Wednesday 30 July 2014

Review: Killing You Softly - Lucy Carver

Killing You Softly by Lucy Carver, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 3rd July 2014
Goodreads synopsis:
After the tragic events of last term, Alyssa arrives back at St Jude's to a school full of freaked-out students. They are wary of her ability to remember every tiny thing they do, and Alyssa's beginning to feel lonely and ostracized. Then she gets an email, seemingly from a secret admirer. He teases her about her photographic memory and challenges her to prove how good it really is. At first Alyssa is intrigued and likes showing off her talent, but as her admirer's challenges get darker and more extreme and there is a murder in the nearby town, she realizes she's in too deep. Now her memory might be the only thing that can help her understand the killer and save her from the same fate ...
This is the second book in the series about main character Alyssa and the girls of St Jude’s Academy.  Alyssa’s photographic memory comes in handy when a local girl dies and she begins to find unusual links between the two of them.  She’s unable to resist investigating the death, when she starts to receive taunting clues and messages, indicating that someone is playing a taunting game of cat and mouse with her. 
This series reminds me so much of the TV show ‘Unforgettable’ which is about a female detective with perfect memory recall.  This is a trait which Alyssa shares and makes each mystery even more interesting because you know that even the smallest detail could be the one that breaks the puzzle and solves the case.  There are several passages throughout the book where Alyssa has to think back on things that have happened or conversations that she has had with people.  I always try to pay careful attention to these because I’m desperate to spot the clues that are vitally important.
Interspersed with the murder mystery, are scenes between Alyssa and her boyfriend Jack, who is still as adorable as ever.  She is definitely one lucky girl!   
The ending of the book was so surprising!  I thought it was incredibly well potted and it really got me thinking hard to try and put all the clues together.  I love books which are so full of twists and turns that by the end I still have no idea who might be responsible.  This conclusion definitely provided a lot of shocks.
I’m not sure if Lucy Carver is planning another book about Alyssa but I hope so because this is shaping up to be a fantastic YA series, featuring lots of my favourite things to look for in a story – drama, intrigue and mystery with a fab boarding school setting and a great cast of characters. 

Monday 28 July 2014

Review: Unstoppable - Liz Bankes

Unstoppable by Liz Bankes, published by Piccadilly Press on 1st July 2014
Goodreads synopsis:
Rosie has managed to wangle spending the summer before uni in the same house as her boyfriend Cal – but who else should also be staying except for the infamous man-eater, Cleo.

Things between Cal and Rosie could never have been described as easy, but her growing jealousy seems like an unstoppable force. Can their love weather the storm?
This is the third book by UK YA author Liz Bankes. It features my favourite so far of her female characters - the perennial worrier Rosie, who is about to move in with her boyfriend Cal and start a brand new internship in Oxford. Rosie worries about everything (and with so many changes going on in her life, there are a little of things to occupy her mind) and feels socially awkward a lot of the time. She’s been with Cal for a year and the two of them seem quite secure in their relationship until Rosie freaks out about the fact that man-eater Cleo is moving into the house too.

Rosie undergoes a big transition throughout the book. She is at that crux point where she has to decide what she wants to do with her future and she has to finally stand up for herself and not bow to the pressure that her Mum is putting her under.  This is something that everyone has to face at some point and it was interesting seeing Rosie begin to develop confidence in herself and find her own chosen path.  She also learns a lot about relationships and trust as she and Cal have to weather the ups and downs of their romance.  
‘Unstoppable’ features lots of familiar faces from Liz Bankes earlier books. There’s Mia and Gabi, as well as Jamie and Dan. It was great to catch up with them and see how all the friends were getting on and in which direction their lives were headed in next. 

This was a sweet romance and a great summer read. I missed a little of the polish of some of the US YA books which I read but I still really enjoyed this one.  It had a great mix of humour with drama and romance. I read it in one sitting and look forward to my next Liz Bankes story.  

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Review: Witch Hunt - Ruth Warburton

Witch Hunt by Ruth Warburton, published by Hodder on 5th June 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Eighteen-year-old Witch Hunter Luke Lexton has failed his initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum - the secretive brotherhood devoted to hunting witches. Instead of killing the witch he picked from the Book of Witches, he has committed the worst possible crime: he has fallen for her. Sixteen-year-old witch girl Rosa Greenwood has failed to secure her struggling family's future by marrying the handsome, cruel, rich and powerful Sebastian Knyvet. Instead she has set fire to his factory and has brought disgrace on her family.

