Friday 30 September 2011

News: Fallen in Love - Lauren Kate

Exciting news for all those fans of the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.  Pencil this date into your diaries now! 

Random House Children’s Books will publish an original novel by Lauren Kate that is connected to her internationally bestselling series, Fallen. The novel, 'Fallen in Love' will be released in the UK on 2nd February 2012  It's a collection of four intertwined love stories featuring the Fallen characters that fans have grown to know and love: Miles, Shelby, Roland, Arriane, and Luce & Daniel.

Following on from this, the final novel in the series, 'Rapture', will be released in the UK in June 2012, concluding an incredible series which has really captivated readers all around the world.

I was thrilled to find out about this new title from Lauren Kate.  I'm not usually a big fan of short stories but I'll definitely be making an exception for this one.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Review: Embrace - Jessica Shirvington

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington published on 6th October 2011 by Orchard Books

Goodreads synopsis:
Violet Eden has only ever wanted to be with Lincoln. But when he reveals a secret so powerful it could tear them apart, her world spins out of control. Then she meets Phoenix. Intense and beautiful, Violet is helplessly drawn to him...

Caught up in a battle between light and dark - where angels seek vengeance and humans are warriors - Violet must decide how much she's willing to sacrifice. And who she can love...

This is the debut novel from Australian author Jessica Shirvington.  I've been waiting months for a UK release, so I was incredibly excited to finally receive a copy for review.  I picked it up almost as soon as it fell through my mailbox and I was glued to the pages for the rest of the day!

Violet Eden has just turned seventeen and the only thing she wants for her birthday is to have Lincoln, the guy whom she's known for two years and fallen in love with.  Lincoln however, seems determined to keep her at a distance.  Violet eventually accidentally discovers a secret surrounding her heritage which changes her whole world and makes her reassess everything she thought she knew and felt about Lincoln and her life.

When I started this book I wondered whether I'd have to read on through most of the story before the big secret about Violet was revealed.  Happily that wasn't the case and Shirvington wasted little time in letting the plot unfold and clueing readers in on the important choice that Violet faced.  She was then left with more time to devote to the love triangle which forms between Violet, Lincoln and mysterious new guy Phoenix, who suddenly appears on the scene and who seems to have a magnetic hold over Violet.  I have to say that I'm definitely a Lincoln fan!  He is utterly adorable!  If you like the strong, silent and mysterious type then Lincoln most certainly fits the bill.  I never really felt entirely won over by Phoenix.  He does do some incredible things in the romance department but I spent a good part of the book willing Violet to open her eyes and see his true character. 

I adored the angel mythology and the depth and detail in which their history is described.  Although it seemed incredibly complex at the start, it was also absolutely fascinating and I was intrigued by the different ranks of angels that are in existence.  Most of the questions I had about exiles and Grigori (people who are part human and part angel) were answered and Shirvington had obviously spent a great deal of time mapping out the story because there were no gaping holes in the plot and even a handy chart at the back of the book to help you understand the angel hierarchy. 

It took me a little while to warm to Violet, the main character but she really grew on me over the course of the book and I liked the way she eventually grew to accept and embrace her new role.  I would have preferred to have seen Violet's relationship with her father develop further as I always like stories which devote enough time and development to family relationships and I found theirs to be a little one-dimensional, but this is only a small point and didn't distract from my overall enjoyment of the book.       

Paranormal fans will love this exciting new series which really puts angels back on the map!  'Enticed' the second book in the series will be published by Egmont in February 2012 and I shall be queuing up to get my copy.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #42

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! 

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti
Published on 6th March 2012 by Harcourt Children's Books
Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.
As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?
This is the first book in a brand new series which I'm eagerly awaiting.  The cover is mind-blowingly pretty and it sounds like an intriguing and exciting read.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Review: Naked - Kevin Brooks

Naked by Kevin Brooks, published on 6th October 2011 by Puffin

Goodreads synopsis:
London, 1976: a summer of chaos, punk, love ...and the boy they called Billy the Kid. It was the summer of so many things. Heat and violence, love and hate, heaven and hell. It was the time I met William Bonney - the boy from Belfast known as Billy the Kid. I've kept William's secrets for a long time, but now things have changed and I have to tell the truth. But I can't begin until I've told you about Curtis Ray. Hip, cool, rebellious Curtis Ray. Without Curtis, there wouldn't be a story to tell. It's the story of our band, of life and death ...and everything in between.

