About Me

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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.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Cover Reveal: Messenger of Fear - Michael Grant

The day has finally arrived to reveal the cover of Michael Grant's new book 'Messenger of Fear'.  I'll hand over to Michael to let him do the honours!



I think the cover is fantastic and extremely striking!  I'm incredibly excited to get my hands on a copy as it sounds like it's going to be a brilliant read.  Let me know what you think of it and don't forget to check out #MessengerOfFear to see what Michael's other fans have to say. 

Electric Monkey very kindly gave me the opportunity to put a question to Michael and I asked:

If you could travel back in time to witness any historic event which would you choose and why?
"If I could go back in time to witness a single historical event it might be Trafalgar. I’m a big fan of Patrick O’Brian’s books and fascinated by the age of sail. I’d love to be standing on the HMS Victory with Nelson. Of course I’d be wearing cannonball-resistant armor. Also I’d probably be hiding behind a mast and whimpering in fear. But it would be an amazing thing to see and hear."

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Review: No Experience Required - Janet Quin-Harkin

No Experience Required by Janet Quin-Harkin, published by Ellingstar Media on 1st July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
It s 1989. Life's easy for Deborah Lesley: she's up-market, drives her own flash car to school, and looks pretty good too. She's never had a job, either; but now her parents have split up, and she needs the money. Joe Garbarini is cool. He likes motorbikes, girls, and fun. He doesn't have time for much he's running Heartbreak Café when he's not at school. The Heartbreak Café is a noisy hangout on the north Californian coast. Joe's worked there for years, and knows what it takes. He's sure Debbie won't last a month but Debbie's determined to put up with his wisecracks and prove him wrong.


Review:
Set in 1989, this series was originally published in the eighties.  Janet Quin-Harkin was a huge favourite of mine when I was a teenager and so I was thrilled at the news that the Heartbreak Café series was being republished for a whole new audience of readers.  I thought that the story might feel a little dated considering it's over twenty years old but it didn't at all.  It deals with so many universal themes which will resonate with teens today, such as trying to become independent and find your own way in life, juggling the demands of school and friends with a part-time job and facing the trauma of parental divorce, that it still feels as fresh and new as when it was first written.

'No Experience Required' centres around Debbie, whose parents have just split up.  Finding it hard to cope with a mother who has decided to go back to school, Debbie decides to get a part-time job.  When she stumbles across the Heartbreak Café her mind is made-up that this is where she's going to work, even though she has never flipped a burger in her entire life.  She begins to work alongside the gorgeous Joe and they develop a bit of a love/hate relationship.  But with sparks flying between them, could their wisecracks mean something more? 

I adored the Heartbreak Café gang.  There's cool Joe who all the girls are head over heels in love with, Ashley and her penchant for chocolate, plus geeky Howard and carefree Art.  They are such a great gang that I wanted to scoot over on a stool, with a dish of chocolate madness in front of me and join in with all their fun.

If you're looking for hot and sizzling then you won't find it here but what you do get is a sweet, clean teen series where the romance is innocent and you won't catch the characters using any expletives, not even when things get steamy in the kitchen.  It's such a refreshing change that I enjoyed kicking back and delighting in a wonderful slice of nostalgia.   

I can't wait for the rest of the series to be published.  Next up is 'The Main Attraction'.  Will Debbie and Joe ever become a couple?  You'll have to wait and see.           

Monday, 23 June 2014

News: Messenger of Fear - Michael Grant

Michael Grant fans will be excited by the news that his new book 'Messenger of Fear' will be published by Electric Monkey in September. It sounds incredible and should fill the hole left by the end of his bestselling Gone series.

"I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself. And then the games began. The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear."

If you are on tenterhooks waiting for publication day then you'll be pleased to hear that Electric Monkey are releasing the cover for Michael's new book on 30th June.  Start counting down the days now! 




Check out Electric Monkey's Tumblr to stay up-to-date with all the news about 'Messenger of Fear'.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Review: Blue - Lisa Glass

Blue by Lisa Glass, published by Quercus Children's Books in May 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Surfing is sixteen-year-old Iris’s world, and when the ultra-talented Zeke walks into her life, it soon becomes her passion.

Over one amazing summer, as she is drawn into his sphere, she experiences love, new friendships, but also loss, with an intensity she never dreamed of.

But is Zeke all he seems? What hides beneath his glamorous and mysterious past? When Iris decides to try for her own surfing success, just as her ex-boyfriend comes back into her life, she will test her talent, and her feelings for Zeke, to the limit.



Review:
'Blue' by UK author Lisa Glass sounded on paper like the perfect summer read with plenty of sun, sand and romance. I was looking forward to starting it but although there were some things I really liked about this book, there were other aspects which left me feeling a bit flat by the end of the story.

