Sunday, 31 July 2011

In my Mailbox (57)

Thank you as always to Kristi www.thestoryiren.com for hosting IMM


I had an awesome book week this week



The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (UK paperback)
I found this in The Works in Cambridge . I love that shop.

Soul Beach by Kate Harrison (UK signed proof)
Abandon by Meg Cabot (UK proof)
Dark parties by Sara Grant (UK signed proof)
White Cat by Holly Black (UK paperback)
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Bound manuscript)
the selection below came from Nina at Orion. They are all new releases for the new YA imprint Indigo which is launching in September. All the books they have lined up look awesome.

Fury by Elizabeth Miles (UK paperback) 
Passed onto me by Sarah as she didn't get on with it.

Evermore by Alyson Noel books 1 - 6 (Signed UK paperbacks)
A fab late birthday surprise from Macmillan along with a tote bag and a TShirt.

Lottie biggs is (not) tragic by Hayley Long (UK paperback)
I've not read this series - any bloggers that are UK based and willing to guest review it for me let me know.


The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood (UK paperback)
Nightshade by Maryrose Wood (UK paperback)
The Poison Diaires by The Duchess of Northumberland (UK hardback) 
I got these three during my epic stay at Hogwarts Alnwick Castle. I had such an awesome time - come back later in the week for a post on it but as a very short summary the highlights included: staying the night at the Castle, Having afternoon tea with the Duchess of Northumberland in the state dining room and having Dinner in a Tree House!

Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink (UK paperback)
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto (UK paperback) 
I also got a lovely little package from Atom this week which are always awesome.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Lyndsey from Heaven, Hell and Purgratory Book reviews

Today I have Lyndesy from Heaven, Hell and Purgatory Book reviews

Quite a lot of people know how particular I am about most things, especially books so I thought doing a Bookcase Showcase was the perfect opportunity to show everyone what my books look like! After moving home from university for the summer, I had a lot of books to sort out into their rightful places and even though I thought it might take me a while, it ended up taking a lot longer. Three whole hours were spent organising books into piles and moving things around so that they would all fit somewhere.

Running along one whole wall of my bedroom are two rows of shelves. Not many people know that I do read a lot that isn’t YA because I don’t review it and now, I don’t have so much for it anymore but on these shelves are mostly any books that aren’t YA.

This is the top shelf which mainly consists of historical romance. As you can see, I have quite a collection from certain authors and near enough everything that have published in the UK. Stephanie Laurens is probably my favourite and she has the most books out over here compared to the likes of Gaelen Foley and Julia Quinn. On this shelf is also chick lit and a couple of other random books that don’t fit anywhere else. Right at the end (although not pictured because they wouldn’t fit in) are some huge books like Jemma Kidd’s Make-Up Masterclass and The Costume History.


Below is the bottom shelf. To begin with there are historical books moving into classics and anything I have read at uni. It REALLY bugs me that I haven’t got more of these with the same covers. I really like the Vintage covers (books with the red spines) so eventually, I’ll replace as many of them as I can so that they match. Towards the end of this shelf are poetry books, fairy tales (this is what I’m writing my dissertation on) and text books.


Along with my adorable heated monkey, Eric, are my a chunk of my books for next year at uni. I haven’t even attempted to read any of these yet though!


I don’t put any YA books on a shelf that haven’t already been read normally. There are a few exceptions for ones that I probably wont read but there are hardly any at all. All of my YA books are organised into alphabetical order by author surname and it takes a hell of a long time to add in new books sometimes due to lack of space now. When I first started blogging, I only had one bookcase and no shelves but now, I have had to split YA into two different cases and I’m quickly running out of space.
Lastly, this is my TBR pile. This is in no order whatsoever because honestly, I just shoved them on there so they weren’t on the floor. The size and width of the pile is scaring me a little bit now and I’m worried it’s going to topple over soon. Luckily, having all summer off uni I can make a good dent in that and hopefully get through a decent amount of books.



