Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Published by Penguin

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . . Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
***

I bought this book ages ago and picked it in the last week. I hadn't picked it up because I was worried about reading the same old vampire thing again but I was really worrying about nothing.

Mead's Vampires are not the same old Vampires. I loved that she had her own twist on the vampire genre which made the book original in its ideas and the series as a whole has a huge amount of promise to be kick ass awesome! Loads of ideas and story lines have been set up and I for one am very excited to see where they go.

I loved the character of Rose. She is so feisty but still a bit of the softy at heart when it comes to her best friend Lissa. I imagine she will get stronger and stronger as the series progresses. I loved her sarcasm and the way in which she always acted like nothing could touch her even though inside she was feeling it. I was really intrigued by her relationship with Lissa and fascinated by the bond that made their connection special. There were a whole host of other characters that I also liked and I hope they get a bit more screen time in future books such as Mason (very adorable) and Dmitri (very hot) and the mysterious Christian.

I loved the story arc surrounding the Royal vampires and the political intrigue that surrounded them. The whole concept is fascinating and I imagine will generate a huge deal of riveting and exciting story lines as the series progresses.

The main story gives the reader an introduction into Mead's world of Vampires. As it is the first in a long line of books not a huge amount happens as you are being settled into the backdrop of the story. That said the storyline that does exist twists and turns nicely, with the hint of a mystery thrown in which the resolution of which I didn't see coming!

A fine first book which sets up a huge amount of plot lines and ideas which if explored well will make for an excellent series.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Vampire Academy Fortnight!

I have decided to do a feature on the Vampire Academy series over the next fortnight to tie in with the release of the final book on the 7th December.



Over the next fortnight I have the following posts planned ...


Tuesday 30th November - Review of Book 1 - Vampire Academy
Wednesday 1st December - Waiting on Wednesday with a Vampire Academy twist
Thursday 2nd December - Review of Book 2 - Frostbite
Friday 3rd December - Review of Book 3 - Shadow Kiss
Saturday 4th December - Review of Book 4 - Blood Promise
Sunday 5th December - In my Mailbox - Vampire Academy Twist
Monday 6th December - Review of Book 5 - Spirit Bound
Tuesday 7th December - Review of Book 6 - Last Sacrifice
Wednesday 8th December - Waiting on Wednesday - book to pine for now VA has finished
Thursday 9th December - Cover vs Cover - Vampire Academy series
Friday 10th December - What to read now VA has finished
Saturday 11th December - Overview of the fortnight.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

In My mailbox (25)

In My Mailbox is hosted by the awesome Kristi at www.thestorysiren.com

I only got one book this week - but it looks fab - found it on www.foyles.co.uk in their signed editions section

Noah Barleywater runs away by John Boyne




In Noah Barleywater Runs Away, bestselling author John Boyne explores the world of childhood and the adventures that we can all have there. Noah is running away from his problems, or at least that's what he thinks, the day he takes the untrodden path through the forest. When he comes across a very unusual toyshop and meets the even more unusual toymaker he's not sure what to expect. But the toymaker has a story to tell, a story full of adventure, and wonder and broken promises. And Noah travels with him on a journey that will change his life for ever. A thought-provoking fable for our modern world from the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

I am in two minds about whether I will like this book - the boy in the striped pyjamas annoys me quite a bit despite the that I do like what Boyne tried to do with it. I have heard fab things about it though

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie
Published by Penguin on 2nd December 2010


In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic. 


***
This book is definately worth all the hype that has been built up around it. I will admit I did the happy dance when this book arrived on my doorstep recently. I loved it and literally couldn't put it down and am left wanting more!

The world you are entered into when reading this book definately takes inspiration from other dystopian works (I was frequently reminded of the giver whilst reading it) but Condie it takes the ideas and gives them her own twist. You start thrown into a world where all major decisions are made for you; who you live with, how many children you have, what job you do and even what you eat day by day. I was captivated by Condie's take on a dystopian world as, like with other dystopian novels, the world seems very idealistic but isn't what it seems when you get into it. The entire concept of matching was fascinating and I loved how the whole system was brought more and more into question as the story went on.

I loved the character of Cassia. She was really sweet and I liked seeing her take on the whole she lived in and how her views change gradually as she starts to find out more and more about the world she lives in. She really develops as a character and I can imagine her coming out of the end of the series as a really strong kiss ass heroine. I liked the relationships she had with all the the different people in her world both family and friends and am looking forward in particular to seeing how things play out with her, Xander and Ky.

This books ends on a cliffhanger, I am desperate to find out where the story goes as so many questions have been raised by it especially those around the officials and their 'experiments' and about what is going on outside the little bubble Cassia and her family have lived in.

An exciting, beautifully written and captivating novel. Definately worth hunting down. Buy it! 


