Thursday, 30 June 2011

Review: Dangerous to know by Katy Moran

Dangerous to know by Katy Moran
Published by Walker Books
Challenge: BBC
Source: Review copy



Dangerous to know is a bit of a coming of age story featuring the main character Jack with a romantic starcrossed lovers edge to it.

You first meet the main character Jack as he is off on a train (well hiding in the toilets in the train) with Bethany, a girl he has recently met, on their way to a music festival. they are typical teenagers off to have a good time spending as little as possible. They go off, have a fab time and Jack decides he is falling for Bethany. At the end of the weekend they travel home, part with the promise to see each other later and you get this sense that everything is going to go along nicely.

However everything changes when Jack gets home. Bethany is there with her parents demanding that Jack stay away from her in the future. It is from this point on that the story gets interesting. You start to get a bit more into jack and his background. His family is in turmoil. He hasn't seen his father for years, his older twin brothers are also off the scene and Jack feels alone which is made worse by the fact that he has been told he can no longer see Bethany.

There are several story lines that are developed from here on out. The first surrounds Jack's older brother and what happened to them as it is clear from the outset that whatever happened was all tied in to them getting heavily involved with drugs and gives you good insight into what it must be like to see a family member go down that slippery slope. I loved seeing the relationships the twins had with Jack and how their problems changed those relationships.

Another storyline involved Jack's estranged father who, as it turns out, is extremely wealthy. It was interesting when he finally did come back on the scene to see how differently the problems and estrangement was seen from both Jack's and his father's point of views.

The storyline involving the budding romance between Bethany and Jack summed up quite well the intense feeling of that first teenage romance and showed quite nicely all the prejudices someone might face if they come from a "problem family".

All in all a lovely little book which was an enjoyable and quick read.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fox Inheritance by Mary E Pearson

I loved the first one in this series and I can't wait for the next in the series

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E Pearson
Published August 2011



Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.
Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.
Everyone except Jenna Fox.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Review: Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson

Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson
Published by Orchard books
Source: swapped on Readitswapit.co.uk


Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.


Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison's condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can't explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori -- the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that's impossible. Right?


***
Ultraviolet isn't the book you expect it is going to be ... it's even better. It continually throws twists into the mix which change your perspective and keeps you guessing right through to the very end. I'm going to warn you now that this review is deliberately vague in places so not to spoil the twists for anyone.

When you first read Ultraviolet the scene is set for one type of book. A young girl wakes up in an secure instuition for mentally ill people and you are told that another girl has gone missing. You don't quite know what is going on but the assumption is that the main character Alison has had something to do with the other girl's disappearance. You start to find out more about what happened and the new situation Alison has found herself in.

It becomes quite clear soon on that something isn't quite with the whole situation and that everything isn't all that it seems. Alison maintains that she is totally normal and without need for medication and the specialists at the institution claim otherwise. It isn't until an external therapist comes to the centre to work with Alison that any kind of explanation for why she is the way she is starts to unfold and things start to get better for Alison. She is finally allows home for a short visit and it is during that visit that the whole story is thrown on its head with a twist I didn't see coming and changes the story to something else entirely.

From the twist onwards the pace and feel of the story changes dramatically and it gets to the point where you don't want to put the book down. I really enjoyed getting under the skin of the main character Alison and following her as she found out more about the situation she finds herself in and works to get out of.

The thing for me that made this book brilliant was the final chapter which in itself twists the story on its head again and leaves you wondering what it is you actually read and what actually went on. I've seen such a thing done in TV shows and films time and time again but never encountered it in a book which made it pretty special. It is the main reason why i think this is a book I will be thinking over for a long time to come.

All in all an awesome book which I am sure I'll keep thinking about for a long time yet and playing over in my mind again and again.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Review: My Sister lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher

My sister lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher
Published by Orion
Challenge: DAC, BBC
Source: Signed copy bought from ebay.


Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine for a 'Fresh New Start'. Five years ago his sister's twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb. His parents are wrecked by their grief, Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating. The family falls apart. But Jamie hasn't cried in all that time. To him Rose is just a distant memory. Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and in keeping his new friend Sunya a secret from his dad. And in his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago. When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels certain that this will change everything and bring them all back together once and for all.

***
My sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is a heartwarming and heart wrenching tale about a young boy and how he copes once his family falls apart after his sister was killed by a terrorist attack.

The story is told from the perspective of Jamie a 10 year old boy. A lot has happened to him in his short life. His sister died, his parents split up and he was moved half way across the country for a fresh start. What is really touching about this story is the way in which he deals with all these changes and holds in all together when his family, his parent in particular, are falling apart. He is told he has to be sad and miss his sister but he doesn't really remember her and can't understand why his Dad is so upset with him not being upset about losing her. He can't quite see things from his parents view. It is heartbreaking to see the way in which the other members of the family close down to Jamie leaving him feeling more and more alone in their own attempts to deal with what has happened.

