Monday, 31 December 2012

My favourite reads of 2012

2012 has been a fantastic year for young-adult books with some incredible titles storming onto bookshelves around the world.  I've put together my top ten list of favourite books I've read (although not necessarily published) this year.  These are in no particular order because I loved them all equally!

1. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins is one of my favourite YA writers.  Her writing style is fresh and original and I've adored both of her books so far.  I simply can't wait for 'Isla and the Happily Ever After' which will finally be published in 2013.  I loved the characters in 'Lola and the Boy Next Door' and I fell hook, line and sinker for the adorable Cricket Bell.

2. Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
This is the second book in the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand which is a contender for one of my all-time favourite series of YA books.  The story was gripping and engrossing and I loved reading about Clara and the two boys in her life, Tucker and Christian.  I'm on tenterhooks waiting to find out which boy she'll eventually choose (I'm secretly hoping for Tucker!).  
3. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
One of the best debuts of 2012.  This was a five star read which blew me away.
4. Legend by Marie Lu
An incredible debut by Marie Lu loosely based on the plot of Les Miserables.  In my review I described it as a book which 'delivers the goods in spades'.  Dystopian fiction is one of my favourite genres and 'Legend' is one of the most thrilling stories I've ever come across.      
5. The Demon Trappers: Foretold by Jana Oliver
I had high hopes for the last book in The Demon Trappers series and Jana Oliver did not disappoint.  A truly fitting end to what has been an incredible ride. 
6. We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
Yet another marvellous end to a series.  Readers finally got to find out if Belly would choose Conrad or Jeremiah, a question everyone has been pondering over since the series started.  I adored this book which gave me everything I wanted and more! 
7. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
I'm a huge Robin Hood fan so I thought this retelling from the point of view of Scarlet was fantastic.  I'm looking forward immensely to more from this extremely talented author.
8. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
There have been so many incredible debut novels in 2012 and this is another of the best.  Ten years in the making, 'Throne of Glass' is an epic fantasy adventure with wonderful characters and a fast paced and innovative plot. 
9. A Witch in Love by Ruth Warburton
Second books in a series can sometimes be a let down but not 'A Witch in Love'.  I described it as 'combining excitement, sadness, sorrow and hope' and it's one which left me begging for more.  The final book entitled 'A Witch Alone' is due out in 2013.
10. Revived by Cat Patrick
I count Cat Patrick among my favourite authors and her debut novel 'Forgotten' was one of my top reads of last year.  She's done it again with 'Revived' which yet again ticks all my boxes.  Gripping, engrossing and exciting, I absolutely loved it.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Hotly Anticipated Reads 2013: Simon and Schuster

Simon and Schuster never fail to disappoint with their stunning book releases and 2013 is no exception with lots of amazing titles being published.  Here are just a few of the ones that I'm hotly anticipating (January - June).

All links go to Goodreads where you can add them to your wishlist!

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff, published 1st January

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor's peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian's ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah's just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn't there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realises that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life - and it's up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Four months have passed and River and Flynn are still going strong. But things are not perfect. Flynn continues to fly into unprovoked rages, and when River tells her mum, she is banned from seeing him. Fighting to stay together, they end up being torn apart. Is it all over for River and Flynn?

Everbound by Brodi Ashton, published 14th February

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

Everafter by Elizabeth Chandler, published 11th April

It seems the odds are forever against Ivy and her fallen angel. Tristan is still trapped in the body of an accused murderer, and as the two star-crossed lovers try to clear his name, they must battle the dark forces that would keep them apart and destroy them both. The danger is especially great for Tristan since, as a fallen angel, death would mean losing his soul. It’s up to Ivy to save the one she loves and, hopefully, find a way for the two of the them to be together…for all eternity.

The Prey by Andrew Fukuda, published 1st May

For Gene and the remaining humans—or hepers—death is just a heartbeat away. On the run and hunted by society, they must find a way to survive in The Vast... and avoid the hungry predators tracking them in the dark. But they’re not the only things following Gene. He’s haunted by the girl he left behind and his burgeoning feelings for Sissy, the human girl at his side.

