Monday, 29 November 2010

The Versatile Blogger award

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

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

So here I go:

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

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

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

4. I'm addicted to chocolate :)

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

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

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

I'm passing this award onto:

Friday, 26 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Review: Crusade - Linda Press Wulf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending this one for review

Review: Out For Blood - Alyxandra Harvey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this book for review

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

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

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

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

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

Review: The Demon's Covenant - Sarah Rees Brennan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 22 November 2010

Review: The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, published by Headline in 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
 Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him. 

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

This is an amazing debut by author Kimberly Derting.  I was so engrossed in the story that I literally could not put it down.  It's one of those books that compels you to keep turning the pages because you're so desperate to find out how the story's going to end.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through!  Reading 'The Body Finder' is like a white knuckle rollercoaster ride; you're enjoying it and everything's going smoothly, but you know that moment's going to come when you just have to hold on for dear life as you get swept away. 

The story is brilliantly original.  Violet is just a teenage girl like any other but there's one thing that distinguishes her from the rest - she can see and hear the echoes of death, both on the victim of a murder and the person's killer.  This ability is first introduced to the reader when Violet is 8 years old and discovers the bodies of dead animals which she sets about burying and putting at rest.  Her ability becomes vitally important when it's discovered that there's a serial killer on the loose in her close-knit home town.  Violet can't stand by and do nothing and becomes determined to find the killer even if it means putting her own life at risk.  What I thought was clever, is that this ability is portrayed as naturally as any of the other four senses of taste, touch, feel and smell.  Although it's not really explained how Violet became like this, it's accepted that this has always been a part of her and something she's grown up with.   

The narrative alternates between Violet - who is sensitive, caring and compassionate and the serial killer who is stalking his prey.  This juxtaposition serves to emphasise the horror of the situation and really gave me a creepy feeling.  My stomach was in my mouth most of the time!

What I loved about this book were the elements of mystery and suspense, which were all beautifully wrapped up with the romance between Violet and her bestfriend Jay.  He's one of the few people, besides her family, who knows her secret and because of this he's extremely protective and is always looking out for her.  Some of the scenes between the two of them are so incredibly sweet.  When I'd finished the book I went back and read some of them over again.  I wish I knew a Jay - Violet's a very lucky girl!  I enjoyed the way that Kimberly Derting made their relationship really real.  They get annoyed with each other sometimes, they bicker and they have petty squabbles, just like any other couple, but they're also incredibly attune to each other.

'The Body Finder' is fast-paced and driven and utterly nail-biting.  The climax builds and builds to the point that you're heart starts pounding and your mouth goes dry.  I'm so excited that Kimberly Derting's follow-up, 'Desires of the Dead', is going to be published by Headline in March 2011.  I'm not sure if I can wait that long but I'm also dying to see where the story's going to go next. 

Thanks to Headline for sending me this one to review.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

In My Mailbox #8

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

I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes. 

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

I only got a few books this week:

(Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this one for review - I can't wait to start it)



I picked up three from the library too:

(Which I've been literally dying to read for ages!)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

On My Wishlist #3

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

My 3 picks for this week are all YA historical fiction:

For Anastasia Romanov, life as the privileged daughter of Russia's last tsar is about to be torn apart by the bloodshed of revolution. Ousted from the imperial palace when the Bolsheviks seize control of the government, Anastasia and her family are exiled to Siberia. But even while the rebels debate the family's future with agonizing slowness and the threat to their lives grows more menacing, romance quietly blooms between Anastasia and Sasha, a sympathetic young guard she has known since childhood. But will the strength of their love be enough to save Anastasia from a violent death? Inspired by the mysteries that have long surrounded the last days of the Romanov family, Susanne Dunlap's new novel is a haunting vision of the life-and love story-of Russia's last princess.

I've heard good things about this book and as a fan of historical fiction it sounds exactly like my kind of story.  It's published by Bloomsbury and the hardback edition is out now.

