Sunday, 31 July 2011

In My Mailbox #35

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

I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes. 

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

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

Hartslove by K.M. Grant
(I'm a big fan of historical fiction and K.M. Grant writes some of the best out there.  I didn't even know she had a new book out yet so I was very excited when this arrived)

Dark Angel by Eden Maguire
(Just finished reading this one so expect a review soon.  Gorgeous cover!)

Shimmer by Alyson Noel
(Yay!  Love this series)

Lottie Biggs is (Not) Tragic by Hayley Long
(I haven't read any of the books in this series before but it looks a fun read)

The Black Banner by Helen Hart 
(You can't beat a book with pirates)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Review: We Can Be Heroes - Catherine Bruton

We Can Be Heroes by Catherine Bruton, published by Egmont on 1st August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
My dad was killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York. But the stuff in this book isn't about that. It's about the summer my mum went away. The summer that me and Jed and Priti tried to catch a suicide bomber and prevent an honour killing. There's stuff about how we built a tree house and joined the bomb squad; how I found my dad and Jed lost his; and how we both lost our mums then found them again. So it's not really about 9/11 but, then again, none of those things would have happened if it hadn't been for that day. So I guess it's all back to front, sort of...

‘We Can Be Heroes’ is Catherine Bruton’s debut novel.  From the first few pages we learn that the main character Ben, lost his Dad in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in America.  This sets the tone for a book which doesn’t hold back from exploring and confronting difficult subjects. 

Ben is staying with his grandparents for the summer.  The reason for his mother’s absence is hinted at but never explicitly explained.  He soon makes friends with Priti, a young Muslim girl in the neighbourhood and they are joined by his cousin Jed who has also come to stay.  Over the course of the summer, they learn to tackle family issues, grief and bereavement, whilst also learning about the people around them.        

One of the main themes of the book is racial intolerance and prejudice.  Some of the characters in the story are very quick to judge others by the way they dress, the colour of their skin or their religion.  This causes disharmony between them and illustrates the irrational way in which people make snap judgements or assessments about each other or discriminate wrongly on the basis of race.

The topic of 9/11 is also predominant throughout.  This is a tough issue to write about but I felt that Catherine Bruton tackled it bravely and in such a way that it was handled sensitively and with great insight.  It wasn’t written about in a gratuitous way but explored the impact and aftermath of this event on the relatives of the people that died that day.          

One of my favourite things about the book was the way in which Ben is forever drawing pictures and comics and envisions speech bubbles and weird and wonderful outfits for the people in the story.  There is a short manga comic at the back of the book which is the culmination of Ben’s work and which is awesome!   

Although not normally the sort of book I would pick up and read, I found 'We Can Be Heroes' to be an interesting, engaging and thought provoking read which delivers a powerful message about today's society. 

Don't forget to come back on Monday 1st August when I'll be hosting a stop on Catherine's first ever blog tour!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Review: Everlasting (The Immortals #6) - Alyson Noel

Everlasting (The Immortals #6) by Alyson Noel, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 1st July 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Everlasting is the sixth and final instalment of the epic love story that has enchanted readers across the world. Ever and Damen have spent centuries facing down bitter rivals, jealous friends and their own worst fears – all in the hope of being together forever.

Now in Everlasting, their destiny is finally within reach. Will they be united, or torn apart forever?

At last, the final book in The Immortals series!  After following the ups and downs of the romance between Ever and Damen, I was desperate for them to get their happy ever after.  I'm a sucker for an epic romance and the one between our two protagnists has spanned decades so is certainly deserving of that moniker. 

In 'Everlasting', Ever very much takes centre stage.  The book is about her story and her journey; the one that she's always been destined to make.  I enjoyed seeing Ever having to rely purely on her own wits and gut instincts and having to try and make the right decisions even when they might seem wrong to everyone else around her.  A lot has happened to her throughout the series but every step she's taken has led up to this point; the moment when she has to make the biggest decision of them all.

It was also interesting seeing the majority of the story take place in Summerland and the Shadowland, rather than the earth plane.  I've always adored the idea of Summerland being a magical place where Ever and Damen can be together and where anything is possible purely through the magic and wonder of being able to manifest the things you desire the most. 

I loved the section in the middle of the story where Ever goes back to revisit her very first past life.  One of the things I've always liked about the Immortals series is the way that Alyson Noel has explored the idea of reincarnation and past lives.  This is really fascinating and works beautifully as a device to show the endless love between Ever and Damen, no matter what lives they may be living at the time. 

Many familiar faces from earlier books are featured throughout, as they too get their final conclusion.  I enjoyed seeing how everything finally turned out for everyone and there are certainly some surprises in store for some of the characters. 

The book ties up all the plot threads and the story draws back a step to show the bigger picture - the journey of the soul and the meaning of life and true love.  The ending completely took me by surprise.  I had my suspicions about what might happen but yet again Noel threw in several curveballs to keep me guessing right up to the very end. 