This is the first Kevin Brooks book I've read.  He's an incredibly popular author and as I've been wanting to read one of his novels for a while I was excited about the opportunity to review his new title.  I also discovered while reading the press release that he hails from my home town so I was doubly pleased!

The main thing I enjoyed about 'Naked' was the way in which Kevin Brooks really captured the essence of the seventies and set about recreating the culture of the day, including the different groups which were prevalent at the time - the punks, skinheads and rockers.  Although the seventies is not an era that I'm particularly familiar with and indeed I wasn't even born during 1976, the year the book is set, everything is described so vividly that it didn't take much imagination for me to feel transported back in time and immersed in the period.  With references to bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, I felt like I was right in the heart of an era characterised by sex, drugs and rock n roll.

The inclusion of a sub-plot involving the IRA conflict between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland was an interesting angle and added depth to the story.  It also helped to illustrate the divide which can occur between different groups of people, whether punk or skinhead, black or white, Protestant or Catholic.  This was quite a heavy-hitting and gritty storyline so probably better suited to slightly older teen readers. 

Although I didn't instantly connect with the story, mainly I think because the subject matter wasn't one that I would normally choose, I did find the characters fascinating.  There's the main character Lili, who starts off on the straight and narrow and is gradually seduced by Curtis, who gets her mixed up in the music world and who shows her the real life behind the glamour of being in a band.  I liked the fact that the book had a female narrator and I enjoyed following the evolution of her character as she falls under the spell of one boy, only to end up seduced by another.  My favourite character was actually William Bonney or Billy the Kid as he's nicknamed.  When Lili meets William everything changes and he opens her eyes to a lot of things.  William is kept deliberately mysterious for a large part of the first half of the book until he opens up to Lili and reveals a number of secrets.  I found him so intriguing and I was continually left wanting to know more and more about him.        

Kevin Brooks doesn't hold back from confronting difficult topics.  'Naked' does deal with some hardhitting themes but the grittiness underlining the novel is part of what makes it such an interesting book.  Although this one didn't win me over entirely, Brooks's writing is intelligent and perceptive and I'm looking forward to giving more of his novels a go in the future.   

Monday 26 September 2011

Blog tour: Kate Harrison - Soul Beach - 'Not one of those books...'

Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for Kate Harrison's awesome debut YA novel 'Soul Beach' which was published on 1st September 2011 by new imprint Indigo. 

I've read several of Kate's adult novels which are wonderful, including my favourite, The Secret Shoppers series and so was curious about how Kate had bridged the gap between adult and young-adult fiction.

Not one of those books…
Of all the things I expected when my first book was published – fame, fortune, a movie deal – ridicule definitely wasn’t one of them.

But that’s what I got. At my very first literary party, I was brought swiftly down to earth. I was making small talk with a nice chap, telling him proudly about my debut novel.

‘What’s it about?’

I told him it was a dark comedy about a thirtysomething school bully who organises a reunion to liven up her life, not realising all the guests hate her guts.

‘Oh, it’s one of those books. Chick lit. I don’t know how you can lower yourself to write that rubbish.’

I was, momentarily, lost for words. Then I managed to smile and asked him, ‘what do you write?’

‘Computer manuals,’ he replied, before turning away to find someone more worthwhile to talk to.

It was a sign of what was to come. Not from the fantastic readers, or from othere authors of what I prefer to call commercial women’s fiction. But newspapers and critics and more literary writers love to weigh in, blaming books with pastel covers for pretty much everything from girl gangs to the death of literature.

After a while, I learned to ignore it and focus on what I wanted to do: tell a good story, entertain people. If that wasn’t to some people’s liking, that was their problem.

So, fast forward to today. Exactly eight years after my first adult novel was published, my debut Young Adult book, Soul Beach , is making its entrance into the world. And the response couldn’t be more different. I’ve accidentally stumbled into a ‘hot’ genre. YA is vibrant and cool and some of that seems to be rubbing off on me!

‘What made you want to write YA?’ people ask. Some of them sound like TV legend Mrs Merton when she asked Debbie McGee ‘What was it that first attracted you to millionaire Paul Daniels?’

The truth, though, is that I wasn’t chasing the money, or the cool. I simply wanted to tell a story that gripped me, just as I did when the idea for my first novel, Old School Ties , came to me one freezing cold Christmas.

Chick lit, YA, dystopian – they’re just labels. Sure, they can help us find our next book to read, to navigate a world where thousands of titles are released every year. But I certainly couldn’t spend a year (or in the case of the Soul Beach trilogy, three years) working on a project just because it seemed fashionable. I need passion to keep me writing.

