Thursday 30 June 2011

Upcoming blog tour: David - Mary Hoffman

Mary Hoffman's forthcoming book 'David' is an epic historical tale set in the city of Florence.  It features culture, romance, political intrigue and uncovers the story behind the famous statue. 

I'm going to be taking part in the blog tour for the book and will be welcoming Mary to the blog on 28th July to talk about her favourite places to visit in Italy.  I can't wait!  Click on the banner below to see all the other stops on the tour which runs from 4th July until 4th August.

I'll also be reviewing 'David' next week so be sure to stop back to see what I thought of it!

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #31

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! 
Eternal (Immortal #3) by Gillian Shields
Published by HarperCollins on 2nd August 2011

This third book about the Mystic Sisterhood at Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies is another romantic thriller with paranormal elements and deep mystery. This time our heroine is Sarah Fitzalan, the dependable, faithful friend to Evie and Helen, her sisters in the Mystic Way. But this term Sarah finds that their friendship is tested to the limits. Evie is turning her back on the Mystic Way after the sisterhood laid her beloved Sebastian’s soul to rest; Helen is distracted; and a new girl, wild child Velvet Romaine, seems set on stirring up more trouble at Wyldcliffe. Sarah struggles to keep the sisterhood together as the threat of attack from the dark coven looms.

All Sarah has to keep her going is her connection with her earth powers and a promise she cannot break. Must she sacrifice herself for the sake of her friends and sisters? Will her sisters join her, or will help come from unexpected sources, like her Romany ancestors, and a love she’d only just dared hope for?

This series got off to a bit off a slow start for me but as I get to know more about the characters and the story, I'm enjoying it more and more.  This is the third book in the series and sounds awesome so I'll definitely be checking it out.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Review: Ultraviolet - R.J. Anderson

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson, published by Orchard Books on 2nd June 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison's condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can't explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori -- the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that's impossible. Right?

Perplexing and mind-twisting, 'Ultraviolet' is a book unlike any other.  Just when you think you have a firm grasp on what's happening, R.J. Anderson throws an almight curve ball at you and you suddenly have to start all over again.

This review is going to be deliberately vague and cryptic because the book itself is cryptic and some things are very much left up to your own perception of events.  It's also the kind of book that you want to pick-up and read, being totally unspoiled about the plot, so that you can form your own conclusions and opinions about the story and characters.

The book is set in a mental hospital where 16 year old Alison has been admitted by her mother after suffering what is thought to be a mental breakdown following the mysterious disappearance of another girl at her school.  Alison is suspected of being involved in this and has to deal with the fact that she may very well have even killed her.  But that's up to you to decide.  The story is presented to the reader and then it's left up to you to determine whether or not what you're reading is fact or fiction. 

I was continually changing my mind about Alison and how I felt about her but I thought she was an incredibly interesting and intriguing character.  She has some fascinating characteristics which are revealed as the story goes on and this added another layer of interest to the book.  Although living in a mental hospital, she seems amazingly sane a lot of the time and I felt an enormous amount of empathy for her as she struggles to convince the people around her, her doctor and her family that she's not mad.  I enjoyed reading about her relationship with Faraday, who is the only one who seems to understand Alison.  Their friendship starts off tentatively and is carried out very much by the book but as they get to know one another the rules don't seem to mean so much anymore. 

The story itself is divided into three parts and starts slowly but soon gathers pace as more and more is revealed about Alison and how she ended up in the hospital.  The third part of the story left me utterly shocked and turned everything on its head.  It opened up a whole new angle to the book and literally had me gasping with astonishment.  Now that, is the sign of a good book!  I actually stayed up really late to finish reading it because there was no way I could sleep with so many questions left unanswered.  Even after I'd finished it though, I was still puzzling over it and thinking things through. 

'Ultraviolet' is an intelligent and amazing read.  If you've never read anything by R.J. Anderson before then this is definitely the book to start with.  I thought it was utterly fantastic and will be picking it back up for a re-read at some point soon.  I've also read that R.J. Anderson may write a companion novel to 'Ultraviolet' which is something I for one would love to see!