I'm so sad that the Immortals series is over!  I'm really going to miss reading about Ever and Damen and all the obstacles that have stood in the way of their being together.  I'm very excited about Alyson Noel's new Soul Seekers series and if it's only half as good as the Immortals then it'll be a winner with me!     

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Blog tour: Mary Hoffman - David

I'm very lucky to have Mary Hoffman here today, taking part in her blog tour for her new book 'David'.  I'm the 22nd stop on the tour.  For a full itinerary of all the blogs taking part click on the banner below.

My five favourite places in Italy (beyond Florence )

• The Campo in Siena
The fan-shaped square where the Palio is run twice each summer. When the race isn’t on, the perfect place for morning coffee or evening prosecco – and people-watching.
I go to Siena almost as often as Florence (my ideal home would be between the two) but have seen the Palio run only twice – once in 2002 when I was researching it for City of Stars, when I stood in the Campo with a million or so other people and once in 2009 when I sat in relative comfort in a stand. Neither time did “my” horse win (see below)

• The Valdimontone district in Siena
I am an honorary “montonaiola”! The first time we ever set foot in Siena (?1996) by great good fortune we found a place to park just inside the Porta Romana. Little did we know how significant it would become for us, especially me. As you walk into the centre from that gate, you pass many signs of the Ram, because the Contrada of Valdimontone (Valley of the Ram, called “Montone” for short) is off to the left of the Via Roma there.

Now whenever we go back we stay at an olive-growing estate just outside the Porta Romana and every time I walk up the steep road to where the montonaioli hang out, I feel as if I am coming home. I have always believed in reincarnation and I am sure that in one of my former lives I was a member of this contrada. And I am an Aries so the Ram is my sign!

• Ravello
It’s on the Amafli Coast , perched high above the sea and we had a memorable lunch in a cool restaurant on a hot day there many years ago. Wagner wrote part of Parsifal in the gardens of an aristocrat high above the sea here. I’ve never been back but would love to go.

• Paestum
There are ruins of Greek temples here, especially one to Neptune – Poseidon – and it smells of wild thyme. We visited it several times when our daughters were little and there are lots of photos of them and us standing, sitting or lying on bits of ruin.. It was part of Graecia Magna, which is why there are Greek temples rather than Roman ones, even though the locals have Italianised the name.

• Old Castellabate above the Gulf of Salerno
A medieval village high up above the sea where in the square an old woman once offered us plums from her basket. It was a magical moment. Old Castellabate looks like a film set for a medieval epic or a part of Assassin’s Creed. Full of cobbled twisting streets, leaning buildings, bits of old fortifications and turrets.  Now it’s a rather expensive wedding venue for those wanting to tie the knot abroad in pretty reliable sunshine and a beautiful setting.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #34

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 Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen
Published by EgmontUSA on 11th September 2011
Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?
There's no UK release date for this book yet but it's one that's currently riding high on my wishlist.  The cover is so pretty and the plot sounds fantastic.  Hopefully Egmont will be publishing it over here in the UK in 2012!   

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Texas Gothic - Rosemary Clement Moore Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone that entered my international giveaway to win a copy of 'Texas Gothic' by Rosemary Clement-Moore.  If you weren't successful this time then check back again soon when I hope to have another giveaway on the blog.  
 I'm pleased to announce that the winner is:

#15 nat cleary

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

Monday, 25 July 2011

Review: Strings Attached - Judy Blundell

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell, published by Scholastic on 5th May 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Kit Corrigan has always dreamed of being a star. But in order to get there, she needs to break up with Billy and leave her family in Providence, Rhode Island, to move to New York City. There, she finds small roles and a city that's tough to live in. After she meets with Billy's father, Nate, things get a little easier. But Nate is a lawyer who defends mobsters, and soon Kit realizes that she has to do what he asks of her. Kit's life starts to feel beyond her control, especially once she uncovers a mystery that she needs to solve in order to protect the people she loves.

'Strings Attached' came to my attention after reading and enjoying Judy Blundell's previous novel 'What I Saw and How I Lied'.  Similar in style, 'Strings Attached' is set in the forties and fifties, alternating between New York and Providence, Rhode Island.  It follows main protagonist Kit Corrigan as she arrives in NYC to become a dancer and make something of her life.  Along the way things become more and more complicated for Kit as she becomes mixed-up in the affairs of her boyfriend's father, a lawyer notorious for defending dangerous mobsters.

I liked the way in which the story started out fairly simply and then slowly became more and more complex and entangled as the plot went on.  It starts out with Kit trying to find her way on her own in the city and to break away from the ties of her family but the story gradually turns into something else altogether which is far more sinister and murky.  The people in the book are no longer who you first thought they were and characters have shady motives which are eventually brought to the surface as the deceit and lies begin to unravel.