I think this book is quite brave in the way in which it deals with racism within Britain. Jamie's father is obviously very bitter about the loss of his child and goes from blaming the one or two people involved to blaming all Muslims in Britain. I actually think this is a not uncommon mindset in some areas of the UK especially with some of the older generations who live in these small villages that are still untouched by multiculturalism. The issue was tackled well in how Jamie's Dad's view were contrasted against the real life experiences Jamie had when he met Sunya a Muslim girl of his age in school and was developed in the relationship that was built up between them.

All in all a brilliant debut novel from a British author which tackled a variety of issues in a sensitive manner.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

IMM (52)

Thank you as always to Kristi for hosting IMM

Only two books this week but they are both fab ones

Girl parts by John Cusick (US hardback)


What happens when a robot designed to be a boy’s ideal “companion” develops a will of her own? A compulsively readable novel from a new talent.

David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot designed to encourage healthy bonds and treat his “dissociative disorder,” he can’t get enough of luscious redheaded Rose — and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Parted from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal “companion” is about to become her own best friend. In a stunning and hilarious debut, John Cusick takes rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uberconnected world.


The name of the star by Maureen Johnson (UK proof)


The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Sorry if I am AWOL for next couple of weeks. As you read this I am on my way down to London as I am working for Edexcel marking exam scripts for the next three weeks and need to be at a meeting on Monday morning in High Holborn to get ready for the marking period. Rest assured I have loads of reviews etc scheduled ready for you so that you won't miss me.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Andrew Peters author of ravenwood

Today's Bookcase Showcase post is by Andrew Peters, author of Ravenwood ...
 
I live in a converted Methodist Chapel on the edge of a small rural village..
I love the contrast between the stone walls and walls of books. This first
picture is part of our library on the landing. It shows part of our
children¹s fiction collection, with some of my favourite books tucked away,
including The Invention of Huge Chabret {one of the greatest books I have
ever read}, Airborn by Kenneth Oppel and the Mortal Engines Quartet by
Philip Reeve, alongside a shelf of plays {my wife is an ex-drama teacher,
but we have also written six published plays} and a lovely old set of
Dickens. 
 
 
 
The second picture displays the concept of controlled chaos in my study. The
bottom shelf comprises files of old and ongoing projects, proof-copies of
books, and several unpublished novels including my first ever novel written
in my early twenties called the Rose That Leaked. It has taken two decades
for me to finally work out why the publishers said no ­ in which time I hope
I have finally served my fiction apprenticeship, learning about narrative
arc, dialogue, structure and character building. The second and third
shelves house part of my poetry collection, Milton and Yeats sitting
comfortably alongside Roger McGough and a copy of Watchmen which I studied
when I wrote my first graphic novel. The final shelf, contains all the
editions of mine and Polly¹s books {I have co-authored about a quarter of my
titles with her}. Proudly faced out are the Polish and German editions of
Ravenwood. On days when I feel insecure, I use this shelf as a security
blanket to remind me that I do have a body of work that goes back many years
­ including poetry, plays, picture books, story books, verse novels and
fiction. 
 
The final picture is the most personal. Our loft and sleeping space is
supported by wonderful old huge pine roof-trusses ­ perhaps this is part of
where the idea of sleeping in the trees in Ravenwood comes from. We have had
many wonderful carpenters work their talents to shoehorn shelves into
difficult spaces. These books represent my bedtime reading and my palace of
dreams. There is Waterlog, by Roger Deakin, one of the best and truest books
on wild swimming that echoes my obsession with natural water. I feel that
Roger was a kindred spirit to Ark, the hero of my novel, who loves nothing
more than to take a dip in the rainwater-filled, hollowed-out cruck of a
giant tree, where branch meets trunk,  a mile above ground. Here also are my
books about nature, and my other interest, the history of London that I can
read a few pages of before drifting off in my bed to visit those other
strange landscapes that on waking, one always wishes one could remember.
 
 
Andrew Peters
http://www.facebook.com/RavenwoodNovel
 
If you would like to feature in a future bookcase showcase please find all the details on the bookcase showcase page. I would love to feature you.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Review: Clarity by Kim Harrington

Clarity by Kim Harrington
Published by Scholastic
Challenge: DAC
Source: Purchased in Foyles


When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?
This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.
Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.
And a curse.
When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case - but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother - who has supernatural gifts of his own - becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?


***
Clarity is an awesome debut offering from Kim Harrington. I whizzed through it in a matter of hours and was totally hooked throughout.

Clarity is a teenage psychic who has been asked to help solve a murder mystery which quickly becomes very complicated when her older brother is arrested as the prime suspect.