Any book is a risk. When I started Soul Beach , I didn’t know if I could pull off a darker novel. I certainly didn’t have a book contract or any interest from publishers. But there were things I wanted to explore in my story: paradise and loss, the seductiveness of the online world, love and hate, sisterly love and the fear of the unknown.

I can’t pretend its not great fun to be part of a ‘hot’ genre, especially when I look at my brilliant Indigo stable mates. I think YA is hot because it’s a place where readers are willing to suspend disbelief, explore new ideas, bend genre rules.

But as a writer, what’s most important to me is the idea, the characters, the journey. And as a reader, I happen to think that the least we can expect from an author is that same passion to tell the best story they can.

Sunday 25 September 2011

In My Mailbox #42

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 some really nice books to review this week:
(I actually have a proof of this already but this is a lovely finished hardback copy)

Darkness Falls by Mia James
(I still have to read the first book in this series 'By Midnight' but I'll be reading and reviewing them both very soon)

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
(I haven't read anything by this author before but I've been wanting to for a while now.  It sounds very heavily fantasy driven but from the sneak peak I had it looks like being really good)

Saturday 24 September 2011

Sneak Extract: Crossed - Ally Condie

The wait is nearly over as the hotly anticipated sequel to international bestseller, 'Matched' by Ally Condie is finally coming!  'Matched' was one of my favourite debut novels of last year (you can read my review of it here) and I've been feverishly awaiting the sequel ever since. 

Rules are different outside the Society.

Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky-taken by the Society to his certain death-only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.

Narrated from both Cassia's and Ky's points of view, this hotly anticipated sequel to Matched will take them both to the edge of Society, where nothing is as expected and crosses and double crosses make their path more twisted than ever...

'Crossed' is due to be published in the UK by Puffin on 24th November 2011.  If you can't wait that long then you can read a sneak peak exclusively at
Read it here first: opening chapters of ‘Crossed’, sequel to ‘Matched’ by Ally Condie — EXCLUSIVE

Friday 23 September 2011

Blog Tour Announcement: VIII - H.M. Caster

I'm going to be taking part in the blog tour for H.M. Castor's new book 'VIII' which is about the life of Henry VIII.  The tour runs from 26th September until 3rd October and I'll have Harriet herself stopping by the blog on 2nd October to talk about why villains make such good heroes!

For more information about all the stops along the way, click on the picture above or go to:
  There's an exciting giveaway, some great Q&As and lots of awesome guest posts from Harriet too!

Thursday 22 September 2011

Review: Soul Beach - Kate Harrison

Soul Beach by Kate Harrison, published by Indigo on 1st September 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
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?

Having previously read and enjoyed Kate Harrison's Secret Shopper series, I was incredibly excited to find out that she had written her debut YA novel, being published under new publishing umbrella Indigo.  Kate Harrison seems to have a real talent for weaving mesmerising and enjoyable stories with wonderfully written characters and 'Soul Beach' was no exception.  When I'm reading thrillers, the one thing I expect is to be sucked into the story and to have to read just one more chapter and then one more because it's so good that I can't put it down.  I wasn't disappointed because 'Soul Beach' delivered exactly that.

The story is centered around teenager Alice, whose sister Megan was murdered.  The police haven't yet been able to track down her killer.  Alice's whole life has been turned upside down since her sister's death.  Her parents are each coping with the event in their own way and Alice is still grieving for the big sister that she admired and looked up to.  When she receives an invitation to Soul Beach from her dead sister she discovers a virtual world unlike any other and her own life begins to pale in comparison. 

I loved the whole concept of a cyber or virtual world full of the souls of the dead.  Soul Beach is like the limbo between heaven and hell and the souls there are unable to move on because their deaths are either unresolved or something in their previous lives has been left incomplete.  There's irony in the fact that this is depicted as being somewhat of a paradise island or an idyllic place where the sun always shines and the sea is always blue and yet underneath the surface it's far from this.  Alice starts to become more and more obsessed with spending time there with her sister and with the other people she meets, including cute and kind Danny, who she begins to develop romantic feelings for and Triti, another teenage girl who sets Alice on the path to discovering a secret about Soul Beach itself.

The story is well plotted and interspersed throughout are small fragments of the thoughts of the person that killed Megan.  I have my suspicions about who it might be but at the end of the book we're still left guessing, which is incredibly frustrating as I'm dying to know!  However, the secret of a good murder mystery is to always leave the reader in suspense throughout and that's definitely the case here. 

