Monday, 28 February 2011

Review: Evermore (The Immortals #1) - Alyson Noel

I was lucky enough to be sent the complete set of books in The Immortals series by Alyson Noel to review.  So get set for an Alyson Noel week on the blog.  I'm going to be reviewing books 1 to 5 all this week, including 'Night Star' which is published on Friday 4th March. 

Evermore by Alyson Noel, published by Macmillan in 2009

Goodreads synopsis:
Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch.   Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste…

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition.  He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets.  Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head.  She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is.  Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

 'Evermore' is the first book in the series and is about sixteen year old Ever Bloom who is living with her Aunt after a terrible car crash that killed her parents and her younger sister Riley.  After surviving the crash which robbed her of her family, Ever discovers that she has the power to hear the thoughts of the people around her and see their auras.  She tries to block this out by hiding herself under hooded sweatshirts and having her ipod on at all times but she can't block out new guy Damen Auguste who she seems inexplicably drawn towards.  He's mysterious and enigmatic, dark and handsome and her feelings for him might just end up changing her life forever.

What an amazing start to the series - I'm really excited to see where Alyson Noel's going to go next with the story and how she's going to develop all the characters.  I liked Ever and I loved her sister Riley (who has her own spin-off series).  I enjoy it when books capture the sibling relationship so well and the scenes between the two of them were among some of my favourite moments in the book.  Having the ability to still see her sister is a gift for Ever but there's still a healthy dose of realism in that they still fight and bicker like any sisters do!  She also has great friends - Haven and Miles are interesting and rounded characters and their involvement in the story was well integrated and added some fun scenes to the book. 

Damen is an intriguing figure and although some information was revealed about his past, I'm looking forward to finding out more about his history and how he and Ever first originally met.  I was drawn to him and he certainly comes across as charismatic and charming but I'm hoping that there's also going to be more depth to his character.  He's got to be more than just a pretty face.    

I thought that Noel's idea of the afterlife and the place in between which she calls Summerland was well thought out and wonderfully written.  I hope that we'll get to find out more about the latter throughout the rest of the series.

I liked the fact that this wasn't your typical vampire-fare.  Certain things in the book hinted at that (a red drink; incredible speed; never getting ill) and led the reader in that direction but the big reveal was so much more interesting and has set things up perfectly for the next book in the series.  The paranormal romance genre is big at the moment and I am a huge fan of these kinds of books but sometimes they can be a bit too similar and formulaic.  I thought that 'Evermore' felt really fresh and original and had an exciting and engaging plot which kept me hooked until the final pages.  I'm desperate now to rejoin Ever, Damen and co and find out what's going to happen to them next.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

In My Mailbox #16

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

I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes. 

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

I got a couple of books to review:

Killing Honour by Bali Rai
(This is a manuscript copy of the book which sounds interesting although not normally the sort of thing I'd pick up)

Forgotten by Cat Patrick
(Loving the sound of this one and hoping to start it soon.  The copy I have is a proof with a plain red cover but the planned cover art for the final book is gorgeous)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
(Yay! Yay!)
I also got various swaps in the post this week:

(Still haven't read this series yet but at least I now have the whole set!)

(Can't wait to get started on this one as I've heard so much about it)

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Review: Agent 21 - Chris Ryan

Agent 21 by Chris Ryan, published by Random House Children's Books in 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Agent 21 is the first in a brand-new action-packed adventure series by the real-life SAS hero.When Zak Darke's parents die in an unexplained mass murder he's left alone in the world. That is until he's sought out by a mysterious man: ‘I work for a government agency,’ the man tells him. ‘You don’t need to know which one. Not yet. All you need to know is that we’ve had our eye on you. There’s a possibility you could help us in certain . . . operational situations.’Zak becomes Agent 21. What happened to the 20 agents before him he'll never know. What he does know is that his life is about to change for ever . .

I’m a big fan of the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz and the Young Bond books by Charlie Higson, so when I saw this in the library and read the blurb, I picked it up immediately because it sounded like a book in the same vein.  I’ve never read anything by Chris Ryan before but I know that he’s written mainly adult novels and has branched out into YA over recent years.  I started ‘Agent 21’ last night and read it in one evening.  It’s not a particularly long book but it was so thrilling that I couldn’t put it down. 