When they discover a refuge of exiled humans living high in the mountains, Gene and his friends think they’re finally safe. Led by a group of intensely secretive elders, the civilisation begins to raise more questions than answers. A strict code of behaviour is the rule, harsh punishments are meted out, young men are nowhere to be found—and Gene begins to wonder if the world they’ve entered is just as evil as the one they left behind. As life at the refuge grows more perilous, he and Sissy only grow closer. In an increasingly violent world, all they have is each other... if they can only stay alive.

As well as all of these, there's also the sequel to Kathleen Peacock's 'Deadly Hemlock' and Rebecca Serle's 'When You Were Mine' to look forward to, along with a whole host of New Adult titles.

Comment and let me know which books you're most looking forward to in 2013!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Love Hurts blog tour: Tammara Webber and Rebecca Donovan

Today I'm hosting a stop on the Love Hurts blog tour for Rebecca Donovan's new book 'Reason to Breathe' and Tammara Webber's 'Easy' which are both due to be published by Penguin.

Tammara and Rebecca were kind enough to answer some of my questions about their novels, both of which I can't wait to read.

Congratulations on your novels becoming bestsellers in the US. I’m really looking forward to the UK publications. Have you done anything to celebrate this incredible success?

Tammara: Thank you! I haven’t done anything super celebratory. Having Easy make the New York Times list was mind-blowing all on its own. I think maybe I went out to dinner that night instead of cooking. ;)

Rebecca: Thank you! Not yet, but I plan to take the most amazing vacation on a tropical island with crystal blue water once Out of Breath is released! Cannot wait (for either)!

How would you describe your book in one sentence?

Tammara: Easy is the story of Jacqueline – a girl who’s learning to trust again after she is dumped by one boy and assaulted by another, and Lucas, who helps her recover her self-confidence while hiding the trauma of his own past.

Rebecca: Reason to Breathe is a compelling story of one girl's struggle with an abusive home life and her need to hide this horrible secret from everyone, especially the boy who she is falling in love with.

There are some hard-hitting themes in your book. Why was it important to you to write about these things?
Tammara: Acquaintance rape is a topic that’s been important to me for some time. It’s too often regarded as a ‘lesser form’ of rape – if it’s counted as such at all. This societal attitude leads to victims who accept blame for something that was never their fault. This also diminishes a survivor’s chance of healing and getting on with her life. There have been many first-rate novels written tackling the subject; I wanted to write a story for readers who need something palpable and accessible, less graphic, perhaps, with a romance wrapped around it. I also wanted to show what a healthy, loving relationship looks like – and that’s it possible to love and trust again.

Rebecca: Child abuse is a sensitive topic and most people prefer not to talk about it. I want to break that silence. Abuse can happen behind any closed door, in any town. I want to bring awareness to what could be taking place right next door.

Can you tell me a bit more about why you originally decided to self-publish and how you found this process?

Tammara: I self-published my first book after using critique partners and beta-readers, doing rewrites, querying literary agents and pitching the novel at conferences– in short, everything aspiring writers are told to do. It’s very possible I’d have found an agent if I hadn’t self-published. Personally, however, I grew tired of waiting, and I was ready to get on with the next writing project. After self-publishing that first novel, I didn’t even think about querying subsequent manuscripts – I just went straight to self-publishing, though I still used critique partners, beta-readers and a copy editor. Easy was the fourth novel I self-published.

The process itself is a lot of work. As a self-published author, you are not only free to choose every detail, you’re responsible for choosing every detail. There’s some guesswork, especially at first. Timing and luck play a part. If you hire someone to do something for you and they do a poor job, you have to fire them and pay someone else to do it. There are many marketing opportunities you have to decline because there’s just no time to do them all. You learn your own way.