Now that I have taken pictures, I have realised that the long shelves along the wall definitely need reorganising into a proper order because now, all I can see is that they’re wrong. I am not a complete control freak after all!!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Review: A blue so dark by Holly Schindler

A Blue so Dark by Holly Schindler
Published by Flux books



Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that "creative" equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

***
A blue so dark is a beautifully written novel which highlights the issue of living with and looking after a parent with a mental illness. It tells in an almost poetic way of the trials and tribulations of a teenager coping in such a situation in a realistic way.

I found myself totally absorbed by the story of Aura and how her life revolves around dealing with her mother. It is totally heart breaking to see how it changes her life and affects and prevents her from carrying on her life like a normal teenager. I almost wanted to go in scoop her up and take her away from it all and look after her. I found myself getting angry at the adults in Aura's life who all but turned a blind eye to her situation.

A haunting a beautifully told book which I would definitely recommend which I am certainly not doing justice to with this review.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Review: Then I met my Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso

Then I met my Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso
Published by Flux Books


Shannon has been the backdrop of my life since the moment I was born.
Summer Stetson lives inside a shrine to her dead sister. Eclipsed by Shannon's greatness, Summer feels like she's a constant disappointment to her controlling, Type A momzilla and her all-too-quiet dad. Her best friend Gibson believes Summer's C average has more to do with rebelliousness than smarts, but she knows she can never measure up—academically or otherwise.
On her birthday, Summer receives a secret gift from her aunt: Shannon's diary. Suddenly, the one-dimensional vision of her sister becomes all too solid. Is this love-struck, mom-bashing badass the same Shannon everyone raves about? Determined to understand her troubled sister, Summer dives headfirst down a dark rabbit hole and unearths painful family secrets. Each revelation brings Summer closer to the mysterious and liberating truth about her family—and herself.
***
Then I met my sister is an interesting read. The way it is told is really different from anything else I have read in a while.

From the first page this book reminded me of twin peaks because the main story is dominated by a character who is dead and as the story unfolds you start to find out that this perfect image they had wasn't what it seemed.

The main idea for this story is that Summer, the main character, is given by her aunt a diary written by the sister she never met Shannon. Through this diary Summer meets her sister for the very first time and the person she meets is very different from the one she has been told about all her life.

I thought this story was really clever and I enjoyed seeing how the diary was used both for Summer to find out more about her sister but also as a way for her to gain insight into herself and the relationships she has built up around herself over the past few years.

I really liked Summer as a character and I loved the relationship she had with the nerdy but gorgeous Gibson. I liked seeing how she dealt with the feeling that she was living her life in the shadow of her oh so perfect but dead sister and seeing how her perception of that feeling changed as she started to find out more about what her sister was really like.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was the ending which I felt was far too rushed and sudden in the way it just stopped. Nevertheless all in all I thought this was definitely a book worth reading and one I would recommend.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

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.


***
Forever is the final and eagerly awaiting instalment in the wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy.

I don't think I am able to write a review that would do this book and series justice. It is one of those stories that you fall into and become totally engrossed with the story and characters from the first page and don't want to put down.

What I love about this series is how different chapters are told from the different view points of the main characters.

For me the main thing reason why I continue to read this series is because I am hooked on the relationship between Sam and Grace and its gorgeous innocence. I love how pure their love for each other is and seeing how they deal with all the things thrown at them as the series progresses. This latest instalment did not disappoint from that point of view as I certainly got my Sam and Grace fix.

I also love the other two main characters of the piece in this book, Isabel and Cole. Their volatile relationship is the complete opposite to that of Sam and Grace's and continues to both add that steamy spark to the story and plenty of laughs with the banter between them.

I am not going to write about the plot as I do not want to spoil this for anyone but needless to say if you've loved the story so far this certainly will not disappoint.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Review: White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick
Published by Orion
Challenge: BBC


A modern gothic thriller about what awaits us after death - angels or the devil

It's summer. Rebecca is an unwilling visitor to Winterfold - taken from the buzz of London and her friends and what she thinks is the start of a promising romance. Ferelith already lives in Winterfold - it's a place that doesn't like to let you go, and she knows it inside out - the beach, the crumbling cliff paths, the village streets, the woods, the deserted churches and ruined graveyards, year by year being swallowed by the sea. Against her better judgement, Rebecca and Ferelith become friends, and during that long, hot, claustrophobic summer they discover more about each other and about Winterfold than either of them really want to, uncovering frightening secrets that would be best left long forgotten.