Kate Harrison has bridged the gap between the adult and YA genres perfectly with a fascinating exploration of life after death.  There's romance, mystery and plenty of thrills along the way in this brilliant book which will draw you in and then leave you wanting more! 

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #41

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! 

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Published by HarperCollins in May 2012

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

This is the sequel to Veronica Roth's outstanding debut novel 'Divergent'.  I still can't believe she's only 23 and yet wrote one of the most impressive books I've read so far this year.  I'm really excited about 'Insurgent' which sounds like it's going to be a stellar follow-up.   

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Trailer - Soul Beach - Kate Harrison

I've just finished reading 'Soul Beach' by Kate Harrison which is one of the first titles to be published by new imprint Indigo. It was a fantastic read and is the first in a trilogy so there's plenty more still to come!  Here's the amazing trailer for the book.  I really love the beautiful colours they've used as a backdrop to the beach.

My review will be up on the blog soon and I'm also taking part in the blog tour for the book so do stop by on 26th September when I'll be welcoming Kate Harrison herself!

Monday 19 September 2011

Review: Dark Inside - Jeyn Roberts

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 2nd September 2011 

Goodreads synopsis:
Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…. Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even worse is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, hooking on to weakness, turning the unwary into hunters, killers, crazies.

Mason: His mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground. Everyone he knows is killed.

Aries: A school bus, an aftershock and a crash. Pulled out of the wreckage by a mysterious stranger, she’s about to discover a world changed forever.

Clementine: An emergency meeting at the town hall that descends into murderous chaos. Outside the rest of their community encircle with weapons. How can those you trust turn into savage strangers?

Michael: A brutal road rage incident. When the police arrive on the scene they gun down the guilty and turn on the by-standing crowd. Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad?

I actually missed out on a lot of the hype surrounding 'Dark Inside' which meant that when I received a copy of the book for review I wasn't initially sure if it was going to be my sort of thing.  But I like to give everything a try so I picked it up and found that from the very first page I was well and truly hooked on the exhilarating and heart pounding apocalyptic story that debut author Jeyn Roberts had woven.  This is definitely one of those books that will make you not want to leave the house until you've finished it.  It's a story that will make your palms sweat and your heart race!

It actually reminded me quite a bit of 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy which is one of my favourite adult novels and is another one of those books which defines the word gripping

A series of earthquakes have caused total devastation across America.  They've also let loose something which is causing people to suddenly be struck by an uncontrollable rage which leads to them murdering and killing everyone around them.  The story is told via four main characters who have survived the initial quakes and are now attempting to survive in a changed world where death lurks around every corner and where no one can be trusted.  Sometimes in books which have multiple narrators you occasionally get a weak link or a character that you're not quite so keen on.  In 'Dark Inside' I found each of the teenagers narratives enthralling and all of them sharply defined and brilliantly characterised.  Clementine, Mason, Aries and Michael are each left to struggle against odds which are clearly stacked against them as they try to stay alive.  There's also the enigmatic, mysterious and handome bad boy Daniel who may well hold the key to the horror which has struck America and the sweet and charming Chickadee who will touch your heart.   

The fact that there appears to be no reason for the murderous intent which is driving people, makes it even more shocking as it's hard to understand or explain.  The teenagers have to do some extraordinary things to ensure that they're not caught by the evil 'Baggers' who are vicious and bloodthirsty and whose only purpose is to catch and then kill people.  I enjoyed the gradual convergence of the teens stories and the way in which they started to operate as a team and not just as lone survivors.         

As I'm not really a fan of the horror genre, I thought that I might find this book too scary.  However, although my stomach was in my mouth for the majority of the story, I lived every second along with the characters and I felt bereft when it was over.  This is truly an oustanding novel by a very exciting debut author which blew me away and is without a doubt one of my favourite books of the year so far.  Jeyn Roberts is currently working on the sequel to 'Dark Inside' and I for one can't wait!  I'm going to be counting down every second until it's release.  This is definitely the book to get all those reluctant teen readers to read!     

Sunday 18 September 2011

In My Mailbox #41

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

I love seeing what everybody else got in their mailboxes. 

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

I only got one new book this week as I'm saving up for when I go to London in a couple of weeks and have a long awaited book spree in Foyles!