Monday 27 June 2011

Richelle Mead - Bloodlines cover revealed

The first book in Richelle Mead's new series, 'Bloodlines' is being published by Razorbill UK on 25th August 2011.  I absolutely love the Vampire Academy books so I'm really excited to get my hands on her new offering.  Here's a sneak peek at the UK cover!  I have to be honest and say that it's very pretty but I'm not sure it speaks vampire to me.  I tend to prefer covers which have people pictured rather than an image.  I do like the white background though as I think the image looks more striking against a plain colour.

Sydney protects vampire secrets - and human lives. As an alchemist, she is part of a secret group who dabbles in magic and serves to bridge the world of humans and vampires.

But when Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, she fear's she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. What unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and goes into hiding. Now Sydney must act as Jill's protector. 

The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathising with vampires.  And now she has to live with one...

Sunday 26 June 2011

In My Mailbox #30

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 three books for review this week:

Pegasus by Robin McKinley
(This one sounds like pure fantasy!  I loved Robin McKinley's 'Beauty' and 'Spindle's End' so was really excited to get offered this one for review)

Dark Touch: Betrayal by Amy Meredith
(This series is like an addiction so will be starting this one very soon)

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
(I enjoyed 'The Splendour Falls' so I'm hoping this will be just as good)

Friday 24 June 2011

Review: What Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen, published by Puffin on 2nd June 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?

I have a confession to make.  I've never actually read anything by Sarah Dessen before.  I have several of her books on my shelves and I've read wonderful reviews of many of them but I've just never gotten around to picking one up and reading it...until now.  I'm immediately lamenting the fact that I waited so long to discover what I have a feeling may turn out to be my new favourite author!

There are many things which I've heard are characteristic of a Sarah Dessen novel.  For starters, a realistic and relatable storyline.  Check.  Like the main character Mclean, I've often thought how perfect it would be to be able to shed one personality and create a whole new identity, enabling you to become anyone you want to be.  However, as she soon begins to learn, we are who we are and our mistakes and experiences help to form us.  It's impossible to try to be someone you're not and actually who you are may not be so bad after all.  They're also described as having incredibly well written and quirky characters.  Check.  From Mclean, to new friend Deb, to boy-next-door Dave and Mclean's food obsessive father, there were so many fantastic characters to read about.  I absolutely adored Deb who has so many hidden layers and really just needs someone to extend a hand of friendship to her.  As she gradually opens up more about herself, the real Deb gets a chance to shine.  The only thing I would have liked to have read more about, is Deb's family and her past.  I felt this could have been explored in a little more depth.  Lastly, I've heard that Dessen's books are ones that will tug at your heartstrings.  Check.  I have to admit that I did get rather teary at one point. 

Basically, they have it all, which is why Sarah Dessen is such an incredibly popular author. 

Dessen's tenth novel centres on Mclean Sweet, who lives with her father after her parents' divorce.  Her father's job means that they're continually moving around and uprooting and each time they do Mclean adopts a new identity.  She's been Beth, Eliza and Lizbeth but when she arrives in Lakeview, something tells her that it may finally be time just to try being herself.  As Mclean begins to learn about who she really is and where she belongs, she also has to confront the damage done to her by her parents' divorce and contemplate putting down roots in a town where she soon has many friends and even the possibility of a romance with next-door-neighbour Dave.

Dessen writes realistic teen fiction to a tee.  I loved the fact that everything about this book felt real and relatable.  I particularly liked the way Mclean's relationship with her father was depicted, as I haven't read many books which focus on the father-daughter bond.  Mclean has stuck by her father's side to the detriment of her relationship with her mother which has gradually fallen apart, but I enjoyed seeing the way in which she eventually does start to mend things with her mother and tear down many of the obstacles which have come between the two of them.

I also liked the fact that the friendship between Mclean and Dave was not your stereotypical teen romance.  Dave's quite an unusual character but he is one of the few people who sees Mclean for who she really is and is instrumental in her overcoming many of the issues which she's dealing with.

If like me you've never read a Sarah Dessen novel before then I implore you not to wait a minute longer.  Go and pick one up now!  You won't regret it!  And if you're already a fan of this wonderful author, then rest assured that she won't let you down.  'What Happened to Goodbye' is sure to become another firm favourite and share a spot in your Dessen collection.