The formula is pretty similar to other books in this genre, however unlike some series which do start to get a little far-fetched (fast cars and multiple gadgets), the story was realistic enough to believe that it could actually happen.  Zac Darke is recruited by a shadowy government organisation after the death and suspected murder of his parents.  He’s trained to become a teenage spy and then sent on a mission to infiltrate and capture a notorious drug lord in Mexico.  Along the way he has to use all the skills he’s been taught and survive on his wits and guile alone to avoid detection. 

I loved this book!  It was fast-paced and exciting and a thrill-ride from start to finish.  The storyline is pretty simple but well executed.  Chris Ryan has plenty of experience in learning how to survive from his time in the SAS and therefore situations felt authentic and believable.  I really liked Zac who makes a likeable hero.  He’s intelligent and brave and clever and I enjoyed following his progression from normal teenager to fully-fledged spy.  He has to make difficult choices and learn when everything isn't as black and white as it might first appear to be.

There are plenty of books about boy spys on the market but this one really stood out for me.  It's full of action-packed adventure, thrills and spills and although obviously targeted at male readers would appeal to anyone looking for a great read. 

The ending sets things up nicely for the sequel, although I’m hoping that there are going to be plenty more Agent 21 books to come!  

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #18

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! 
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Published by MacMillan on 3rd June 2011

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

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

There are some fantastic books being published this year and 'Starcrossed' is one that I'm looking forward to immensely.  I love the fact that it draws upon Greek tragedy and the whole concept for the story sounds amazing.  The UK and US covers are both gorgeous and I can't wait to have this one gracing my bookshelves.   

Monday, 21 February 2011

Review: The Dead - Charlie Higson

The Dead by Charlie Higson, published by Puffin on 16th September 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
Jack and Ed are best friends, but their battle to stay alive tests their friendship to the limit as they go on the run with a mismatched group of other kids - nerds, fighters, misfits. And one adult. Greg, a butcher, who claims he's immune to the disease. They must work together if they want to make it in this terrifying new world.

Charlie Higson doesn’t hold anything back in this full-on gory fright-fest.  If you want to see a zombie story done well then you definitely need to check out ‘The Dead’.  I was a little disappointed that this book wasn’t a direct sequel to Higson’s earlier book ‘The Enemy’ which I read last year and thoroughly enjoyed.  Instead, the story takes place one year before the events depicted in the first book and features a different set of boys.  There is only a small amount of overlap between the two books with a few familiar faces appearing at the end but the premise of the story is the same.

The two main characters and best friends, Jack and Ed, are initially trapped in their school – fighting off attacks from their teachers.  In the world that Higson has created, everyone over the age of 14 has been struck down by a disease which turns them into zombies.  The only thing that will satisfy them is the taste of children’s flesh.  The boys soon realise that they must escape the school, so a small group of them set out for London in the hope of finding some kind of safety.  Along the way they have to fight off attacks from numerous groups of ravaged adults who are looking for their next meal.  I liked the relationship between Jack and Ed and the way in which they each have different strengths and weaknesses.  They both have to adapt throughout the book and grow in character.  They find themselves facing things which they never would have dreamt could happen. 

It’s also interesting seeing them trying to survive without adults making all the decisions for them.  With the circumstances they’re coping with, a wrong decision could have disastrous consequences. 

Throughout the boys’ journey, we learn more about the disease itself and what causes it.  I was hoping that there would be perhaps a little more explanation as the reader is still left in the dark about a lot of things but I believe Higson has more books in the series planned so obviously only wants to reveal a bit at a time.  It certainly helps to keep the suspense high! 

Some scenes in the book were actually pretty shocking and this series is definitely not for the faint of heart.  A couple of times I had to put the book down and come back to it later because I needed to have a chance to absorb what I’d just read.  Characters die and children get hurt and not everyone survives.  This isn’t the type of book which has a nice neat happy ending.  I really found myself rooting for them all and willing them to live and to fight.  I grew quite attached to one or two which meant that I got quite tearful in a few scenes which were very touching and beautifully written.