Now together they are on the run - from Rosa's ex-fiance and from Luke's former brothers in the Malleus. As they flee across England, and with the danger of their past catching up to them ...can they overcome their differences? Can a witch hunter ever find love with a witch girl?

‘Witch Hunt’ picks up the story of Luke and Rosa where ‘Witch Finder’ left off. The couple are now on the run from not only Rosa’s ex-fiancé Sebastian, but also the Brotherhood, who want to kill Luke for betraying them. The first half of the book features an exciting chase as Luke and Rosa try to stay one step ahead but know that danger is on their trail. They have to try to cover their tracks as they desperately fight for their lives and their forbidden future together.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book but I didn’t feel that there was a huge amount of progression in the story, or at least not until the very end of the book when suddenly lots of secrets and revelations came to the fore. Instead, the focus was on the relationship between Luke and Rosa who grow closer together and begin to learn more about each other. This was reflected in the split person narrative, which gives the reader a unique insight into the characters’ feelings and emotions. It became obvious that they cared greatly about each other and were willing to give up a lot for the other person. It was nice to see the way in which the romance between the two of them progressed, even though they were on the run. I think the romantic relationships in Ruth Warburton’s books are always written tremendously well and I really found myself rooting for them to get their happy ending.
I love the fact that Ruth Warburton threw in some really shocking twists in the book which changed the perspective of some of the characters. I hadn’t guessed what was going to be revealed either which made it even more of a big surprise. The ending of ‘Witch Hunt’ almost broke my heart and talk about ending on a cliff hanger! I really hope that there is another instalment still to come in this series.

Ruth Warburton is one of my favourite British authors and I would read anything by her. I’d recommend getting your hands on these books if you’ve previously enjoyed her Winter trilogy. You’re in for a real treat!  

Monday 21 July 2014

Review: Eversea - Natasha Boyd

Eversea by Natasha Boyd, published by Headline on 10th April 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
An orphaned, small-town, southern girl, held hostage by responsibility and self-doubt.

A Hollywood A-list mega-star, on the run from his latest scandal and with everything to lose.

A chance encounter that leads to an unlikely arrangement and epic love affair that will change them both for ever.

'Eversea' is set in Butler Cove, South Carolina which is like my dream seaside town.  It is small enough that everyone knows each other, with sea, sand and romance right on the residents' doorsteps.  The main character Keri Ann has grown-up in Butler Cove and it is the only place that she has ever called home.  With her older brother away at school and both her parents dead, she only has her best friend Jazz to rely on, until Jack Eversea - a gorgeous and famous actor, walks into her life and sets her heart spinning.

'Eversea' is a gorgeous romance which weaves a beautiful story about love against the odds.  Keri Ann wasn't expecting to have her heart stolen by the handsome stranger who appears in her bar one night, but this is a love which although against the odds, will be hard fought for and cherished.

I really liked Keri Ann who is somewhat of an old soul.  She is scared of opening herself up to anyone after having suffered terrible loss but Jack seems to wear down her resistance and makes her want to start living again and taking chances.  She has settled for a life which she believes she must accept but he shows her that there is so much more out there for her to experience. 

Handsome Jack Eversea is definitely my new boy crush!  Phwoar, he is hot, hot, hot!  I fell head over heels for him from the start.  Although he is a famous movie star, he is incredibly down to earth and the sparks between him and Keri Ann are off the chart.  I loved the way that the tension simmered away between them and built to a real fever pitch.   
I was captivated and swept away by 'Eversea' which was impossible to put down.  I would highly recommend this book to fans of the New Adult genre and I am utterly desperate now to read the sequel 'Forever, Jack' so that I can revisit my two favourite characters.     

Friday 18 July 2014

Review: Sea of Shadows - Kelley Armstrong

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong, published by Atom on 8th April 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire's worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed by an ancient evil, Moria and Ashyn must race to warn the empire of a terrifying threat. Accompanied by a dashing thief and a warrior with a dark history, the sisters battle their way across a wasteland filled with reawakened monsters of legend. But there are more sinister enemies waiting for them at court - and a secret that will alter the balance of their world forever.