For me the best thing about this book was its pace. It kept me hooked in and reading page after page because things kept happening. I loved that I didn't have the time to get bored but also wasn't so continually rushed that I didn't think I didn't have the time to get to know the characters. I loved how to story twisted and turned and I was continually guessing in a bid to solve the murder, then getting wrong and having to rethink the whole thing again.

I really enjoyed getting to know Clarity, the main character of the books. She is an outsider and someone who has never quite been cool enough to fit in at high school. I liked how she saw the world and how she related to her eccentric family.

The murder mystery in this was good. As I said before it kept me guessing but I also enjoyed that the final reveal and the explanations for what happened were quite realistic and the way in which they were solved were too, even with Clarity's special abilities.

I can't say I was all that fussed with the love triangle of this books. While it didn't irritate me I didn't really find that I liked either of the boys so wasn't really fussed about what Clarity did or did not get up to with them in the end. I really hope they are developed more in future books.

All in all a nice quick read which was very enjoyable and both a nice start to a series but also a satisfying standalone in itself.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Review: Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck

Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck
Published by Hodder
Series: The Tiger Saga #2
Source: Review copy


Kelsey Hayes is no ordinary college freshman. In fact, the eighteen-year-old girl has just returned from India, where she risked her life—and her heart—to rescue a handsome Indian prince from a terrible curse. Back home in Oregon, Kelsey is determined to move on, despite the lingering feelings she has for the man she left behind. She meets Li, a completely average guy who offers the promise of an ordinary, curse-free life. But just when Kelsey is ready to move on, Ren reenters her life, on a quest to reclaim her heart. Danger threatens their newly rekindled love and to save him, Kelsey must journey with someone else—a man who wants her for himself. The saga begun in Tiger’s Curse continues in Tiger’s Quest, as Kelsey finds herself in an epic battle between good and evil. From the shores of the Pacific Northwest to the jungles of India, the mountains of Nepal and Tibet, and the mystical realm of Shangri-la, this suspenseful tale of love, sacrifice, and redemption is not to be missed.

***
The tiger's quest is the second instalment. I enjoyed it as much as the first and have been left with a huge and impossible decision which tiger do I like best? Black or White?

The book starts back with Kesley. She is back in America, starting college (with a lot of help from her Indian friends) and trying to get on with her life after making the decision to leave Ren. She starts to date other men and tries to see how she copes without the Tigers. That is of course until they start showing up in her life again. Ren comes back unable to without Kelsey. I loved the bit where he encourages her to date other men in order for her to make her own decisions about who she should be with and was often left in a completely frustrated state by their inability to sort it out and get together. I loved it when things did and everything for them was back on track.

As always things aren't always that perfect and easy. Ren and Kesley are found by the people looking for them and are separated, Ren being captured in the process, and Kesley is thrown together with Ren's brother in another quest to find a prized artifact and save Ren. I must admit I really was quite anti Kishan all the way through this book right up until the very end when I quite quickly changed my mind.

What I like about these books is that they don't save up all the action until the very end. I like how the exciting events are spread out quite well through the books meaning that you are not waiting long until something else happens which is something that keeps me reading page after page long after I actually intended to finish reading for the night.

The only thing that I didn't like about this book was that it ended on another gut wrenching ending which was extremely frustrating. The wait between books is going to kill me!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

I know this is a choice which throws up a bit of controversy but even so I can't wait to get the next instalment

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
Published by Razorbill in August 2011


I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he's a mystery. But to me . . . he's one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we'll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed.

I am Number Seven. One of six still alive.

And I'm ready to fight.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
Published by Dutton
Source: Purchased from Price Minister


Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?
***
I'm afraid this is going to be another one of those reviews which raves about Anna and the French Kiss and how fantastic it is. I bought it because everyone raved about how awesome it was and I really wasn't disappointed in any way. One of the best books I have read this year.

For me one of the best things about this book was Anna the main character. I loved how wonderfully likable she was and really found it easy to connect with her and all the thing she went through as the story went on. I loved that she was this normal teenage girl complete with all the worries, troubles and insecurities of a teenager.

I also really loved the Boarding School that Anna was sent to. When I was a child I love Enid Blyton's boarding school stories and wanted to go to either of the school's she wrote about. Had I read this book as a teenager I would have wanted to go to SOAP (School of America, Paris). Actually scrap that .. I want to go there now! I loved how you were drawn into the world of SOAP and by the end of the book I actually felt like I knew the places in the story as well as I had come to know the characters.

Another thing I loved about the book was the gorgeousness that was √Čtienne St. Clair. He is definitely a main character written specifically to make you fall in love with him and I'm not ashamed to admit I certainly did (but don't tell my husband). He is just gorgeous and I spent the entire story loving him more and more.

