hot Charlie Notts starts at school, Gwynnie decides now might be the time to start being a girl.

Gwynnie enlists the help of a gang of girls at school, headed by the super-confident Jenny. But is it really safe for Gwynnie to be let loose with lash curlers and strong eye-shadow? Has Jenny got a hidden agenda while giving Gwynnie her make-over? And will Charlie ever see her as more than a killer football player with skinny legs?

When everything comes to a head at the school prom, Gwynnie will learn some truths about herself and her new found girly friends. Has she risked the firm friendships she has with boys for that first kiss?

Review:
I love reading books by British authors and I always enjoy trying new debut novels so ‘Boys For Beginners’ ticked both boxes for me.  This was a book which made me laugh and smile and was a thoroughly fun and enjoyable read.

The main character Gwynnie is a tomboy who loves football and playing computer games.  She’s a die hard Spurs fan and her only interest in the opposite sex is if they're any good at sport.  All that changes when she meets new boy Charlie, who she develops an instant crush on. Suddenly, being seen in the right clothes and wearing the right makeup seem all important in her quest to impress him.

The main moral of the story is that we shouldn’t try to be something or someone we’re not.  The people that are worth having around us are the ones that accept us for who we are and not who they want us to be.  I think that's a very important message for anyone reading the book and particularly for young people today and it's conveyed in a deft and light-handed way.  I enjoyed all the ups and downs that Gwynnie has to go through throughout the course of the book before she really finds out the kind of person that she is and wants to be.

I really liked the way the relationship between Gwynnie and her single Dad.  Although they ultimately bond as father and daughter over their shared love of Spurs, he's also willing to share girly things with her too and is always ready to listen to her when she needs help or support.  It's not often that the father/daughter relationship is depicted in such a positive light and this was refreshing to see.

'Boys For Beginners' was an entertaining and engaging read.  I think it would probably appeal more to the slightly younger teen audience who are dealing with many of the things that happen to Gwynnie in the story.  For me, it was the perfect mix of humour and light-hearted laugh-out-loud moments, as well as a more serious message and was a book that I really enjoyed.     

Monday, 1 August 2011

Blog tour: We Can Be Heroes - Catherine Bruton


Today I'm welcoming Catherine Bruton to 'A Dream of Books' as part of her first ever blog tour for her debut novel 'We Can Be Heroes'.

Publication day!
O! M! Golly! Gosh! My book is out today. Actually, factually today! On real shelves, in real bookshops. Beautiful shiny  copies  of ‘We Can be Heroes’ with nice foily bits on the covers and the most fabulous manga cartoon artwork inside and lots and lots of words written by me. 

I’m on holiday, in deepest darkest Cornwall but I am going to drag the family off the beach and over to Truro  later so I can stare at the foil-covered beauteousness of it in Waterstones. I contemplated  camping outside last  night like they do when Harry Potter comes out, but decided it was too cold and I don’t do cold – or camping really.

So instead I’ve been training my kids to do a spot of improv’ ankle-biter publicity. Child no. 1 (aged six, code name Moozle) has been practising saying loudly,  ‘Mummy, isn’t that your book?’ and pointing  in wide-eyed wonder at the amazing techni-colour loveliness that is  my masterpiece on the shelves, whilst Child no 2 (aged eight, code named Pookin but if you call him that he’ll have to kill you) declares in his loudest (but cutest) voice,  ‘Yes,  and didn’t it get described as an ‘outstanding debut’ in ‘The Bookseller’? And didn’t that nice man, Alan Gibbons, say it was a ‘remarkable, important book’ in ‘Books for Keeps’?

Meanwhile long-suffering hubbie (who wishes to be code-named Golden Eagle for reasons unknown but probably related to James Bond/Alex Rider obsession)  hums  the tune to David Bowie’s ‘We Can be Heroes’ in a subliminal way so that shoppers find themselves magnetically drawn towards masterpiece on the shelves.  I’ve negotiated a Hello Kitty Pez and a packet of Pokemon Level X Inferno cards as bribes, which is a total bargain, I reckon.  Oh and  Golden Eagle can have a lie-in and a packet of M and S hankies! Sorted. 

