Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Review: Beautiful days by Anna Godbersen

Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen
Published by Razorbill
Series: Bright Young Things #2
Source: Review Copy


For the bright young things of 1929, the beautiful days seem endless, filled with romance and heartbreak, adventure and intrigue, friendship and rivalry.
After a month in New York, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur are small-town girls no longer. They spend their afternoons with Astrid Donal at the Greys’ lush Long Island estate and their nights in Manhattan’s bustling metropolis. But Letty’s not content to be a mere socialite. She is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams—no matter the cost.
Cordelia is still reeling from the death of her father at the hands of Thom Hale, the man she thought she loved. Now she is set to honor Darius Grey’s legacy . . . and take her revenge.
Promised to Cordelia’s half brother, Astrid is caught up in a world of dazzling jewels and glittering nights—and the sparkle is blinding. Charlie Grey is a gangster playing a dangerous game; and for Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty, the stakes could be deadly.
***
Beautiful Days is the second in the Bright Young Things series. While I enjoyed the first book I thought this instalment was much more engaging and I enjoyed it all the more for it.

This book picks up where the first one left of and continues to follow the stories of the three main girls and all the different things they go off and do. I love how the book entertains the reader by following these girls and at the same time gives them a real insight and feel of the time it is set in complete with all the glitz, glamour and danger that surrounded the mob gangs and speakeasies of 1920s America.

I loved seeing how each of the characters progressed and changed as the book went on. I loved the storyline with Astrid as you see her adjust from party girl to housewife. I loved seeing how she was torn being the two different roles and found some of her scenes to be the funniest in the book especially the one where she attempted to cook for Charlie. Cordelia comes into her own in this book taking her place in the Grey family and helping to run the newest club in town whilst being the centre of attention in the gossip columns. Letty's story in this is also brilliant and a bit of a roller coaster ride as we see her battling on to achieve her ambition to be on Broadway.

As with the first book there are sections where the story goes along quite slowly giving the reader time to get to know the characters well but when the action does finally kick of you find yourself glued to every word and needing to know what is going to happen next.

All in all a fantastic sequel to a cracking series which I am continuing to enjoy. Counting down to book three already.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Review: The Deeping secrets

The Deeping Secrets by Victor Watson
Published by Catnip
Challenge: BBC
Source: Review Copy


The Deeping Secrets is the second book in the Paradise Barn series. The book is just as good as the first in the series drawing you in from the first page and keeping you hooked right through the end.

As I said from the very start of this book you are hooked. In the first chapter a train just coming into Deeping is bombed with the young characters caught in the middle narrowly escaping injury themselves.

The other shock is that it is also revealed that there is, living somewhere in the village, a Nazi Sympathiser who is planning on helping the Nazis when they invade and has been smuggling vital information to the Nazis via carrier pigeon (cue the dramatic dun dun dunnnn!!)

The story itself is a pleasant read. You get back to spending time with the characters you know and love from book one Abigail, Molly and Adam and meet new additions Joe and Edmund. I personally loved little Edmund, he is one of those children you want to take home, shelter from all the bad things in the world and feed chocolate cake to. I loved seeing how the friendships established in the book helped to bring him out of himself and change his little life for the better.

The final section of the story is where all the differing mysteries of the book are resolved and revealed. Again this was done in a really exciting and engaging way (especially the dramatic scenes on the train) which all added to making this book a wonderful read.

Certainly a book I would recommend both as an avid reader myself and as a history teacher. It strikes a nice balance between telling an engaging tale and keeping that story realistic to the time period in which it was set without overburdening the reader with tiny details that can slow the pace of a book and make it dull.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Published by Razorbill
Source: Review Copy


The first book in Richelle Mead's brand-new teen fiction series - set in the same world as Vampire Academy.

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.


***
I have been waiting for Bloodlines since the moment I finished reading the last Vampire Academy book I am so pleased to say that it totally lived up to all my expectations.

Slipping back into the world of Moroi and Dhampri was fantastic. This book has all of the qualities that I loved about the first series, Well written characters and pacey and intriguing storyline which keeps you on the edge of your seat with all of the twists and turns it makes.

Bloodlines picks up directly after the end of Last sacrifice and follows the story of Sydney the Alchemist we met in the VA series as she is sent on a mission to live under cover with a vampire and help to protect and hide her from the various people who want to kill her to get at the new Queen.