A huge thanks to Penguin for sending this out to me!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Books I have previously loved: His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

This series is one I hold dear as it is the first young adult series I ever picked up. I went through a stage in my mid teens of not knowing what to read. I was too old for Enid Blyton but too young for a lot of the adult books I'd tried and failed to be interested in. On my 17th birthday Hadley bought me a copy of Northern Lights. I was hooked by the time I finished the first page and finished it within a day or two. I love Lyra as a character and I love the bears.The whole story is pure fantasy but it is so easy to relate to (How badly do I want a daemon - even now). I promptly managed to track down a copy of the Subtle Knife and loved it as much. I like the fact that you meet a whole new host of characters in a whole new setting which eventually intermingles with the one you started in - Will is an awesome character.

Just as I was about to get round to read The Amber Spyglass Phillip Pullman was doing a book to coincide with the release of it in paperback. We went up to Norwich and heard him talk about the book which I remember as being really funny but we made the fatal mistake of buying books as he started signing and ended up at the very back of the queue to see him. Relying on public transport as we did back then we had to leave before we got to see him (although we got our stuff signed as a lovely lady who worked at the bookshop got it done for us to collect later on).

As luck would have it I was studying at UEA when Phillip Pullman visited Norwich again and he was scheduled to talk at UEA promoting his Dark materials spin off Lyra's Oxford. This time we got ourselves at the front of the queue and got a variety of our books signed.

I love that the series is so vastly different from anything else I've read and it has been a fair few years since I have read it and I need to reread them and review them sooner rather than later as they were awesome. I love the good characters and hate the bad ones. The books deals with a variety of themes which I had never seen addressed in the type of books I was reading when I first picked them up. Definitely one I'd recommend because all these years later after reading them I would still consider them one of the best series of books I have ever read.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

How I blog

I thoughts I'd do a little post on my blogging habits.

I am an OCD blogger. I don't know why it surprises me especially as I can be quite OCD about everything else.

This is my process

  1. Read book
  2. Type up review on goodreads.com for transferal to blog at later date (I do have my first embargoed book coming - this is going to throw the OCD haywire but I'll have to manage and type it up somewhere secret instead). Most of the reviews I write are positive for a few reasons. Firstly I only read books I think I'll like. Secondly I am always impressed by the fact someone has actually written a book - I used to find it a struggle to write 6,000 word essays - I do not notice the use of English in the same way that other bloggers seem to (useless it is really horrific)
  3. Transfer to blog - I have now got to the point where I schedule my posts in advance (yes the OCD has taken over). I started blogging in the summer holidays. At that point I was posting as and when I finished a book. As I read over 38 books this summer that meant it was easy to do. Now I am back at work I don't always get the time to read and blog so I do the former eveyday and save up the latter for sunday mornings when I have a few hours free. I am hoping with the Christmas holidays coming up I will get a bit caught up again..
  4. Deciding on the next book - I don't really have a set plan for what I read next. I have a huge TBR shelf next to my bed which is split into three shelves. Two are ones I'll get to it at some point and one is review books and ones I really want to read soon.
  5. I also try to post other things on my blog that are book related. I participate in IMMB and WoW but not others as I don't think it adds to a blog to just do meme after meme. I do author interviews as and when I can and often post about random bookish things to get my head round them. Blogging has definately changed me as a reader but certainly for the better!
Anyone have any tips on how they blog and hold down a full time job - any ideas for book related books that aren't reviews would also be gratefully received

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Hexbound by Chloe Neill

Hexbound by Chloe Neill
Published by Gollancz in January 2011

I literally can't wait for this look after loving the first one!!


Lily Parker is new to St. Sophia’s School for Girls, but she’s already learned that magic can be your best friend…or your worst enemy.

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. Turns out, even a little magic can turn you to the dark side. That’s why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities, on top of avoiding the snobs who think they run her school, nursing a crush on a cute sophomore with a big, werewolf-y secret, and fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago’s nastiest nightlife—including the tainted magic users known as Reapers.

Then Lily’s invited to a private meeting with Sebastian. He’s hot, powerful, and offering to help her harness the magic flowing in her veins in a way no one else can. He’s also a Reaper. Lily can’t hide her suspicions. But she’ll soon find out that the line between good and evil isn’t always clear…

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Review: My Story. A London Girl's Diary 1665 - 1666. The great plague

My Story. A London Girl's Diary 1665 - 1666. The great plague by Pamela Oldfield




I'm going to be honest - this isn't a book I would have gone out and bought as it isn't Young Adult but I am really glad I received it.

This book follows the story of a young girl via her diary as she lives through the events of the Great Plague then the Great Fire of London in the years 1665 - 1666

I teach high school history and find it hard at times to find good, accurate historical novels for a younger audience and I am now pleased to say I have found a whole series of them.

What I liked about this book is that it was very accessible for younger readers and I liked the diary style of it. I liked that it was written by a person of a similiar age of the intended audience. I liked that it really gave a feel of the time period and looked in depth at the social impact of the plague and great fire of london on Britain. Definately a series I will be looking to get more of for school and recommending my students read.