I loved the UK setting and the fact that I knew so many of the places mentioned in the book from Newquay and Exeter to the gorgeous Fistral Beach.  I could almost imagine walking along the beach and dipping my toes into the water.  Lisa Glass did an excellent job of capturing the beauty of the characters' surroundings and I felt completely transported as I was reading. 

I normally really enjoy books which feature sports in some kind of way but I have to admit that I've never been a big fan of water sports and I felt at times like there was just too much surfing lingo in the book.  This didn't particularly grab me and I felt took some of the focus away from the relationships between the characters.

I thought that Iris was an extremely likeable main character but I didn't fall for Zeke who is a surf champion who she meets at the beginning of the book.  Instead of being a full on romance between the two, the story is more about their love of the ocean and their passion for surfing.  The lure of the waves is something that neither of them can resist.  I missed the sparks and sizzle which I normally enjoy between the two protagonists but if you like your romance sweet and clean that this might well be for you. 

The ending was very exciting and the pace of the story stepped up a notch but it wasn't quite enough to get me to fall in love with 'Blue' like I had been expecting to.  I originally thought that this was a standalone but the sequel is due to be published by Quercus later in the year. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Exclusive excerpt: Come Back to Me - Mila Gray

One of my favourite authors, Sarah Alderson, is releasing her first New Adult novel under the pen name Mila Gray.  It sounds fantastic and the cover art alone would make me want to read this one.  It's being published in e-book format tomorrow and in paperback on 23rd October.      


Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend's sister, Jessa - the one girl he can't have.  But Kit's not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa's falling for his irresistible charms.

What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

When summer's over and it's time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa's finally following her dreams and Kit's discovered there's someone he'd sacrifice everything for.

Jessa's prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they're forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.


Read on for an exclusive (and very hot!) excerpt from 'Come Back to Me'. 


Sarah Alderson is also offering a giveaway and competition to celebrate the release.  You can win £50 of vouchers to a store of your choice, signed books and more (international entry).  Enter the giveaway here for your chance to get your hands on all these lovely goodies.
 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

News: Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins

I recently received some very exciting news about Stephanie Perkin's new book 'Isla and the Happily Ever After'.  I've been waiting for this one for the longest time, but now the wait is nearly over.  Usborne will be publishing the third book by Perkins in the UK and the US on Thursday 14th August 2014.  Yay!!  I'm dying to read Isla and Josh's story and I have high hopes that it will be just as good, if not better, then 'Anna and the French Kiss' and 'Lola and the Boy Next Door'. 


From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.


For those of you who can't wait until August, the first chapter of 'Isla and the Happily Ever After' is now available online. Read it here
And don't forget that you can pre-order your copy now.  I already have and am counting down the days until this one drops through my mailbox.   

Monday, 16 June 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski, published by Bloomsbury on 3rd July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Review:
I'd heard so much about this book and read so many positive reviews that I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.  When it arrived I'll admit that I spent a good long while just marvelling over the absolutely beautiful cover art before I even cracked it open.  It's so pretty and looks so nice on my bookshelves!

The story itself is a blend of fantasy and historical fiction.  The main character Kestral, is the daughter of a general.  At the beginning of the book she bids successfully on a slave for her father's household.  The winner's curse is the hugely inflated price that she pays for him.  Arin, the new slave, will change everything.  I really wasn't too sure about Kestral at the start.  She came across as quite snobby and superior but as her personality began to shine through, I liked her more and more and I began to understand her motives and reasons.

There is quite a lot in the first half of the book about the history of the country.  It focuses on the divide between the ruling Valorians and the suppressed Herrani, who they conquered and turned into slaves.  This is quite detailed and complex and I had to really concentrate to make sure that I understood everything but it added such a rich layer to the story and helped when trying to appreciate the different standpoints of many of the characters.   

Although I found the beginning of 'The Winner's Curse' a little slow at times, as the plot progressed I became more and more absorbed.  I thought the scenes between Kestral and Arin were wonderfully written and I enjoyed the push-pull nature of their relationship, as the dynamics gradually start to shift.  The ending left me on tenterhooks and desperate to know what would happen next. 

This is the first book in a trilogy which I will definitely be sticking with.  I'm eager for the story to continue and will be rushing out to get my hands on a copy when the sequel is published.   

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Review: The Dead Girls Detective Agency - Suzy Cox

The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox, published by Much-In-Little on 18th July 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Being told you're dead is one thing. But having to solve your own murder? It's a lot for a girl to take in. Solving the mystery behind your death can be murder.