I’m not usually a big fan of horror but I am enjoying this series so far and looking forward to future instalments.  I’m intrigued how everything is going to be put right in the end – if it’s put right!        

Sunday, 20 February 2011

In My Mailbox #15

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.

Waterstones had a really good offer on Childrens and Teen books this week so I picked up a couple that I've been wanting to read for a while.  There are so many amazing books that have already been published this year! 

(The very lovely exclusive Waterstones edition with gold edging on all the pages)

(The girl's eyes on the cover look really freaky in this picture)

(I'm going to read this one for the British Books Challenge)

I also got some books from the library, although I shouldn't have really because I've got so many of my own to read first.

I also got some books to review this week.  A couple aren't pictured as my camera's battery ran out.

I also got Night Star by Alyson Noel which is the fifth book in the Immortals series and is published in the UK on 4th March.  Lastly, on Friday I received Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting which I'm so excited to start reading.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Review: In the Bag - Jim Carrington

In the Bag by Jim Carrington, published by Bloomsbury on 7th February 2011

Amazon synopsis:
Joe and Ash are best friends. Ash is the leader, Joe the one who follows. Then one night after a party, Joe and Ash come across a holdall, seemingly abandoned by the side of the road. They open it up ...and find GBP20,000 in cash. Of course they're going to hand it straight to the police. Aren't they? Or is all that money just too tempting? Whoever has lost it won't notice if a bit goes missing, will they? And that is precisely when the trouble starts ...

'In the Bag' is about two boys, Joe and Ash, who stumble across a bag filled with money and decide that they're going to keep it.  This sets in motion a sequence of events that cause them to think seriously about the consequences of their actions and the split-second decision they made.  The boys and the reader are left to consider what would have happened if they'd never taken the money in the first place or handed it into the police and come clean straight away about what they'd done.     

The story takes place over a period of a week and the chapters alternate between the viewpoints of Joe and Ash, depicting the feelings of euphoria and guilt that they both suffer.  Jim Carrington has managed to capture the language and emotions of the two teenagers - although a quick warning that there is quite a lot of strong language used.  He also shows them drinking and taking drugs, so there's a gritty and realistic feel to the story and the characters.  I felt like I was really seeing things through their eyes and sharing in their experiences. 

As the story progressed and the action sped up, it got very tense.  I wasn't sure how things were going to play out and although I suspected from the start that Joe and Ash weren't going to get away with keeping all the money without repercussion, I was still surprised at some of the twists and turns near the end of the book.  I would have liked the ending to have actually carried on beyond the rather abrupt finish though.  I felt like I wanted to know a bit more about what happened and how everything was explained. 

Although this is not normally the sort of book I would have picked up I still thought that it was very well written and the story was tense and exciting.  I think it would probably appeal particularly to male readers.  I'm definitely also going to check out Jim Carrington's first book 'Inside My Head' which I've read good reviews of.

Thanks to the publisher for sending this one for review. 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #17

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! 
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Published by Bloomsbury on 4th July 2011
Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose. Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?
Wow!  This book sounds amazing!  I really love Alyxandra Harvey's Drake Chronicles series and I was so excited when I heard she was writing a stand-alone novel.  The plot sounds intriguing and it looks like it's also going to have a great romantic pairing between Violet and Colin.  Plus, that cover is to die for!  I love the dress on the front and the colouring is gorgeous. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Review: Reckoning - Kate Cary

Reckoning by Kate Cary, published by Egmont on 7th February 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
This is the original vampire romance: go back to where the bloodlust began! Mary Seward thought she had escaped the darkness of Transylvania. But now, back in England, she has terrible nightmares, fears the darkness, and sees vampires everywhere. When a strange virus weakens her father, Mary suspects that there's a far more sinister force at work. Then Mary's worst nightmare comes true: Quincey Harker, heir to Dracula's bloodline, appears in England. He declares his eternal love for her and claims he has renounced his evil heritage. But is he telling the truth? Can his lust for blood be so easily forsaken? The first temptation is never the strongest...