Set in Talia, a parallel world very similar to 16th-century Italy, the narrative follows Lucien, who in our world is very ill. Given a marbled notebook to use as a diary, the notebook is the unexpected means that transports Lucien to this dangerous new world; a world that thrills to the delight of political intrigue and where a life can be snuffed out with a flash of a merlino blade. The city of Bellezza (Venice in our world) is astonishingly evoked, with a filmic eye to detail, from the sensuousness of silks and velvets, to the thrill and danger of assassination attempts both and foiled and successful. The world of Talia is unforgettably and convincingly real.

After having just read and enjoyed 'Troubadour' by Mary Hoffman, I definitely want to check out some of her other books.  This is actually the first book in the Stravaganza series and it sounds amazing - mystical and magical!  It's published by Bloomsbury and is out now.   

The greatest unsolved mystery of American history--what happened to all the colonists who landed on Roanoke Island in 1587? This novel traces the fortunes and misfortunes of one Cate Archer, banished to Virginia by a jealous Queen Elizabeth because of her dalliance with Sir Walter Ralegh. What will be her fate in this dangerous New World?

As a Shakespeare buff, I loved 'Ophelia' by Lisa M. Klein and since then I've had my eye on several of her other books.  This one has a gorgeous cover and sounds really intriguing.  It's published by Bloomsbury and out now.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow My Book Blog Friday (19 - 22 November)

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

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

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

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

The question this week for the book hop is:

"Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!"
Well, I live in the UK, so we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but I'm always grateful and thankful for my wonderful family, whom I couldn't do without!  

The question for Follow My Book Blog Friday is: 

"How long have you been book blogging?"

I started my book blog at the end of August, so nearly three months.  I'm having so much fun meeting other book bloggers and sharing my love of reading.  It's great to see so many like-minded people and I adore finding out about new authors and book titles.  My TBR list is getting longer by the minute!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Review: Troubadour - Mary Hoffman

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman, Published by Bloomsbury in 2009

Goodreads synopsis:
A story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in 13th century Southern France. As crusaders sweep through the country, destroying all those who do not follow their religion, Bertrand risks his life to warn others of the invasion. As a troubadour, Bertrand can travel without suspicion from castle to castle, passing word about the coming danger. In the meantime Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertrand, leaves her comfortable home and family and becomes a troubadour herself. Danger encircles them both, as the rising tide of bloodshed threatens the fabric of the society in which they live.

I love historical fiction and reading about real-life events.  'Troubadour' is set in Southern France during the thirteenth century when the Cathars or 'True Christians' were persecuted by the Pope and burnt alive as heretics all across France.  Thousands of people were killed during the period from 1209 to 1229 as the Pope promised their lands to any Northern Frenchmen who would fight in the crusade against them.

Mary Hoffman has used this as a backdrop for the book and has woven a story about a troubadour called Betran, who travels across France spreading a message of warning to other Cathars, alongside a young noblewoman called Elinor who falls in love with him.  Elinor escapes her family after the threat of an unwanted marriage and seeks shelter disguised as a boy, with a group of minstrels who entertain noble families.  I thought Elinor was a great central character.  She wasn't afraid to take a risk to get what she wanted and she wasn't prepared to submit to a life of misery.  She's headstrong and brave, rebellious and fiesty and her central struggle is the one that helps to form the basis for the story.

I thought that the blurb for the book was slightly misleading because I was led to believe that there was going to be more romance between Elinor and Betran (I do love a generous dose of romance!) but it didn't really develop that way.  I think Mary Hoffman's idea was that Elinor has a childhood crush on Betran, which she eventually grows out of until she's ready to find real and everlasting love.  Also, as much as I enjoyed the really rich historical detail throughout the book, I did particularly love the scenes between all the characters and I would have liked a little more focus on the relationships between them. 

There were a lot of historical terms and character names in the book but luckily there was a handy guide at the back which I consulted a couple of times to help me keep everything straight.