I stumbled across ‘Sea of Shadows’ in my local bookshop without even realising that Kelley Armstrong had a new book out.  It sounded intriguing and I thought the cover looked pretty striking so I picked it up.  I’ve enjoyed some of Armstrong’s books in the past but not all of them, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading this.  What I got was an exciting, action-packed fantasy adventure which started slow but then really picked-up and threw everything at the reader.  Strangely enough it reminded me a little bit of ‘Blood Red Road’ by Moira Young, although that may just have been because of the giant worms!  
At the heart of the story are twin sisters Moria and Ashyn.  They are the Seeker and Keeper of Edgewood, charged with keeping the village safe from the angry souls of the dead that reside in the forest.  They have been trained from birth to fulfil their roles and each have an immortal creature by their side: a wildcat and a hound.  These animals are bonded to them and are like an extension of their own selves.  When things start to go wrong with the ritual of quietening the spirits, a terrible evil falls upon their village, leading Moria and Ashyn to embark on a dangerous journey. 
The journey itself takes up the majority of the book but I found it incredibly exciting because it was fraught with danger at every turn.  There are a whole array of scary creatures which make appearances in the story and there are some seriously creepy moments which had me jumping out of my seat.  I think Kelley Armstrong does a great job of keeping readers on their toes with this part of the plot.  The sisters become separated on their journey but they are each accompanied by a potential love interest (although this isn’t necessarily how it starts out).  Personally, I really liked Gavril and I thought that the bond which grows between him and Moria was much more real than the lacklustre sparks between Ashyn and Ronan.         
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed ‘Sea of Shadows’ and although it got off to a slow start it was well worth sticking with because it kept getting better and better and the second-half of the book in particular was fantastic.  I sometimes find that I can get a little lost with fantasy books but I thought that everything was explained extremely well and the world building was brilliant.  I’m now dying for the next instalment of this trilogy and I can’t wait to see what twists and turns are going to be thrown into book two.  This is probably my favourite Kelley Armstrong title so far!

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Review: The Rain - Virginia Bergen

The Rain by Virginia Bergen, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 17th July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
One minute sixteen-year-old Ruby Morris is having her first proper snog with Caspar McCloud in a hot tub, and the next she’s being bundled inside the house, dripping wet, cold and in her underwear. Not cool. As she and Caspar shiver in the kitchen, it starts to rain. They turn on the radio to hear panicked voices – ‘It’s in the rain . . . it’s in the rain . . . '

That was two weeks ago, and now Ruby is totally alone. People weren’t prepared for the rain, got caught out in it, didn’t realize that you couldn’t drink water from the taps either. Even a drip of rain would infect your blood, and eat you from the inside out. Ruby knows she has to get to London to find her dad, but she just doesn’t know where to start . . . After rescuing all the neighbourhood dogs, Ruby sets off on a journey that will take her the length of the country – surviving in the only way she knows how.

I love end of the world and apocalyptic disaster books.  I was hooked on the initial description of 'The Rain' which described it as a story about survival in the face of a truly terrifying natural disaster.  What would you do if you discovered that there was something in the rain which could kill you?  How would you survive without water?  This is the predicament faced by the characters in the book.  This initially sounded really great but unfortunately, although there were some elements of it that I enjoyed, I didn't particularly like the overall tone of the book or some of the character choices that were made.

The thing that stood out for me the most was the unusual and quite quirky narrative voice of the main character.  Fifteen year old Ruby is facing the end of life as she knew is but she still manages to find time to fixate on the fact that she snogged the gorgeous Caspar and doesn't have to go to school.  I know this might be more realistic than somebody suddenly discovering that they have incredible survival skills and can be the one to save the world, but for me, I just found it a bit annoying and shallow.  Ruby is such an unlikely heroine.  She makes mistakes and gets herself into trouble and seems to only manage to survive by luck alone.  She isn't someone that I would want by my side if the world was ending.

I also thought that the slightly humorous and extremely quirky narrative didn't always meld well with the dire situation that Ruby was facing.  The story got extremely strange in places too, such as when Ruby is taking part in the looting of shops, not for food and fresh water mind you but for jewellery and fancy clothes.   

Overall, I loved the concept for the book and I think the idea of the rain being contaminated was brilliant and one which could have made for a stunning story.  Unfortunately, I didn't love Ruby or the blend of humour with apocalyptic disaster and this made it a bit of a struggle to get to the final page.   

Monday 14 July 2014

Review: Shadow of the Wolf - Tim Hall

Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall, published by David Fickling Books on 4th July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
So many tales have already been told of Robin Hood. Already he's the hero with a thousand faces. First, forget everything you've heard. Robin was no prince, and he was no dispossessed lord; he didn't fight in the Crusades; he never gave a penny to the poor.