This book was one of those books which was entertaining all the way through despite being quite slow paced. I am one of those people who get bored very easily whilst reading but I found that with this one I couldn't put it down. It was written so beautifully that I just had to keep reading even when things weren't kicking off. In fact I probably liked it even more for the fact it was slow paced as it gave me more time with St. Clair just following him as he went about his daily life (yes I know that sounds stalkerish!)

The main storyline of this book which kept me hooked was the love story between Anna and St. Clair which kept me entertained throughout. I also like how it wasn't straight forward or predictable and kept me guessing throughout. There were many points within the book when I almost wanted to shout at the characters to just give in to each other and get on with it!

All in all a wonderful girly book which is as good as everyone has raved about. Definitely worth the money to get the USA import rather than holding on until a UK publisher snaps it up!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
Published by Sphere
Source: Review Copy


My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost—and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House… before its skeletons come back to haunt me.


***
I thought the summoning was a really thoroughly enjoyable read and am very much looking forward to reading the next two in the series.

The first chapter (which is a prologue featuring a young Chloe) had me hooked from the first page. It sets the tone for how this book is going to be, a bit creepy with lots of ideas left for you to get your head around. I really liked how it takes a while for the reader (and Chloe for that matter) to really grasp what is going on in this book. There is so much that is teased out slowly as the book goes on and Chloe gets so many mixed messages that she starts to doubt herself which means you as the reader do too.

Another thing I loved about this book was the characterisation. Chloe was a fab leading lady and enjoyed following her story but I also loved all of the other teenagers around her, even Tori was was a complete bitch to everyone. I loved the dialogue between them as it was often witty and amusing.

Once the book kicks off the action is fast paced and exciting. I loved finding out about the supernatural potentials of the main characters and delving more into the whys and wherefores of how they all ended up at Lyle house and why the place was built in the first place.

The ending was jaw dropping. I was stunned about what happened between two of the characters and when the book ended I wanted more straight away.

All in all an excellent start to a trilogy that I can't wait to continue.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

In my Mailbox (50) + (51)

Before I say anything else today please check out my giveaway from last Sunday

After missing In My Mailbox last week I am now back with two weeks worth of  lovely books to show you...


Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson (UK paperback)
I finished this book this week and really enjoyed it.
The Rogue's Princess by Eve Edwards (UK paperback)
Yay! I love this series and have been waiting very impatiently for it for a while
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs (UK Paperback)
Not really heard alot about this but looks interesting
Here lies Bridget by Paige Harbison (UK paperback)
I'm looking forward to getting to this as I've heard it is good.
Secrets and Shadows by Shannon Delany (US paperback)
I loved the first book in the series and can't wait to get to this.
The Devil Walks by Anne Fine (UK Hardcover)
This sounds so creepy. I haven't read an Anne Fine since I was very small and can't wait to get to this one.

Thank you to Kristi as always for hosting IMM

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Liz from My Favourite Books

Today I have Liz from My Favourite Books to show off her shelves - be warned this showcase is epic...

Mark and I are really pleased to showcase our combined bookshelves for Overflowing Library. (To see Sarah's Bookcase Showcase - who also reviews on MFB click here)

I must firstly personally apologise for cheating here - the majority of Mark and my bookcases are double-stacked.  I have only taken photos of the books that can be seen - moving the first set of stacks to get to the ones behind is far more than I can tackle unassisted on a lazy Saturday morning.

I know a lot of people may think: wow, a lot of books, but remember MFB has been going for a long old time and these shelves are crammed with books both bought by a book obsessed couple and books that publishers sent on to us to review.  The selection of titles are wide and varied and we are incredibly proud that we do try and read as many and as randomly as we can.

We start off in the dining room where I have got four tally Billy bookcase.  There really isn’t much order to these, at all.  And if there ever was any order to them, they have been lost. Long ago. 


On display are my copies of The Iron Witch which I love.  Kaz has signed these, of course.  Also my tiny critters and my Muji doll which Sarah (@esssjay) had bought me for my b’day.



Our iPod, my “Once Upon A Time” bit of art from an British author living on Dartmoor as well as a small selection of my unused moleskines.  You may say that I am obsessed with them. My signed Prince of Stories by Neil Gaiman I’ve not yet read - it is too precious.  I may have to wait for the paperback version.


Some random bigger books and a handful of picture books which I am using for the MFB Picture Book Saturdays.  The shelf below the picture books are stocked with some of the books I bought towards the end of last year.  I have just finished reading Hate List by Jennifer Brown.  It is amazing.  The majority of these bought books were all recommendations from Neil at Foyles. 


A mixture of bought, proofs and finished copies.  Of these I am very excited to read Swamplandia, Ondine, Freaks and Demon Collector.  Oh, and Flip, of course!