Rebecca: I considered self-publishing as an option after submitting multiple queries to agents without any acceptances. More than anything I just wanted people to read what I’d written. Self-publishing was a way to share the story with the world without risk. If people liked it, they would read it. And... they liked it!

How do you feel about your novel being classified in the ‘new adult’ genre which has quite literally taken the book world by storm?

Tammara: I don’t particularly care how Easy is categorized, as long as it’s accessible to the readers I considered when I wrote it: women in the 16-23 age range. I LOVE that others outside that demographic have connected with the story as well, but that was the important audience for me. Publishers in the US have long rejected the majority of novels with protagonists in the 18-23 age range. Now everyone is scrambling to figure out where to classify these books. In reality, they may not all classify together. Time will tell. I have no problem with my books being called Mature Young Adult or New Adult – whichever the reader prefers.

Rebecca: There is such value in the New Adult genre and I am so excited to be among the authors to bring the category to light to readers. NA allows for a book’s plotline to develop naturally so the characters can mature realistically and experience coming-of-age moments as they should.

Are there any ‘new adult’ titles that you are looking forward to reading or you can recommend?

Tammara: Anything by Colleen Hoover. (I just beta-read her newest not-yet-released book, HOPELESS, and it’s wonderful.) FALL GUY by Liz Reinhardt was fantastic. I read and loved Rebecca Donovan’s books BARELY BREATHING and REASON TO BREATHE recently. Abbi Glines has several titles that cross into New Adult territory. My favourite “new adult” of all time is WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman – and it’s classified as Young Adult.

Rebecca: I love to read, when I have time! I can’t wait to submerge myself in upcoming stories by Tammara Webber, Colleen Hoover, Katja Millay, Nicole Williams and Gayle Forman. They are currently among my favorite storytellers!

Can you tell me about what you are working on next?

Tammara: I’m writing a fourth (final) book in my BETWEEN THE LINES series. After that, I’ll be working on another stand-alone.

Rebecca: The story I have in mind next is a New Adult novel about an average ‘boy next door’ who wants the unattainable girl. But then when he actually gets to know her, he must decide if she is truly who he wants.

Monday, 17 December 2012

News: Prodigy - Marie Lu

On 29th January 2013, Penguin are publishing 'Prodigy' which is the sequel to Marie Lu's stunning novel 'Legend'.  You can read my review of the first book in the series here 

Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor.

Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

Prodigy First Chapter

Find out more about Marie Lu:

Friday, 14 December 2012

Hotly Anticipated Reads 2013: Macmillan Children's Books

Macmillan are one of my favourite publishers and I always look forward to seeing what new books they have out each year.  There's always plenty to get excited about!  Plus they are the UK home of Meg Cabot whose books I absolutely adore.

Here's a selection of some of the titles they have in store for us lucky readers in 2013!

All links go to Goodreads where you can add them to your wishlist

Vortex by Julie Cross, published 3rd January

Jackson Meyer has thrown himself into his role as an agent for Tempest, the shadowy division of the CIA that handles all time-travel-related threats. Despite his heartbreak at losing the love of his life, Jackson has proved himself to be an excellent agent. However, allthat changes when Holly—the girl he altered history to save—re-enters his life. And when Eyewall, an opposing division of the CIA, emerges, Jackson and his fellow agents find themselves under attack and on the run.

One Crow Alone by S.D. Crockett, published 31st January

The long, bitter winters are getting worse, and a state of emergency has been declared across Europe. In Poland, the villagers are subject to frequent power cuts and fuel shortages. After the death of her grandmother and the evacuation of her village, fifteen-year-old Magda joins forces with the arrogant, handsome Ivan and smuggles her way onto a truck bound for London - where she hopes to find her mother. But London, when they reach it, is a nightmarish world, far from welcoming. Riots are commonplace and the growing chaos is exploited by criminals and terrorists alike. Magda's mother is not to be found, and as the lost girl struggles to come to terms with her changing situation, she eventually becomes friends with a rag-tag group of travellers planning a new home and future. They will need all the cunning and know-how they possess as they realise that the frozen wilderness of Britain has become just as lawless as the city.