Thank you to the Fantastic Scholastic for sending me a copy for review

Monday, 22 November 2010

Review: Drowned Sorrow by Vanessa Morgan

Drowned Sorrow by Vanessa Morgan



Megan Blackwood has just lost her son in a terrible accident. Now she has come to Moonlight Creek with her teenage daughter Jenna, hoping a change of scenery might help to put her life back together. But something odd is going on in Moonlight Creek. When rain falls over the village, its inhabitants commit grisly murders, leaving the place deserted with the first rays of sunshine. Beneath the lake's surface, an eerie presence watches... and waits... Waits to reveal a tragic past drowned in mystery and fear. One that doesn't bode well for visitors. By the time Megan realizes that her daughter's life is in danger, it may be too late to escape.   "Vanessa Morgan has the gift of pacing and spookiness" Scott Nicholson, author of They Hunger and The Farm "The female version of Stephen King" Pedro Chaves, director of Reiki "A racy thriller in the vein of Dean Koontz and John Saul" Dirk Vandereyken, author of Fates Worse Than Death: Hunter 

***
This book was a very quick and creepy read.

The story is set in a creepy little backwater village in the middle of nowhere. The residents are a little unsettling and you can't quite put your finger on it but something isn't quite right. The main characters are there for a short holiday to get away from it all having been recommended by a friend. As the story progresses it becomes more and more apparent that things are no as they seem and the final conclusion to the story was creepy.

I liked the premise and there were scenes that were very creepy (especially the scene in the supermarket). The ideas were quite original although it did remind me in style if not content of a series called invasion which was on TV a few years ago.

I found however that there were too many characters and none of which I could warm to all that much. I would have prefered a smaller cast and more character development. I also didn't really get why everything was happening.

Of the variety of self published books I have read this certtainly was one of the stronger ones. I find sometimes self published books need a bit more work to be polished enough to be really good but this books proves that Vanessa Morgan has potential.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

In my mailbox (24)

A quiet week for me - I am trying to control myself in the run up to christmas and not buy too much otherwise I won't have any money to buy any presents. Speaking of which I got my secret santa info through today - I am getting very excited about putting a parcel together for the person I have.

This is what I received this week


Bought

Angel by LA Weatherley 
I have heard lots of positive things about this book even though I can't really tell you what it is about off the top of my head. I found a signed copy of it (you know how much I love signed books) on Foyles.co.uk so thought I should order it before they all got snapped up!

For review

I got a selection of books from a new contact at Scholastic (I keep wanting to say Scholtastic because they are fantastic!) which I am excited to read.

Quarry by Ally Kennen
I haven't heard anything about this and have just made up the entry on goodreads based on the information that is on the back of the proof. It is coming out early next year and looks good.

The memory cage by Ruth Eastham
Another one where I have just edited the goodreads page - looks right up my street and should be especially helpful for school. I believe Eastham is debut author

Diary of a parent trainer by Jenny Smith
Yet another I've just updated - this looks potentially quite fully - maybe more middle grade than YA

The Great Plague (my story series) by Pamela Oldfield
I am particularly interested in this series which I haven't ever read yet as it looks like it would be perfect for school - may be one that doesn't stay in my collection at home once I've read it but goes with me to my other collection at school for the kids to dip in and out of (if you've seen the pictures of my home collection all I can say is my one at school rivals it - It has to be at school as I haven't got space at home for it as well)

Thanks to the awesome Kristi at www.thestorysiren.com for hosting IMM

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Review: Boys don't cry by Malorie Blackman

Boys don't cry by Malorie Blackman
Published by Doubleday Children's Books (Random House)


This is the explosively page-turning new novel for teenagers from the author of the award-winning "Noughts and Crosses" sequence. You're about to receive your A-level results and then a future of university and journalism awaits. But the day they're due to arrive your old girlfriend Melanie turns up unexpectedly ...with a baby ...You assume Melanie's helping a friend, until she nips out to buy some essentials, leaving you literally holding the baby ...Malorie's dramatic new novel will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the final page.

***
Everything I have ever read of Malorie Blackman's up to this book I loved and I was worried that this book might not be as good - I am very pleased to say that I was wrong and this book was also awesome.

The story alternates between narratives from Dante and Adam and tells two different but interwoven stories. The first story is Dante's the the way in which he deals with the situation is finds himself in when his ex girlfriend turns up on the doorstep with his young daughter and promptly leaves. The second story is about his Brother Adam and the way he is treated because he is gay. Either one of these topics would have made for an excellent story which would be worth reading purely for an educational purpose for the intended audience. Blackman manages to do both of these areas justice in one story providing an engaging and interesting book with a moralistic edge.

Dante's story was really interesting as I am yet to read a story of its kind from a male point of view. The main thing I liked about it was how much Dante grew as the story progressed. At the start of the story he is understandably shocked at the fact that he has a child and worried about the impact the revelation will have on his life especially as he has definite career plans in mind - raising a child definitely didn't feature as a priority. As the story progresses his rises to the challenges of being a father and becomes more understanding and closer to his own father as a result.