I thought that the book was a little slow in places and sometimes I found myself waiting for something to happen which never really transpired.  Perhaps if the story had been condensed slightly, then the suspense and intrigue would have been even more tightly wrought and absorbing. Some bits were also a bit difficult to follow as events in the book unfold backwards and the time frame changes quite frequently.  I found myself having to go back and reread some chapters just to make sure I had events straight in my head. 

Judy Blundell touches throughout on a number of serious issues, such as the way in which homosexuality was received in the forties and fifties but although this is interesting, these issues are never really explored fully enough and are instead simply mentioned and then skirted around.   

Overall, 'Strings Attached' had a clever plot and a surprise ending and the writing throughout is beautifully nuanced, interweaving accurate historical detail throughout which gives an air of authenticity to the story.  This title will certainly appeal to admirers of Blundell's previous book and is sure to win her a whole new set of fans too. 

Sunday, 24 July 2011

In My Mailbox #34

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.

This had been a pretty quiet week for me book-wise until Saturday when lots of lovely parcels all dropped through my mailbox at once!

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

(This one appealed to me because it's set in Japan which is a country that I find endlessly fascinating.  Plus kick-ass ninjas!  What more could you ask for!)

(This is the second book in the Blood Ninja series)

(This is a proof copy by the author of The Cabinet of Curiosities)

(I haven't read Suzanne LaFleur's previous book but I'm intrigued about this one.  The blurb doesn't really give much away)

(I've read some fantastic reviews of this book so will hopefully be starting this one soon)

(I was so excited to get a proof copy of this book.  I loved I Am Number Four and have been eagerly awaiting the sequel ever since.  Can't wait to start it!)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Review: Jessie Hearts NYC - Keris Stainton

Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton, published by Orchard Books on 7th July 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Jessie's just arrived in New York, hoping to forget about her awful ex.

New Yorker Finn is in love with his best friend's girlfriend.

They might be perfect together, but in a city of eight million people, will they ever find each other?

'New York, New York, a wonderful town' is the memorable refrain from one of my favourite songs, as sung in 'On The Town' by Gene Kelly and co.  It's one of my favourite songs because I've always been obsessed with everything about New York.  It's such a huge and vibrant city, full of culture and excitement and holds the promise of adventures and new beginnings.  Although I haven't actually been to the land of dreams yet I'm determined to get there one day and in the meantime I get to live vicariously through wonderful books like 'Jessie Hearts NYC' by Keris Stainton.

Part of the reason I loved this book was obviously the fact that it's set in NYC and features frequent references to iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Central Park Zoo and Broadway.  It also explores all the sights, sounds and smells of the city from the all-American deli breakfast which I could practically taste, to the speeding yellow cabs which whiz around at death-defying speeds.  Then there are the nods to memorable pop culture such as 'An Affair to Remember', 'Sex and the City. (and the Magnolia Bakery), plus 'When Harry Met Sally'.  Although 'Jessie Hearts NYC' is a fiction title and not a guidebook to the city, it does embrace wholeheartedly the wonder of NYC and the fact that anything is possible in a place where dreams really can come true.

Jessie and her best friend Emma are spending the summer in New York, with Jessie's divorced mother.  This is an opportunity to leave boy troubles behind and to explore the city and have a carefree summer.  Native New Yorker Finn, is having troubles of his own, including being in love with his best friend's girlfriend and attempting to come to a decision about what he wants to do with the rest of his life.  Their stories unfold in alternating chapters throughout, as they come closer and closer to meeting.  As we learn more about their characters it becomes increasingly clear that they're made for each other but will they ever get to meet!

I loved, loved, loved this book!  It was funny and lighthearted which makes it a perfect summer book but it was also absorbing and a real treat to read.  There was a good balance between some really laugh-out-loud moments and some more serious parts which dealt with Jessie trying to rebuild her relationship with her mother.  I thought that the way in which their relationship was revealed and developed worked really well and added some extra depth to the story.

'Jessie Hearts NYC' is a super book!  The story is as shiny and sparkly as the gorgeous front cover and I enjoyed every second of reading it.  Fingers crossed that maybe my dream will come true one day like Jessie and I'll get to go to New York!

Having finished this, I now also really want to read 'Della Says: OMG!' which is the first book by Keris Stainton and which sounds equally awesome!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #33

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! 
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan 
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on 7th October 2011

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

This book is described as the most riveting series debut since The Hunger Games.  I am literally counting down the days until 'Glow' is published.  It sounds amazing and the cover has definitely got me lusting after this one too. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Curtis Jobling - Wereworld Books 1 and 2 Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone that entered my UK giveaway to win copies of 'Rise of the Wolf' and 'Rage of Lions', the first two books in the Wereworld series by Curtis Jobling.  If you weren't successful this time then good luck next time and don't forget to check out my International giveaway for a copy of 'Texas Gothic' by Rosemary Clement-Moore.