'Reckoning' is the sequel to 'Bloodline' which I read last month (read my review).  It picks up from the events of the previous book and revisits the characters of Mary Seward and Quincey Harker - the latter who was supposed to be responsible for ensuring the Dracula bloodline did not die out.

I found the story utterly gripping.  I read it in one evening because once I'd picked it up I couldn't bring myself to put it down until I'd followed the story to its conclusion.  I would definitely recommend that you don't start this too late in the day in case you're up all night reading!

If you haven't read 'Bloodline' then I would suggest going out and getting a copy and reading it first.  'Reckoning' does begin with a short recap of events which helped to refresh my memory about previous occurrences and events but I think you do need to have read  the first book to fully understand and comprehend all the characters and their motivations.

The story is alternatively told through the eyes of Mary and Quincey.  This narrative device works well and helps to establish the true feelings and emotions of the characters.  It also provided different viewpoints of events which are key to the plot.  Quincey Harker is now supposedly a reformed character but the question is - can Mary really trust him!  I liked the fact that more of Quincey's back story was established, including how he became completely vampiric.  The only problem I had was that knowing everything about him, I'm not sure if I totally bought into his later transformation.  Can someone really change their outlook so radically? 

I guessed one of the twists in the story quite early on but I was also completely taken by surprise by one of the latter events of the book.  I didn't see it coming at all so that made it very exciting.  I love the way in which everything isn't always black and white/ good or bad and you really have to think carefully about the motives of the characters and whether they can be trusted. 

Overall the book was fast paced, gripping and a real page turner.  I liked the way in which Kate Cary turned the events of 'Bloodline' on their head and has constructed her own version of Dracula.  I'm guessing from the conclusion of the story that a third book is also planned as certain things were still left hanging.  I would also hope to see more of John at some point and find out what's happened to him since his life-changing experiences in Transylvania. 

Thanks to the publisher for sending this one for review

Monday, 14 February 2011

My Path as a Reader (aka I love books!)

As it's Valentine's Day today I thought I might do something a little different and talk about how I developed my love of reading.  I'm sure many of you will have similar stories to share!

When I talked to my Mum, she said that I was most definitely not a reader when I was very young!  She can remember trying to get me to sit down and read a book which I was not interested in doing at all.  I really can't imagine that now ;)  When I was a little bit older, I can clearly recall sitting with my Dad in the evenings and working my way through every book that Roald Dahl had ever written.  My Dad and I used to take it in turns to read a chapter each of Matilda which was one of my absolute favourite books.  I still have all of my very dog-eared copies today :) 

At school I had a particular teacher that really encouraged my love of reading.  He started a book club and we all brought in copies of books which we shared with other students in the class.  I think I was about 9 or 10 when he lent me a copy of 'The Hobbit'.  I absolutely adored the book and it opened up a whole new world for me.  Soon after, he lent me the books which make up 'The Lord of the Rings' which I was completely hooked on.  My parents bought me copies of the books for my birthday and it remains one of my all-time favourite novels.  I try to re-read it every couple of years and each time I do I seem to enjoy it even more than the time before.

From that point on I've been a voracious reader with a really wide taste in books.  I like nearly every genre (except for maybe horror as I scare easily) and I'm always very willing to try anything and everything.  I love getting recommendations for books and discovering new and exciting authors.  Because I read so much when I was younger, I can remember devouring all the books in my local library, which was only a small rural branch.  That meant that I started reading books which were probably above my age-range.  I was always allowed to read anything I wanted to and I've maintained the attitude today that people should be able to choose what they want to read without having their tastes censored in any way. 

I've been through various stages of becoming hooked on certain genres or particular authors and I literally can't go into the library without coming out with a stack of books about a foot high ;)  I read a lot of YA when I was a teenager and then I branched out to other books.  Over the last few years, although I'm most definitely not a teenager anymore, I've reverted back to my love of YA and starting this blog has fostered that love even more! 

I love everything about books :)  I love reading them, I love buying them and exploring second-hand bookshops to find interesting new titles, I love talking about them with friends and family and fellow bloggers, I love organising my bookshelves (which I have to do on a regular basis) and I love the sheer pleasure of curling up in bed with an amazing book and forgetting everything else around me.  I'm a complete bookaholic and I'm proud of it too!