Interwoven with Rebecca and Ferelith's stories is that of the seventeenth century Rector and Dr Barrieux, master of Winterfold Hall, whose bizarre and bloody experiments into the after-life might make angels weep, and the devil crow.


***
I found White Crow to be a brilliantly creepy and fast paced read which I really enjoyed.

The thing I loved the most about this book was the characterisation. I thought the contrast between the two main girls was brilliant and I loved seeing how their strange little friendship developed and twisted and turned as the story progressed. I also though it was very clever how the author switched between the two girls and their opposing points of views on thes story.

I also loved how the author alternated the present day story with short chapters from the past. I thought this really added to the story and gave it that bit more background wise to make for a fuller story.

I don't think I can even put into words in a way that will do justice to the story about how cleverly put together it is and how fantastically creepy it is. Definitely one to read with the light on especially as you get closer and closer to the end. I actually don't think I was fully prepared for how down right creepy it would actually be.

All in all an excellent book the quality of which was just as you expect from such a proficient author as Marcus Sedgewick.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Review: The Traitor's Kiss by Pauline Francis

The Traitor's Kiss by Pauline Francis
Published by Usbourn
Challenge: BBC
Source: review copy




This is the captivating true story of the young Elizabeth I, as she struggles to survive the treacherous world of Tudor England. After the death of her father, Henry VIII, a young Elizabeth journeys to London to live with her father's widow, Katherine Parr, and her new husband, Thomas Seymour, brother-in-law to King Edward. Surrounded by malicious whisperings of her late mother's witchcraft, Elizabeth is desperate to escape suspicion and discover the truth about her mother. A young stranger asserting Anne's Boleyn's innocence sends her on search a that takes her on a dangerous midnight journey to Bedlam, the hospital for the insane, to meet her mother's former lady-in-waiting. This encounter changes the way she views her mother - and herself. Meanwhile, at home, Elizabeth's reputation is increasingly under threat, as her stepfather, Thomas Seymour makes unwanted advances toward her. Her stepmother witnesses a kiss and Elizabeth is sent back to Hertfordshire in disgrace. Here she falls seriously ill and rumours abound that she is hiding a pregnancy. When Thomas Seymour is arrested for treason in a plot to overthrow King Edward, Elizabeth is implicated by association. Now it is up to her to defend her integrity - and her life..

***
The traitor's Kiss is a prime example of what I think YA historical should be and do. It is brilliantly engaging with characters that you are able to relate to easily. The story gives you a really good inslight to the times is is set in without overburdening you with tiny details. Finally the storyline is nice and pacey which keeps you wanting to read page after page.

This story follows a young Queen Elizabeth and she as she struggles to deal with her background and status of being the daughter of Anne Boleyn. I thought the story was told well and in a really insightful way which allowed you to get a real flavour of politics at the time. I liked how accessible Elizabeth was as a character and found that the issues she was dealing with were very relate
able to a modern audience.

I found the story itself went by all too fast - I devoured the book in one sitting because I simply didn't want to put it down and found myself wanting to know what happened next (which is also a bit crazy because we all know what happens next!)

Certainly a book I would recommend and an author I will be keeping an eye out for in the future.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

In my mailbox (56)

A huge thank you as always to Kristi for hosting IMM each week. Check out her blog at www.thestorysiren.com

I have been away since last Sunday in Cornwall on a school trip. I got home late friday night to a fantastic pile of parcels which contained the majority of what is below.

This picture is of the books I treated myself to for the summer holidays. They are all one I have had my eye on for a while and because I have been putting in so many hours marking exam scripts I decided to just order them. Most of them I have been recommended by other bloggers to read so I am looking forward to them all.