Oh, and the book is buying them pressies. Did you know books could do that? You know like new baby brothers and sisters do, when they bring pressies from the womb for their elder siblings (how do they do that? are there shopping malls in there?). My baby brother bought me a copy of ‘My Naughty Little Sister’  when he was born. I was too young to be offended  at the time but I’m getting the hump in retrospect – and how did he source that, huh?  Amniotic Amazon? I tell you, it’s a fix and I’m onto it!

Anyway, ‘We Can be Heroes’ has robbed my kiddywinkles of any semblance of decent mothering for the last few months, so I figure it owes them big time. So the masterpiece is buying Moozle a pair of wheelie shoes -  because  they are the footwear of choice of my main character Priti whose mad-bonkers dress sense was inspired by the Moozle  herself (she once went out with a pair of tights on her head but not on her legs, ‘Because that would have looked weird, Mummy!’) Meanwhile,  Pookin (sorry, Joe -  baby names are so not cool when you are eight) is getting a proper artist’s sketch book for drawing his cartoons in cos he’s a bit of a manga fan, just like Ben my other main character who doodles his way through the book and whose cartoon actually appears in the back (and is my absolute favourite ever bit of the whole thing!).

Just had a horrible thought. Book has not bought gift for the Golden Eagle who  has been v supportive spouse and pedantic proof-reader (lawyers really are very pernickety, it turns out!) and is already less than delighted at being the inspiration for the main character’s dad who died in the 9/11  attacks ten years before the story starts. ‘How could you kill me off in print?’ he wailed when he found out. ‘Why couldn’t I be the hero and do a car chase and kill some baddies and stuff?’ I tried to explain that Ben spends most of the book trying to connect with the father he never knew – and that there are baddies, and bomb-plots and kidnapping and stuff and  they are all sort of a result of his character dying. But Golden Eagle is unconvinced and still sulking about  literary husbicide (is that the word for killing your husband? If not, what is? Please help). And choice of gift is proving a little tricky in light of his character’s untimely demise. Will have to go for garden vouchers and hope for the best!

So, publicity is covered, the book has nearly finished its publication day gift shopping, book gazing is scheduled and then what? I guess then I just have to sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting for people to read it and tell me what they think of it.....Which is the only bad thing about this whole publication day extravaganza! ..... People might actually read it!!!  I mean, this should be a good thing, right? But  when you’ve stolen bits of family legend (like the pooing in the bath incident – sorry Tricksy!)  and the odd clearly recognisable character trait (Nuffty, Jed may have borrowed your wardrobe and your passion for The Reds but you are way nicer than he is – honestly, promisedly!) Basically, I figure half my family  and friends might not be be talking to me after they’ve read it.

And then what if people don’t like it?  It could be like when you tell people what your new baby is called and you can tell right away  that they hate the name  cos they put on this expression of polite horror and then come out with loads of euphemisms, like, ‘Oh! What an unusual  choice!’  (believe me, I know, I plumped for an old lady name for my daughter – sorry, kid!). What if it’s like that?  What if everyone hates it. No, wait, the nice lady from Chicklish said ‘Bruton is brilliant’ and  that  lovely man from the Bookbag called it, ‘ An important book: brave, honest, funny and very tense...’ so if everyone else hates it and my family disown me, I figure they can be my new BFFs.

OK. I’ve got all my ducks in a row (I have ALWAYS wanted to say that cos my management consultant bro in law says it and I’ve never really known what it meant!)  the kids are drilled, the pressies are wrapped and the sparkling grape juice is on ice (can’t do real shampoo – might get too giddy and do cartwheels in Cornish Waterstones and nobody wants to see me doing gymnastics - not at my age)  So all that remains is for me to deliver my closing line.

So, when I’m standing in Waterstones later and  Moozle declares in finely drilled prose ‘Mummy, isn’t that your novel? The one  that was described  by the reviewers as a ‘big brave book’ and ‘a remarkable debut’?’  I shall simply blush modestly and declare with touching humility (and a nod to Andy McDowell in ‘Four Weddings’), ‘Is it? I hadn’t noticed!’

And then break out into Riverdance/break-dance routine up and down the aisle!

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