Rich in music, love and war, this was a really great read which has made me want to find out more about this particular period of history.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Review: The Forbidden Game - L.J. Smith

Goodreads synopsis:
To capture the love of Jenny Thorton, Julian--a visitor from a dark world--draws Jenny and her friends into forbidden games; the contest for a human soul. The prize is Jenny's freedom. The stakes are all of their lives. Jenny's friends are determined to help her win. But Julian is the master of the Game. Jenny's most desperate fight will be with him, this eerily handsome boy with electric blue eyes. He knows her deepest secrets, her darkest fears. He has almost infinite power. And the only thing he wants is for Jenny to surrender to him--body and soul.

'The Forbidden Game' by L.J. Smith is actually 3 books in 1.  This volume contains The Hunter, The Chase and The Kill.  This is another re-release as the trilogy was originally published in 1994 but it's now been repackaged by Simon Pulse and brought out for a new audience.  I think it's great that the popularity of the paranormal/supernatural genre has breathed new life into a lot of authors who you could say were ahead of their time.  I've certainly been interested in checking many of these authors out that I missed the first time around.  Now, I've mentioned before what a huge fan I am of L.J. Smith's series, The Vampire Diaries.  I am a massive fan of both the books and the TV series, so I've recently been trying out some of her other stories. 

I think my main problem is though that I enjoy the paranormal but I'm not such a big fan of those books which have quite a heavy horror slant.  And frankly, I found bits of 'The Forbidden Game' a bit too creepy for me!  Which is not to say that others wouldn't love it.  It's just not for me.  I prefer the horror to be slightly more subtle and not so in-your-face.  I don't want to hear every single little detail so I did find that I was skipping over pages at times. 

The trilogy started promisingly enough and I think that 'The Hunter' (book 1) actually did make quite a strong start.  It was certainly my favourite.  The story unravelled at a break-neck pace, it was suspenseful and exciting and I liked the idea of Jenny and her friends becoming embroiled in a game which they had to win to save their lives.  Each of the characters was interesting and unique and I thought the idea of them having to overcome their own personal nightmares made great reading.  Unfortunately, by book 2, 'The Chase, I started to lose interest.  I found that it all became a bit too strung-out, the story got repetitive and I really just wanted to get to the end to see how it was all going to be concluded. 

At over 700 pages long it was a challenge to finish a book that I knew I wasn't going to end up loving but even though I had problems with it, I'm glad I stuck with it until the end.  I liked the way L.J. Smith wrapped it up and I would have been disappointed if I hadn't of ever found out if Jenny and her friends survived or not. 

I think that this would probably appeal to readers who like a healthy dose of horror and are looking for something a bit different than your normal vampire story.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow My Book Blog Friday (11-15 November)

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

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

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

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

The question this week for the book hop is from Christina who blogs at The Paperback Princesses:

"If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"
Most of the time I do like to read books in series order, I think it helps to understand the story and characters better.  Plus you never miss out on any important events or things you're supposed to know.  However, I do on occasion, read series out of order - usually when I've picked one of them up in the library and haven't been able to get hold of the other parts.   

The question for Follow My Book Blog Friday is: 

What is your usual monthly book budget?

I don't have a specific book budget set aside for each month.  I have zero willpower when it comes to books so if I see one I particularly want then I usually cave-in and buy it!  I'd go without food for books :) 

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Review: The Night of the Solstice - L.J. Smith

Goodreads synopsis:
In another age, the pathways connecting Earth to the Wildworld were sealed, forever separating humans from the shimmering parallel universe where legends still live. A great sorceress, Morgana Shee, guards the solitary gate between the worlds. She alone holds the secret of Fell Andred, her mansion built directly on the Great Coastal Passage, whose mirrors are the last doorways to enchantment.