Same as before - a mixture of bought and proof copies.  My signed dedicated edition of Deb Harkness’s A Discovery of Wtiches is resting there, whilst I decide where it should live. On these shelves I’m excited about Long Lankin, Odin’s Wolves and The Watchers.


Two Chaffy creatures are on display.  I fear they may take over my world.  I am a bit Eva Ibbotson fan, so I have some of her books lined up to read later this year.  Similarly with Frances Hardinge whom I was at a party with some time ago and had NO idea she was there! Am utterly mortified.


Mixture of proofs, bought and finished copies.  I am waiting for a chance to read every single one of those Buffy bind-ups. 


These are some of my oversized books that I couldn’t find space for elsewhere.  Please note my signed hardback copy by Rick Riordan.  One of my most treasured possessions. 


 You may notice a proliferation of Zombie titles and uhm more off the wall titles here.  This is the shelf where I try and put books I’m super keen on reading asap.  It doesn’t work. 


Ah, my series books are here - well some of them. JKR’s Harry Potter, Spooks, Marcus Sedgwick’s books.  It’s a mess and one of the more difficult shelves to control.



A better view of part of the previous shelf - you can see the Spooks books properly now.  These two shelves hold a massive mixture of bought and finished copies for review.  You can see one of our proofs for Department 19 as well as the proof for Zoe Marriot’s Shadows on the Moon.  I have no idea what is in the big blue folder...maybe recipes.

Now we move onto the lounge where we also 3 bookshelves - the lounge is slightly more controlled than the dining room.  I have no idea why.



The big monstrous looking bound book in silver is Mark’s Collector’s Edition of Deathwatch.  Next to it, is my Beadle the Bard. This bookcase is basically Mark’s geeky fan boy bookcase.  A shrine to the Black Library and Games Workshop.  We jokingly call it the DanAbnettBookshelf.


I rest my case.  More geeky Black Library books.  This bookcase also holds a great many non-fiction war and historical novels which both Mark and I enjoy reading.  It also holds some poetry, but sadly as our couches are so massive I can’t get in between them to take photos.


Our Jim Butcher, Tolkien, Arturo Perez Reverte and Mike Carey bookshelf.  Oh, please note the Punisher and Smurfs.  Us, geeky? Never!  Also, the lovely guy hanging on the left is Jasper, who came home with us from Prague earlier this year.  Oh, the King Tut mask - it’s not really gold.  But the stand is marble.  A very handy weapon...


Only some of our comics.  Including my beautiful Sandman collection. 


All my signed Neil Gaiman books and a mix-match collection of read and unread titles that are lovely to pick up and dip into.


My Charles de Lint collection at the top, with part of Mark’s David Gemmell books on the right.  The shelf below holds my Garth Nix books, my hard back copies of Leviathan and Behemoth and my Lamplighter trilogy.  Oh, and some more of our comics right at the top.  It also holds the great god Pan, a moon gazing hare, a gargoyle and a wonderfully tactile mother goddess figurine.


This fat little Buddha came all the way from China in the backpack of a friend, just for me.  These shelves are a crazy mixture of Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Melissa Marr and Chris Priestly.  I try and keep these shelves as my “whimsy” shelves for my quirkier fairtytale books. 


Sighed copies of Jasper Kent’s books.  Signed poster by Will Hill from his big unveiling at the Churchill War Rooms last year for Department 19.  Pretty huh?  The arrows to the left are handmade my Mark, the dagger is a Tuareg dagger we bought in Luxor and the one arrow right at the top is from a now extinct tribe of hunters from Africa.


Our signed Joe Abercrombie and Brent Weeks books.  Signed Karen Armstrongs oh and a random bit of of our DVD’s to the side.


This is from Hellgate, the game.  It is a templar knight destroying zombies.  Mark bought this from Weta Workshop in New Zealand.  It is an amazing diorama and you may think it is quite visceral to have on display but it is an incredible bit of art and ridiculously detailed.  I love looking at it.  But of course, if Mark could carry this with him somehow, he would.

And those are my shelves.  I’m not showing you my reference bookcases or my research bookcases.  Those can be for another time.

Thanks for letting us come out to play!


If you would like to feature in a future bookcase showcase please find all the details on the bookcase showcase page. I would love to feature you.

Friday, 17 June 2011

review: Paradise barn by Victor Watson

Paradise barn by Victor Watson
Published by Catnip
Challenge: BBC
Source: Review copy


September 1940. War rages across Europe, and thousands of people, men, women and children, have lost their lives.

Despite the air fights overhead life in the quiet village of Great Deeping in the Fens goes on much as usual, until an unthinkable event: a murder. Molly, Annie and Adam, an evacuee from London, are determined to solve the mystery of the Paradise Barn. But it’s one thing hunting for clues, another to track down a murderer. With the war bringing so many strangers to the village, who can they really trust? 