I'm pleased to announce that the winner is:

#14 Natalie D

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

Monday, 18 July 2011

Review and Giveaway: Texas Gothic - Rosemary Clement-Moore

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore, published by Corgi on 7th July 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Amy Goodnight knows that the world isn't as simple as it seems—she grew up surrounded by household spells and benevolent ghosts. But she also understands that "normal" doesn't mix with magic, and she's worked hard to build a wall between the two worlds. Not only to protect any hope of ever having a normal life.

Ranch-sitting for her aunt in Texas should be exactly that. Good old ordinary, uneventful hard work. Only, Amy and her sister, Phin, aren't alone. There's someone in the house with them—and it's not the living, breathing, amazingly hot cowboy from the ranch next door.

It's a ghost, and it's more powerful than the Goodnights and all their protective spells combined. It wants something from Amy, and none of her carefully built defenses can hold it back.

This is the summer when the wall between Amy's worlds is going to come crashing down.

'Texas Gothic' is a book which has been on my radar for a while.  I really enjoyed 'Splendour Falls' by Rosemary Clement-Moore so I was intrigued to check out her new offering which I'd heard described as 'Scooby Doo meets Nancy Drew'. That description definitely piqued my interest and I picked this one up to read as soon as it arrived.

The Goodnights are a family of witches and psychics. Amy Goodnight has grown-up among them and so is able to embrace things that other people would never understand.  She and her sister Phin agree to look after their Aunt's ranch for the summer, not expecting to stumble across a ghostly mystery of their own.  Amy soon becomes embroiled in the ghost hunt but the danger facing her may not only be paranormal and she could be putting her life on the line in the process.

I absolutely loved Amy as a heroine.  She tries to keep her family life separate to her normal, everyday life but in 'Texas Gothic' the two just can't help colliding head on.  She's funny and slightly zany at times but she's also brave and courageous and an unstoppable force, determined to meet every challenge that comes her way.  I adored the romance between Amy and hot (or should that be super hot!) cowboy Ben, which was most definitely one of my favourite things about the book.  There are some incredibly funny moments between the two of them and I loved all the quips and wisecracks they share, as well as some sizzling kisses.

I also really liked the setting for the book which is small town Texas.  The closeness of the farming community works as a perfect backdrop for the story and the slightly claustrophobic feel of a small town in the middle of the outback adds to the sense of danger.   

This book is an interesting mix of anthropology, paranormal, supernatural and romance.  Although this makes for a unique read, I did find that it was almost trying to combine too many different elements, making it difficult at times for the reader to really become completely absorbed in the story.  I found it a little slow going at the beginning, although it picked up in the middle as the plot really began to unravel and the ending was extremely exciting.

Hot cowboys, a heroine called Amy Goodnight and a twisty mysterious tale of ghosts and other paranormal activities makes this an enjoyable read which will appeal to readers who like their books full of action and adventure of the supernatural kind.

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

Giveaway rules.
  • There will be one winner.
  • Open to International entrants.
  • Please fill out the form completely - especially the required details.
  • You must be a follower to enter.
  • Deadline for entries will be on 25 July.
  • Winner will be drawn by
  • Winner will be contacted via e-mail, and will be given 48 hours to response. Otherwise, a new winner will be drawn.
  • Any details will be deleted after use and will not be passed on to any third party.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

In My Mailbox #33

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 couple of great titles to review this week:

(This is the final book in the Immortals series.  I'm reading this one at the moment so expect my review soon)

Boys For Beginners by Lil Chase
(I'm going to be taking part in the blog tour for this debut)

Forbidden: The Demon Trappers by Jana Oliver
(I have the first book in the series but haven't actually read it yet.  They both sound awesome!)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Richelle Mead - new UK Bloodlines cover revealed

A couple of weeks ago I posted a cover reveal for 'Bloodlines', the first book in Richelle Mead's new series.  Although the cover was pretty, I personally didn't think it fit particularly well with the concept for the books, so I'm very happy to announce that Penguin Razorbill have decided to change it to keep the style in line with the US cover for a more global series look.

So, without further ado, here is the brand new UK and US cover for Bloodlines by Richelle Mead!

I really love this.  I always prefer covers that feature people so this appeals to me straight away, plus I like the lettering of the title across the bottom and the red and black colouring instantly makes me think vampire.  I'm very happy about the change but what do you think?

Also, just to whet your appetite for the release of this series, here's the US cover for the second book, 'The Golden Lily' which will be published in 2012.

If you haven't added it to your wishlist yet, what are you waiting for?!

Friday, 15 July 2011

News: Shadow of the Wolf - Tim Hall

Exciting news from Random House Children's Books!  I love hearing about new future new book titles and this one definitely had me interested as I'm a big Robin Hood fan.  I've added it to my wishlist already!