Morgana’s familiar, a magical fox, embarks on a rescue mission, seeking out four special children to help save her mistress. Armed only with courage and determination, the four siblings – Claudia, Alys, Charles and Janie – must find their way through the last surviving paasageway to the Wildworld. But the crossing is only open for a single night during the Winter Solstice and time is running out…

I liked this book but I didn't love it.  I came across it in the library a few weeks ago and as a big fan of L.J. Smith's Vampire Diaries series I thought it was about time I branched out and read some of her other books.  She seems to have a huge back-catalogue.  This is a re-release as it was originally published in 1987.  Even though this title is over twenty years old, it seems to have aged very well.  I do think that it would probably be more suited to a slightly younger teen audience though.

The story is very narnia-esque, cue four children who enter another world when they are tasked with rescuing a sorceress who is the only one capable of closing the pathways to the Wildworld before evil can be brought upon the earth.  The four children are pretty ordinary and unassuming but show their mettle and bravery when it is needed most.  They each have individual qualities that come into play throughout the story and work well together as a team.  I loved Alys, the oldest sister and Claudia the youngest.  I thought that Janie was a bit full of herself at times and the character of Charles could have been developed slightly more.  But I liked the fact that they stuck together and worked as a unit. 

I loved the air of mystery surrounding the story and all the little challenges they had to go through and overcome before they could rescue Morgana.  I also liked some of the characters that they met along the way, including the serpent (loved him!) and the vixen, although it would have been good if the latter had been more involved.  The vixen didn't appear much except at the beginning and end of the book. 

I think it only fell down for me because I adore the Vampire Diaries series and so I had quite high expectations for this which weren't quite met.  Saying that, this was still an enjoyable read and I shall be checking out the sequel called 'Heart of Valour' which is being re-published by Simon and Schuster in January 2011.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday #9

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! 
I LOVE Meg Cabot!  She's one of my absolute favourite authors.  I have nearly all of her books and I'm always on tenterhooks waiting for her new releases. There's nothing better than settling down with a new Meg Cabot book in peace and quiet and not moving until you've finished :)
Abandon by Meg Cabot 
Published April 26th 2011
Scholastic Inc

She knows what it's like to die. Now Death wants her back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce knows what happens to us when we die.

That's how she met John Hayden, the mysterious stranger who's made returning to normal life—or at least life as Pierce knew it before the accident—next to impossible.

Though she thought she escaped him—starting a new school in a whole new place—it turns out she was wrong. He finds her.

What does John want from her? Pierce thinks she knows... just like she knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly Heaven. But she can't stay away from him, either, especially since he's always there when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she might find herself back in the place she fears the most.

Wow!  This sounds like it's going to be another amazing book from one of the best YA authors out there!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Review: Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready

Goodreads synopsis:
Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone. Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding--and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.

Wow!  I had to stay up late into the night to finish this stunning book.  It totally blew me away and I loved every second of it.  It was absolutely phenomenal with such an amazing and unique concept.  It's unlike anything else I've read lately and it really stands out from the rest of the paranormal/supernatural YA genre.  I literally tore through it and had to keep on turning the pages because I found it impossible to put down.  Everything else got forgotten while I was reading this!

The story focuses on Aura - a post-shifter who is able, along with everyone else born after the Shift, to see ghosts.  Part of the mystery surrounds this ability and why it came about but although Jeri Smith-Ready reveals a little about this, you're left hanging on for more until book 2 (yes, this is a trilogy and I can't wait to read the rest now!).  When Aura's boyfriend Logan dies, her ability to see the dead becomes a gift, because it means that not even death can part the two.  But just as Aura is adapting to this change in their relationship, she finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle with first love Logan and new hot Scottish boy Zachary.  For the record I'm Team Logan all the way!

Aura's feelings for the two boys are tangled and complex and her emotions are evoked beautifully as she;s caught between the living and the dead.  Some of the scenes were so emotional that they really and truly moved me.  And yes, I shed a tear of two!