Unremembered by Jessica Brody, published 14th March

Sixteen-year-old Jena is the only survivor of an explosion on a plane. She wakes up in hospital to find that she has no memory. The only clue to her identity is a mysterious boy who claims she was part of a top-secret science experiment. The only adult she trusts insists that she shouldn’t believe anything that anybody tells her. In a tense and pacy novel exploding with intrigue and action, Jena must work out who she is and where she came from. Eventually she will learn that the only thing worse than forgetting her past is remembering it.

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin, published 11th April

Reluctant heir of a Mafia boss. Star-crossed lover. Paparazzi darling. Hitman’s target. Anya Balanchine’s amazing story continues in the second part of the Birthright trilogy.

Abandon: Underworld by Meg Cabot, published 25th April

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn't dead.  Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it's for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they've come back as Furies, intent on vengeance . . . on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there . . . and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.  And unless Pierce is careful, this time there'll be no escape.

Goddess by Josephine Angelini, published 6th June

She must rise, or they will fall . . . Helen's powers are increasing—and so is the distance between her and her mortal friends. To make matters worse, the Oracle reveals that a dangerous traitor is lurking among them, and all fingers point to Orion. Still unsure whether she loves him or Lucas, Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision, or risk all-out war.

Comment and let me know which books you're most looking forward to in 2013!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Hotly Anticipated Reads for 2013: Egmont's Electric Monkey

Egmont is the publisher of one of my absolute favourite books, 'Forgotten' by Cat Patrick. They have some stellar titles lined up for 2013 (January-June) under their imprint Electric Monkey (although I'm still gutted that they aren't publishing the last book in Cynthia Hand's trilogy), so here's a selection of the ones which I'm most eagerly anticipating for next year.

All links go to Goodreads where you can add all of these books to your wishlist!

* Finished cover art may not be available yet for all titles

From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas, published 7th January

KYLIE: MEXICO WHAT? I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY, and is this a wedding band on my finger.

MAX: It all started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics. Okay, it was kind of hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded in Tijuana. With less than twenty-four hours before graduation. Awesome.

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border -- but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.

LILY: I just walked in on my boyfriend, Max Langston, canoodling with Kylie Flores, freak of the century. Still, I can't completely hold it against him. He NEEDS me. It's even clearer now. And I'm not giving him up without a fight.

Survive by Alex Morel, published in February

Jane is on a plane on her way home to Montclair, New Jersey, from a mental hospital. She is about to kill herself. Just before she can swallow a lethal dose of pills, the plane hits turbulence and everything goes black. Jane wakes up amidst piles of wreckage and charred bodies on a snowy mountaintop. There is only one other survivor: a boy named Paul, who inspires Jane to want to fight for her life for the first time.

Jane and Paul scale icy slopes and huddle together for warmth at night, forging an intense emotional bond. But the wilderness is a vast and lethal force, and only one of them will survive.

Skinny by Donna Cooner, published 4th February

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

Finding Cherokee Brown by Siobhan Curham, published 7th March

His lips touched mine and for one split second the whole world stopped. Then every cell in my body fizzed into life...When I decided to write a book about my life I thought I'd have to make loads of stuff up. I mean, who wants to read about someone like me? But as soon as I started writing, the weirdest thing happened. I found out I wasn't who I thought I was. And I stopped being scared. Then everything went crazy! Best of all, I discovered that when you finally decide to be brave it's like waving a wand over your life - the most magical things can happen...

By Any Other Name by Laura Jarratt, published 1st April

Nobody can know the truth - her life depends on it. I picked up the book and thumbed through the pages. Names in alphabetical order, names with meanings, names I knew, names I'd never heard of. How to pick? Nothing that would stand out, nothing that would link me to the past - those were the instructions. The past. As if everything that had gone before this moment was buried already. Holly is fifteen years old, but she's only been "Holly" for a matter of months. Because of something that happened, she and her family have had to enter witness protection and have all assumed new identities. All, that is, except her sister Katie, who is autistic. Starting at a new school mid-term is hard enough at the best of times, and Holly has no clue who she is any more. Lonely and angry, she reaches out to friends - new and old. But one wrong move will put all their lives in danger...