David Fickling Books has just acquired debut author Tim Hall's new YA Robin Hood trilogy.  This is a Robin Hood that's more 'heroic and horrific than ever before' and features a fourteen year old Robin as you've never seen him before. The first book in the trilogy is called 'Shadow Wolf' and is set in Sherwood Forest in medieval England. 

I love it when authors put a fresh, new spin on a classic tale and I can't wait to see what Tim Hall's vision of the character is like and if all my favourite faces such as Friar Tuck and Will Scarlett pop up along the way, as well as the Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisbon.   

Described as being "packed full of dark drama and unexpected plot twists", this definitely sounds like a series not to be missed.  There's no news yet on a publication date but I will keep you posted and let you know more as soon as there's a firm date for the first book in the trilogy. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Hotly anticipated sequels #2

Hotly anticipated sequels is an occasional feature I do to highlight some of the awesome books coming out over the next few months, or in some cases, next year.  I have so many on my wishlist that I'm going to need a new bookcase at this rate.  Here are a few of the sequels which I'm counting down the days for!

This is the sequel to 'Across the Universe' which is an incredible read and an outstanding debut from Beth Revis.  I'm incredibly excited about the follow-up although the plot is being kept under wraps at the moment.  There's also quite a wait for this one as it's not published until 10th January 2012, making it a perfect post-Christmas present! 
For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought.
Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

'Unearthly' has been one of my favourite books so far this year.  I didn't want it to ever finish so 'Hallowed' literally is one of my hottest anticipated sequels at the moment!  I'm dying to see how the relationship between Clara, Tucker and Christian is going to work itself out and with a death on the horizon it sounds like this could be a dramatic installment to the series.  It''s published on 24th January 2012.

Our heroine, Jessamine, has lost her faith in the men she loved, and her innocence as well. She turns to the dark side and plots to kill her father, using his own poisons, before becoming an assassin, a poisoner for hire. Can she recover from her heartache and reunite with her true love, Weed? Find out in this thrilling story where poisons, darkness and horror are a part of everyday life, and love is the only cure.

'Nightshade' is the sequel to 'The Poison Diaries' which had quite an intriguing finish and set things up nicely for the rest of the series.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the romance between Jessamine and Weed will be developed and how Jessamine will recover from her experiences in the first book.  There should be a lot in store for readers of this one and luckily it's being published by HarperCollins on 25th October 2011, so you should be able to grab it soon. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Review: Impossible - Nancy Werlin

Impossible by Nancy Werlin, published by Puffin on 4th March 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that she is the latest recipient of a generations-old family curse that requires her to complete three seemingly impossible tasks or risk falling into madness and passing the curse on to the next generation. Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has family, friends, and other modern resources to help her out. But will it be enough to conquer this age-old evil?

‘Impossible’ was a book I picked up initially because I loved the cover.  It’s really striking and immediately had me intrigued about the story itself, even though I’d never heard of the title or author before.  After finishing this last night, I have to say that I now love ‘Impossible’ for more than just its cover.  It’s literally one of the best books I’ve read in ages and I’m looking forward to picking this up again to reread soon.
So what did I love about it?  Well, for starters there’s the absolutely magical and fairytale like storyline.  You need to just suspend your disbelief and allow the aura of mysticism and magic that envelops this book to sweep you away.  Lucy is approaching her seventeenth birthday and is a normal happy teenager, living with her adopted parents, until one night changes her whole future.  I don’t want to give too much away but the traditional folk ballad Scarborough Fair is hugely significant to the plot and involves Lucy having to break a curse which has blighted her family for generations.  Along the way Lucy learns about true love and the importance of family as she tries to solve the puzzle.   
I also loved the absolutely wonderful characters.  There’s Lucy herself who’s immensely likeable and down-to-earth and deals with all the obstacles placed in her path with complete determination.  I was really rooting for her throughout.  There’s also the wonderful Zach, who has always been by Lucy’s side as she was growing-up and who is unfailing in his devotion and support of her.  I thought they made a brilliant pairing and I adored the way their relationship and matured and grew over the course of the novel.  Along with Lucy and Zach, there’s Lucy’s best friend Sarah, who provides her with some of the best advice in the book and a whole host of other vividly described characters.
I loved the way in which when I was reading this book I forgot about everything else around me and just got completely immersed in the story, which had some very unexpected twists along the way.  I enjoyed it so much that I didn't want it to ever end.
Nancy Werlin is a new author to me, but since reading ‘Impossible’, I’ve made myself a list of her other titles and I’m going to check them out soon.  I only wish it hadn’t taken me quite so long to discover such a brilliant writer!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Review: Pegasus - Robin McKinley

Pegasus by Robin McKinley, published by Puffin on 7th July 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pegasi, 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 want to preface this review by saying that I am a fan of Robin McKinley and I've enjoyed several of her earlier books in the past, including Beauty' and 'Spindle's End' which are big favourites of mine.  I was excited to start 'Pegasus' as it's a book which has been on my radar for a while and I couldn't wait to pick it up and start reading it when it arrived. 