The plot unravels gradually with tantalising bits of information dropped in to keep the reader hanging on in suspense.  The ending was one of those nerve-grinding and nail-biting cliffhangers that make you wonder how you're ever going to wait to discover what happens next.  I certainly couldn't sleep after finishing this because I was trying to work out what surprises Jeri Smith-Ready was going to throw at me next.

'Shade' was an absolutely breathtakingly phenomenal read that I'm going to be recommending to everyone.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

In My Mailbox #7

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for holding this meme every week.
I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes.  I always end up with a huge number of books to add to my wishlist.
          All links go to Goodreads, where you can add them to your list if you like the look of any of them.

I received some books for review this week from the amazing publishers Bloomsbury and Headline:

 Captivate by Carrie Jones

Entice by Carrie Jones
(so unbelievably excited about getting this one because I adore Carrie Jones and I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to wait until January for the release.  I'm going to have to devour this in one sitting!)

My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey

Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting 

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Aprilynne Pike - Illusions cover revealed

Aprilynne Pike's third book in the Wings series, 'Illusions' will be published by HarperTeen on May 8th 2011.  I absolutely adored the first two and I cannot wait for this one!  The cover has just been revealed and it's amazingly gorgeous. 

If you haven't read this series yet and you're a fan of faeries and all things magical then you should definitely check them out.  There's more news and a synopsis on Aprilynne's website:

Only another 178 days to go!!

On My Wishlist #2

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

My 3 picks for this week are:

At the start of Awakened, the pulse-pounding eighth installment of the bestselling House of Night series, Zoey has returned, mostly whole, from the Otherworld to her rightful place as High Priestess at the House of Night. Her friends are just glad to have her back, but after losing her human consort, Heath, will Zoey - or her relationship with her super-hot Warrior, Stark - ever be the same? Stevie Rae is drawn even closer to Rephaim, the Raven Mocker with whom she shares a mysterious and powerful Imprint, but he is a dangerous secret that isolates her from her school, her red fledglings, and even her best friends. When the dark threat of Neferet - who is coming closer and closer to achieving her twisted goal of immortality - and Kalona returns, what will it take to keep the House of Night from being lost forever, and what will one desperate girl do to keep her heart from being irreparably broken?

I'm still catching up with the House of Night series but that doesn't stop me from wanting this book desperately!  It's published by ATOM on January 4th 2011.

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?

I've just read 'The Liberation of Alice Love' by Abby McDonald which I loved and now I want to check out some of her YA books.  I'm loving the title of this and the synopsis sounds great too.  It's published by Candlewick Press and out now.

Alessandra is desperate to escape—from her stepmother, who’s locked her away for a year; from the cloister that awaits her if she refuses the marriage plans that have been made for her; from the expectations that limit her and every other girl in fourteenth-century Italy. There’s no tolerance in her village for her keen intelligence and her unconventional ideas.

In defiant pursuit of her dreams, Alessandra undertakes an audacious quest, her bravery equaled only by the dangers she faces. Disguised and alone in a city of spies and scholars, Alessandra will find a love she could not foresee—and an enduring fame.

I really like books which have headstrong heroines and this sounds exactly like my sort of story.  I also enjoy trying new authors as I haven't read anything by Barbara Quick before.  It's published by HarperTeen and out now.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Review: The Other Countess - Eve Edwards

Goodreads synopsis:
It's 1582 and eighteen-year-old Will Lacey's family is in trouble. After years of wasteful spending, his late father has run Lacey Hall to near ruin. Tasked with marrying his family back into fortune, the new Earl of Dorset is all set for a season at court to woo not just the Queen but potential brides with his jousting skills. But when Ellie – a strong-willed girl with nothing to her name but a worthless Spanish title – catches Will's eye, he faces a bigger battle than he could ever have anticipated.