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (UK paperback)
I bought this because it was the only book in the bookshop in Bude that I didn't already have. I took 5 books with me and then found that I ran out quickly!
My lovely blogging friend sent me this as a birthday present. Thank you Clover.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Puffin Classics)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (Puffin Classics)
I now only have one more of these to get - I think the editions are really beautiful and they look gorgeous together on my shelves

I'm off to Cambridge today for my second wedding annivesary so I'll catch up on commentin later in the week as I now have 6 weeks off!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Bookcase Showcase: The Slowest Bookworm

Today I have something different from Karen from the blog The Slowest Bookworm.

She has done a showcase post featuring her Kindle Books

Friday, 22 July 2011

Review: The Devil walks by Anne Fine

The Devil Walks by Anne Fine
Published by Doubleday
Challenge: BBC
Source: review copy



"The devil walks... But the devil can make no headway if he has no help. We must invite him in..."

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' Severin, 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. The menace builds throughout in this deliciously creepy Gothic tale


***
The Devil walks is the first Anne Fine I have read in years. I remember her as an author of funny children's books and was genuinely blown away by how different her latest offering is and how it was certainly not some I would have associated with her.

The devil walks is one of those books that both makes you think and leaves you a little bit unsettled. I liked that the story kept with me for a day or two after I finished it and kept playing on my mind.

At the start of the books you meet Daniel. He is a young boy who has spent his entire life settled away from the rest of the world spending all of his days with his mother who is clearly unhinged. Events progress and Daniel finds himself alone in the world and starts to discover all the things he has never had the chance to experience before (like seeing cows in a field). The only link he has to his past is a dolls house which houses a collection of somewhat creepy dolls.

Later Daniel is moved to live with his 'Uncle' in a house which is an exact replica of the doll house he has spent years playing with and his uncle bears a frightening resemblance to the doll in the collection which is the most disturbing.

What I found most remarkable in this book was the main character Daniel and seeing how he deals with this whole new reality he has found himself thrust into in. The way he deals with the challenges tells you a lot about human resilience and adaptability.

This book gets more creepy as you go on. Daniel's uncle gets more and more unsettling with his erratic behaviours and towards the end the way he acts is downright frightening. I shan't spoil the plot by giving too much away except to say this is a book you can't afford to miss if you like all that is Gothic and creepy.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Review: Tempest Rising by Tracey Deebs

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
Published by Bloomsbury
Challenge: DAC
Source: review copy



Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

***
Tempest rising is the first mermaid book I've read and despite having reservations about the genre I really enjoyed it.

what I liked about it

I actually quite liked Tempest as a character. I enjoyed seeing how she was torn between what she wanted and what she was "born" to do and how the author got that internal struggle across. I loved the realtionship she had with her family and in particular her brothers and seeing how that relationship influences how she made her decisions. The boys in this book are just a little bit too gorgeous I have no idea how Tempest was meant to decide between any of them if I'm honest. I liked that it was a paranormal romance but with a different twist. You get to a point where you start to feel like you are reading the same book over and over again sometimes and this one was uniquely different for me.

What could have been better.

I would have liked the start to be a bit more pacey as I found I got a bit bored to start with. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger and it was very frustrating - I need more as the openedness is a bit of a killer and has left me gagging for the next bit.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Wither by Lauren Destefano

I can't wait for this - it looks awesome

Wither by Lauren Destefano



What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb — males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape — to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Review: Here lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison
Published by Mira Ink
Challenge: DAC
Source: review copy


Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed "who me?" look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore.

When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.

And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough….


***

Here lies Bridget is the book for you if you love Gossip Girl, mean girls (the film) or Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall. It is fast paced, totally engaging with some brilliant characters.

The thing that struck me the most about this book was how much of an utter bitch the main character was. Quite honestly I hated her throughout most of the book and I felt sorry for everyone who have been unfortunate enough to have had to come across her at some point in their lives. The first part of the story follows her and her day to day life and you get to see just how badly she treats everyone. She finds however that her position as Queen of the School is threatened when a new girl starts who is lovely and instantly popular. In a very typically over dramatic way Bridget decides that her life is over and crashes her car.