(This is the first in a new trilogy which I have been hotly anticipating for a while now.  It sounds absolutely riveting and I can't wait to get started on it)

Thursday 15 September 2011

Review: Jaws of Death - Paul Adam

Jaws of Death by Paul Adam, published by Corgi on 4th August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
His father is missing presumed dead and his mother is serving a twenty-year sentence for his murder, but teenage escapologist Max Cassidy is certain everybody is wrong – about both things . . . And now, his quest to find the truth has become very dangerous . . .Max learns that his dad was part of a secret global organisation, the Cedar Alliance. Desperate to find him alive, he seeks help from the other members of the group. But they are scattered across the world – and then they start disappearing one by one . . .Escapology is dangerous but not nearly as dangerous as real life...

This is the second Max Cassidy adventure in a planned trilogy from author Paul Adam.  I have been waiting for this sequel to 'Escape From Shadow Island' for what seems like months and months.  I stumbled across this series by accident but so loved the characters and the writing and the incredibly exciting plot that I was hooked almost after the first page.  It will hold enormous appeal for those fans of Charlie Higson's Young Bond and Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider books who are mourning the prospect of the end of two awesome series and looking for something to fill the gap.  However, although similar in terms of the fact that the main character is a teenage boy with above average skills, wit and intelligence, it is also extremely unique with a captivating plot all of its own.

Max Cassidy is a fourteen year old Houdini following in the footsteps of his famous father Alexander Cassidy.  He's determined to find out what happened to his father on Shadow Island and in the process hopes to prove his mother's innocence and free her from the twenty year jail sentence she's serving for supposedly killing her husband.  What I love about Max is that he doesn't really have any special training at all (apart from his talent at escapology) and he doesn't have a whole array of gadgets at his disposal but he tends to get the upper hand because he always thinks one step ahead of everyone else.  He's also very clever and uses his wits and skills to best the bad guys! 

Paul Adam really racks up the tension to an excruciating level throughout this book.  My palms started getting sweaty as I became totally enthralled and gripped by the continual abrupt turns and unexpected twists in the plot.  The story takes place in Britain, as well as Borneo and Stockholm.  The wide range of settings kept the story moving along at a brisk pace and added several unique obstacles for Max to overcome. 

I loved this book and the whole series so far.  The only thing disappointing is that there's only more book to go!  Perhaps Max could be recruited by a special organisation and so his adventures could go on and on, or even better...a Max Cassidy and Alex Rider cross-over spin-off!  Although this title will probably mainly appeal to a male audience it really has universal appeal and will I'm sure, attract many male and female fans looking for a thrilling and exciting read. 

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #40

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 Fear by Charlie Higson
Published by Puffin on 15th September 2011

The sickness struck everyone over the age of fourteen. Mothers and fathers, older brothers, sisters and best friends. No one escaped its touch. And now children across London are being hunted by ferocious grown-ups . . .They're hungry. They're bloodthirsty. And they aren't giving up. DogNut and the rest of his crew want to find their lost friends, on a deadly mission from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace and beyond, as the sickos lie in wait. But who are their friends and who are the enemy in this changed world?

This is the third book in The Enemy series by Charlie Higson.  I've really been enjoying these so far and can't wait to see what happens to all the characters next.  Luckily 'The Fear' is published tomorrow so I'll be rushing out to get a copy!   

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Trailer: Between - Jessica Warman

Here's the amazing trailer for Jessica Warman's forthcoming novel 'Between', which is described as '...packing the emotional punch of 'The Lovely Bones''. I'm reading it at the moment and loving it, so I'll be posting my review nearer to the release date.  It's being published by Egmont on 3rd October 2011 and I'm lucky enough to be taking part in Jessica's blog tour, so be sure to stop by on 12th October.

Only the good die young. Right? Elizabeth Valchar has it all: friends, money, beauty, a cute boyfriend and assured popularity. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she is found drowned next to her parents' boat. Everyone thinks it was a tragic accident - teens drinking on a boat, a misstep leading to a watery death. But Liz is still here after death, and she doesn't know why. There are gaps in her memory. Her only company Alex, a boy killed by a car a year earlier, Liz sets out to piece together her life. But their small coastal town is hiding many secrets - about families, boyfriends and friendship. Plus, Alex hates Liz for being mean when they were alive. Was she as squeaky clean as she thinks she was? Could it be that she herself is hiding the biggest secret of all? Can Liz discover the truth? And if she does, who can she tell? An engrossing, compelling thriller that peels back the layers of small-town life to expose true, ugly, cruel human nature.