His real name wasn't even Robin Hood. Marian called him that as a kind of joke. Sir Robin of the Hood. A name Robin would cling to when he was losing grip of everything else. Mind you, one thing you've heard is true. He was blind.

No, that's not right. Let me put that another way. Truer to say, Robin Hood didn't see with his eyes. In fact he was the only one who saw clearly in this place of illusion and lies.

'Shadow of the Wolf' is an astounding new interpretation of the traditional tale of Robin Hood by debut author Tim Hall.  I was very excited to read this book because I'm a huge fan of the original story and I couldn't wait to see which direction Hall was going to take with the plot and characters.

The story follows a young Robin who at the beginning of the book finds that his family have abandoned him.  Left to survive on his own, he uses his independence as a shield to protect himself against further hurt.  His solitary life begins to change however when he meets Marian in the forest and discovers his true soulmate.  The two seem destined to be together but when Marian is taken from him, he determines to do whatever it takes to get her back. 

My favourite part of the story was the very beginning when Robin and Marian are young and roaming free together.  They are living an idyllic life which they both know won't last forever but which they cherish for the simple fact that they are with each other.  They embrace the beauty of the forest which is all around them and revel in having nobody to answer to but themselves.  Although deep down they realise they are playing at living a fantasy, nothing else matters to them except for being together.   

Throw out all of your preconceptions about Robin and Marian because these two characters are unlike anything you could have anticipated.  Marian is not the helpless heroine you may have been used to seeing her as.  She is headstrong, fiery, determined, intelligent and above all resilient.  She endures terrible things in the book but I had absolute faith in her that she would always manage see things through.  Although there were times when I found her less that likeable, mainly due to her spiky temperament, I never stopped admiring her strength and endurance.  Robin too has to face unspeakable horrors and is far from the merry figure with his bow and arrow that we are used to seeing.  I felt great pity for him throughout the book and I kept desperately hoping for something good to happen to him.      

Some other familiar faces crop up in the story with Will Scarlett, Much, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Bors all making appearances.  It was great to see Tim Hall interweaving all of these secondary characters, although again don't expect them to act like you would have imagined.  The Forest too is like a character in itself.  It is dangerous and mysterious and conceals many secrets which slowly begin to unravel.     

'Shadow of the Wolf' is an unusual combination of history and fantasy which took a little bit of getting used to.  The plot took an unusual and unexpected turn about half-way through which turned everything on it's head and made me think about the book in a totally different way.  It is incredibly rich in detail, wonderfully written and so unique that this truly is a Robin Hood tale unlike anything you could ever have dreamt of.  I was still left with so many questions at the end however, that I am looking forward immensely to the next instalment in the series.    

Thursday 10 July 2014

#ShareAPuffinBook - The Neverending Story - Michael Ende

This summer Puffin are bringing a series of timeless and unforgettable stories to life for a new generation of readers to discover as A Puffin Book – including Goodnight Mister Tom, Charlotte’s Web, Watership Down and Tarka the Otter. The new editions feature beautiful new cover designs, including iconic cover images and new artwork, as well as additional content, such as material unearthed from the Puffin archive, activities inspired by the books (such as make your own origami Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat!), background information on the story, as well as quizzes, author profiles, fun facts and much more.
I'm pleased to share my favourite story from their launch list of twenty titles.  It wasn't too hard to pick my favourite as soon as I saw 'The Neverending Story' by Michael Ende on the list. 

I first read 'The Neverending Story' when I was twelve, after having seen and fallen in love with the film.  My two best friends and I were hooked on the film and we used to watch it over and over again.  We cried in some places, such as when Atreyu is in the Swamps of Sadness, we laughed in others and we cheered when Bastian finally finds himself in Fantasia, riding on the back of the wonderful Falkor. 

One of the Christmas presents that I found in my stocking that year was a copy of the book.  I think the rest of my presents were forgotten as soon as that book landed in my hands.  I was swept away as I entered the amazing world of Fantasia and joined Bastian on the most incredible adventure of his life.  Michael Ende's writing is truly wonderful and the story is timeless.  Since then I always try to re-read 'The Neverending Story' every other year and I have recommended and implored countless others to read and enjoy it too.

A magical and captivating story, it's one of my all-time favourite books.         

Check out #ShareAPuffinBook to see what others have chosen as their favourite Puffin read. 

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Review: Dorothy Must Die - Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, published by Harper Collins on 3rd July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?  Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling...