If Dante's story wasn't engaging enough, Adam's story adds to the novel even more. Adam is a gay teenager who is quite happy in his sexuality which is refreshing in itself. He is a wonderful character (especially the scenes with baby Emma) but has to put up with bullying from his peers about being gay. Without giving too much away I enjoyed his story for totally different reasons to why I enjoyed Dante's. The main thing I enjoyed about it was the way in which it made me realise how serious homophobic bullying can be however small the attacks might seem. I didn't seen what was coming at all and I think it'll be something that'll stay with me for a while.

An awesome book. If you've already read and enjoyed Malorie Blackman you are sure to enjoy it and if you haven't it will be a fab introduction to a wonderful author.

Friday, 19 November 2010

my shelves update!

I've been forced to have a bit of a reworking of my library now that my gorgeous collection books is rapidly expanding. this involving a semi aggressive takeover of shelves in the library (boy books being banished to the spare room) a rejiggle and compromise on another shelf and a whole new revamp for my TRB shelf.

My side of the library (yes side as I no longer just have 1 bookcase) now looks like this






















 The two shelves together have all of my young adult books on them - I have plenty of space to grow which means for the time being I can have my favourite covers facing forward so I can gaze at them. I must admit I get a bit OCD about these shelves and have rearranged them lots recently. The single shelf next to it has my children's books along with all the oversized books I have and some photoalbums.

In the library (and this was the compromise) we how have a collection adult books shelf, I have read or will read all of the books on this shelf (even though they aren't all technically mine). I really need to read a few adult books again!


 Finally my TRB shelf had to have a revamp. My dad came home with some ginormous bookshelves from a job he had been doing (he's a builder not a random criminal). He rescued them as the person he was working for was going to thrown them out. I nabbed one for my TRB shelf next to my bed ad it is a handy place for me to keep loads of things and I could keep all those things close with the amount of books I was keeping on there too. The bottom shelf (I say bottom there are two more below what you can see and one above) has my review titles on the left and the books I really want to read now on the right). The shelves above are all the other books I need to get through at some point (yes I often lay in bed gazing at them longingly) - I have actually had a bit of a slim down of these shelves recently not that you'd believe it by looking at them.



 Any books on here I ought to move down to my "must read now" pile???

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Books I have previously loved: How I live now by Meg Rosoff

How I live now by Meg Rosoff
Published by Penguin


“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

A riveting and astonishing story.


***
I am not a hard and fast Meg Rosoff fan. I find a lot of her charcaters to be a bit wishy washy and some of her story lines to be a bit pointless. However I did love How I Live Now completely. The book is set in the near future in the middle of a war. It was another book I picked up purely for the cover but I was totally hooked once I got into it. I loved the characters and I thought the ideas and premise for the story were excellent. The story line with Edmound was heart breaking and I loved the main character. A book I would highly recommend (so much so I invested in a hardback signed first edition).

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: XVI by Julia Karr

XVI by Julia Karr
published by Speak

I am looking forward to this book loads - it looked amazing when I first saw it ages ago on www.thestorysiren.com and I have been waiting for it ever since.


In the year 2150, being a girl isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when your sixteenth (read sex-teenth) birthday is fast approaching. That in itself would be enough to make anyone more than a little nuts, what with the tattoo and all – but Nina Oberon’s life has taken a definite turn for the worse. Her mother is brutally stabbed and left for dead. Before dying, she entrusts a secret book to Nina, telling her to deliver it to Nina's father. But, first Nina has to find him; since for fifteen years he's been officially dead. Complications arise when she rescues Sal, a mysterious, and ultra hot guy. He seems to like Nina, but also seems to know more about her father than he’s letting on. Then there’s that murderous ex-government agent who’s stalking her, and just happens to be her little sister’s dad."

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Published by Little Brown Books


Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.


***
I read this book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it. A brave take on a hard hitting subject which was executed beautifully. I would highly recommend it to all.

To begin with I didn't quite get Alex and what had happened to her and I think to myself a couple of times "what is the big deal" and "get over yourself". That said I warmed to her as the book progressed and as the story went on you start to feel for her more and more as more of her story comes out. I've read quite a nasty review of this and I think that might have been where the reader goes wrong as they said they only read the first few chapters.

This book deals with the issue of date rape quite bravely and has a unique idea to help the main character to deal with her problems. The whole story centers around the idea of consent and the fact that that no response doesn't imply a "yes". I was fascinated by this idea as it is so obvious but I imagine it is the type of excuse used but a variety of people in a variety of different circumstances to get away with whatever they like.

The story had a whole host of characters who were pretty cool. Alex herself was interesting and I loved her friends, TS and Maia and her sister Casey. Casey is an interesting character in that she set up the Mockingbirds and I loved finding out her reasons for doing so as the book unfolded. I also loved Martin (he is so cute) and was rooting for him throughout.