What started your love of reading?  Do you have an early memory of yourself as a reader?  I'd love to hear your stories :)

Sunday, 13 February 2011

In My Mailbox #14

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

I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes. 

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

I received some exciting books to review in the post this week.  I spread them out for this picture and then realised that they nearly all have lovely pink colour covers which looks really pretty!
(This one looks like a really fun read.  I haven't heard of it before but I'm excited to start it soon)
(I've wanted to read this one for a while but I'm going to wait and read The Immortals series first as I know that this is a spin-off.  The cover is so pretty!)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

On My Wishlist #8

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.

I have added so many new books to my wishlist this week.  It's got completely out of control!

How much would you sacrifice for just one kiss ...

When smouldering Finn and sexy Lucas arrive in Winter Mill, life starts to get very complicated for Faye McCarron.  But two boys battling for her heart is just the start; events in town are sinister. There's a dead body in the woods, a motorcycle gang on the prowl, and the snow just won't stop falling.  Something evil is at work, and only Faye and best friend Liz can stop it. As the temperature drops and the nights draw int towards Hallowe'en, they must uncover the dark secrets at the heart of Winter Mill - before its too late.

I actually nearly bought this book last weekend but changed my mind at the last minute.  Since then I've read several reviews and have decided that I absolutely must have it.  It's published by Bantam and is out now.

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with a table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got here.  As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

Entangled has to have one of the most striking covers I've seen in recent months.  I love the fact that the girl's got such beautiful red hair.  This book seems to be getting rave reviews across the Internet and sounds fantastic.  It's published by Quercus and is out now. 

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

I don't really need to explain this one do I!  It's published by Scholastic on 12th July 2011.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Review: The Queen's Lady - Eve Edwards

The Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards, published by Puffin on 3rd February 2011 

Goodreads synopsis:
1584 – Surrey, England When Lady Jane Rievaulx begins service to the Queen at Richmond Palace, she is thrilled at the court’s newest arrival . . . Master James Lacey. Despite her previous courtship with his older brother, James is the man she truly loves. And for his part, he cannot deny his fascination with her. However, James is setting sail on a treacherous journey to the Americas, seeking absolution for what he sees as past sins. But when Lady Jane is forced into a terrible situation by her own family, there is only one man to save her. Will Master James return to his lady ­- before it’s too late?

Eve Edwards is a historical fiction lover's dream!  In 'The Queen's Lady' she combines rich sumptuous period detail with a spellbinding love story and lovingly crafted characters. 

The story focuses on Lady Jane Rievaulx, who is now a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth.  She was first introduced as a peripheral character in 'The Other Countess (read my review), but here gets to take centre stage.  She believes that she may at last have found some small comfort and security in the Queen's court, until she finds herself being coerced and blackmailed by her family into an unwanted marriage.  Her heart however lies elsewhere but she may not be free to follow her true desire.

Also reappearing from the first novel is the Lacey brothers - Will and James.  Will has now settled down and is happily married but his younger brother, James, is haunted by his recent experiences in the Low Countries.  To try and recover his spirits, he is about to set sail on a journey to the Americas but he leaves his heart behind with Jane who needs him more than ever.  I loved the relationship between these two characters.  They're both only eighteen years old but they've each experienced a lot in their short lifetimes and are living in a period when people were getting married and having children at a much younger age.  The scenes in the book that they share were definitely among my favourite passages.  They may get off on the wrong foot but when misunderstandings are put aside they fall madly in love and are perfect for each other!   

Set in 1583, attention is paid to recreating the sights, sounds and smells of Tudor England.  I felt transported back to an entirely different age.  The story illustrates the precarious situation which was faced by many women at the time who were not free to choose their own paths and had little independence or rights of their own.  Jane's friend Milly is seen trying to carve out her own business but this is shown to be a difficult endeavour at times for a single woman.  Milly also shares a close friendship with James's servant Diego and here the book sensitively handles the relationship between a white English woman and a dark-skinned foreigner.  Racial discrimination is rife and not everyone is accepting of the match.