This book left me feeling giddy with joy!  It's a wonderfully imaginative reimagining of what happened after Dorothy saved Oz and helped to ensure that the Tin Man got a heart, the Scarecrow a brain and the Lion his courage.  I love The Wizard of Oz.  I've seen the musical countless times and my heart always feels lighter after I've watched Judy Garland skip along that yellow brick road.  I'm also a huge fan of Gregory Maguire's Wicked books, so anything to do with Oz lore and I'm your girl.  I adored every page of Dorothy Must Die and I never wanted it to end.  This is a book which I will be picking up to read over and over again and it's one of my top reads of the year.

The main character Amy Gumm is swept away to Oz by a tornado, only to find that everything she had assumed about Dorothy and co from the books and movies is completely wrong.  Dorothy is sucking the magic out of the land and the boundaries between good and wicked have become blurred.  Amy doesn't know who she can trust and soon finds herself becoming embroiled in the politics of Oz as she is recruited to be the girl who will kill the famous Dorothy.  Wow, if that plot doesn't make you want to immediately run out and the door and grab yourself a copy of this book then I don't know what will.  The storyline was amazing and brilliantly combined so many of the elements of Oz that were familiar to me, while at the same time, turning everything on it's head.    

There are some truly wonderful characters in the book.  I loved Ollie the monkey and the kindly witch Gert who is a member of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.  I also thought Amy was fantastic and such a likeable heroine.  Prepare yourself though for finding out what Glinda is really like and get ready to run and hide when the Lion, who is now quite frankly terrifying, arrives on the scene.    

I was enthralled in the story from start to finish.  I can't believe Danielle Paige left readers hanging at the end where she did but this has only fuelled my desire to read the sequel even more.  There is also an e-book prequel novella called 'No Place Like Oz' which I will definitely be buying. 

Fans of Oz MUST get their hands on this book.  I can't recommend it highly enough.  The writing is lush and original and the narrative just carried me away.  I now have a desire to dye my hair pink and get a plucky rat sidekick.  Sheer brilliance in a book! 

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Tuesday 8 July 2014

Review: Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, published by Simon and Schuster on 3rd July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Since You’ve Been Gone’ is Morgan Matson’s third book and focuses on the friendship between Emily and her best friend Sloane.  The two of them have made all kinds of plans about how they are going to spend their summer together but when Sloane and her family disappear, Emily doesn't know what to do.  She struggles to know who she is and how she fits in.  What I liked about this book is that I could really identify with the character of Emily.  She’s quite shy and reserved and she relies on Sloane always taking the lead.  That way she never has to take risks or do anything outside of her comfort zone without first knowing that she has someone with her to take the first step.  A lot of the story is about Emily learning who she wants to be and developing her own personality outside of being known as ‘Sloane’s friend’.  That can be a difficult thing to do but I loved the fact that she is pushed to be brave and daring and find her own feet.   
I have to say that when I started reading this book I thought there was going to be a more complicated explanation for what had happened to Sloane.  I thought she might even have died!  It was only when I got to about the mid-way point that I realised that Sloane didn’t actually matter a huge amount to the story.  It’s Emily's own personal development which lies at the heart of the book.          
Sloane leaves Emily a list which she spends her summer working her way through.  Each item on the list challenges her in different ways but also brings her closer to a whole new set of friends, which she wouldn’t have made if she’d been stuck to Sloane’s side the whole time.  One of these people is Frank who is sweet and funny but already has a girlfriend.  I’ll admit that I wasn’t too sure about Frank to start with but he grew on me over the course of the book and by the end he’d totally won me over.  
This book was quite long but don't let that put you off because it's a sweet, summer read about growing-up and finding your place with people who understand you and let you be the person you're meant to be.  If you love contemporary YA then I recommend you read this title which I ended up really enjoying. 

Monday 7 July 2014

Review: Shredder - Niall Leonard

Shredder by Niall Leonard, published by Definitions on 5th June 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Former boxer Finn Maguire - Crusher to his friends - has one task to perform: to deliver an invitation to a meeting. But when that meeting is between The Turk and the Guvnor - two criminal overlords fighting for control of London's underworld - his task is anything but simple. As the city swelters in a heatwave and the country is rocked by a series of terrorist atrocities Finn is dragged into a bloody gang war marked by double-crosses, intrigue, corruption and treachery. Fighting to save himself and the girl he loves from being shredded between the opposing factions, Finn is forced to make some appalling choices.

Warning: this book will leave your nerves in shreds!