The whole premise of the Mockingbirds was fascinating. I was somewhat disturbed by the school system where the system does not deal with pupil behaviour but once I got past that the idea seemed ingenious in that it gave the culprit of a given crime their just deserves and made them accountable for what they had done (Thinking about this now reminds me of the end scene of cruel intentions - fab film). I like how they started subtly by removing privileges the pupil should have earned before openly bringing them to trial and then justice.

The only little criticism I have is that I expected the Mockingbirds to be a bit more sinister from the way the blurb read which they weren't so I spent the entire book waiting for something creepy or nasty to happen to Carter which it didn't.

All in all an awesome book which is well worth the read.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Anti Bullying Week

This week is Anti Bullying week. It is designed to raise awareness of bullying in all its forms and help to try to eradicate it. The theme this year is "taking action together". I personally think it is a brilliant campaign to get behind as I can't imagine that anyone has not been touched by bullying at one point in their life either themselves or by seeing a friend or relative having gone through it

Check out the official website
http://www.antibullyingweek.co.uk/

Also check out http://asamum.blogspot.com/ where Emma is hosting a themed week on bullying. I am doing a guest post at some point during the week.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

In my Mailbox (23)

In my mailbox is hosted by the awesome Kristi at www.thestorysiren.com

I only got two books this week but both of them are awesome.

From penguin for review

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen


The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties. Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star... Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for...and someone will. The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets. Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.
I was offered this week and jumped at the chance - it looks awesome! I hope to get to it this week.

Received from the author

Drowned Sorrow by Vanessa Morgan

Megan Blackwood has just lost her son in a terrible accident. Now she has come to Moonlight Creek with her teenage daughter Jenna, hoping a change of scenery might help to put her life back together.   But something odd is going on in Moonlight Creek. When rain falls over the village, its inhabitants commit grisly murders, leaving the place deserted with the first rays of sunshine. Beneath the lake's surface, an eerie presence watches... and waits... Waits to reveal a tragic past drowned in mystery and fear. One that doesn't bode well for visitors. By the time Megan realizes that her daughter's life is in danger, it may be too late to escape.   "Vanessa Morgan has the gift of pacing and spookiness" Scott Nicholson, author of They Hunger and The Farm   "The female version of Stephen King" Pedro Chaves, director of Reiki   "A racy thriller in the vein of Dean Koontz and John Saul" Dirk Vandereyken, author of Fates Worse Than Death: Hunter 

I was offered this by the author ages ago and it finally arrived this week - along with signing the book (and you know how much of a fan I am of signed books) Vanessa included a manuscript of her new short story. Another book I hope to read at some point later in the week!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Review: Solid by Shelley Workinger

Solid by Shelley Workinger




Eighteen years ago, a rogue Army doctor secretly experimented with a chromosomal drug on unknowing pregnant women. When he was killed not long after the children were born, any knowledge and evidence seemed to die with him - except for the living, breathing, human products of his work. Almost two decades later, the newly self-proclaimed "open-book" military unearths the truth about the experiment, bringing Clio Kaid and the other affected teens to a state-of-the-art, isolated campus where they soon discover that C9x did indeed alter their chromosomes, its mutations presenting as super-human abilities. The military kids, who come from across the nation and all walks of life, come into their own as lighter-than-air 'athletes'; 'indies' as solid as stone walls; teens who can make themselves invisible and others who can blind with their brilliance. While exploring her own special ability, forging new friendships and embarking on first love, Clio also stumbles onto information indicating that the military may not have been entirely forthcoming with them and that all may not be as it seems...

***

This series certainly has potential.

Solid is an the first in a series. The story revolves around a group of Young Adults who, when they were in the womb, were subjected to some kind of genetic experiment. The story starts 17 years after the experiments have happened. The teenagers who were experimented on have been rounded up and taken to a training facility although it isn't entirely clear why they are there.

The story is narrated by Clio a 17 year old girl who finds herself at this camp and largely follows her day to day life as she settles in, makes friends. Towards the end of the book questions are starting to be raised about the facility and why it has been set up and why nearly 100 17 year olds have been put there without any contact to the outside world.

The thing I liked most about this book was the characterisation. There is a lovely host of characters meaning that there is someone for everyone to relate to both male and female. The dynamics of the main characters is fun and I enjoyed following there adventure.

The story is quite short (just over 200 pages) and for me this is was its downfall. By the time everything is set up everything stops and only a faction of the questions I have buzzing round my head about the facility, the experiments and the personnel have been answered. I am hoping that the story is continued in future books (there is at least one more) as there is so much that I need exploring and explaining as the concepts and ideas are very engaging and thought provoking. I loved seeing how the story developed especially when the group started to come into their special powers - I loved the scene when the girls arrived for a secret sneak in mission all in black ready to creep in and one of the boys points out there wasn't much point as they able to turn invisible anyway.

Definitely worth hunting out - you may want to buy it along with the second one as you will definitely be left wanting more.