From this point on for me the story gets interesting. bridget is put in a state of limbo and goes to revisit all the people she has wronged in her relatively short life and is given the offer to mend things before it is too late. I liked seeing a bit more depth to Bridget at this point and I loved the fact that she finally started to realise how destructive her behaviour in recent months had been. The last section kept me totally hooked as you followed Bridget in her attempts to make things right again.

All in all an interesting book with a character you will both love to hate but also change your mind about as the story goes on.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Random House Bloggers Brunch

I was going to do a huge in depth post about the Bloggers brunch I went to recently but as I am so pushed for time of late I am going to just leave you with three things

firstly a totally dopey picture of me (I had been up since 5:30am) with Lindsay Barraclough  (who might I add is lovely and actually knew my blog!) she signed my book and was really lovely.



Two the promise that all of the stuff coming from random house soon sounds amazing!

Finally a lovely picture of all the bloggers from the day. I had a fab time with them all as always with all the book chat and lunch and cocktails and book shopping. They truly are a fab bunch of people.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

In my mailbox (55)

This week's IMM is epic ...

Firstly review books from last week which I didn't get time to add to last week's IMM.


Panic by Jeff Abbott (UK paperback)
Dragon's Oath (House of Night Novella) by PC and Kristin Cast (UK paperback)
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer (UK paperback)
I literally can't wait to get started on this one as I loved the first.
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (UK paperback)

Second is my haul from the Random House Bloggers Brunch (minus a couple which have been sent out to my blogging friends)



This dark endeavour by Kenneth Opel (UK proof)
This looks amazing - Frankenstein prequel!
Blood magic by Tessa Gratton (UK finished copy)
I love this cover and it meant I could take my proof into school for one of my lovely girls who was very excited to get it.
The adventures of the New Cut Gang by Philip Pullman (UK proof)
I love Philip Pullman - Can't wait for this.
Trash by Andy Mulligan (UK signed paperback)
I really enjoyed this so was glad to get a signed copy.
Long Lankin by Lindsay Barraclough (UK signed hardback)
I already had this technically but now by beautiful copy is signed!!
Tender morsels by Margo Lanagan (UK paperback)
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement Moore (UK paperback)
City of Ghosts by Bali Rai

Next I have a selection of Books I picked up at the Norfolk Children's Book centre. It is absolutely by favourite bookshop in the world as it is beautiful and the lady who owns it really knows her stuff. They organise all the local author visits. I went to visit the shop with the English Department at school for a talk about a selection of the best children's and YA titles to come out over the last year.



A monster calls by Patrick Ness (UK signed hardcover)
I was so pleased to see they had a copy of this signed because it is one of the books i have most enjoyed this year so far.
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (UK proof)
I was so excited to get a copy of this
VIII by HM Castor (UK proof)
Midwinter blood by Marcus Sedgewick (UK proof)
The three above are proofs that I was allowed to take that the lady who owned the shop had extras of which I was very very excited about.

Also earlier this week I had my birthday and I got all these lovelies which I am excited about every single one (thank you John, Hadley and Emma)


Darkness becomes her by Kelly Keaton (UK paperback)
The Stranger by Sarah Singleton (UK paperback)
I really enjoyed the first one in the series and am hoping this is as good
Hereafter by Tara Hudson (UK paperback)
I love the cover for this one
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater (UK paperback)
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (UK paperback)
Yay! So looking forward to this one.


Intertwined by Gena Showalter (UK paperback)
Anne of the green gables by LM Montgomery (Puffin Classics Hardback)
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (Penguin Classics hardback)
I will admit I am a bit obsessed with these!
Buffy season 8 issue 7 and 8
Charmed season 9
Whilst not that much of a graphic novel reader I do like the buffy one and am looking forward to the charmed one.

Finally I have a few books here that I got later in the week - most of them for review, but also including a couple more of the puffin classics I ordered for myself as a reward for finishing all the evil exam marking I've been doing for the last few weeks.