'Pegasus' is actually the first of a planned two book series.  The concept of the series is highly original and unique and really grabbed my attention from the beginning.  It's based around the relationship between humans and pegasi who are bonded together when they reach a certain age.  A lot of time is spent on explaining the history between the two but although this was interesting I did find that it slowed the flow of the story down quite a lot.  Therefore, although the idea for the story was extremely original and appealed to the part of me that loves fantasy and magic, I kept waiting for something to happen in the first half of the book which never materialised.

Some parts of the story were wonderful and gorgeously descriptive and evocative but others were too long and failed to keep my focus and attention.  I alternated between wanting to put the book down and have a break and wanting to read on in case something amazing suddenly happened.  This meant that the overall flow of the story was rather up and down and didn't consistently keep me immersed in the plot.  Also although McKinley has a wonderful talent for vividly painting a picture of a scene or place, I thought that some of the descriptive passages in the book were a little too much at times.    

As a fantasy, McKinley's created an incredible world which features a whole host of new creatures which you won't find among the pages of any other book.  At times, although I liked the magical element of this, I had to keep re-reading sections to try and keep all the characters straight in my head and I have to say that I really struggled with some of the names.  This meant that I was often concentrating quite hard on trying to remember who everyone was, rather than completely connecting with the characters and letting myself be swept away by the story.   

One of my favourite bits was seeing the bond between the main character Sylvi and her pegasus Ebon being formed almost instantaneously on their first meeting.  Although Ebon is obviously not human, their relationship still came across as one of best-friends who would do anything for each other.  The sense of closeness between them really came alive and they certainly bring out the best qualities in each other. 

Overall, I think that the style of this book just wasn't for me.  I do love fantasy so the genre itself wasn't a barrier to me enjoying the story but I just couldn't completely give myself over to the tale of Princess Sylvi and her pegasus however hard I tried.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

In My Mailbox #32

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.

Apologies for the lack of photos this week.  My camera seems to be refusing to cooperate!
I only got two books for review this week but they're two incredible titles:
(I loved Finding Sky so I was super excited to get Joss Stirling's new book to review.  It sounds incredible)
(I haven't actually read the first in this series yet but I do have it waiting on my TBR pile!)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Review: Haunting Violet - Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey, published by Bloomsbury on 4th July 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
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?

Alyxandra Harvey is one of my favourite authors.  I’m a huge fan of her Drake Chronicles series so I was enormously excited a few months back when I first heard about this book.  I loved the sound of the concept which was a ghostly murder mystery set in the Victorian era.  I’m very pleased to say that all the anticipation paid off and ‘Haunting Violet’ did not disappoint in the slightest.  In fact I enjoyed it so much that I started it early one evening and ended up staying up half the night to finish it.  Now that’s the sign of a brilliant book!

The story is based around teenage heroine Violet, who is an incredibly headstrong and immensely likeable character.  One of the things I always like to see in books is a strong and feisty female protagonist and this is one of the many characteristics by which Alyxandra Harvey’s books are known.  Even though the book is set in the Victorian era, Violet does not allow herself to be bound by the rules of society.  She still believes in making her own choices and of being herself, even when her domineering mother may be trying to turn her into something she’s not.  This helps to create a wonderful juxtaposition between the period in which the story is set and the characters.

As the story unfolds, Violet arrives with her mother at the estate of Lord Jasper.  Violet’s mother is a fake spiritualist, who has made ends meet by convincing wealthy patrons that she can commune with their dearly departed friends and relatives. Things are turned on their head however, when Violet starts having strange visions and realises that she although her mother can’t really see the dead...she can!  This realisation, leads to the unravelling of a murder mystery which it’s up to Violet to solve. 

The book is ghostly and spooky and no matter how many guesses I made, I had no clue about who the murderer was until right near the very end.  When the exposition came, it was well thought out and executed and also terrifically exciting. A real page turner!     

‘Haunting Violet’ is much more than just a murder mystery though.  There’s also a blossoming romance between Violet and her mother’s employee Colin, who she grew up with.  I wish there had been more time to spend on the relationship between the two of them as it was one of my favourite bits about the book.  I loved the way he was always there when Violet needed him, even without her having to ask.  I have to say that I swooned a fair bit over Colin who started off as quite an unlikely hero but turned out to be the rock that Violet needed.

If you’ve never read anything by Alyxandra Harvey before then now is the time to start.  This was a fantastic stand-alone novel that really allowed you to connect with the characters and engage with the story.  Brilliantly written and tremendously thrilling, ‘Haunting Violet’ is definitely going in my keeper pile.  I loved it!

Find out more about Alyxandra Harvey at her website:

Follow Alyxandra on Twitter:

Competition alert!  To celebrate the release of the book, if you visit the Haunting Violet Facebook page, you could win a violet iPad 2, a goodie bag containing Haunting Violet lip balm, badges and bookmarks, and a signed copy of the book. 10 runner-ups get the goodie bag. 