A huge thanks to Shelley herself for sending me this book for review

Buy your own copy at the book depository

Friday, 12 November 2010

Books I have previously loved: Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld

The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
Published by Simon and Schuster

I thought I would do this post as I finally managed after 4 years of nagging to get my husband start reading this series. Uglies was the first dystopian novel I ever read and the main reason why I picked it up to start with was because of the cover.  At school every year the library holds a book fair and I usually make an effort to go and buy something from it. This book was on the stand and it looks so weird it immediately caught me eye. I love the book because it does so many things. It is dystopian, and sci fi and it hits on so many themes about image and teenagers that makes it really relevant and hard hitting. I love the character of Tally as she rebels against the system and does her own thing. I love the world view set out in the book, where everyone is living in cities, with access to everything they need. At 16 they become pretty so that people don't get jealous of each other. At face value everything seems completely fair. Like with a lot of dystopian novels once you get into the story so see that all is not as it seems. You find out more about the rusties (basically us) and how the society is trying to learn from their mistakes, but also how a group outside the community are trying to break free of this seemingly perfect society and go back to living how the rusties did. I love the charcaters and their interactions with other and I love the notion of hoverboards (I want one!). Generally a fab book. The story is continued then concluded in pretties then specials. I must say I found the first book to be the strongest of the trilogy (the pretties world is a bit airheaded and bimboish which got annoying) and I didn't entirely like how Tally changed. However the series continues to be good throughout the trilogy and there are some phemonial scenes towards the end, which promise to be amazing if the series is ever made into films.



Extras is a companion book to the orginal series. It is the first book I remember waiting ages for as I was desperate to read it. Having only read it once I don't remember it in huge detail (I've reread the triogly several times) but I do remember loving how it ties in with the uglies world and enjoyed seeing the world after Tally had made her impact upon it.

Definately a series I would highly recommend and certainly worth  a go if you've never heard of it before. They do have a new editions of them with covers like this one. They are nice but I think I prefer the old ones!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Rememberance Day

In memory of all the soldiers who have fallen protecting the free world. May we always remember them



In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: You against me by Jenny Downham

You against me by Jenny Downham
Published by David Flickling Books on 2nd December 2010

It's rare for me to post on a book I haven't already preordered. In this case I haven't because I have put it on my wishlist on amazon in the hope someone will buy it for me for christmas. If not I'll get it in the new year. I literally can't wait for this book as it looks fab and I loved her first book so much. Can't wait!


If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another.
 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Check this link out - Christmas blogger secret santa!!

http://holidayswap.wordpress.com/

Looks like a fab idea - I am already signed up!!

Very excited to start thinking about what I should buy for it.

Deadline is 14th Nov so you'll need to be quick!

The CILIP Carnegie award nominations

I have been waiting for these to come out for while and finally found them today (it must be what normal people get like about the oscars or something like that!). This is the longlist of nominations before a short list is drawn up. I love the Carnegie awards as we always get copies of the finalists in school for about 3 months before the final decision is made about the winner. I didn't do it last year but the year before I read every young adult book in the final in the space of two weeks!

Adlington, L.J. Burning Mountain

Almond, David The Boy Who Climbed Into The Moon

Ashley, Bernard No way to Go

Augarde, Steve Xisle

Beck, Ian Pastworld


Breslin, Theresa Prisoner of the Inquisition

Brooks, Kevin I Boy 

Carrington, Jim Inside My Head

Christopher, Lucy Flyaway


Corder, Zizou Halo 

Craigie, Emma Chocolate Cake with Hitler 

Creech, Sharon Unfinished Angel

Cross, Gillian Where I Belong


David, Keren When I Was Joe 

Davies, Corinne V. Ralph is (not) a Vampire

Di Camillo, Kate  The Magician's Elephant

Dickinson, John We

Duffy, Carol Ann New and Collected Poems for Children


Durrow, Heidi The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

Fisher, Catherine  Crown of Acorns 

Gleitzman,Morris Now

Grant, Helen The Glass Demon 

Gourlay, Candy Tall Story

Haig, Matt The Radleys

Hooper, Mary Fallen Grace 

Hughes, Gregory Unhooking the Moon

Jones, Diana Wynne Enchanted Glass 

Kennen, Ally Sparks

Malley, Gemma The Returners 

McCaughrean, Geraldine The Death Defying Pepper Roux

McNish, Cliff Savannah Grey

Mills, Sam Blackout 

Moran, Katy Spirit Hunter 

Morgan, Nicola Wasted

Morpurgo, Michael Running Wild 

Nelson, Jandy The Sky is Everywhere

Ness, Patrick Monsters of Men 

Newbery, Linda  Lob 

Nix, Garth Lord Sunday 

Purkiss, Sue Emily's Surprising Voyage

Rees, Celia The Fool's Girl


Reeve, Philip No Such Thing As Dragons

Riordan, Rick The Red Pyramid

Rosoff, Meg The Bride's Farewell 


Sachar, Louis The Cardturner

Saunders, Kate Beswitched

Scarrow, Alex Timeriders

Sedgwick, Marcus White Crow 

Sparkes, Ali Wishful Thinking

Summers, Laura   Desperate Measures


Suzuma, Tabitha Forbidden 

Temperley, Alan  Scar Hill 

Updale, Eleanor Johnny Swanson 


Valentine, Jenny  The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight


Wallace, Jason Out of Shadows

Walsh, Pat  The Crowfield Curse 

Westerfield, Scott Leviathan 

Williams, Carol Lynch The Chosen One 


Williams, Rob Luke and Jon 

Winterson, Jeanette  Battle of the Sun 


I have read (or have on my TBR shelf) quite a few of these - anyone got any ideas who might be the eventually winner?? My money's on The sky is everywhere or the chosen one

Monday, 8 November 2010

Review: Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published by Quercus




Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?