***
Paraside barn is a real gem of a book and one I would definitely recommend of anyone who likes YA books set during the Second World War.

The story itself centres around three children living in rural East Anglia during the early years of  World War Two. The girls, Abigail and Molly are residents of Great Deeping and a boy called Adam who is an evacuee staying in the village. The main plot line finds them trying to solve two connected mysteries. The first being a murder mystery and second trying to catch a thief who is apparently at large in the village.

The thing I really enjoyed the most about this book was the characterisation. I loved how realistic the children o the piece were. They were wonderfully charming, a little bit naively innocent as well as being quite clever in how they went about uncovering the mysteries they were trying to solve. I really thought they were done really well and fit quite nicely with the historical period they were in

This is a book that I think would be brilliant for teachers to use in class or simply recommend to students to read to get more of a feel for the time period it is set in. The story itself is well paced and engaging and the characters are easy to relate to. I liked that the story was on the whole historically accurate but the historical references weren't over done to the point where it became a chore to read. I also think it would have appeal to both boys and girls as it had both male and female protagonists and elements of the story would have broad appeal to both genders. It also nice in that the story is quite tame and gore free and not one you would need to edit before looking at with a more vulnerable or younger group.

I loved the mystery element to this book. I enjoyed following the main characters as they pieced together all the clues and liked how you as a reader started to piece together answers with them without the answer being revealed too prematurely.

All in all a fab mystery novel with cracking main characters set in a interesting historical setting. Definitely one to check out if you have the opportunity.
 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road by Moria Young
Published by Scholastic
Challenge: DAC
Source: Won on Twitter


In a lawless future land, where life is cheap and survival is hard, Saba has been brought up in isolated Silverlake. She never sees the dangers of the destructive society outside. When her twin brother is snatched by mysterious black-robed riders, she sets outon an epic quest to rescue him. The story's searing pace, its spare style, the excitement of its fabulously damaged world, its unforgettably vivid characters, its violent action and glorious lovestory make this a truly sensational YA debut novel.

***
Blood Red Road is a YA debut from Moria Young. It is huge at just over 500 pages long and is set to be big this summer based on the amount of attention the publishers are trying to drum up for it in the months building up to its release.

I'm going to be honest. I'm not sure this book entirely did it for me although I did enjoy it enough to get through it (which is no mean feat when you see the sheer size of this beast). When I was reading it felt very much similar in style to Patrick Ness's Walking Chaos series. By this I mean in how the language was used to tell the story, in the feel of the post apocalyptic rough and ready world and in the character of the lead protagonist. That's not to say the stories were in any way similar but I think if you loved that series you'll love this one.

What I liked about it:

The characters were interesting and I like seeing how they interacted with one another. I loved Jack and a character and I started to warm to Saba once she chilled out a bit.

The author clearly has some nice ideas planned out and the story if developed well in future books (I'm assuming this is book one of a series) could potentially quite awesome.

The action when it finally got going was good. The author had no qualms about killing people off which left you guessing and wondering what what happen. I can get frustrated with books where you know that the main characters will be fine not matter what is thrown at them.

What could have been better:

I really struggled with the use of language with this book. Words are written as the character pronounces them and I often found myself having to read much more slowly than I normally do as I was having to translate words to understand what was going on. For me it distracted my attention away from the plot line and made it hard work in places.

It felt to me that there were long gaps between exciting episodes and events which held up the overall story.

The main character annoyed me at times with her stubborn bluntness. I was really glad when she finally started to get over it towards the end of the book.

all in all certainly a series with potential and one I would be interested to see how it plays out.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

I don't think this book needs any introduction ...

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic


The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater.

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Review: What happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Published by Razorbill
Source: Review copy


Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?

***
What happened to goodbye was all of the things I have come to expect from a good Sarah Dessen novel: characters you can relate to who are fab but it some way a little bit damaged by their past experiences, gorgeous boys and a nice pacey storyline that keeps you engaged throughout.

The novel revolves around the life of McClean Sweet. She has moved around the country following her father as he works consulting on restaurants sweeping in and improving them before moving on. During the time McClean has reinvented herself time and time again not hanging to anyone (or barely anything) as she has continued to move time and time again.

I really enjoyed McClean as a character as there was a lot more to her than you first realise. As the story goes on you start to get under her skin a bit more and find out exactly why she is like she is. I also loved the wider host of characters you also meet as the book goes along. I loved Dave and really enjoyed seeing how his relationship with McClean changed and developed as the story went on but I also really enjoyed Deb as a character and liked seeing how McClean's influence changed her whole life.

I loved the cameo appearances by characters from along for the ride. It was really subtle in the way it was done but I loved it nevertheless.