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Review: Wereworld: Rage of Lions - Curtis Jobling

Wereworld: Rage of Lions by Curtis Jobling, published by Puffin on 7th July 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Young werewolf Drew Ferran is the future king of Westland. He has the makings of a great warrior - but first he must master the blade and the beast. When Lady Gretchen is abducted by the Werelion Prince Lucas, Drew and his friends embark on a perilous chase to stop the prince fleeing to his homeland of Bast. As Drew encounters terrifying new Werelords along the way, he is led to the exotic city of Cape Gala, where the forces of Onyx, the Beast of Bast, await. Now Drew must summon all of his courage and strength - because the Catlords are ready to attack...

The Wereworld series is fantasy on an epic scale.  I loved the first book, 'Rise of the Wolf' and  so I couldn't wait to return to the world of Lyssia and follow the characters on their next adventure.

Drew finally knows what he is but he's still learning about and trying to accept his true heritage as King-to-be, a position he hasn't been prepared for and doesn't know if he can accept.  Before he can begin to discover what lies ahead of him, the Lady Gretchen is kidnapped and it's up to Drew to rescue her.

What I particularly liked about this installment of the series is that although Drew was still the main character and most of the story is focused around him, a significant amount of time was spent exploring a whole host of new characters and some familiar faces from the first book.  This helped to widen the scope of the story and added a whole new layer of interest.  I have to say that I'm a huge Hector fan, so I was really glad that he featured heavily in the book.  It was fascinating seeing him having to finally deal with the repercussions of his father's death and the consequences of many of the decisions he made earlier on in the series.  I do really like the friendship between Hector and Drew so I was sorry to see that they didn't get many scenes together in 'Rage of Lions' but it gave a chance for the two boys to explore their own future paths.

The story deals mainly with the political factions vying for power and control of Lyssia.  No one can be trusted and people are willing to sell each other out to escalate their own position.  Drew has to deal with his own sudden ascent and the fact that many of his choices about his future have been taken away from him.  I liked the way in which Whitley faces a similar situation but is more accepting of the role she will have to take.

The ending of the book was absolutely jaw-dropping!  I didn't see it coming at all but it's certainly going to make things intriguing for the next book in the series.   

This is one of the most amazing fantasy series I've ever read.  There is incredible attention to detail and the world of Lyssia, created by Curtis Jobling, is stupendous.  Words and images vividly leap off the page and I was utterly sucked into the story from beginning to end.  There are awesome battles, crazy-good fight scenes, danger around every corner and a wonderful group of characters facing the fight of their lives.  

Don't forget to enter my UK giveaway to win the first two books in the series:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #32

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! 
Dragon's Oath (House of Night Novellas #1) 
by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Published by ATOM on 12th July 2011

Before Zoey is Marked and arrives at the House of Night… before she rises in power to confront utter darkness, and the House of Night is divided… there’s Dragon’s Oath, the thrilling story behind the House of Night's formidable fencing instructor and warrior – the love that will transform him, and the mercy that will come back to haunt him…
I love the House of Night series so I was really excited to find out that there was going to be a novella published.  It's always interesting to get a chance to find out more about characters that perhaps there isn't an opportunity to incorporate more of into the main series.  I think I might have to go and pre-order this one on Amazon now! 

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Review: The Rogue's Princess - Eve Edwards

The Rogue's Princess by Eve Edwards, published by Penguin Razorbill on 7th July 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
1586 – London, England. Sixteen-year-old Mercy Hart is the daughter of one of London’s richest – and strictest – cloth merchants. Kit Turner is an actor and the illegitimate son of the late Earl of Dorset. A chance encounter finds Kit falling for the beautiful Mercy’s charms, but their love is forbidden. A merchant’s daughter and a vagabond – it simply cannot be. If Mercy chooses Kit she must renounce her family name and leave her home. Will she favour duty over true love, or will she give Kit his heart’s desire?

This series about the Lacey brothers is one of my absolute favourites!  The books may be set in the past but they feature wonderful characters and stories that literally pulse with life.

'The Rogue's Princess' follows the Laceys' illigitimate half-brother Kit Turner, a player in the theatre.  Some what flamboyant and a bit of a loveable rogue with an eye for the ladies, Kit becomes a reformed man when he meets the pure and innocent Mercy Hart, the daughter of a rich cloth merchant.  However, Kit has not had the same start in life and all the priviliges that go with it as his brothers, so he must first try to win over Mercy's Puritan father before he can claim her hand in marriage.

I love books which feature romances which make my heart flutter and skip a beat and this one certainly did!  In fact, all of the books in the series have incredible romances at the root of their stories.  I enjoyed seeing the way in which Kit woos Mercy and makes her fall in love with him.  Their courtship is pure but also full of longing looks, gentle kises and unswerving devotion. 