As Sydney and Jill settled into their new lives as a boarding school in Palm Springs passing themselves off as ordinary humans several storylines are established. The first and most pressing is the issue around the brutal deaths of several teenage girls in the vicinity in recent years. One of Sydney's tasks to to uncover more about who is involved and why in her role of ensuring Jill is safe. Another very interesting storyline is one that comes to Sydney's attention almost by accident involving strange tattoos that other students seem to be desperate to get and she only become aware of when one of them assumes hers is from the same place.

My absolute favourite thing about this book is that it had so many of the characters we met and loved in previous series. I loved seeing Adrian again in particular who was his usual gorgeous self throughout.

another thing that I loved about this book was that, in true Richelle Mead style, when the action kicked off it really kicked off. The last section of the book was at break neck pace with loads of twists and turns thrown in all over the place I was kept on the edge of my seat right through the last sentence. Speaking of the last sentence I did actually whoop with joy and excitement at the last two words (and that's all I'm saying).

If you are a fan of Vampire Academy you will love this series as it has all the same awesome qualities of the original series whilst adding even more to the world in an engaging and exciting new story.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

In my Mailbox (59)

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

For review


Bleeding Hearts by Alyxandra Harvery (UK paperback)


Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (UK paperback)
I finished this earlier in the week and loved it.


Ashes by Ilsa Bick (UK proof)
This books looks so awesomely good!



The double shadow by Sally Gardner (UK proof)
I got this via Amazon Vine and am so excited to get started on it!

Bought


Love story by Jennifer Echols (US paperback)
I ordered this after Lynsey told me I needed to. I loved her other books so I reckon I'll love this one too.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Author LM Long

There is a library in my house.
Before you ask, I do not live in some million square foot abode.
I live in two thousand square feet of suburbia.
And yet I have a library.


I also have a touch of OCD.  Really, a drop of OCD because it only manifests itself in my library.  My books are arranged by category, and then by how much I love them.  Signed copies are in a special place of honor behind glass.  Books I don’t plan on reading again?  They get used as furniture.  Anna Karenina is currently my coffee table, and if I never have to reread the paperback of Paradise Lost adding height to my couch- I’ll be one happy lady.
 
 
Curled up in this reading nook, my husband approached me the other day with a package in hand.  I ripped it open excitedly, pulling the cellophane off a new deluxe edition of Jane Eyre.  
My husband clears his throat.  “Honey, you have a kindle now- don't you think you should look at getting rid of some of these?” he asked, scanning my bookshelves with wide eyes.
I nearly dropped my precious kindle.  “Sweetheart,” I whispered, “they can hear you.”
He looked around in confusion.  “Are you talking about the books?”
“Honey, they’re not books.” I hissed.  “They’re friends.”  
Struggling not to roll his eyes, he peers into the bookshelves again before shrugging his shoulders in defeat.  I turn away from him, hugging Jane Eyre to my chest tightly before diving back into my book.
“It was just a suggestion,” I hear him say, as he gently closes the door.





Friday, 26 August 2011

Guest Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Guest Review by Hadley

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Source: Amazon Vine


It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


***
Ready Player One is one of the most innovative stories I've read in quite some time. The story after establishing itself is relentlessly paced, immersing the reader into an elaborate virtual reality environment that draws upon a rich mixture of 80s cult television, music, golden-age computer gaming and role-playing. As someone who grew up at this time and probably spent more than my fair share of time engaged in the above pursuits I could identify with so many of the references. Reading Ready Player One really was a nostalgic trip into my childhood; I found myself laughing aloud as I reminisced on things I haven't thought of in years.

The story focuses on an online competition in a vast virtual reality setting filled with millions of players, a prize beyond imagining awaits the first player to solve the challenge. When the protagonist stumbles upon the answer to the first stage of the puzzle he finds himself pitted against a ruthless corporation in his quest for the reward.
The story, while being a trip into yesterday, however also addresses some very current issues dealing with individuals who are totally immersed in their online personas and actually have no life in the real world - they are legends online but actually sad socially-inept individuals in reality. Another theme is one of individual self-expression combating corporate oppression.