This is the third book in the series about unlikely hero Finn Maguire.  Left in a dangerous predicament at the end of 'Incinerator', Finn has to try and save the girl he cares about while also attempting to extract himself from the growing feud between the Guvnor and the Turk - two of the most dangerous criminals you could ever have the misfortune to meet. 

I have really come to admire Finn over the course of the series.  He relies on his wits and nerves but he also has an inbuilt survival instinct which always seems to see him remain intact even in the midst of the most precarious and potentially deadly situations.  He does take some punishment but he can also dish it out when needed!  Niall Leonard seems to revel in putting Finn in the path of danger and the plot fairly hurtles along as he struggles to always stay one step ahead.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through as I was extremely worried that he might get killed off.

Nerve wracking, tense and full of suspense there are so many nail-biting moments in 'Shredder' that I recommend you read it in one sitting.  I know that I couldn't put it down for even a second.  It's well plotted and peppered with so many unexpected surprises that there was a continuous sense of danger throughout the whole book. 

And oh that ending!  I want to talk about it so much but my lips are sealed because I am absolutely determined not to spoil it for anyone but oh, Niall Leonard, you know how to put your readers through the wringer!

The Crusher series has been one of my favourites of late and I really don't want to say goodbye to Finn.  A brilliant set of books which will appeal to both male and female readers, I love how tough and gritty and exciting they are. 


Thursday 3 July 2014

Cover Reveal - Sometimes It Lasts - Abbi Glines

I'm taking part today in Simon and Schuster's week of cover reveals for the new look Sea Breeze books by Abbi Glines.  Anyone who follows my blog knows that I am a huge fan of Abbi's books and this is one of my favourite series.  There are a ton of gorgeous couples to root for and the stories chart the ups and downs of love, heartbreak and just a few happily ever afters!  I am in love with the new cover look and am very pleased to unveil the stunning 'Sometimes It Lasts'.

This gorgeous new cover will appear later on most e-tailer sites. Check it out here:

Don't forget to check out the other blogs hosting cover reveals and tweet #SeaBreezeSummer to share what you think of the new look. 

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Blog Tour: No Experience Required - Janet Quin-Harkin Q&A

I am thrilled today to bring you a question and answer with one my favourite childhood authors Janet Quin-Harkin whose Heartbreak Café series is being republished.  Who else remembers loving her books when they were a teenager?   If you have yet to discover Janet's books then you are in for a real treat!   

 1. Firstly can I just say how much I loved your books when I was a teenager. I was a huge Boyfriend Club fan and still own the whole series. Ten Boy Summer was also a big favourite! How do you think the young adult genre has changed since your books were first published in the eighties?

YA books today a far more edgy—more like adult novels. My books were more innocent and lighthearted than today’s books. There was never graphic sex and violence, instead I wrote about the romantic ideal most teens wanted.

2. How did you feel when you found out the Heartbreak Cafe series was being republished?

I was amazed. I thought that teens, more than anybody, lived in the present, wanted the latest fashions, music, trends. What would they see in essentially historical fiction like mine? But then I realized that Heartbreak Café is timeless in many ways. It’s characters face the problems still relevant to all teens today—belonging, peer pressure, trying to find their true identity. And Heartbreak Café itself is one of those mystical places at a crossroads, outside of normal society, where people from all levels of society can meet.

3. What can you tell readers about No Experience Required?

Debbie Leslie’s life falls apart when her parents split up. Brought up protected and spoiled, she now has to face living in reduced circumstances and getting a job. When she drives to a beach to think things over she sees the Heartbreak Café and the sign saying waitress wanted. Grandson of the owner, Joe Garbarini, has known hard work and strong family values all his life. He’s sure she won’t last a minute. But as the book progresses they both find she has strengths she didn’t know she possessed. (and being a teen novel, they might just start to fall in love.)

4. I recently found out that you also write adult mystery novels. What did you enjoy most about writing for teenagers and does your writing process differ at all depending on your audience?

Writing teenage novels was such fun. I was able to relive my teens, create the boyfriends I never had, chuckle over the absurd moments. And there is no difference in the writing progress —tell a good story, create real characters, care about them, let them learn and grow.

5. What are some of your all-time favourite YA titles?

I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, the Hunger Games. I used to love Madeleine l’Engle. I really like fantasy, but I can’t write it!

6. Can you tell us anything about what you will be working on next?

As Rhys Bowen I write two historical mystery series. I’m currently writing the 9th Royal Spyness novel, featuring Lady Georgie, my minor royal in the 1930s. It’s called Malice at the Palace and is about a royal wedding. Again such fun to write.

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