Monday 12 September 2011

Review: Deception - Lee Nichols

Deception by Lee Nichols, published by Bloomsbury on 5th September 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
When Emma Vaile’s parents go missing while away on a mysterious business trip, she’s left all alone in her creepy old house. But her brother’s very cute best friend, Bennett Stern—Emma’s knight in J. Crew armor—arrives unexpectedly to whisk her away to New England. There, Emma settles into his family’s museum-like mansion and enrolls at an old-fashioned private school. She quickly finds friends in the popular legacy crowd at Thatcher and spends her free time crushing on Bennett.

But the eerie visions she’s been hiding from everyone have gotten worse. Emma has memories of Thatcher that she can’t explain—it’s as if she’s returning home to a place she’s never been. Finally, Emma confides in Bennett and learns she is a ghostkeeper, a person who can communicate with ghosts. Bennett brought Emma to Thatcher to protect her, but now he needs her help tracking an other-worldly murderer.

'Deception' is the debut YA novel from British author Lee Nichols.  It's the first book in a trilogy which promises much and delivers in spades!  I didn't know much about it before it arrived but some of my favourite authors Carrie Jones and Claudia Gray provide plenty of plaudits on the front and back cover which grabbed my attention prior to beginning to read the opening chapter. 

The story is told narrated in the first person by protagonist Emma whose family have left her in the lurch, leading to her being whisked off to stay with her guardian Bennett Stern, who also happens to be a friend of her brother and the guy on which Emma has always harboured a huge crush.  Living in a new house and having to attend a new school is bad enough but Emma is also experiencing weird sensations which she can't explain and believes she may even be able to see ghosts.  Emma eventually learns about her own abilities and has to come to terms with the fact that she's a ghostkeeper but with powers far beyond anyone else.   

One of my favourite things about this book was the crackling chemistry between Emma and Bennett, who she has been in love with since she first laid eyes on him.  Like every girl, she endlessly imagines what it would be like to kiss the object of her affection and become his girlfriend and I have to say that I was really rooting for the two of them because they seem perfect for each other.  There was a sub-plot romance involving Coby, a local boy, which had an unusual outcome but it was obvious that Emma's heart lay elsewhere.  It will be interesting to see how Lee Nichols develops their burgeoning romance in future books which I'm certainly going to be glued to.   

Bennett lives in a wonderfully old museum like mansion in New England with its very own set of ghost servants.  Not only was this a suitably atmospheric setting for the story but I adored the ghost characters - Anatole, Nicholas, Celeste and the Rake, who become like a proper family to Emma.  I particularly loved Nicholas who Emma treats like a younger brother.   

I thoroughly enjoyed the unravelling of the mystery about the ghostkeepers and their different abilities.  This was well developed and explained in enough detail so that I was able to grasp it quite quickly.  I would have liked to have known more about Emma's family and their own role as ghostkeepers but by not laying everything bare in the first book, it keeps the suspense high for the sequel.     

This book had it all including ghostly happenings, a spine-tingling romance, an intriguing mystery and a gripping finale.  I need to get hold of the second book in the series which is called 'Betrayal' pronto, so I can see if Emma finally gets her boy! 

Thursday 8 September 2011

Review: Abandon - Meg Cabot

Abandon by Meg Cabot, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 1st September 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Last year, Pierce died - just for a moment. And when she was in the space between life and death, she met John: tall dark and terrifying, it’s his job to usher souls from one realm to the next.

There’s a fierce attraction between them, but Pierce knows that if she allows herself to fall for John she will be doomed to a life of shadows and loneliness in the underworld. But now things are getting dangerous for her, and her only hope is to do exactly what John says...

Meg Cabot is my all time favourite YA author but funnily enough when I checked my blog, I realised that I haven't actually reviewed one of her books here yet - a situation I'm about to remedy!  Meg is the only author that I have a dedicated shelf to on my bookcases and every one of her books I've read, adored and re-read over and over.  She has an incredible talent to be able to write about literally any subject and make it fascinating and wonderful.  I was beyond thrilled when I received a proof copy of 'Abandon' for review.  I treat Meg Cabot books like a box of chocolates, slowly savouring each one at a time and enjoying having new books of hers to read when I need a Cabot kick!

I have to say right from the start of this review that I fell in love with 'Abandon'.  The plot combines elements of ancient Greek mythology and features a new and original take on the story of Hades, Persephone and the Underworld.  This is a subject which I knew I was going to be crazy about from the beginning.  I am absolutely fascinated by stories about the Gods and I loved the way in which Meg Cabot explored the roots of this but gave it her own unique spin.