I would highly recommend this book. Would make a great gift to anyone who grew up in the 80s.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Review: Panic: The Ultimate Edition by Jeff Abbott

Panic: The Ultimate Edition by Jeff Abbott
Published by Atom
Source: Review Copy


Evan has a perfect life-until his mother is murdered. Suddenly, he himself is pursued by a circle of killers, only to discover that his entire past has been a lie. With only one chance at survival, and with no one he can trust, he must discover the truth about his family-and who he really is.

***
Panic is a book I would recommend for those who enjoy books like The Da Vinci Code or those written by Harlan Coben. It is fast paced, engaging crime thriller which kept me happily entertained for a few hours.

Evan gets a panicked phone call in the middle of the day from his mother demanding that he comes home instantly. It's totally out of character and strange but he does it anyway. Upon arriving home he gets the feeling something isn't quite right and soon discovers his mother's body laid out on the floor dead and is jumped on by someone and hung up to die.

Panic is one of those books which is full of twists and turns as the main character is being chased. Characters double cross each other and stab each other in the back and there are plenty of near misses where the main character seems to be in an impossible situation with no way out but then at the last minute as luck would have it something pop up to save the day (well the hour). It is engaging and fun reading but I would also argue it's not something that hasn't been done before (albeit maybe not with main character so young)

The book finishes with an opening ending which would lead quite nicely into a future books and certainly one I may pursue if the opportunity to do so arises.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

One I've heard mixed things about. Love the cover!

Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison



A modern retelling of the German fairytale "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Review: The Power of Six

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
Published by Penguin
Series: The Lorien Legacies #2
Source: Amazon Vine






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.


***
The power of six is the next exciting instalment in the Lorien Legacies series and I certainly enjoyed it as much as book one.

A lot of the hype that has been building up around the release of this book is misleading. People are raving about the fact it isn't focused on Number four / John Smith and how they don't want to therefore read it but they could not be more wrong. Yes the book does introduce another one of the Lorien's Number Seven but John / Number Four gets sufficient air time as is generally as awesome as ever.

The book continues on with John, six and Sam's story where it left off. They are now on the FBI's most wanted list and are on the run from both the authorities and more frighteningly the Mogs. There are some brilliant scenes where they come head to head and you can certainly see that John is growing into his legacies fast. The action continues to be fast paced and epic throughout the story which is something I was pleased about.

As I said before you are introduced to Marina / Number Seven in this book. I loved seeing her story as much as I enjoyed Number Four's in the previous instalment. Her experience of Earth has been very different as was her relationship with her Cepan. I loved seeing her approach to dealing with the situation she is in and hope to see more of her in future books.

One thing I really liked about this book is that it starts to answer some of the questions raised in book one especially those about a second ship that left the Planet soon after the one carrying Number Four and you start to get snippets of background information about where the characters came from and why there in particular were selected for the mission they are on.

Once again I am left wanting to know what happens next in the story and will be impatiently waiting for Book 3 to be released.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Review: Possession by Elana Johnson

Possession by Elana Johnson


Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.



***

Possession is a thoughtful novel set in a world not unlike our own but in the near future. Technology has been developed to be used as a way to monitor and control the general population into near slavery.

The story follows the story of Vi. Vi is a good girl who does bad things like walks in the park with boys even though she is told not to. The story kicks off when she is once again arrested and put into a cell and meets Jag.

The thing I liked most about this story is the volatile relationship between Vi and Jag. They spark off each other, fight like cat and dog but also make an awesome team. I liked seeing how Vi was so drawn to Jag even though she shouldn't have been but also seeing how at times she stood on her own two feet and did things herself.

The plot has several twists and turns along the way which were definitely entertaining and added to the complexity of the story and the pace all the way through was break neck meaning it ended up being a very fast read.

The only thing I would say against it is I did get the feeling whilst reading it that I read the story before. There were lots of ideas taken from other books and used in the slightly different way and while I'm loathed to say it I'm starting to get the feeling that dystopian fiction has had its day.


By the time I had finished the book I was left with the feeling that there was lots more story left to tell and that the author had only just started to set up the story. I imagine the story as a whole will have many more twists and turns left to throw at the reader.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

In my Mailbox (58)

In my Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at www.thestorysiren.com
 

For review
After Obsession by Carrie Jones (UK paperback)
Pod by Stephen Wallenfels (UK paperback)
This looks awesome. I can't wait to get started on it.
Love Inc by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout (UK paperback)
This came out in the USA a while back but is now coming out here in the UK
Misfit by Jon Skovron (UK paperback)
Sister Missing by Sophie McKenzie (UK proof)
I was so excited to get this one and have finished it already.
Beautiful days by Anna Godbersen (UK paperback)
I enjoyed the first one and am looking forward to this one
The History Keepers by Damian Dibben (UK paperback)
This is an interesting one. Half way through and not entirely sure where it is going.