I'm a bit of a history buff so one of the genres I love reading is historical fiction.  I like being able to forget my surroundings and be transported back in time to a different era.  One of the things I loved about 'The Other Countess' was the rich descriptions and historical detail that Eve Edwards has skillfully intertwined around the story.  The setting is 1578 and we're treated to appearances by notable historical figures such as Queen Elizabeth, Walter Ralegh and Robert Cecil.  A great deal of time has obviously been spent on researching the tudor period which really shows in the detail and accuracy.  The whole period is evoked in the language, story and characters and I was absorbed completely.

Along with the real life figures are fictional creations, William Lacey Earl of Dorset and Lady Eleanor Rodriguez of San Jaime, known as Ellie.  The scenes between these two characters are what really made the book for me, particularly the way their relationship evolves in the latter-half.  I love all the sweet endearments he has for her - darling and love, and the way he's often there to give her support when she needs it the most.  I adored them!!  Some of the moments they shared made my heart start to pound!!

Although the story started off a little bit slowly, it soon picked up the pace and from then on I was utterly engrossed.  If you love historical fiction with a big dollop of romance then this is the book for you.

Eve Edwards next book, 'The Queen's Lady' is out in Spring 2011 and focuses on the Lacey Brothers.  Here's a peak at the lovely cover:

Book Blogger Hop and Follow My Book Blog Friday (5 - 8 November)

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

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

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

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

The question this week for the book hop is:-
"What are your feelings on losing followers? Have you ever stopped following a blog?"
It's disappointing to lose followers but I always feel that everyone is entitled to follow whichever blogs they choose and maybe mine just isn't their cup of tea!  I don't think I've ever stopped following a blog but if there was one that hadn't been updated in months then I might remove it from my list. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday #8

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! 

The cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous, plus the story itself sounds awesome!  I've read some early reviews from people lucky enough to get their hands on an ARC and I have to say that my anticipation for this one is now even greater.
Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting 
Published March 15th 2011

The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.

When Violet Ambrose's morbid ability to sense the echoes of those who've been murdered leads her to the body of a young boy, she draws the attention of the FBI. She is reluctantly pulled into an investigation that will endanger more than just her secret...but her relationship and possibly her life as well.

(A Body Finder Novel #2)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Review: A Kiss in Time - Alex Flinn

Goodreads synopsis:
Talia fell under a spell . . . . Jack broke the curse.
I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . .
I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.
I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger's soft kiss.
I couldn't help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn't know this would happen.
Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!
Now I'm stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak!

I'm posting both book covers because they're just so different.  The hardcover one is on the right and the paperback one on the left.  Which do you prefer?  I think I like the harcover because it's so much prettier and appealing. 

'A Kiss in Time' is a modern, original-take on the classic fairytale of Sleeping Beauty.  I love books like this and the way that they weave something entirely new from a traditional story which is etched in so many peoples' minds.  Alex Flinn's interpretation of the tale brings it up-to-date in such a clever and inventive way.  I wish I'd thought of it!  The book starts off three hundred years ago, where Princess Talia is preparing for her sixteenth birthday, whilst continually being watched to ensure that she doesn't go anywhere near anything resembling a spindle.  When the inevtiable happens and she falls into a deep sleep, the story skips forward to the present day, where instead of a handsome prince, she's awoken with a kiss by hot guy Jack. 

I really enjoyed the way in which the narrative alternated each chapter between Talia and Jack, so we got their own perspectives and views on the events that were happening.  Talia has to learn to cope in modern day America (which is hilarious!), while Jack unexpectedly finds himself with a princess in tow.  Although Talia starts off a little bit unlikeable (she's a spoilt princess after all), I found myself rooting for her in the end.  It's a testament to Alex Flinn that I never knew how the story was going to end.  After all, in 'Sleeping Beauty', the tale ends with a kiss but here it's only just beginning. 

This was a sweet, funny book that I loved reading.  I can't wait to get stuck into 'Cloaked' and 'Beastly' next.  Flinn seems to have the perfect formula for the fairytale genre with a 21st century spin.

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