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Puffin Classics Hardback)
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (Puffin Classics hardback)
I had to order these - They are just too beautiful
A Blue so dark by Holly Schindler (US paperback)
... then I met my sister by Christine Hurley Dersio (US paperback)
Both these come from Flux Books USA and look awesome
Delerium by Lauren Oliver (UK paperback)
Wither by Lauren Destefano (US paperback)
I was a little bit too excited when this showed up
Forbidden by Jana Oliver (UK paperback)
Boys for beginners by Lili Chase (UK paperback)

A Huge Thank you for all the awesome titles given to me this week for review by all the wonderful publishing houses I work with and all the fantastic presents I got this week. I feel truly spoilt.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Jesse Owen

Today I have a bokcase showcase from one of my favourite bloggers Jesse from Books 4 Teens




Hiya everyone, here is my bookcase (alas I only have one) and this means that unfortunately some books are covered up as they are double stacked. Anyhoo – apologies in advance for the quality of photo taking and any mess which might have crept in without my knowledge!

At the top is what I have room for of my ornament and candle collection (my Gran used to collect ornate candles and it rubbed off on me) – the rabbit in the middle slightly to the back is my favourite!). 


Moving on, the top shelf is where some of my YA books that I've read live – in here I try to keep all the series that I have together (my multi cover Twilight series is on the this shelf all be it hidden). To the right is a few writing reference books.


On the middle shelf is a bit of a mish mash, it contains a mixture of chick lit (approximately half the shelf – you just can't see most of it), the Wicked Years books – including of course Wicked (which is hiding at the mo!). Not forgetting Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series & a couple of Harry Potter's – my brother has the full series so mostly I've read his copies – very tempted to buy the full series in white though :D 

 
The bottom shelf is where my non-fiction and biographies live (or as I like to call it books that won't fit anywhere else). On the left are the Buffy Watchers Guides. This shelf also contains more than a few magic and card magic books for when I went through my magic phase. If anyone wants an amazing introduction to card magic you can't go wrong with The Royal Road To Card Magic. And lets not forget the Wicked Grimmerie and the Avenue Q companion book which also live on this shelf.



The remaining books which I've read go on this pile behind my music books. You can also see part of my brother's DVD and Clown collection here.



And finally my TBR pile which sits next to my bed - as a rule when the pile hits the ceiling I stop buying books. It's not really in any specific order, it contains a mix of books that I've bought, been gifted or have for review.
Thank you Kirsty for hosting this fab feature and allowing me to take part :D

Friday, 15 July 2011

Review: Girl parts by John Cusick

Girl parts by John Cusick
Published by Walker Books
Source: review copy


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.


***
Girl parts is an interesting read and a very different offering in the YA market which I would say would appeal to boys especially.

The story is based around two main characters who are both teenage boys from one town and their interacts with Rose who is a robot companion designed to help teenage boys learn about the correct way to build maintain a healthy relationship in an impersonal and internet driven era.

I liked that this story whilst being totally made up isn't that implausible and a nice comment on the society we are living in today where interactions between people are happening face to face less often and more increasily via some form of technology. This is bought up time and time again throughout this short book and is really quite poignant in the way the subject is broached.

I also enjoyed that the two main characters within the book are total opposites of one another and I likes seeing how each of their relationships with Rose were so very different. I also liked seeing how Rose changed throughout the story and how the plotline developed into almost a comment of what free will actually is.

I would have liked the story to be a bit longer and there to have been more development of the themes picked up on and to have had the chance to get to know some of the characters better. That said all in all I found it to be a very quick and interesting read which will make you think. Definitely worth a look.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Published by Bloomsbury
Source: Review copy


Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.
Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?
***
I have to say I was not a fan of Alyxandra Harvey and was one of the few people I knew who didn't carry on with her vampire series. This meant I approached this book very warily. However I shouldn't have been worried because I really enjoyed Haunting Violet and would definitely recommend it to others.

The thing that did it for me with this book was the setting. It is set in Victorian England and I felt that you got a real sense of the time period whilst reading it from the surroundings and the customs followed and it really felt like the author had done her homework to ensure every little detail was just so.