The story revolves around fifteen year old Pierce Oliviera who dies after a tragic accident and ends up in the Underworld where she meets the mysterious John Hayden.  Brought back to life and coping with her near death experience, she finds that danger stalks her around every corner.  Although determined to protect her friends and family from the evil that she can see lurking around them, she's unable to prevent the people she loves from being hurt and while John would seek to keep her safe, even he may not be able to protect her forever.

I absolutely adored Pierce and John.  I mean for a dead guy John is a total hottie!  Although their romance really took most of the book to kick into gear, I enjoyed the anticipation of them getting together, just as much as the moment when Pierce finally wakes up to her true feelings for John.  Meg Cabot's characters are always incredibly well written and immensely likable and this was a distinct feature of Abandon.  I loved the way that Pierce was so determined to look after the people she cares about and always seemed to put herself second, whereas John is present whenever she's in danger and lies continually looking out for her even when she doesn't know he's there.  I'm so excited about seeing the romance between the two of them blossom further!   

'Abandon' had a hugely entertaining storyline which had me completely gripped from start to finish.  I can promise you that the Underworld has never been so appealing!  There were dark undertones to the book, as well as some moments of light relief but I loved every single second of the characters' journeys as they traverse life and death situations.

The second book in the trilogy, 'Underworld' is due to be published next year but I haven't figured out yet how I'm going to be able to stand the wait! 

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #39

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! 
A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton
Published by Simon Pulse on 21st February 2012
When Ari first arrived in the dilapidated city of New 2, all she wanted was to figure out who she was. But what she discovered was beyond her worst nightmare. Ari can already sense the evil growing inside her—a power the goddess Athena will stop at nothing to possess.

Desperate to hold on to her humanity and protect her loved ones, Ari must fight back. But Athena’s playing mind games, not just with Ari but with those she cares about most. And Athena has a very special plan for the brooding and sexy Sebastian.

Ari is determined to defeat Athena, but time is running out. With no other options, Ari must unleash the very thing she’s afraid of: herself.
I've recently read the first book in this series, 'Darkness Becomes Her' and loved it.  I'm extremely excited about the sequel which is out next year.  I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next between Ari and the gorgeous Sebastian!

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Review: Dearly Departed - Lia Habel

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel, published by Doubleday Children's Books in August 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
As far as romantic pairings go in the year 2195, you don't get much more unlikely than an upper-class schoolgirl and a poor miner from enemy tribes. Filter in the fact that he's a zombie, and you're definitely talking about star-crossed love.

Dearly, Departed is a cyber-Victorian/steampunk romance that takes place in the shadow of a new ice age. Nora Dearly, a mouthy teenage girl and apparent orphan, leaves school for Christmas - only to be dragged into the night by the living dead. Luckily for her, though, the good ones got to her first. From her reanimated rescuers she learns not only that zombies are roaming the countryside, but that her father is one - and that he's in terrible trouble. She also meets Captain Bram Griswold, a noble, strong, and rather sweet undead boy for whom she starts to fall.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Pamela Roe, is just trying to carry on with life as best she can in the wake of Nora's disappearance - when she ends up killing an evil zombie in self-defense. Pam is galvanized into action, and ends up leading a group of survivors as the city of New London is thronged by the ravenous dead.

Upon hearing of Pamela's plight, Nora and Bram set out to rescue her friends, find her missing father, and maybe just save what's left of the world.

I've seen some amazing five star reviews of this book which had me really excited when I received a lovely, shiny new copy.  The cover made me think that it was going to feature a hot romance with a swoonworthy hero but on finishing it last night I have quite mixed feelings about it.  I will read pretty much anything from any genre but steampunk isn't something that I've tried before and so it took me until a good half-way through the book to get used to the writer's style.  It's a strange mix of steampunk and cyber-Victorian with zombies thrown in by debut author Lia Habel. 

'Dearly Departed' is set in 2195.  Following a series of catastrophes and natural disasters, the world is a completely different place.  People have reverted back to Victorian etiquette and values, living in a country renamed as New Victoria.  A second movement called Punk has also developed, with the Punks rallying against the social structure.  They are made up of people who have been infected by what's known as the Lazarus syndrome, which has turned them into zombie-like creatures.  Normally, I'm quite keen on zombie novels.  I love Charlie Higson's series (including books 'The Dead' and 'The Enemy') and zombies make a nice change sometimes to vampires and werewolves!  In 'Dearly Departed' though it didn't entirely work for me. 