Thursday 23 June 2011

Karen Mahoney news - forthcoming titles

I have some exciting news today about the fabulous YA author Karen Mahoney, author of 'The Iron Witch'.

Random House Children's Books has just signed a three book deal with Karen, which is good news for all of us fans!  I know I'm going to be checking all of these out.  Here's all the info from the official press release.

Fiction Publisher Annie Eaton and Fiction Editor Jessica Clarke secured a deal for World English Language rights for two titles in a brand new series called Beautiful Ghosts, on behalf of Miriam Kriss at Irene Goodman, the first book of which will be published by Random House in 2012. A separate deal was made with Heather Baror of Baror International for The Stone Demon, the third and final book in The Iron Witch trilogy which will be published in 2013.

Annie Eaton, Fiction Publisher comments ‘Karen Mahoney is a natural storyteller with a wonderful imagination. Her debut novel, THE IRON WITCH, was published to rave reviews, and there is an eager audience out there wanting more!’

Jessica Clarke, Karen Mahoney’s Editor adds ‘Karen is a dream author, with an incredible passion for YA fiction and a huge online following on both sides of the Atlantic. Her blend of strong female protagonists and punchy paranormal drama is breathing new life into this genre, and we are very proud to have her on the RHCB list.’
THE STONE DEMON is the final book of The Iron Witch trilogy, where Donna Underwood must work with the alchemical Order of the Crow in London to create a new Philosopher's Stone. If she fails? A three-way war between the dark elves, demons and alchemists will lead the world into an unimaginable apocalypse.

Being a vampire is for life - not just a lifestyle.
Reluctant teenage vampire Marie 'Moth' O'Neal infiltrates a group of Otherkin kids in Boston, teenagers who believe they are reincarnated vampires, in order to find out who or what is killing off the troubled teens... and then turning them into something truly undead with a taste for human flesh. All this while trying to stop sexy young hunter Jace Murdoch from shooting anything that doesn't breathe - including her.

You can find out more about Karen and all of her books at her website:  

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #30

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 Watchtower by Lee Carroll
Published by Bantam on 4th August 2011
Jewelry designer Garet James is still coming to terms with the astounding revelation in Black Swan Rising that she is the last in a long line of women sworn to protect the world from evil.  Now she has received a sign from Will Hughes, the 400-year-old vampire who once helped her defeat the evil threatening to destroy New York City.  Hughes, tortured by his own violent history which is vividly reenacted here, has asked her to join him on a quest to rid himself of his curse of vampirism.  While looking for Will in Paris, Garet encounters a number of mysterious figures-an ancient botanist metamorphosed into the oldest tree in Paris, a gnome who lives under the Labyrinth at the Jardin des Plantes, a librarian at the Institut Oceanographique, and a dryad in the Luxembourg Gardens.

Each encounter leads Garet closer to finding Will Hughes, but she realizes that she’s not the only one who’s trying to find the way to the magical world called the Summer Country. As Garet struggles to understand her family legacy, each answer she finds only leads to more questions—and to more danger.…

This book sounds so good.  It's the second in the series and is already on my pre-order list.  I love the cover too!

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Review: A Royal Match - Tyne O'Connell

A Royal Match by Tyne O'Connell, published by Piccadilly Press on 29th April 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
When LA-born Calypso Kelly arrives at the exclusive all-girls British boarding school, St. Augustine's, she's determined to become popular. But when a photo of Calypso kissing England's heir to the throne, Prince Freddie, ends up in the tabloids, it will take quick thinking to save her reputation-and her relationship with the prince.
After the tabloid disaster, Calypso hopes her next term at St. Augustine's will be better. But nothing could be further from the truth. Her archenemy (and culprit of the tabloid disaster) Honey O'Hare is her new dorm mate and her invite to the Annual Euro Royal Bash is nonexistent. Will a flirtation with a hot new sports star from the boys' school ruin her chances with Prince Freddie? Calypso has some work to do if she wants to go from pumpkin to princess in time for the ball.

If you were hit by Royal wedding fever this year and you have recurring dreams of meeting a handsome Prince then this is the book for you!  It's a perfect fairytale romance set in an all girls boarding school featuring hot guys, crazy nuns and plenty of kissing.