I loved Violet as a character and felt that the author did a brilliant job of making her modern and easy to relate to as well as fitting her in with the time period she belongs in. I particularly enjoyed seeing how she got to grips with her new found powers and how she balanced in her use of them compared to her mother who claimed to use similiar ones fraudulently.

I loved Colin (never thought I'd swoon over a man named Colin ... I suppose there is a first for everything) and his continually changing relationship with Violet. I'm not going to say much about how it all turns out but needless to say I loved it.

The story itself is based around a murder mystery involving a victim whose spirit appears to violet. Again I loved this take on things and really enjoyed following the story as violet started to find out what happened.

All in all a brilliant book which I really enjoyed

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The marked by Inara Scott

I loved the first book in this series and can't wait to get my hands on this one

The Marked by Inara Scott
Published August 2011


Dancia's back at Delcroix, but this year, everything's different. Dancia's Talented, and her powers have earned her an invitation to join Delcroix's real raison d'etre --the Program.  Dancia's wanted to use her powers to help people all her life -- and now Delcroix is going to give her the training she needs to use her Talent for good.  At least...that’s what the school says she’ll learn to do with her powers. Her cuter-than-cute boyfriend Cam insists that it's true, and so do all the other students. But there's still a little voice inside her head that wonders -- if the Program's so great, why did her almost-only-a-friend- Jack run away rather than join? And why would the school be getting attacked by angry ex-students?  Dancia's a loyal student...and a loyal girlfriend.  But if finding out what's really going on means talking to Jack, well -- it's a risk she just might have to take.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Review: In the Sea there are crocodiles by Fabio Geda

In the Sea there are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda
Published  by Random House Children's Books
Source: Review copy


One night before putting him to bed, Enaiatollah's mother tells him three things: don't use drugs, don't use weapons, don't steal. The next day he wakes up to find she isn't there. They have fled their village in Ghazni to seek safety outside Afghanistan but his mother has decided to return home to her younger children. Ten-year-old Enaiatollah is left alone in Pakistan to fend for himself. In a book that takes a true story and shapes it into a beautiful piece of fiction, Italian novelist Fabio Geda describes Enaiatollah's remarkable five-year journey from Afghanistan to Italy where he finally managed to claim political asylum aged fifteen. His ordeal took him through Iran, Turkey and Greece, working on building sites in order to pay people-traffickers, and enduring the physical misery of dangerous border crossings squeezed into the false bottoms of lorries or trekking across inhospitable mountains. A series of almost implausible strokes of fortune enabled him to get to Turin, find help from an Italian family and meet Fabio Geda, with whom he became friends. The result of their friendship is this unique book in which Enaiatollah's engaging, moving voice is brilliantly captured by Geda's subtle and simple storytelling. In Geda's hands, Enaiatollah's journey becomes a universal story of stoicism in the face of fear, and the search for a place where life is liveable.

***
This book was very different from what I usually read and was quite an eye opener.

In the Sea There are Crocodiles follows the story of Enaiatollah a young Afghan boy who is left at the border of Pakistan one night by this mother and tell of his journey around and through various European countries as he tries to find somewhere where he can settle and live without persecution and having to work and live in horrific conditions.

The book really opens your eyes to how some children (Enaiatollah is between 9 and 16 in the book) have to live through. He works all hours doing nasty jobs for very small wage just to be able to scrape enough together to feed himself. The journey's he endures between the places he travels are simply awful. The stories of his trek over the mountains and how he traveled in the bottom of a van are unbelievably heart breaking. What was quite nice though on the other hand is seeing how his story played out in the end as there are several bits where he is helped out by individuals solely out of the goodness of their hearts which was really uplifting and the way he viewed his education once he finally got settled was also very sweet.

The only thing I didn't like was that the story was broken up midflow at times where the author interjected a question to the boy telling his story. I didn't like that bit of it as i thought it messed up the pace of the story and made it feel like a transcript of an interview.

All in all a real eye opener of a book which will make you appreciate how lucky we are in the UK (even in the economic climate we are currently in)

Thank you to the Random House Children's Books girlies for the review copy

Monday, 11 July 2011

Review: Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
Published by DoubleDay Children's Books
Series: The Blood Journals #1
Challenge: DAC
Source: Review Copy


For Nick Pardee and Silla Kennicot, the cemetery is the center of everything.