The focus of much of the novel is on Bram, who is living life as a zombie and Nora Dearly, who is kidnapped to keep her safe from those who want to get their hands on her for nefarious purposes.  To become completely engaged in a book then I have to love the main characters.  With Nora and Bram I struggled to connect with them and their developing romance. I didn't find the relationship between them entirely convincing and this affected my overall enjoyment of the book. 

The story is also told through the eyes of alternating characters and I found this made it quite confusing at times.  It also meant that the narrative never flowed properly.  I continually had to check which character was narrating a particular chapter and this caused the plot lines to jump around quite a bit and the story to feel slightly disjointed.

I haven't given up on steampunk yet but on the other hand I'm not sure that it's going to be for me.  I thought that Lia Habel did a good job of incorporating aspects of the old with the new and the setting was pretty incredible but this book just didn't bowl me over. If you are a fan of zombies however and you're looking for something unique and different then you might like to give it a try.    

Monday 5 September 2011

Bloodlines - Richelle Mead giveaway winner

Thank you to everyone that entered my UK giveaway to win a copy of 'Bloodlines' by Richelle Mead.  If you weren't successful this time then check back again soon when I'll be having another giveaway on the blog. 

I'm pleased to announce that the winner is:
#6 Sarah Webster

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.

Sunday 4 September 2011

In My Mailbox #40

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 went on a bit of a book buying spree on yesterday to cheer me up after a pretty rubbish week at work.  There's nothing like buying a pile of lovely, shiny new books to put a smile on your face!

(I've been dying to read this book for ages.  It's got such a gorgeous cover and sounds amazing!)

(I haven't actually read Halo yet although I know it received mixed reviews but I still wanted this one)

(Hope to get started on this one soon)

(Another one that people seem to either love or hate.  Personally I think it sounds fantastic)

(Confession.  I haven't read the first three books in this series yet - a situation I must remedy soon!)

(The final installment of Maggie's wolves trilogy)

Friday 2 September 2011

Bumped - Megan McCafferty giveaway winner

Thank you to everyone that entered my international giveaway to win a copy of 'Bumped' by Megan McCafferty.  If you weren't successful this time then check back again soon when I'll be having another giveaway on the blog. 
 I'm pleased to announce that the winner is:

#75 Natasha Areena

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.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Review: The History Keepers: The Storm Begins - Damian Dibben

The History Keepers: The Storm Begins by Damian Dibben, published by Doubleday Children's Books on 1st September 2011

Goodreads synopsis:
Imagine if you lost your parents - not just in place, but in time. Jake Djones' mum and dad have gone missing and they could be anywhere in the world - at any time in history. Because the Djones family have an astonishing secret, which for years they've managed to keep - even from each other. They belong to the History Keepers: a secret society which travels through the centuries to prevent evil enemies from meddling with History itself. In the quest to find his parents, Jake is whisked from 21st Century London to 19th century France, the headquarters of the mysterious History Keepers, where he discovers the truth about his family's disappearance - and the dastardly Prince Zeldt's plan to destroy the world as we know it...

'The History Keepers: The Storm Begins' is the first book in a brand new series by British author Damian Dibben.  It's a series that's set to appeal to a male and female teen audience and those who are fans of the Percy Jackson books. 

The concept of 'The History Keepers' is awesome.  It's about a group of people who can travel back to any point in time and to any significant event or period in history.  Instead of trying to change things, their job is to protect history itself from those who wish to exploit it for their own self-serving motives.  I would love to be able to time travel and explore the events of the past.  Imagine being able to visit your favourite decade or go back and meet famous historical figures.  This is definitely something which will really appeal to readers of all ages. 

Jake Djones finds out about the History Keepers after his parents go missing.  He's determined to find out what really happened to his Mum and Dad and in what part of history they're now trapped.  Although just a teenager, Jake becomes a valuable part of the team and helps to unravel a sinister plot by the evil Prince Zeldt to change history and destroy current day civilization.  The other members of the organisation range from young to old and some interesting sub-plots involving these characters are established. 

The pace of the story picked up as the plot rapidly progressed in the second-half of the book.  A surprising secret is also revealed about a member of the team at the very end which should prove to be an interesting angle in future installments. 

I really enjoyed 'The History Keepers' and book two holds the promise of even more action and adventure.  In Jake Djones a whole new hero is born! 
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