This volume actually consists of two books: Pulling Princes and Stealing Princes which were originally published as separate titles.  They've been combined here and republished as 'A Royal Match' with a very attractive cover that had been catching my eye every time I went into my local bookstore.  It's now very happily adorning my own bookshelves!

I love stories set in boarding schools and this one was no exception.  Calypso Kelly, our heroine, is sent to Saint Augustines in England after her American parents decide that she must have the best education that money can buy.  Of course, they have no idea about the trials and tribulations that Calypso has to face on a daily basis such as sharing a room with spoilt rich girls who consider her beneath them because she doesn't come from a long line of lords and ladies.  She does however have plenty of fun too; sneaking out at night, meeting boys and indulging her love of fencing. 
Plus kissing...oh yes, there's lots of kissing!

I absolutely adored the setting of this book!  Tyne O'Connell really manages to capture the experience of attending a boarding school with all the etiquette that goes along with it.  The descriptions of all the teachers and nuns were hilarious and I honestly could not stop laughing while I was reading this.      

I really enjoyed this book.  It was a fun and entertaining read with a sassy, amusing heroine who I loved.  The ongoing romantic saga between Calypso and her two boy crushes, Billy and second-in-line to the throne Freddie was my favourite part of the story.  I mean what's a girl to do when she has a gorgeous Prince to date!

Monday 20 June 2011

Review: The Stranger - Sarah Singleton

The Stranger by Sarah Singleton, published by Simon and Schuster on 31st March 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Charlotte is heading to a tiger sanctuary to do some voluntary work as part of her travels. But a fellow traveller working at the sanctuary starts to make her feel uncomfortable and she decides to ask Otto to visit her, pretending to be her boyfriend. When things start going wrong at the sanctuary, Charlotte fears a vendetta against her could be to blame. As tigers come under attack from poachers, the local authorities threaten to replace the sanctuary's management. Mark the journalist reappears, ostensibly covering the poaching crisis, but also delving into the background of the traveller who is making Charlotte's life a misery. But by now Otto and Charlotte's 'fake' relationship seems to be developing into something a little more serious...and how will Mark, and Otto's ex, Jen, feel about that?

The Stranger’ is the sequel to Sarah Singleton’s fantastic novel ‘The Island’, featuring teenagers Otto, Charlotte and Jen.  I read the latter last year and really enjoyed it.  Not only was it a fast-paced and exciting read but it also introduced me to a brand new award-winning British author who I’ve been looking forward to reading more of.  Therefore, when I saw this book in my local library I grabbed it straight away.
The story begins with Otto, Charlotte and Jen still in India, but having gone their separate ways at the end of the first book, they’re now scattered across the country.  When Charlotte is involved in a train crash on her way back to her work placement at a Tiger sanctuary, a series of events are set in motion that draw the three friends back together.  Charlotte is shadowed by the mysterious Jack, who was also involved in the crash and now seems to think that they share a special bond.  Otto is dealing with his new feelings about his best friend and Jen is still trying to find her place in the world, whilst immersing herself in her spiritual bond with India.  
One of the things I particularly like about Singleton’s writing style is how fresh and modern it is and how realistic the plot lines of her stories are, drawing on events that really happen.  ‘The Stranger’ incorporates issues such as animal poaching and animal protection, stalking and obsession, as well as wider themes such as environmentalism and preservation of the planet.  There are some wonderfully vivid descriptions of India and this helped me to imagine more clearly the characters' surroundings and lives.
The viewpoints of the three main characters are told in alternating chapters, although the main focus is on Charlotte.  She was actually my favourite character from the first book too so I liked getting to hear more about her and seeing events through her eyes and from her standpoint.  She has lots of appealing qualities and she’s the most grounded of the three friends, in terms of the fact that she knows what she wants to do and she’s steadfast, loyal and courageous.  I struggled slightly with the chapters about Jen as she’s much more complex and very involved in the spiritual side of life.  I did find that I was skipping through these quite quickly to try and get back to Charlotte and Otto.  Also, although she does end up having a significant role to play in resolving the plot, at times I found her quite superfluous to the action.  I was pleased that the relationship between Otto and Charlotte was developed further (I was waiting for some romance between the two of them!) and this added an additional angle to the story.
Whilst I was reading ‘The Stranger’ I was continually trying to guess what was going to happen next and I was on tenterhooks, wondering what was really going on with the sinister Jack.  He was pretty creepy and quite scary at times and he worked well as a continual menacing presence in the background throughout.  If you like your books full of mystery and intrigue with an exciting storyline but also serious things to say about the world then this is the book for you.  I'm looking forward to reading more by Sarah Singleton in the future. 