The storyline itself went along quite nicely in the usual Sarah Dessen fashion with several little twists and turns to keep me happily entertained as the story went on. Don't get me wrong it isn't break neck or earth shattering but one of those happy light and fluffy summer reads which is perfect for the up and coming summer months.

All in all a very enjoyable read and a welcome addition to my Sarah Dessen collection.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Review: Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children
published by Quirk Books
Challenge: DAC
Source: Review copies


A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

***

This book is a uniquely different read and not at all what I was expecting when I first picked it up.

The first thing you'll notice about this book is that it is presented with photographs dotted every so often on the pages. The pictures are really random ones and it's hard to imagine before you start reading how they fit into the story but they really do.

The story itself follows Jacob on his quest to find out more about his grandfather's past and I assume is the first in a series from the way it ended.

I liked the story itself. I'm not going to even try to explain it as I don't know where I would begin. It was both a bit comical and a bit creepy as well as having a good measure of mystery thrown in. I liked that the ideas in it as strange as they were fitted together well and seemed to be well thought out.

The main character Jacob is fab. I found him to be quite funny but also enjoyed following him on his mission to find out more about his grandfather and the people he claimed to have lived with in the strange pics (which he assumed were fakes) he has seen all his life. I liked following him and seeing how he looked at the decisions that came his way. I can already see (if there is a sequel) that there is so much more to him and his character that hasn't yet been explored.

All in all a book that is definitely unique in the YA market and one you should seek out if you want a good mystery and adventure story. 
Thank you Quirk books for the review copy.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Overflowing Library is a year old + Giveaway

Today I have taken a break from my usual reviewing schedule to celebrate the fact that The Overflowing Library has now been running for a whole year.

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to both my lovely readers and the wonderful blogging friends I have made this year. I didn't realise how much the blogging thing would take over and how much I would absolutely love every minute of it.

To say thank you I have a giveaway for you.

 NOW CLOSED WINNERS SELECTED!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Sue Ransom author of A Small Blue Thing

Today I am joined by Sue Ransom author of a Small Blue Thing ...


When I promised to do this post I thought it would be pretty straightforward- after all, my house is packed with books. But then checked out some of the other shelves which have been featured. At that point I very nearly pulled out because everyone else seems to be so neat! My shelves look as if a bomb has gone off in them. My excuse it that they are shared between the four of us: my husband and me, and our two teenage children.  No-one but me remembers the filing system.

Our main shelves are in the upstairs corridor. The units are pretty deep, and because of the volume of books I have three or more layers of paperbacks on each shelf. A quick calculation gave me a total of nearly a thousand books in this set of shelves alone!

 
My daughter’s room is packed with all sorts of books but is so monumentally messy I don’t dare show you. It’s all hidden behind this door.


In the kitchen some art homework is wedged up against the most used cookbooks – there are boxes more in the garage.


Some of the big hardbacks and reference books are in the dining room, a space which is currently also being colonised by my son’s GCSE revision.


The coffee table-style books are in piles in the sitting room, waiting for us to buy a coffee table. They’ve been there some time.


There’s also the office which has loads of work-related reference books along with mountains of paperwork. I don’t dare show you that either. Other smaller piles of books litter the house, including a stack next to every bed and every loo. Finding a particular book can be a nightmare, and one day, when I have lots and lots of time, I’m going to file them all properly. Until then we’ll just have to go on living in book chaos.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Review: Duty Calls: Dunkirk by James Holland

Duty Calls: Dunkirk by James Holland
Published by Puffin
Challenge: DAC, BBC
Source: review copy


Duty calls: Dunkirk is a brilliantly insightful and realistic portrayal of the events of Dunkirk as experienced at ground level by ordinary British soldiers. I didn't find it an easy read and it took me a lot longer than normal to get through it but it was certainly worth it.

I specifically requested this book for review because the whole concept of it intrigued me. I am always on the lookout for YA books set in historical settings which are historically accurate which I can recommend to pupils to compliment work done in class. This book is perfect in that regard. The author is clearly well informed about the period and has done extensive research when writing this book.

Another thing I look for in books to recommend to my pupils is a story and main character than they can relate to as it helps to make them empathise with the people who the story is about and draws them in to the story as a whole. Again the main character was perfectly picked in this regard. A 16 year old boy who joined up to fight for his country under age. I think seeing the war through his eyes will give youngsters a jolt because of how very horrific the nature of warfare was and make them see that it was something real that happened to people like them and not just to some random people a long time ago.

What this book also does well is its realism. It does not try to glorify war in anyway to make it more exciting than it was. Yes there are bits that are action packed but there are also scenes which are hard and uncomfortable to read, which will in some cases shock the reader. Again this adds to the story as it really helps you to get into your head what the soldiers really went through in order to save the UK from Nazi invasion.