Swapped on readitswapit.co.uk
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green (US paperback)
I've heard loads about this and it's all good stuff so looking forward to it
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (US paperback)

Won
Forgive my fins by Tera Lynn Childs (UK paperback)
Thanks to the Heaven, Hell and Purgatory Girlies for this

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Bella from Cheezy Feet reviews

Today on Bookcase Showcase we have Bella from Cheezy feet book reviews
 

This is my bookshelf - it's all in alphabetical order (should be) by author's surname. These are my only shelves and I seriously need some new ones...


This is my sad little pile of books that don't fit on my bookshelves anymore... :(

 
On this little shelf above all my other shelves is where I keep my small manga collection (mostly Fruits Basket and Momote Lollipop!) and my Enid Blyton collection hardbacks that I bought all for £4 (ish) each in TK Max. :) There's also my Cat Royal series by Julia Golding hardbacks - I love them, they're amazing and the covers are awesome. 


These 3 piles are my to read piles - I keep them here so I can keep track of what I have to read. The pile on the left are all my review books that I haven't read yet, the middle pile is my pile of gifts, RAKs and prizes, and the tall pile on the right are the books that I have bought. My review pile has priority which is why it's smallest. ;)


These are the books that I don't have room for, but they're not books I enjoyed or they're books that I read when I was younger, and they're not young adult, so they live in messy piles in my cupboard. They're all still in perfect condition though, just like all my other books!

So those are my bookshelves, and I'd just like to thank Kirsty for letting me share them with you all! :D Hope you like them!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Review: Haven by Kristi Cook

Haven by Kristi Cook
Published by Simon Pulse
Source: Bought from Amazon

One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start--a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future.

But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there--every student, every teacher--has psychic abilities, 'gifts and talents,' they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend--Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven.

Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye--much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy--if only they can do so without destroying each other first.


***
I'm going to start this review by saying that in someways my review is a little unfair but I think in someways quite justified. I didn't actually finish the book. Those of you who follow my reviews know it is rare for me to review a book I didn't finish but I in this case I decided to put my thoughts into a review of sorts


To start in the book's defence I would argue that it is actually nicely written and the characters are engaging. What I did read I did quite enjoy to a certain extent in one of those guilty pleasure kind of ways

However there are a few resons why I stopped reading the book half way through (there are spoilers from here on out). Whilst I was reading this book I got this feeling that I had read this book before. That was because every single idea in this book was taken from somewhere else e.g:

  • Boarding school for kids with special powers = The Candidates by Inara Scott 
  • Girl falls for brooding dark stranger who is hot and cold with her all the time = twilight
  • Boy turns out to be a vampire = twilight
  • vampire has lived for 100s of years and wants to be good = buffy
  • girl turns out to be a once in generation vampire slayer (I had to skip ahead for this bit once I decided to give up and skim to the end) = buffy
Don't get me wrong I had read several books in the last year or so which take inspiration from such titles but the reason why I just gave up on this one is because none of it appeared to be original and just a mash up of ideas taken from other places.
 

I don't think the author is bad at writing as such and would be certainly interested in reading some else of her work in the future which is her own original workk because I am not interested in reading the same book again and again and again.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Review: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheeran

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheeran
Published by Orion
Challenge: DAC
Source: Review copy


It should have been a short suspended-animation sleep. But this time Rose wakes up to find her past is long gone— and her future full of peril.

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose— hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire— is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes— or be left without any future at all.


***
A Long, Long Sleep is one of those books that I hadn't heard all that much about before I was offered it for review so I went into it not quite knowing what to expect apart from loving the cover and deciding the premise was interesting enough for me to agree to review it. Little did I know how wonderful it was going to be.

To start with for me A Long, Long Sleep was very much like Across the Universe. A girl who had been woken up in the future without any familiar surroundings or family to speak of. She is lost and confused and doesn't quite know where she fits in. I was a little worried at this point that the book was going to be a complete imitation but it wasn't as once you get past those first few chapters it does it own thing completely.