Sunday 19 June 2011

In My Mailbox #29

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

I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes. 

          All links go to Goodreads, where you can add the books to your wishlist if you like the look of  them.
I got two books for review this week:

(I love this series.  I'm a big fan of historical fiction and Eve Edwards is one of the best YA authors I've found writing for this genre)

(Sounds great - I'll be starting this one soon)

I also had some book vouchers to spend so I picked up these three on Saturday:

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
(I really enjoyed her Darkest Powers series so I'm hoping this will be just as good)

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
(I've heard good things about this book and have been wanting to read something by Zoe Marriott for a while.  I believe it's a spin on Cinderella)

Wild by Aprilynne Pike
(One of my favourite faerie series)

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #29

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! 
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Published by Corgi Children's Books on 7th July 2011

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

Ghosts.  Hot cowboys.  A heroine with the name of Amy Goodnight.  How can you not want to read this?!!

Monday 13 June 2011

Review: Trial By Fire - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Trial By Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, published by Quercus on 13th June 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Bryn is now leader of the Cedar Ridge pack of werewolves and she's convinced that her pack is different - it's democratic and fair. Then Bryn finds a battered teenage Were, Connor, bleeding on her front porch. He begs Bryn to protect him from an abusive leader; Bryn takes him into her pack.

But Bryn's Were partner Chase doesn't trust the new boy, and the more time she spends helping Connor, the more aggressive Chase becomes. Bryn is not sure if it's jealousy, or Were possessiveness but for the first time she starts to feel suffocated by the bond she and Chase share.

The wolf pack is back...with even more bite than before!

I’m very new to this awesome series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes but already I’ve been sucked into her werewolf universe.  If you like your books packed full of action and you’re a fan of the paranormal genre then this is a series that you need to pick up.  I really enjoyed the first book ‘Raised By Wolves’ but Barnes has topped herself with ‘Trial By Fire’ which swiftly sucked me back into Bryn and her wolf pack’s world. 

Bryn is now the alpha of her own pack.  A situation complicated by the fact that she isn’t actually a werewolf - she’s human.  This means that the traditional rules don’t always apply to her and when she’s confronted by a threat to her pack, she has to figure out how to keep them safe without threatening the other alphas’ authority.  What makes her situation even more unique is that she's also female and this causes a whole new set of problems.  I enjoyed seeing how Bryn coped with this and how she balances being a democratic leader with sometimes having to exercise authority over the other werewolves in her charge. 

I loved the fact that the story got off to a bang from the word go and there wasn’t a long prelude leading into the main plot.  Sometimes several chapters are devoted to reminding you about everything that’s gone on before when most of the time I’d rather just get on with the story.  I was therefore pleased that the plot moved along swiftly from the very beginning.   

Barnes has written some fabulous characters who can all be distinguished by wonderfully individual and unique personalities.  There’s life-long friend Devon, who is dealing with brother issues, loyal sidekick and female Were Lake who isn’t afraid to point a shotgun at someone if the situation arises, rescued Maddy who is adjusting to life as part of the pack, mother-figure Ali and her two twins and a whole host more of fantastic secondary characters.  Of course, Bryn is one of my favourites as I love books which have a strong, feisty, no-nonsense female heroine.  She ticks all the boxes for me in the way in which she won’t back down from a fight and she’ll do anything to protect the people around her.  This is sometimes made harder for her by the fact that she's human and doesn't possess the same physical strength as other Weres.  However, she's intelligent, quick-witted and clever and this stands her in good stead for fighting off threats to the pack.

As well as finding out more about the dynamics of the wolf world, I also enjoyed the inclusion of a psychic coven that not only cause problems for Bryn but also lead to a secret being revealed about someone close to Bryn.  This added an interesting angle to the plot and is something that I'd like to hear more about in the future.

'Trial By Fire' has it all and is a welcome return to a superb series that keeps getting better all the time!