Some familiar faces reappear from 'The Other Countess' such as Will and Ellie and it was good to pick up their story briefly again and see how things have turned out from them.  You don't necessarily need to have read the first book before this one but I would recommend you do for the sheer pleasure and enjoyment they provide.

Eve Edwards has turned me into a huge fan and you can bet I'm going to be picking her books up to re-read them at some point soon.  I thought that the first book was absolutely brilliant but I think she may have outdone herself with the sequel. 

'The Rogue's Princess', which is the next installment in the series, is due to be published in the UK in July 2011.  Here's a peak at the gorgeous cover from Eve Edwards website.  You'll definitely want this one on your bookshelf!

Thanks to the publisher for sending 'The Queen's Lady for review.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #16

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! 
Wood Angel by Erin Bow
Published by Chicken House on 7th March 2011

Plain Kate lives in a time afraid of magic.

She has a gift for carving ‘lucky’ wooden-charms. Known as Witch-Blade, her unusual gift attracts dangerous attention in a place where witches are burned. When her village falls on bad times, suspicion falls on Kate. Scared for her life, she seeks the help of a mysterious stranger.

In exchange for her shadow, the stranger will assist her, but Kate becomes part of a terrifying plan, darker than she ever dreamed.

This one's been on my horizon for a while and is Erin Bow's debut novel.  Not only does it sound fantastic but just look at that cover!  It's extremely covetable!  I've read some fantastic 5 star reviews for the book and luckily it's published in a few weeks so I'll be able to get my hands on it.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Review: If I Stay - Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman, published by Doubleday Childrens Books in April 2009

Goodreads synopsis:
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

This is one of the first books I heard about when I started my book blog.  Word of mouth dictated that it was an amazing read but I resisted reading it for a long time because I thought that the subject matter was going to be too painful.  I'm normally a big fan of the happy ending!  However, after finally caving and reading it, I discovered that yes, it's painful and moving and heartbreaking but it's also inspiring and uplifting and one of the most beautifully written books I think I've ever come across.

When I was reading it I kept having to put it down.  Not because I wasn't enjoying it or I'd lost interest but because the story moved me so much that I couldn't see the words for all the tears.  I literally had to stop, compose myself and then immediately start again because I desperately needed to know what the outcome of Mia's story was going to be.

'If I Stay' is about life and death and the choices we make along the way.  It's about the unexpected paths that our lives can end up taking and the experiences we have and struggles we face.  After being involved in a tragic car accident, Mia has to decide if life is still worth living and starts to reassess the people and things around her before she can make the most important choice of all. 

I found that this book was often difficult to read because it's brutally painful and emotional.  However, that's what life is like sometimes and Gayle Forman doesn't shy away from confronting difficult subjects throughout.  I loved the whole concept and idea for the story - it's brilliantly constructed and is an incredible read.  I took a deep breath when I'd finished and then got ready to pick it up and start all over again.

The eagerly anticipated sequel, 'Where She Went', is published in the UK by Doubleday on May 5th 2011.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Review: Love, Lies and Lizzie - Rosie Rushton

Love, Lies and Lizzie by Rosie Rushton, published by Piccadilly Press in 2009

Goodreads synopsis:
What would happen if Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was set in the twenty-first century? When Mrs Bennet inherits enough money to move to the kind of village she has always dreamed of, her daughters find themselves swept up in a glamourous life of partying and countryside pursuits. But Lizzie and her sisters soon discover that, beneath the very smart surface, lurks a web of intrigue and rivalries...

I haven't read anything by Rosie Rushton before but I picked this one up in the library because a) the cover is really pretty and b) it's described as a moder-spin on 'Pride and Prejudice' and as my other passion besides YA is 19th century literature, that definitely sounded like the sort of book I'd enjoy.  I'm pleased to say that I absolutely loved it and I'm going to make a point now of searching out some of Rosie Rushton's other books.  She's apparantly written several novels in the 'Jane Austen in the 21st Century' series so I'm excited to get my hands on the rest!  'Northanger Abbey', 'Sense and Sensibility', 'Emma' and my personal favourite 'Persuasion' have all been given the Rushton treatment. 