Nick is a city boy angry at being forced to move back to the nowhere town of Yaleylah, Missouri where he grew up. He can’t help remembering his mom and the blood magic she practiced – memories he’s tried for five years to escape. Silla, though, doesn’t want to forget; her parents’ apparent murder-suicide left her numb and needing answers. When a book of magic spells in her dad’s handwriting appears on her doorstep, she sees her chance to unravel the mystery of their deaths.

Together they plunge into the world of dark magic, but when a hundred-year-old blood witch comes hunting for the bones of Silla’s parents and the spell book, Nick and Silla will have to let go of everything they believe about who they are, the nature of life and death, and the deadly secrets that hide in blood


***
Blood Magic is the first of the Blood Journals Series, a series which I think those people who love their paranormal romance will devour.

The best part about this book for me was the main characters and loved following their intertwined story. Silla is someone you really feel for because of all she has been through and Nick is just a little bit gorgeous. I loved how even their backstory was linked (even though they didn't know it) and enjoyed seeing how their relationship changed and developed as the story progress. I can't wait to see more of them in the next installment. I also loved Silla's brother Reese and really enjoyed seeing the relationship he had with his sister.

From a story point of view I found tht intially I struggled to keep interest in what was going on as a lot of back story was covered to set up the series. However this changed once the plot started to thicken and the action really started to pick up. The final 100 pages are pretty much breakneck speed all the way through and it got to the point where I had to keep reading to find out what happened next. The scenes were very creepy and action packed.

I liked how the author broke up the main story by adding diary extracts from an initally unknown character written well before the book takes place. These extraacts finally start to link to the main story and tied in really well. I liked how it was used by the author to both tie in and explain the backstory.

As a bit of a warning for you squeamish girlies, some of the scenes with the blood letting much me cringe and I'm usually quite hardened to any gore.

The book leaves you with quite a few questions with a lot of potentially awesome plotlines having been set in place for future novels. I am looking forward to seeing what the author does with them in the next installment.

Thank you Random House Children's Books for the review copy

Sunday, 10 July 2011

IMM 54

Appolgies for the super quick IMM this week - last few days of my marking period which means I am working like a crazy thing.



Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet (signed paperback)
Read this one a while back - I love that it is set aroud where I live. The author signed some copies and one of the people who works at my local waterstones got me a personalised one.


Plague by Michael Grant (UK Hardback)
I bought this to match my set - read ages ago and loved it.



Peter pan by JM Barrie and Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (Puffin Classics Hardback)
I loved the covers of these and thought I'd get them to add to my children's books collection.


The daughter of smoke and bone by Laini Taylor (UK proof)
I am so excited about this one because it looks awesome


The Traitor's kiss by Pauline Francis (Uk paperback)
Another one that looks awesome

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Mary from our book review

 Today I am joined by Mary from our book review ...

Downstairs on display are tidy bookshelves with nicely bound classics and not so tidy ones full of gardening and cookery books.


Upstairs is where they really start to take over - a complete wall of the spare room/study is shelved  - looking left and right. 
Being in the spare room they tend to get a lot of things that aren't books dumped on and around them. There is 'supposed' to be some order in here - Top left is crime/spy fiction, below it non-fiction history, diy. On the right, 3 shelves of  fantasy/sci fi, a 'only read of one of us' shelf, dropping down to paperback classics from Pamela 


The centre shelf has modern fiction above and my hoard of knitting and needlecraft books below


There's also a bookcase given over to teen fiction though the Teen has taken some of her favourites to her room.

On top of it is the main To Be Read pile though there's also lots of unread crime/thriller books picked up through Freegle waiting in boxes


The last, but special, shelf is the Teen's almost complete collection of books written and/or illustrated by Jackie Morris.


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If you want to be featured in a future bookcase showcase post please see the bookcase showcase page for details of what is needed and where to send all your info to. I have several spots coming up free and would love to have you.