Charlotte wakes up at Hotel Atessa, home to murdered New York teenagers and HQ of The Dead Girls Detective Agency. Before she has time to adjust to her new, erm, dead self, she's thrust into the arms of her new afterlife companions, Lorna, Nancy and the cute - if slightly hostile - dead boy, Eddison.

But where does this leave Charlotte and her boyfriend David? Is it possible to have a long-distance relationship from beyond the grave? The only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed her, or she'll have to spend eternity here. But who could hate her enough to want her dead?



Review:
This is the first book in a new series about a group of murdered teenagers solving their own deaths so that they can move onto the afterlife.  It's an interesting concept and one which appealed to the part of me that loves detective shows and books, as I'm always trying to puzzle out who did the crime.

The main character Charlotte, is the newest member of The Dead Girls Detective Agency.  After waking up to discover that she's dead and that life as she knew it is over, she and her new companions set about attempting to work out who wanted her out of the way enough to commit murder.  Charlotte and the other girls are an interesting bunch.  There's Lorna, the wonderfully geeky Nancy and the mysterious Eddison.  They are all dead but help Charlotte to unravel the clues which they gradually begin to uncover. 

I adored the New York setting of this book.  It's a place that I've always wanted to visit and there were some fantastic scenes set all around the Big Apple.  One of my favourites was when they were at the top of the Empire State Building. 

The concept for the story is not particularly original but I thought that it was carried out adeptly and with humour.  There are some great lighter moments of comedy in the story as Charlotte learns to adapt to her new existence, experiencing just a few hiccups along the way. 

I enjoyed following all the clues and trying to puzzle out who was involved but I have to say that you will be very surprised when Charlotte's killer is revealed.  I know I was.

The second book in the series 'Dead Girls Walking' is out now and centres around the character of Lorna.  Who knows what surprises lie in wait for her!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Review: Say Her Name - James Dawson

Say Her Name by James Dawson, published by Hot Key Books on 5th June 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of 'Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear... But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror... five days... but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before...



Review:
This is James Dawson's third book and his scariest one yet.  You'll be afraid to be home alone after reading this!

The story is set at a local girls' boarding school called Pipers Hall.  Bobbie, her best friend Naya and local boy Caine are all involved in a silly dare - to look in a mirror and say the name 'Bloody Mary' five times in a row.  They believe nothing will happen to them if they do, until one of their friends disappears and they realise that their own fates may hang in the balance. 

The book is divided into sections, each corresponding to one of the five days.  Bobbie is determined to get to the bottom of things and knows that she has to discover the truth but you're left in a perpetual state of doubt about whether she will be able to do it in time.  There's a clock ticking throughout the book and it keeps getting louder and louder. 

Super spooky and very scary, 'Say Her Name' is part horror and part ghost story.  James Dawson has really stamped his mark on this genre and is the master of making your knuckles turn white and your heart beat faster.  He draws the tension and shocks out wonderfully, as you're never quite sure whether something supernatural is really going on or whether there may well be a human hand behind it all. 

The climax of the book was frankly terrifying with the suspense cranked up to an all time high.  I love the way that even when you think everything is over, you are suddenly, at the very last moment, still left guessing.  Deliciously cruel but a brilliant twist all at the same time. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Review: The Forever Song - Julie Kagawa

The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa, published by Mira Ink on 2nd May 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions - her creator Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost - the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, her triumph will be short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

Review:
This is probably THE vampire series I've enjoyed the most in the last couple of years.  I love Julie Kagawa's writing and the characters she has created.  There is a real grittiness to the series and it has kept me engrossed throughout all three books in the trilogy, with some genuine shocks and surprises along the way.  I was so excited to start reading 'The Forever Song' which was absolutely absorbing.  I was relieved that I started it on a Saturday morning because it meant that I could curl up for a long, uninterrupted reading session.

The whole series has culminated in Allie's determination to kill Sarren and stop him once and for all.  She won't allow him to infect and kill the people of Eden - the last safe zone on earth, and she wants to make him pay for robbing her of the person she loved the most.  Without Zeke by her side she struggles to overcome the monster living within her but she has incredible strength and won't give in without a fight. 

Not only do I love the character of Allie but Jackal remains a big favourite of mine too.  He has really undergone an almost 360 degree personality change from the start of the series and has developed a new found compassion for others.  He is however still the sarcastic, wise-cracking Jackal that I've come to know and love.  He is very much an anti-hero and definitely gets all of the best lines!  Kanin is another brilliant character and always tried to show Allie and Jackal the right path, whilst giving them the freedom to make their own choices and mistakes.   