Many familiar faces are featured throughout, including Will and Jamie Lacey, plus Milly and her new husband Diego.  The youngest Lacey brother Tobias also has a signiciant part to play in the plot and I'm keeping my fingers firmly crossed that there wll be a fourth book based around Tobias finally meeting a nice girl of his own.

As the story is set in 1586, there are also glimpses of some real life historical figures such as the playwright from Statford, William Shakespeare.  I love the way so many historical details and touches from the past have been interwoven, such as the plot to remove Elizabeth from the throne and reinstate Mary.  Eve Edwards has done so much research to make sure that all the details of ther period are accurate and true.

I have to also briefly mention the beautiful cover art for this book too which really stands out from other YA historical fiction series.  It's absolutely gorgeous and a treat to have on my bookshelves. 

Let yourself by swept away by 'The Rogue's Princess' and surrender to the past as Eve Edwards works her magical storytelling skills on you!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Review: David - Mary Hoffman

David by Mary Hoffman, published by Bloomsbury on 4th July 2011 

Goodreads synopsis:
Michelangelo’s statue of David is famous around the world. Millions flock to Italy every year to admire the physical perfection of the young man captured within the marble. But the identity of the model has never been known...until now. In this epic tale, acclaimed author Mary Hoffman imagines the story of Gabriele, a na├»ve but incredibly handsome young man who is hired as Michelangelo’s model, only to find himself drawn into a world of spies, political treachery, and murder. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Florence in its most turbulent times, this is a rich, colorful and thrilling tale that gives life to one of the world’s greatest masterpieces.

This book combines beautiful imagery, vivid descriptions and sensuous detail.  'David' by Mary Hoffman vividly recreates the sense of what Italy and Florence in particular must have been like in 1501 when the city was split by two warring factions: the pro-Republicans and the pro-Medici supporters.  Hoffman uses this period in time as a backdrop for her novel which combines historical detail with fictional imaginings.  I'm a massive fan of historical fiction and Mary Hoffman is the queen of this genre.  It did take me a little while to get all the names of the characters straight in my head and to acquaint myself with this particular period but once I had, I was literally swept away.     

The book is centred around the story behind the famous statue of David.  Mary Hoffman explores the character on which the statue could have been modeled and provides an insight into why it was so significant at the time. 

Real life figures such as the great sculptor Michelangelo and the painter Leonardo da Vinci feature in the story, as well as fictional characters like Gabriele del Lauro, a stonecutter from Settignano, who arrives in the city to find work but soon becomes embroiled in romantic entanglements and political rivalries and whose life becomes full of intrigue and deceit.  I love books which visualise historical figures and breathe new life into them so this was something which really appealed to me.  Plus, for lovers of fine works of art, there's also a glimpse at the very famous portrait of the Mona Lisa with a story about who sat for the painting.  I found all these additional elements of the story absolutely fascinating and totally engrossing.   

The historical detail in the novel is informative, educational and incredibly interesting.  You can easily see how much research has gone into the book.  I kept jotting things down as I was reading, so that I could go and look them up later.  The people and the places were fascinating and I now have such a longing to go and visit Florence and see the famous statue of David for myself. 

Magical storytelling, a strong narrative pace and an intriguing plot combine to make this a really enjoyable read.  Fans of K.M Grant will love this book, as will historical fiction lovers.  No one does it as well as Mary Hoffman!

Don't forget to drop by on July 28th, when Mary Hoffman's stopping by as part of her blog tour for 'David'.  She'll be talking about some of her favourite places to visit in Italy.  I can't wait!

Find out more about Mary on her website:

Or check out her blog at:

Sunday, 3 July 2011

In My Mailbox #31

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:
(Don't forget to check out my giveaway for the set)

Bumped by Megan McCafferty
(Super excited to receive this as it sounds awesome!)
(I'll be taking part in Catherine's first blog tour for her debut novel in August)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Giveaway: Wereworld - Curtis Jobling

On 7th July 2011, the sequel to Curtis Jobling's incredible Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf is published.  The second book in the series is called 'Wereworld: Rage of Lions' and sounds equally awesome.  I'm a big fan of this series so I can't wait to read it.

To celebrate the release, the very lovely people at Puffin have provided a copies of the first two books in the series for me to giveaway.  This giveaway is only open to entrants within the UK at the request of the publisher. To enter just fill out the form below.

Giveaway rules.
  • There will be one winner.
  • Open to entrants with UK addresses only. International entrants may enter, provided they have a UK address to send the books to.
  • Please fill out the form completely - including email address 
  • You do not have to be a follower to enter.
  • Deadline for entries will be on 18 July 2011
  • Winner(s) will be drawn by
  • Winner(s) will be contacted via e-mail, and will be given 48 hours to response. Otherwise, a new winner will be drawn.
  • Any details will be deleted after use and will not be passed on to any third party.

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