***
I did enjoy this book in the end and I am looking forward to the sequel but boy did I struggle with it initially.

Raised by wolves is very different to all the other werewolf story I have read. The ideas are original which was nice for a change and the characters were well written. I enjoyed the fact that the lead was a feisty female but I really didn't warm to her all that much. I liked a lot of the secondary characters like Ali, Lake and Devon but there was just something about Bryn I didn't get.

The story starts off quite slow and I found it quite confusing to begin with. The dialogue flips between what is happening and being said out loud here and now to conversations being said between the wolves minds and to action happening in a dream like state. This for me was the thing I really didn't get about the book the most and I often found it hard to keep up with what was actually going on. It did improve as the book went on but initially I was thrown.

All of the action happens in the last third of the book and I for one enjoyed the story once it got going, I just wish it had got there sooner. The final ending was good and it has set up what could potentially be an awesome series.

Not the best book I have read this year, but certainly engaging with a unique premise and witty characters with lots of potential to be a good series overall.



A huge thanks to Lyndsey http://yafiction-heavenhellandpurgatory.blogspot.com/  and Quercus for sending me a signed copy. You guys rock!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

In my Mailbox (22)

In my Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at www.thestorysiren.com . Check out her awesome website.

A fab week for books this week. I had some titles that I preordered ages ago turn up early and received some awesome review titles.


 For review

Vampire Academy books (shadow kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit bound). I received a lovely email this week asking if I was interested in reviewing the final Vampire Academy book. I emailed back saying I only had book 1 and 2 and hadn't quite got round to reading them. My lovely contact at penguin sent me book 3 - 5 so I catch up before book 6 is released. I have since whizzed round book 1 and am now on book 2 and have a awesome themed feature week in mind. Watch this space).

I also received a proof copy of Crusade by Linda Press Wulf from Bloomsbury. It looks like a wicked book (the cover looks amazing - follow the link to see it on goodreads) and I am very excited to read it.

Swapped

I got Alpha by Rachel Vincent in a swap this week. I really need to get caught up with this series as it has been over a year since I've picked one up.

Bought

Two very exciting books turned up this week which I had on preorder and wasn't supposed to get until December. I am so excited about both of them! I got The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney which I have just started reading. I haven't read a debut novel in ages so I am pleased to have one to read. I also got The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting which is another book I will have to read very soon (and also a debut novel).

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Review: The Island by Sarah Singleton

The Island by Sarah Singleton
Published by Simon and Schuster



This book was a well written, nice little read, reminding me of Losing Gemma in its setting and style, with lots of mystery and intrigue.

The Island is a story following the adventures of three older teenagers on their gap year in India. The book alternatives between naarative told by each of the three main characters in separate chapters both in real time and through flashbacks. The story begins with Otto a laid back aspiring photographic journalist who mets a mysterious young girl named Maria on a Goan beach. They dance the night away and hours later she winds up dead with Otto being the main suspect in the case having found her body in the sea. Otto tries to find out more about Maria and her death and soon finds he is captured himself. His friends, arrived to Goa at a later date than Otto, arrive at the village unable to find Otto and at a loss of what to do. It soon becomes clear as they investigate that everything is not as it seems.

I enjoyed the twists and turns of this book although some of the ideas were a little predictable. I enjoyed how the three main characters complimented each other as they were all so different and I enjoyed finding out more of their back story through the flashback chapters. I did think the characters and their decisions were a little naive at times - even I was suspicious of a variety of the choices offered from the outset whereas they didn't seem to notice the threats facing them.

While the ideas were simple I wouldn't say this book is strictly a Young Adult novel - the language used and content would be more appropriate to an older audience and I certainly wouldn't recommend it to younger readers. The book had certainly taken inspiration from other novels of a similar genre like 'the beach' and 'Losing Gemma'. Definitely engaging in its own way although I'm not sure how much more story their is to tell. I'll be interested to see what is planned for the sequel.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Happy Fireworks Night!



I didn't do any thing post related for Halloween. I suppose it says something about my Britishness that I don't celebrate Halloween but do celebrate the 5th November. Today I will be educating the youth of today about old Guy Fawkes and James I (and some lovely conspiracy theories about the Catholics being set up!). Tomorrow night I will be out at fireworks with friends, hoping there will be some Bonfire Toffee to be had. I hope you all have a fab 5th November whatever you have planned.