The first section of the book introduced Rose to the new world that she is in and like her you are a little disorientated with the slang and getting to know everyone and you get this good sense of how difficult it would have been for a girl to be woken up 60+ years into her future. I thought the scenes in the History classes were particularly poignant as Rose learns about The Dark Ages and the conditions all the people she knew must have lived through

The one thing I really loved about this book is the relationships Rose builds up with her new friends Bren and Otto and I love the contrast between the two relationships and what it says about how society judges people by their appearences.

The story itself is very interesting and pacy. I loved following Rose as she tried to adapt to living in the new world she has found herself in and loved how she tried to just take herself away from it in the hope that everything would magically get better. The parts where she is being hunted done by the very menacing Plastine is quite harrowing at times and leaves you not quite trusting anyone in quite the same way as Rose doesn't feel she can trust anyone.

The final section of the book where all the different revelations are made concerning all the different things the book has built up as it has gone along is awesome. I couldn't put the book down as the ideas and revelations were often quite jaw-dropping.

All in all a satisfying book within itself which is fast paced and thoughtful with awesome characters and brilliant plot twists. While it does come to a satisfying ending I really hope that this book is a start of an epic series because there is so much that could be done next in Rose's world.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

I've heard mixed things about this one but am looking forward to giving it a go myself

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Published by Simon and Schuster


Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.


It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Review: Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink

Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink
Published by Atom
Series: Prophecy of the Sisters #3
Source: Review copy


With time dwindling but her will to end the Prophecy stronger than ever, Lia sets out on a journey to find the remaining keys, locate the missing pages of the Prophecy, and convince her sister Alice to help--or risk her life trying. Lia has her beloved Dimitri by her side, but Alice has James, the man who once loved her sister--and maybe still does. James doesn't know the truth about either sister, or the prophecy that divides them. And Alice intends to keep it that way.

There are some secrets sisters aren't meant to share. Because when they do, it destroys them.


***
Circle of Fire is an awesome read and a brilliant end to a series I have enjoyed thoroughly.

I liked several things about this book.

Firstly Lia continues to be an awesome character to follow. I love how she balances both doing what she thinks is right and proper against doing what she has to do. For example I love how she wears riding trousers even though it is considered to be wild and how she has a young man in her bedchamber to watch her sleep and keep her safe even though the servants will talk. I love how she is always determined to fight against the prophecy even though the odd are stacked against her.

I love Dimitri and his never ending devotion to Lia and his general gorgeousness. I do still feel for James and was stunned at the decisions he made once Lia left but I do think Lia has a worthy replacement in Dimtri.

Alice is still her evil self from the start of the book. I have spent most of this series hoping that her and Lia would have some kind of major showdown and I think what they book did with her in end was awesome.

I'm not one for books that are slow but in this series it works. I love how the story goes along quite nicely at a steady pace and think it is quite in keeping with the time period it is set in. I love getting immersed in the history of the book as I think you get a real sense of period and feel for the time it is set in

I loved the ending of this book. With some series I can be left a little disappointed at the end but that was certainly not the case with this book. The end was jaw droppingly awesome and tied up all the various strands that had been weaved throughout the book. I don't think it could have ended better in all honestly.

All in all a fantastic end to the series which was awesome.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Review: Forbidden by Jana Oliver

Forbidden by Jana Oliver
Pubslished by Macmillian


Riley's beginning to think being a demon trapper isn't all it's cracked up to be. Her dad's been stolen by a necromancer, her boyfriend's gone all weird and she's getting warm and fuzzy feelings for someone who's seriously bad news. It's tempting to give it all up and try to be normal, but that's not an option. Because the demons have plans for Riley. And they're not the only ones

***
Forbidden is the second book in the demon trapper series and for me I found it to be a more satisfying offering than book one.

What I enjoyed
I enjoyed following Riley in this book. I think she is an awesome lead character and I love both her wit and sass in both books. I love how she strives to be the best she can be and competes against the boys in what is quite clearly a man's world and doesn't get disillusioned by it all even when she does get grief for being a girl.
I love Beck and I loved him even more by the end of this book in the way he always wants to do right by Riley even if he seems a bit gruff and miserable whilst doing it.
A character I loved quite unexpectedly in this book Mort especially when we got a bit more background about him and his ideals about deaders.
I found this instalment to be a lot more pacey than book one which meant I enjoyed it much more.