Light by Michael Grant, published in April

It’s been more than a year since every person over the age of fourteen disappeared from the town of Perdido Beach, California. In that time, countless battles have been fought: Battles against hunger and lies and plagues and worse, battles of good against evil, and kid against kid. Allegiances have been won, lost, betrayed, and won again; ideologies have been shattered and created anew, and the kids of the FAYZ have begun to believe that their new society is the only life they’ll ever know. But now that the Darkness has found a way to be reborn, the tenuous existence they‘ve established is likely to be shattered for good. Will the kids of Perdido Beach even survive?

The Originals by Cat Patrick, published 6th May

I glance at the three baby portraits. I feel a familiar prickling on the back of my neck. Because I know there's another picture somewhere - and the baby in that photo looks identical to the babies on the wall. Somewhere, there's a photo of the Original. Ella and I look like sisters: triplets, you might think. But that's not what we are at all. We are clones in hiding. We split our lives and exist as one person in the outside world. And we've always been happy. But now I've fallen head-over-heels in love...and that changes everything. Because, to let love in, I need to be allowed to be Me.

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn, published 3rd June

 'Don't. Please don't say my name. You have no idea who I really am.' No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself...of the wolfish predator within. But he's also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him.

Scissors, Sisters and Manic Panics by Ellie Phillips, published 3rd June

Sadie Nathanson's back - with more style and tangles than ever before. "Mrs Nellist came in for her cut and colour while Auntie and Tiffany were out the back having a coffee, leaving me to sweep up, and that's kind of where everything got really ugly. It was the hairstyle that Mrs Nellist never knew she wanted. That's all it was about. I don't know why everyone had to go so completely hysterical about it, but that's my family for you." Sadie Nathanson is back! After sorting out exactly who she is, she now feels ready to tackle who she is going to be! With hair as her focus, Sadie decides to enter a major hairdressing competition - though she has her work cut out for her when she gets fired from her Saturday job in Auntie Lilah's salon. And if that's not bad enough, it turns out there are yet still more surprises in store Dadwise...
Comment and let me know which titles you're most looking forward to in 2013!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Review: Dance of Shadows - Yelena Black

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black, published by Bloomsbury on 14th February 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . .

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Josh, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed.

'Dance of Shadows' has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen!  It is so gorgeous that I knew I had to read this book as soon as possible.  I love the image of the ballerina and the choice of colours and it works so well with the story's concept.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the publishers come up with for the rest of the series because this is a book which begs to be read.

I'm a huge ballet fan but there just don't seem to be enough books being written about this subject.  In the past year I've enjoyed 'Bunheads' by Sophie Flack and had been hoping for more in this vein.  'Dance of Shadows' is unique because it combines a main character with a love of dance, along with a deliciously dark demonic element, tapping into the paranormal genre which is huge at the moment.

The story opens with Vanessa starting at the New York Ballet Academy.  The same Academy where her older sister Margaret went missing.  She is determined to find out what happened to Margaret but someone at the school has other plans for her.  The third person narrative still allowed me to connect with Vanessa as a main character and I really grew to like her.   

I adored the setting for the story.  Yelena Black captured perfectly the blood, sweat and tears that individuals have to go through to try and become top ballet dancers.  A lot of hard work and determination is needed, the latter a quality which Vanessa has in spades.  I enjoyed the fact that the ballet side was mixed with the paranormal to create a thrilling mystery.  I wasn't sure who could be trusted or what was going on, so when everything was finally revealed it was a very big surprise.

There's romance running through the story too, with Vanessa attracted to the gorgeous Zep but also strangely drawn to the mysterious and enigmatic Justin.  I like the way that neither boy is really who he first seems and there are hidden layers to everyone in the book.  The romance never overpowered the main plot but gradually developed throughout the story and it was interesting to see how different Vanessa's relationships with the two boys was. 