Sunday 12 June 2011

In My Mailbox #28

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 had a super book week and received some fantastic titles for review:

(I'm reading this one at the moment and it's such a fun read!)

(I enjoyed Judy Blundell's debut novel so hoping this one will be just as good)

(Very excited to get a copy of this book.  It sounds amazing)

(Pretty, pretty cover!)

(I'm taking part in the blog tour for this book and will be announcing the tour shortly.  I'll be reviewing this in July, nearer the date of publication)

(I haven't actually read many reviews of this book yet or heard much about it but I love RJ Anderson's writing so I'm sure it'll be good)

(I love books set in New York)

Saturday 11 June 2011

Review: Where She Went - Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle Forman, published by Random House Children's Books on 5th May 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future–and each other.

'If I Stay', Gayle Forman's phenomenal debut novel, was an emotional rollercoaster of a ride.  I went through a box of tissues reading it and savoured every word on the page.  When I heard that there was going to be a sequel to the novel, I was quite surprised as it was so perfect that it seemed impossible that any sequel would be able to live up the original.  However, rest assured that 'Where She Went' tells you everything you wanted to know about what happened to Mia and Adam after the tragic events that preceded it.

I was expecting it to open with Mia and Adam together as a couple.  After all, Adam brought Mia back from the brink of death and persuaded her to stay alive.  That's pretty major to say the least!  However, the book opens with the two of them not having seen or spoken to each other for three years.  Adam's band, Shooting Star, have hit the big time but Adam isn't happy.  Instead he's nervous and edgy and has developed a reliance on cigarettes and pills.  In contrast, Mia has just graduated from Julliard as a cello star and is about to go on tour.  The question the novel poses at the beginning is how did they both end up like this?  What could have possibly happened to have driven them apart?

The story is told from Adam's point of view which I found a refreshing change.  It was interesting to find out more about how he coped after Mia's accident and how he dealt with the loss of her family.  Grief is obviously a key theme throughout and what I particularly liked was the fact that the book showed how someone on the periphery of Mia's family faced their death.  Everyone is understandably concerned with Mia's feelings and how she'll cope with losing her parents and her sibling but a bereavement can affect many people and although Adam has lost them too, he can't show his grief in the same way.

The three year gap also worked well in showing how they have developed as individuals and how their personalities have changed since high school.  Adam has lost his bearings and seems to be floundering without Mia by his side, while through Adam's eyes, Mia seems radically changed and no longer the person that he remembers.  I enjoyed the way in which they gradually have to get to know each other again before they can begin to understand how they fell apart. 

I thought that the denouement of the novel was written perfectly and was extremely moving.  It was simple, both in the substance and the way in which Gayle Forman has written it but it really tore at my heart and was so emotional.  Forman's writing is eloquent, fluid and lyrical.  She always gets right to the heart of the story as she pieces together the relationship between Mia and Adam. 

If you loved 'If I Stay' then you must read this novel!  I was absolutely enraptured with it and deeply moved by the journey which the characters undergo.  This is a stellar book by an amazing author who I hope to read lots more by in the future.

Friday 10 June 2011

Review: Mad Love - Suzanne Selfors

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors, published by Bloomsbury on 6th June 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

Suzanne Selfors is a new author to me, but after reading 'Mad Love' I'm definitely going to be checking out some of her other books.  I was really impressed with both her writing style and the plot for this novel which intrigued me from the start.

'Mad Love' deals with the subject of mental illness but in such a way that the book is still a fun and engaging read.  It never felt like Selfors allowed the subject matter to drag the story down and as such I would recommend this book to people who are interested in the topic of depression. The stigma which is often associated with having a mental illness is also touched upon but in a sensitive and well-handled manner.

The main character Alice Amorous is trying to hold it all together after her mother is hospitalised with bipolar disorder.  She tries to conceal this fact from everyone but a few people who are closest to her but in the process she finds that her protective wall of concealment may come crumbling down at any time.  Along the way she meets Errol, who claims to be Cupid and who wants her to write the story of his life with his greatest love Psyche.  Alice isn't sure if she can believe Errol's story and has to face the possibility that she may be prone to inheriting her mother's madness. 