There are some massive surprises throughout the book and I felt like I was continually kept on my toes by Julie Kagawa's ingenious plotting.  She threw me for a loop on more than one occasion which was one of the key elements I enjoyed about the story.  This was such an exciting and well written conclusion to the Blood of Eden trilogy.  The final ending was absolutely perfect and the best way to finish what has been such a stellar series.      

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Review: White Trash Beautiful - Teresa Mummert

White Trash Beautiful by Teresa Mummert, published by Simon and Schuster on 16th July 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Cass Daniels isn’t waiting for her knight in shining armor. She knows that girls like her don’t get a happily ever after. Not if you live in a trailer with your mom, work at a greasy spoon diner, and get leered at by old men. Maybe that’s why she puts up with Jackson—her poor excuse for a boyfriend, who treats her like dirt. Cass has learned to accept her lot in life. That is, until he walks into her diner...

His name is Tucker White, and he’s different from any man Cass has ever known. Tall, tattooed, and bad-ass gorgeous, he’s the lead singer of the rock band Damaged. From the moment they meet, Tucker sees something in Cass he just can’t shake. Something beautiful. Something haunted. Something special. And he’s determined to find out what it is—if only he can get her to open up and let him in...


Review:
'White Trash Beautiful' is a gorgeous book which really tugged at my heartstrings.  I found it very moving and emotional and I got quite weepy in places.  It's best read with a big box of tissues beside you.

The story revolves around the main character Cass who is desperate to turn her life around.  She scrimps and saves but fears that with a drug addict boyfriend and a dependant mother, she will never be able to escape her dead end job in a small town diner and her trailer park home.  Things are bleak for Cass until Tucker waltzes into her life and brings with him hopes and dreams for the future that she had never dared imagine.  I really felt sorry for Cass.  She tries to keep things together and tries to do the right thing but her life is so awful and she feels a misplaced sense of gratitude towards her boyfriend Jackson which means that she doesn't kick him to the curb like I thought she should have.  It's Cass that keeps things afloat for the people in her life but she can't help but dream of something more. 

I loved Tucker and I was rooting for him and Cass from the start.  He truly is like a knight in shining armour to her and I appreciated the fact that he was defensive of her right from the start of their relationship.  Their romance is gradual but like a fairy tale to Cass and provides her with the escape from reality that she needs.  I wish she could have believed in herself a little more though as at times she seemed far too hard on herself and didn't think that she deserved any more than she already had.

This is my first Teresa Mummert book and I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. 'White Trash Beautiful' is a gritty, realistic romance which features characters who have to fight against the odds to be together but who you'll be desperate to see together.  I am so happy that this is only the first book in a trilogy about Cass and Tucker because I want to see much more of them and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that they get the happy ever after that they both deserve.      

Monday, 2 June 2014

Review: Out of Control - Sarah Alderson

Out of Control by Sarah Alderson, published by Simon and Schuster on 22nd May 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
When 17 year old Liva witnesses a brutal murder she’s taken into police custody for her own protection. But when the police station is attacked and bullets start flying it becomes clear that Liva is not just a witness, she’s a target.

Together with a car thief called Jay, Liva manages to escape the massacre but now the two of them are alone in New York, trying to outrun and outwit two killers who will stop at nothing to find them.

When you live on the edge, there’s a long way to fall.



Review:
Sarah Alderson is one of my favourite authors so it's a big event when she has a new book out!  Her stories are always varied and different and her writing remains top quality from start to finish.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on 'Out of Control' and when I did I devoured it in one sitting. 

The story is set in one of my favourite places, New York and features Liva and Jay as they go on the run and try to outwit and outrun the men who are chasing them.  With no idea why they are being hunted, they can't trust anyone as they flee police custody and try desperately to stay alive.  The big question is who wants them and why?      

The opening of the book has to be one of the best that I've ever read.  Sarah Alderson has said that it's based on one of her favourite movies Terminator and it certainly grabbed me and had me absolutely hooked and on the edge of my seat.  Explosive, action packed, tense and exciting, it set the scene for the rest of the story and laced everything with an element of real danger.  I also enjoyed trying to puzzle out why someone would want to capture a teenage girl and although I had a few theories, none of them were correct.  The big reveal when it came was therefore absolutely gripping and totally surprising. 

There is some romance in the book between Liva and Jay but this develops slowly, as they have little time for flirting.  There are some spine tingling scenes between them but for once I liked the fact that the romance took a backseat to the main plot and to the action driven scenes which dominated the book.  I don't think it would have worked if it had been the other way around. 

The ending of 'Out of Control' was awesome and so tense that I couldn't put it down.  This is Sarah Alderson at her very best and was a five star read which I will definitely be recommending. 
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