There were a lot of twists in the second half of the book which kept me glued to the pages and the ending suggests that the sequel will be equally gripping and intriguing.    

This is a sublime story about the art of dance where life and death matters are brought to the fore in a thrilling, dark and mysterious way.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Giveaway winners: Beautiful Creatures & Eve and Adam

Thank you to everyone that entered my two recent giveaways. If you weren't successful this time then check back again soon for more opportunities to win some more great books in the new year

I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the complete set of books in the Beautiful Creatures series is:
#8 Lucinda Fountain

The winner of the paperback copy of 'Eve and Adam is:

#27 Hannah T

I'll be contacting both winners soon to get your postal addresses.  Hopefully you enjoy these pre-Christmas treats!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Hotly Anticipated Reads 2013: Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury are one of my favourite publishers because of the fantastic range of books that they offer to readers.  There's everything from historical fiction to the paranormal.  I'm always excited to see what new authors they sign and what titles they are set to publish.

Here are a selection of some of the amazing titles they have lined up for 2013 (January-June).

All links go to Goodreads where you can add them to your wishlist!

Hysteria by Megan Miranda, published 14 February

Mallory's life is falling apart. Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can't remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear ...When Mallory's parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There's the hand that touches her shoulder when she's drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory's name is on their lips. Her past can be forgotten but it's never gone. Can Mallory live with that?

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black, published 14th February

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you’re close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner’s heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly - and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school - the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister’s shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances - she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . .

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead - and the burning forces about to be unleashed .

Blood Prophecy by Alyxandra Harvey, published 14th February

In the thrilling conclusion of the Drake Chronicles, love and loyalties will be tested … and proven once and for all.

Can Solange find her way back home again? And can she do it in time to save everyone she loves from the vampire civil war, hunter attack, and each other?

Because not everyone can survive the prophecy… maybe not even her.

Hidden by Marianne Curley, published 14th March

Ebony has always known that she is different. Her violet eyes mark her out, and her protective parents have kept her in a gorgeous valley, home-schooled, safe from everything - almost as if she's being hidden. But she's changing: glowing, getting more and more beautiful, and stronger than anyone knows. Ebony can't stay hidden for ever, and when she meets complicated, intense Jordan, something explodes inside her - something that can be seen from the heavens; something that changes everything. Ebony is a stolen angel, concealed on Earth. Now the heavens have found her, they want her back.

Witch Fire by Laura Powell, published 11th April

Lucas and Glory are hard at work in WICA (Witchkind Intelligence and Covert Affairs). As part of their training, they learn more about the witch-terrorist organization Endor. It is believed that Endor has infiltrated a boarding school for young witches in Switzerland, so WICA sends their two youngest agents--Lucas and Glory--to the school undercover. There, they learn more about an experimental brain implant that blocks the power of the fae. It's a dangerous procedure...more so than they could ever have imagined.

The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper, published 9th May

Kitty is living a happy, carefree life as a dairymaid in the countryside. The grand family she is employed by looks after her well, and she loves her trade, caring for the gentle cows and working in the cool, calm dairy. And then, of course, there is Will, the river man who she thinks is very fond of her, and indeed she is of him. Surely he will ask her to marry him soon?

Regency Witches by Alyxandra Harvey, published 6th June

In 1804, three cousins with an unknown family lineage of witchcraft awake to their magical powers; beyond the manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, they must navigate the new underworld now open to them, learn to control their new talents, and unravel the secret of one cousin’s mother’s illness, all the while evading fortune seekers, marriage proposals, and a dangerous killer murdering young debutantes.

Transcendence by CJ Omololu, published 6th June

When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.

As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.