The story draws inspiration from 'Pride and Prejudice' but brings the literary classic up-to-date for a modern, teen audience.  One of the things I enjoyed the most about it was identifying all of the similarities and differences between the characters and who they're all supposed to be based on.  For example, Lizzie is now a young teenage girl who near the end of the book goes on a work placement to France to help out at a music therapy centre, unlike in the original where Elizabeth is on a touring holiday with her Aunt and Uncle.  Mrs Bennet is still a screeching social climber who wants the whole family to take their rightful place in the world among the upper echelons of society.  Jane is still the good, kind and considerate sister, while Lydia remains the livewire who becomes embroiled with George Wickham, the dastardly villain of the book.  They're all still looking for love but doing it the modern way now with emails, texts and phone calls.  No old-fashioned courting here then!

It's a credit to Rushton that she manages to make James Darcy as gorgeous, strong and silent and just as much a dark horse as the original Mr Darcy.  A difficult thing to do considering the latter is beloved by females around the world.  I was definitely rooting for him and Lizzie to hurry up and realise that they're perfect for each other.  I will also admit that I had a Darcy sized crush on him throughout and loved all the scenes building up to their romance. 

When a classic is as beloved as 'Pride and Prejudice' I imagine it must be a daunting task trying to do justice to it and yet craft something new at the same time, but Rushton's got it spot on!  Her take is fresh and modern and will appeal not only to Austen fans but also to those who like a good romance with a strong hero and heroine.  'Love, Lies and Lizzie' most definitely charmed me! 

Sunday, 6 February 2011

In My Mailbox #13

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

I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes. 

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

I received one book to review this week which I haven't heard of before but looks really interesting:

The Cabinet of Curiosities by Paul Dowswell

I also bought and swapped a couple of books:

Inside Out by Maria V Snyder
(I adore her adult novels so if this is even half as good I know I'm going to enjoy it!)

Jonas (Beautiful Dead#1) by Eden Maguire

Everlasting by Angie Frazier
(I swapped this one and I'm so excited to have a copy at last.  It looks fab and sounds wonderful)

I was lucky enough to win two books from I Want to Read That which arrived this week:

Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate

Lastly, I visited my local library yesterday to show support for the 'Save Libraries' campaign and picked up a couple of books while I was there:

(I can't wait for the Pretty Little Liars TV show to hit UK shores)

Saturday, 5 February 2011

On My Wishlist #7

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.

A few more of the amazing titles that I really must get my hands on!

Can Rachel Berry rock a beret? McKinley High goes international and invites a French glee club to town - ooh la la! In this hilarious culture-clash story, Kurt gets an entourage, Finn falls for a new girl, and Puck realizes that some suave moves are lost in translation.

In this second original novel, you'll get more mash-ups, more show-mance, and more Sue in a brand-new story officially approved by the creators of Glee. 

I loved the first Glee book and I can't wait for the follow-up.  It will be interesting to see all the Glee club members in a brand new story.  'Foreign Exchange' is published by Headline on 17th February 2011.

A gorgeously written fantasy about the friendship between a princess and her Pegasus.

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

I haven't read many books by Robin McKinley but those I have read, I've thoroughly enjoyed.  This one sounds really intriguing and quite unusual.  It's out in paperback in the UK on 7th July 2011 and is published by Puffin.

When Belle meets Luke, son of an alchemist and Scribe to the famous poet Chaucer, she is determined to travel with him to Canterbury on a pilgrimage. She hopes for a miracle: that her father will walk again. She also hopes to atone for her own part in his accident. It is a time of unrest across the country and the young King Richard II is just hanging on to his throne. A malign character on the pilgrimage suspects Chaucer of treason and slowly winds Belle into a political intrigue. At the same time, the impulsive Belle is drawn towards both Luke and to Walter, the wealthy son of a Knight. But Walter himself is in love with Luke...As the uprising against the King starts to draw pace and the web of intrigue around Belle and Chaucer tightens, Belle and her friends must risk everything to save their country and themselves...

K.M. Grant is one of my favourite YA historical fiction authors.  Her books are always beautifully written and combine amazing characters with fantastic plots.  This one sounds just like the sort of book I'd love.  It's published by Quercus on 3rd February 2011. 