Oh and for those of you who have no idea what I'm on about check out this video - it's quite funny and gives a nice little overview. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XX-Wjb68umg

Thursday, 4 November 2010

New Harry Potter Website!!

Just thought I'd share this link with you!

http://harrypotter.bloomsbury.com/

This is the new bloomsbury website for Harry Potter launched to coincide with the new white edition Harry Potter books which look a bit like ...

 The website frankly looks awesome. I am off to play on the games like I am 14 again!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Simon and Schuster in the UK January 2011


Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black, murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattoed princess. He is a replacement - left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago when it was stolen away by the fey. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world. Mackie would give anything just to be normal, to live quietly amongst humans, practice his bass guitar and spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem, where he must face down the dark creatures and find his rightful place - in our world, or theirs.

I can;t explain how excited I am about this book. I need it badly, really badly. I don't know if I'll be able to manage as long as January!!!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Review: Blood Ransom by Sophie McKenzie

Blood Ransom by Sophie McKenzie
Published by Simon and Schuster






Clones Rachel and Theo now live thousands of miles apart. They keep in touch, but things just aren't the same. When Rachel discovers that evil scientist Elijah is still working in secret for a section of the government and about to murder Daniel, she sets out to rescue the little boy, but her plans backfire with disastrous consequences. Across the Atlantic, Theo becomes suspicious when Rachel misses their weekly internet chat. He discovers a report online saying she's killed herself and travels to Scotland to find her, certain that she has been kidnapped. A clue leads him to Elijah's mysterious clinic, where the sinister Aphrodite Experiment is underway. But what is Elijah really planning? Why does he need to track Rachel down so badly? And will Rachel and Theo be able to pay the ultimate ransom that he demands?

***
I was really excited to be getting this book. I read the first one a while back and then got to meet Sophie McKenzie a while back and one of the things we chatted about was how much I liked this particular series of hers and she said that she loved Rachel as a character and I certainly agree with her.

This book is definitely Rachel's story. She thinks and acts as the new confident Rachel we met towards the end of the last book. I enjoyed following her story throughout. This story develops what was first set up in Blood ties, the idea that a 'mad' scientist has developing cloning techniques mostly for very selfish money making reasons. The story is set 9 months after the first and we first see both Theo and Rachel living apart under false identities to hide them from both Elijah, the mad scientist who made them and RAGE a group against cloning.

Without going into a lot of detail so not to spoil the story (or the first one for those who haven't read it yet, which you should) the pair find themselves drawn into another scenario where they have to defeat and outsmart the evil genius who created them and foil his new plans. The story is fast paced and engaging throughout and the whole premise isn't out of the realms of possibility. I do find sometimes that Sophie's have a little more moral than sense and often plunge themselves into situations without thinking them through and often they do things which are a little unbelievable for the age they are supposed to be. Nevertheless they are still an engaging fast paced read and I felt this book was a nice sequel to the first story which I did really enjoy.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Review: No and Me by Delphine de Vigan

No and Me by Delphine de Vigan
Published by Bloomsbury


Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend in class rebel Lucas. At home her father puts a brave face on things but cries in secret in the bathroom, while her mother rarely speaks and hardly ever leaves the house. To escape this desolate world, Lou goes often to Gare d'Austerlitz to see the big emotions in the smiles and tears of arrival and departure. But there she also sees the homeless, meets a girl called No, only a few years older than herself, and decides to make homelessness the topic of her class presentation. Bit by bit, Lou and No become friends until, the project over, No disappears. Heartbroken, Lou asks her parents the unaskable question and her parents say: Yes, No can come to live with them. So Lou goes down into the underworld of Paris' street people to bring her friend up to the light of a home and family life, she thinks.

***
I recently got this book on a whim from readitswapit.co.uk. I wasn't really sure what to expect having never read a translated book before but I actually though it was very sweet.

The story centers around the character of Lou. I enjoyed her as a character as she was a bit younger than the usual age of a main characters in a young adult novel. As the book went on I felt that her goodness shone through demonstrated most beautifully in her interactions with No and the brutally honest narrative, I liked that she was bit younger and told things as they were because she simply didn't know that she ought to soften what she was saying. I loved that she had these quirky little habits (like all of her experiments) and enjoyed how innocent her view of the world was in someways and how mature she was in others.

If you were going to remember this story for anything it would be its portrayal of young homeless women. It really made me for people who in such a unfortunate position they find themselves without a home and it is frightening how easily it seems to have happened to some of them. I loved seeing how Lou entered this world without any fear or discrimination and how she processed everything she saw and went about trying to help.

No makes for an interesting character in this book. She is a feisty young lady who holds her own dealing with all the rubbish she has had in her life. I like her relationship with Lou and I love seeing her she develops through the story once she finally moves in with the family and how simply having her as part of the family changes the family dynamic.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was the final ending. It annoyed me somewhat as I was hoping for a cheerful mood lifter which this wasn't. That said I still thought this was a thoroughly good book well worth the time and effort. A fantastic starting point for me in french Young Adult literature.