Comment and let me know which books you're most looking forward to in 2013!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Review: Reached - Ally Condie

Reached by Ally Condie, published by Penguin on 30th November 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

'Reached' is the third and concluding part of Ally Condie's incredible trilogy.  My expectations were high as I loved the previous two books and couldn't wait to see how the story of Cassia, Xander and Ky was going to be wrapped up.  I was also excited to see which boy Cassia would finally commit her heart to as the love triangle between the three main characters has lain at the heart of much of the books.

Firstly, 'Reached' is a big book at 512 pages long.  I have to say that at times I almost felt that it was too long and too drawn out.  A large part of the story deals with a plague which hits society but although this was in itself interesting, I think so much attention was given to this one single element that other aspects of the story suffered.  At certain points in the book it really felt like not much was actually happening.  As I've come to expect from Condie, her character development is extraordinary but I would have liked to have seen a little less of this in the final instalment of the series and instead more of a focus on wrapping up all the threads of the plot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the story combines three separate viewpoints; those of Cassia, Xander and Ky.  It was lovely to finally get to hear from Xander in particular as he has always been my favourite character in the series.  I learnt a lot more about him as a person, his feelings and aspirations and by the end I felt I could understand where he was coming from and what he hoped for the future.  Each characters' voice is distinctive and well written and this meant that I was never confused about who was telling what part of the story.

If I'd had a little more time, I would probably have gone back and reread the other two books in the series first before starting this one.  Because the release dates have been a year apart, I couldn't remember as many details as I would have liked and I think it would be interesting to read the whole trilogy in one continuous flow. 

Although I did think that the pace of the story was extremely slow, I loved the ending of the book.  The series has always been about the struggle for freedom and the right for the individual to choose and make decisions for oneself.  Ally Condie has always stayed true to this message and 'Reached' exemplifies this with the characters all choosing the path which they must walk.

The concluding instalment may not have been quite what I was expecting from the finale of this tremendous series but after having invested so much in the incredible world that Condie has invented, along with her wonderful characters, it was great to finally see how the story concluded.  I hope to read much more by this hugely talented author in the future. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Hotly Anticipated Reads for 2013: Quercus

Quercus published one of my favourite books of 2012, 'Shattered Dreams' by Ellie James, so I'm immensely looking forward to the sequel which is out next year.

Here are some of the other amazing titles they have lined up for 2013 (January-June).

All links go to Goodreads where you can add them to your wishlist!

Broken Illusions by Ellie James, published 3rd January

It’s Mardi Gras, but for sixteen-year-old Trinity, this is no time for celebration. Another girl has gone missing. And Trinity is seeing things – terrible things.  Tormented by visions she can’t explain, Trinity embarks on a dark journey to understand her abilities, convinced this is the only way to prevent the things she sees from coming true.

But as the line between reality and illusion becomes blurred, everyone who loves Trinity begins to fear for her sanity, and, ultimately, for her life ...  

Burning For Revenge by John Marsden, published 3rd January

Ellie and her friends are more determined than ever to make an impact on the enemy. But the constant fighting is beginning to take its toll on the group. Kevin is suffering an emotional breakdown, and the friendship that has kept the gang together for so long is under strain.

Undone by Cat Clarke, published 31st January

Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she's learning to live with it. Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online ... and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down.

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick, published 28th February

Jenna is sweet sixteen, the age when a girl is supposed to find her prince.  Instead she finds Mr Anderson – intelligent, handsome, married Mr Anderson, who just happens to be her chemistry teacher. With a dark past and a difficult family, Jenna is just happy to have someone to protect her, to worry about her, to love her. But should she be suspicious of Mr Anderson’s reputation for helping ‘damaged’ students?  Why is the most popular girl in school suddenly jealous of her? And where is Mr Anderson’s wife?

This is a love story that breaks all the rules, but that won’t stop it breaking your heart.

Don't Look Back by S.B. Hayes, published 28th March

Sinead has been taunted by her manipulative brother Patrick all her life. Now he is missing. But he hasn’t stopped messing with her.  Compelled to search for him by her overbearing mother, Sinead discovers a trail of sinister clues which she knows Patrick has left for her. They lead her to Benedict House: a place where time stands still and nothing is as it seems.