The story is about opening up to love and letting in the people around you.  Alice feels like she's alone at times but in actuality she's surrounded by kind and caring people who want to help her.  There's a wonderful cast of secondary characters who live in the same apartment building and there's also a gorgeous love interest in the shape of Alice's skateboarding crush Tony. 

This book intrigued me in the beginning but I really wasn't sure if I was going to like it.  However, as it progressed, I found myself loving it more and more and overall thought it was a really fresh and original story with a main character that I loved.  I'm desperately hoping that there might be a sequel to 'Mad Love' as I'd really like to see more of Alice and the wonderful secondary characters who feature in her life.      

Thursday 9 June 2011

Julie Bertagna Giveaway Winners

Thank you to everyone that entered my Julie Bertagna giveaway to win copies of 'Exodus' and 'Zenith'.  If you weren't successful this time then check back again soon when I'll be having another giveaway on the blog. I hope to make the next one International!  

I'm pleased to announce that the winner is:

#4 Raimy G

Congratulations!  I will be contacting you soon by email to confirm your details.  I hope you enjoy the books and thank you again to everyone that entered.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #28

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! 
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
Published by ATOM on 26th July 2011
This thrilling sequel to the much-talked-about Nightshade begins just where it ended.Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she's certain her days are numbered.

But then the Searchers make her an offer,one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack and the man she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

ATOM are one of my favourite publishers and they seem to have so many amazing books coming out in the next few months.  'Wolfsbane' is the sequel to 'Nightshade' and sounds fantastic.  I'm not quite so keen on the UK cover (as pictured above), as I really liked the original US cover art but that aside I'm really looking forward to reading this.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Guest post: Josephine Angelini - Inspirational women

'Starcrossed' by Josephine Angelini is one of my favourite debuts of the year.  It's a divine mix of mythology, romance, mystery and action and is an addictive and compelling read.  It's sure to be a massive summer hit and there are already legions of fans waiting for the next magical installment.

If you haven't read it yet, then don't wait!  Go and pick up a copy now!

If you're a sucker for gorgeous cover art then take a look at these amazing covers for the book.  You will definitely want these prettying up your bookshelves.

'Starcrossed' features some amazing female characters.  There's the incredible Helen Hamilton, the main character of the novel, her best friend and resident badass Claire Aoki, as well as Cassandra and Ariadne, the beautiful and powerful members of the Delos family.  These women are all tough, feisty and independent individuals and stand out as being among some of the best female protagonists I've ever read about.  Josephine herself grew up with seven siblings, six of them sisters and I'm lucky enough to have her here today talking about the amazing women that have influenced her throughout her life.  

So, without further ado, over to Josephine! 

I have a lot of women in my life.  I always have.  I was born the youngest of eight siblings and there's only one boy nestled right in the middle of all of us.  For those of you who don't like to do math while reading (like me) I'll translate.  I have six big sisters, and I do mean big.  I'm 5'9" and I'm the littlest of the bunch. 

We Angelini girls are all tall, and since we're half Italian, we all have a ton of hair.  When you ask most people to list what homey smells bring them back to their youth they usually say things like cookies baking in the oven.  Not me.  My childhood smells like hairspray baking on a curling iron.

And it sounds like Led Zeppelin.  I was the only eight-year old I knew that could recite all the words to "Stairway to Heaven".  That's because my sisters raised me right.  In the morning when I would get up to pee, they would lock me out of the bathroom, turn off the tape recorder (this was the 80's) and make me sing the next line of whatever Led Zeppelin song they happened to be playing at the time in order to get in.  I learned fast.  

I've noticed that people comment a lot about my female characters, saying that I write strong women.  There's a very simple explanation for why I do this, one very near and dear to me.  My sisters would pummel the daylights out of me if I wrote a weak one.

Of course, now that we're all grown-ups and pretty much civilized, the pummeling isn't physical.  It's much, much worse.  It's "the look".  There's nothing like six girls, all raised ultra Catholic, to shame the pants off someone.  Get them all in the same room - giving "the look" together - and I'm pretty sure they could glare a perfectly healthy person to death.