All in all a book which is historical accurate and engaging. One I would whole heartedly recommend for teens studying the time period for a different perspective of the events depicted.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Review: Numbers 3 Infinity by Rachel Ward

Numbers 3 Infinity by Rachel Ward
Published by Chicken House
Series: Numbers #3
Challenge: BBC
Source: Review copy


Post-Chaos 2029. Adam, Sarah and Mia are living together, struggling with the fame of seeing numbers - the dates when people will die. But something is about to tear them apart. During The Chaos Mia swapped her number for another. Suddenly her powerful new ability makes her a terrifying target. Everyone wants to live for ever.

***
Numbers 3 infinity is the final book in the Numbers trilogy which follows the story of Adam and Sarah directly after Numbers 2 in the new world they have found themselves in at the end of book 2.

The thing I liked the most about this book was the relationship between Adam and Sarah. I loved seeing how their relationship had progressed from book 2 and liked seeing how strong they were as a couple in this book.

One of the things this book explores is all the questions surrounding Mia and how she managed to change her numbers. I loved how the plot around Mia played out I through the book.

The storyline of this book is very different from the other two. It was fast paced throughout. Often you didn't quite know what was happening and there were parts where you didn't quite know how parts would play out. The final outcome surrounding Adam, Sarah, Mia and the new baby was awesomely clever and I really didn't see it coming in the way it finally work itself out.

A brilliant ending to the series which I know I haven't done justice to for fear of spoiling the book for anyone. Definitely one I would recommend.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The devil walks by Anne Fine

I can't wait for this one after hearing about it earlier in the year from the Random House Girlies

The Devil Walks by Anne Fine
Published by Random House Children's Books on 7th July 2011




Raised in secrecy by a mother everyone thinks has gone mad, Daniel’s only link to his past is the intricately built model of the family home – High Gates. The dolls’ house is perfect in every detail.

As Daniel is reunited with the last remaining member of his family - his Uncle Severn, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a sinister wooden doll he has found hidden in the house - he begins to suspect that this vicious, haunted puppet of a figure has a chilling influence, bringing cruelty and spite in its wake.

Now Daniel's very life is at risk as his uncle is determined to get his hands on the figure . . .

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

BLOG TOUR: Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Today I am pleased to have a guest post for you from Jennifer Lyn Barnes author of Trial by Fire (see my review on the post from this morning). She has asked bloggers to pose her questions about her Raised by Wolves series for us to discuss.



My question was

Bryn is a girl fighting to survive in a world where it is traditional for men to rule. Can a girl cut it in a world dominated by guys?

I grew up surrounded by guys.  I have one older brother.  Our next door neighbors had three boys (four, eight, and ten years older than me respectively), and there were easily another half-dozen or so on our block.  I was the smallest, and the youngest, and most of the time, the only girl, so my formative years were spent fighting tooth and nail to keep up with kids who were literally twice my size.  Looking at the way Bryn grew up, at the heart of a mostly-male werewolf pack, I can see a lot of my own experiences in her.  The idea of being the smallest and the weakest and the slowest and knowing deep down that everyone around you will probably always be bigger and stronger and faster, no matter what you do is something my inner four-year-old can relate to in a major way.  And my inner-sixteen-year-old remembers very well what it was like once we’d all grown up, and suddenly, I was surrounded by slews of overprotective big brother types, including my actual older brother, who is 6’5’’ and would probably be quite content to put me in a little glass box where nothing and no one could hurt me (or, heaven forbid, date me) ever again. 
That wasn’t a part of my life experience that I’d tapped for any of my previous books, all of which featured almost-exclusively female casts, so the idea of writing a protagonist who was a girl in a predominantly male world really fascinated me.  That said, once I’d set up a world in which werewolves were predominantly male and my character was a girl living in that world, I was surprised by just how central that set-up became in the way the series has progressed.  The logical consequences of the “there are very few female werewolves” rule meant that Bryn wasn’t just growing up surrounded by guys, she was growing up in a world where females were both sought after and highly protected—and that’s a world that is, at many times throughout the series, a very ugly one for the girls involved. 
We see that in Raised By Wolves, when Bryn realizes that Lake has grown up knowing that some people view her as a commodity, and it’s at the center of the conflict in Trial By Fire.  Meanwhile, Bryn has to deal with being a leader—a young, female, human leader—in a world where those things very rarely go together.   As the series progresses, I think it’s becoming more and more about the way that the various female protagonists—Bryn, Lake, Maddy, and Ali, among others—deal with the hand they’ve been dealt.  It’s not about one girl making her way in a world dominated by guys—there’s a whole group of them, each fighting to make their own way.

Thank you Jen for that introduction
So what do you think? Can girls make it in a guys world? Let me know below!