Linked by Imogen Howson, published 6th June

For years, Elissa has suffered nightmarish visions and unexplained bruises. Finally, she’s promised a cure, and an operation is scheduled. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the truth: she’s seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. A world filled with wires, machines and pain. Elissa follows her visions, only to find a battered, broken girl. A girl who looks exactly like her. A twin she never knew existed.

Elissa and Lin go on the run, but even after changing their looks and clothes, they’re barely a step ahead of the government agents who are ruthlessly tracking them down. For Lin and Elissa are too valuable to let go, and the dark truth at the heart of it all is too shocking to risk exposing ...

Comment and let me know which books you are most looking forward to in 2013! 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Review: Echo - Alyson Noel

Echo by Alyson Noel, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 22nd November 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Daire Santos has already saved her grandmother's life and her soul. But at a cost: the Richter family has been let loose in the Lowerworld. Daire and her boyfriend Dace Richter must work together to find them before chaos ensues and the balance between good and evil is destroyed. As their relationship deepens, Dace's evil brother Cade grows stronger than ever, building his power and forcing Daire and Dace to confront the horrifying prophecy that has brought them all together. It will leave Daire no choice but to claim her true destiny as Seeker, but only by making an unthinkable sacrifice.

'Echo' is the second book in Alyson Noel's Soul Seekers series.  After being sucked in by the gorgeous cover, I loved catching up with Daire and Dace and their lives in the small town of Enchantment.  Although I enjoyed 'Fated' which was the first instalment, I did think it suffered quite a lot because it had to set up so much of the story, as well as the spiritual aspects that I got bogged down in so much detail without really learning as much about the characters as I would have liked.  This time around the plot is infinitely better and the pace really picks up.  The characters' world has now been established so Noel can concentrate on placing her protagonists in difficult and often dangerous situations and seeing how they fare.

The story focuses on Daire and Dace's determination to rid the Lowerworld of the Richters. They will do almost anything to protect the other but Cade stands between them and Daire learns a shocking truth about him which will shake the foundations of their relationship.  Daire's role as Seeker is explored in more depth and I loved all the spiritual details that Noel manages to combine into the story.  I found all the bits about animal spirit guides really interesting.      

I felt like I grew to understand a lot more about Daire, her destiny and her relationship with Dace.  In the first book I thought Dace was very underdeveloped and I didn't completely buy into their connection.  This time around with the narrative being shared between them, I began to see the spark they share and the chemistry that's always bubbling away whenever they are anywhere near each other.  There's a wonderful scene in the latter half of the book which speaks volumes about their love and which gave me a definite warm melting feeling inside!

Along with all the characters from 'Fated', a new face is introduced, Phyre.  She seems to be hiding a lot of secrets and I'm looking forward to finding out more about how she fits into everything and the role she will play. 

If you love romance, mysticism and adventure then this is definitely the book for you.  A brilliant read, the ending was incredible and I can't believe I've now got to wait until July 2013 for the next in the series 'Mystic'. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

From Page to Screen in 2013

There are some fantastic young-adult books currently being adapted for the big screen and lots of exciting releases to look forward to next year.  Here are some of the page to screen titles that I'm especially thrilled about with release dates for when the films are due out.

'Beautiful Creatures' is released in the UK on 13th February 2013.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

The Host is released in the UK on 29th March 2013.

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

City of Bones is released in the UK on 23rd August 2013.

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

Catching Fire is released in the UK on 22nd November 2013.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are still alive. Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol -- a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped crate.

As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever. One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan is also set to hit the big screen in 2013 but there is no release date for it yet. 

There's also the film of Veronica Roth's bestselling novel 'Divergent' to come in 2014, as well as an adaptation of 'Delirium' by Lauren Oliver and 'Fallen' by Lauren Kate!

Comment and let me know which book you would love to see made into a film.
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