Friday, 4 February 2011

Book Blogger Hop (4 - 7 February 2011)

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

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

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

The question this week for the book hop is:
 "What are you reading now and why are you reading it?"
I'm reading 'The Island' by Sarah Singleton at the moment and am really enjoying it.  I'd read reviews of it on various blogs beforehand which first brought it to my attention and I fancied trying something by this particular author.  The blurb described it as a 'murder in paradise' and I was in the mood for something fast-paced and exciting.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Review: Mortlock - Jon Mayhew

Mortlock by Jon Mayhew, published by Bloomsbury on 4th January 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
The sister is a knife-thrower in a magician's stage act, the brother an undertaker's assistant. Neither orphan knows of the other's existence. Until, that is, three terrible aunts descend on the girl's house and imprison her guardian, the Great Cardamom. His dying act is to pass the girl a note with clues to the secret he carries to his grave.

When 'Mortlock' arrived in the post I really wasn't quite sure what to expect.  The only thing I knew about it was that the book had been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2011.  You can view the rest of the shortlist here.  I didn't have any preconceived notions or judgements about it which makes it nice when you pick up a new book 

Josie is a knife-thrower in a circus, accompanying The Great Cardamom, who is more like an honorary uncle to her.  She's always believed that she was an only child until she discovers her orphan brother Alfie, who has been working as an undertaker's assistant.  The two children are thrown together in a search to discover the secret of their father and a strange flower called the Amarant which holds the ultimate power over life and death.

The start of the book had an intriguing introduction, depicting the title character Mortlock, along with his two companions Chrimes and Corvis, searching for the flower.  At this stage it's unclear exactly what's so special about the flower or why they want it but this sequence illustrates the different characters of the adventurers and sets up the events of the next part of the book.

From here on in, the book blends together fantasy and reality creating a real sense of mystery, adventure and excitement.  If you like your books with a generous dollop of gruesomeness then this is probably one for you.  There are some particularly gory scenes and some really creepy characters throughout.  Be warned that you probably won't want to read this one before bedtime but for those that do like a healthy amount of horror then this will definitely give you the frights.  I thought that 'Mortlock' was a thrilling read with an exciting and surprising conclusion.  It certainly kept me on my toes as I was reading it and was a real page-turner.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this for review.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #15

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 Heart Rising by Lee Monroe
Published by Hodder Children's Books on 2nd June 2011

Jane and Luca's story continues ...but not quite as they had planned. When challenges and threats from the immortal world of Nissilum rip the young lovers apart, Jane is bereft. Without Luca's dancing green eyes, and gentle smile, Jane feels lost, sad and alone. But then a trip to Paris with her grandmother thrusts her in the path of the amiable Soren - a kindred spirit who may be just the distraction she needs ...Meanwhile in Nissilum, Luca struggles with the loyalties and expectations that come with being a part of the immortal world. A world that is about to be shaken at its very core: rumblings of mounting unrest are spreading, and with rumours of an angel rebellion growing no creature is safe -- especially not a mortal girl who has fallen in love with a wolf boy...

I've just finished reading 'Dark Heart Forever' by Lee Monroe which I really enjoyed - review to follow soon.  I didn't realise when I picked it up that it wasn't a standalone novel but the ending set things up nicely for the sequel which I'm looking forward to.  The cover is very pretty too, although it reminds me a little bit of Lauren Kate's Fallen series. 

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

World Book Night Giver

A few months back I applied to be a giver on World Book Night.  I was thrilled to bits to get an email yesterday saying that my application had been successful.  I applied to giveaway 48 copies of 'Northern Lights' by Philip Pullman.

When Lyra's friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, (pronounced 'demon') Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies - and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her - something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights...

This is one of my favourite book series and one which if you haven't read yet then you need to add to your TBR list. 

You can find out more about the event here

World Book Night represents the most ambitious and far-reaching celebration of adult books and reading ever attempted in the UK and Ireland.

On Saturday, 5 March 2011, two days after World Book Day, with the full support of the Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association, the Independent Publishers Guild, the Reading Agency with libraries, World Book Day, the BBC and RTE, one million books will be given away by an army of passionate readers to members of the public across the UK and Ireland.
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