I'm no dummy.  I know my sisters have a very good reason for forcing me to respect women on the whole.  it's because they want me to contribute to a world where women are valued as much as men.  They want me to dig a little deeper and question the way women in our society are treated and demand better for the future.  They love me with all their hearts, and they want me to respect myself as a woman. 

I write strong women because I love and respect the strong women in my life. 

I write strong women because my sisters raised me right.   

Monday 6 June 2011

Review: Dark Heart Rising - Lee Monroe

Dark Heart Rising by Lee Monroe, published by Hodder Children's Books on 2nd June 2011 

Goodreads synopsis:
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.

'Dark Heart Rising' is the sequel to 'Dark Heart Forever'.  I read the latter last year and really enjoyed it, so I was eager to get my hands on this one.  I also wanted to read it because Lee Monroe is a British author and I love to support homegrown writers.

The book starts with Jane and Luca now apart, which I wasn't expecting.  I thought that after the events of the previous installment, we'd finally get to see the two together but it seems not.  Luca is now betrothed to someone else and Jane is nursing a broken heart.  To take her mind off Luca, she joins her grandmother on a trip to Paris, where she meets the enigmatic Soren who has links to Nissilum.  Jane isn't sure if she can trust Soren but he tells her that he can help her get Luca back, so swayed by the thought of being with the boy she loves again, she decides to trust him.  However, Soren is hiding some dark secrets of his own which might endanger the very people that Jane holds dear.

Unlike the first book, I found this one a little slow to completely engage me.  Although I was happy to see Jane again, as I really liked her character, I did get a little annoyed with her at times because she seemed to be making many of the same mistakes over again.  However, I think that is part of what makes her such a unique person.  She's been hurt in the past but she's still willing to trust people and give them a second chance.  The story is largely concerned with Jane trying to get Luca back again which meant that although there were some interesting new characters introduced into the series, we didn't get to see much of Jane and Luca together.  I'm hoping that this will be remedied in the next book. 

The majority of the story was set in Nissilum which meant that I got a better insight into how the world works and the laws and regulations on which it has been built.  This was interesting but it also meant that there was a lot less interaction between Jane and her family, which is one of the elements that I previously enjoyed.  In the first book there was a good balance between Nissilum and Jane's home which helped to keep the story grounded and I felt that that was a little lacking this time. 

The plot got more exciting as the story progressed and the pace really picked up in the second-half of the book which had plenty of secrets being revealed and lots of twists and turns thrown in.  Overall, although I didn't enjoy this as much as 'Dark Heart Forever' it was still a good read and I'll certainly be looking out for the next book in the series.

Sunday 5 June 2011

In My Mailbox #27

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 a gorgeous parcel from Egmont this week.  See how pretty it is!  It included two books, lipgloss, a lei and some chocolate (not pictured as I've already eaten it!). 

Kisses for Lula by Samantha Mackintosh
(This is the first book in the series and is described as appealing to Meg Cabot fans, so I think I'm going to like it!)

Lula does the Hula by Samantha Mackintosh
(The second book in the series sounds like a fun summer read)

I got two books via swaps this week:

(I haven't actually read anything by Simone Elkeles yet but I've heard good things about her books so I was really pleased to get this one in a swap)

(Such a pretty cover!)

I also bought a couple of books:

(Loved the film so hope I'm going to enjoy the book)

(This one caught my eye when I was browsing the shelves in Waterstones.  The plot sounds interesting and I think it's the first in a trilogy)

Friday 3 June 2011

Trailer: Starcrossed - Josephine Angelini

'Starcrossed' by Josephine Angelini hits shelves in the UK today.  Yay!  I read this book a few weeks back and loved it.  You can read my review here  

How do you defy destiny?
Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.
As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

To celebrate, here's the amazing UK book trailer for 'Starcrossed' which is sure to have you rushing out to get hold of one of this summer's biggest hits.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #27

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! 
Soul Beach by Kate Harrison
Published by Orion Children's Books on 1st September 2011

When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . . . But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next? The first book in an intriguing and compelling trilogy centred around the mystery of Megan Forster's death.

I'm a fan of Kate Harrison's Secret Shopper series so I was really excited to hear that she'd penned her first YA novel.  This is the first in a trilogy and it sounds brilliant.  Harrison's writing is always engaging and entertaining and I have a feeling that I'm going to love 'Soul Beach'.
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