What could have been better
Simon annoyed me terribly in this book which made me cross. He has gone from being gorgeous to being this total moron. I wanted to throttle him on Riley's behalf.
Ori was this gorgeous mysterious stranger and then suddenly he was just this total loser. I wanted to slap him on Riley's behalf (yes there is a theme in this review).
deal at the end

What I wan more of next time
More Beck in his gorgeousness hooking up with Riley. The two of them can then go demon trapping together (preferably with Beck wearing some kind of Indiana Jones type outfit).
I would like a bit more on the background to some of the trappers you meet throughout the books as they all seem to have stories but they aren't really mentioned all that much.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

in my mailbox (57)


In my Mailbox is hosted by www.thestorysiren.com




I had some really lovely books show up for review this week



Velvet by Mary Hooper (UK paperback)
I finished this one in the last couple of days and loved it. Awesome historical fiction and well worth a look.

The Haunting of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck (UK proof)
I heard about this one at the RHCB bloggers brunch and it certainly looks good

Betrayal by Lee Nichols (UK paperback)
Finished the first one the other day and enjoyed it so Emma sent me the second - looking forward to it.

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts (UK paperback)
This looks ultra creepy

Naked by Kevin Brooks (UK proof)
Heard very good things about this one from the Norfolk Children's Book Centre owner so I am looking forward to getting stuck in with it.

Vicious Little Darlings by Katherine Easer (US Hardback)
Not actually sure when this is out in the UK? Any one know?

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Non from Catnip Books

Today on Bookcase Showcase we have Non from Catnip books who is one of the coolest booky people I have met since I've been blogging


I am ridiculously excited about taking part in this feature - thanks Kirsty! As well as bookish ramblings, I have fun game for you... see if you can spot the following:
·         An Atlanta Braves baseball
·         Asia (yes, the whole continent)
·         A coverless book (the Faber Book of Children’s verse, not that you can tell)
·         1001 Children’s Books you must read before you grow up 
-     A Player’s Player of the Year football trophy
·                    


Eighteen months ago when I left for a holiday to New York, this was an empty expanse of wall. Four days later, I came home to discover a set of shelves measured, built and painted by the rather wonderful Massive Dog. Gorgeous, aren’t they?


This is the children’s section (apart from an interloping shelf of travel guides). The classic children’s books are all from my childhood or Massive Dog’s (note the number of repeats in the Beatrix Potter collection). Top picks include the Joan Aiken books and Massive Dog’s favourite ever book, Watership Down

The bottom shelf contains all the books I worked on whilst at Usborne Publishing. The band of yellow spines are copies of The Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do, which won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books, which was pretty cool.

The modern shelves are my favourites; only books that I want to read again, or pass on to my daughter make the grade. I reckon that hefty selection of Robin Jarvis titles (above the Ness books) merits a mention as these shaped the way I read. Without Jarvis I don’t think I would have ended up in children’s publishing. (So blame him.)


Because I share my shelves with someone who likes grown-up books, a lot of the shelves are dedicated to them. I’m working on that...

Top two shelves here are classics, modern and otherwise. Bottom two shelves are non-fiction, including a rather sizeable collection of books about horses. I know my horse breeds a lot better than I know my Brontes.


Top shelf is Massive Dog’s Stephen King collection, then a shelf of books that don’t belong to us, then my pride and joy: The Dick Francis shelf. It’s not high-brow, but I’ve learnt a surprising amount by reading (re-reading and re-re-reading) his thoroughly researched thrillers. There is a signed first edition of one of his books there. This makes me happy. You can also see the little librarian sorting through some hefty tomes on rock music and films. She’s the high-brow one.


Top shelves are thrillers, SF and fantasy (the Gaiman are mine, nothing else), and below is the philosophy shelf which is the only evidence that I did a degree in it. Ask me to tell you what empirical reason is and you’ll get a blank look. Quiz me on the difference between a Dartmoor pony and an Exmoor pony, on the other hand...

On the bottom shelf is Massive Dog’s chemistry texts, plus his collection of Asterix books given to him by some wonderful person for his birthday. The Catnipper loves pulling them off the shelf, much to Massive Dog’s dismay.



Since I work from home some of my precious shelf space is taken up with Catnip business. There’s a mass of files and whatnot, plus a mountain of proofs, but I’d prefer it if you focused on the beautiful, neat rows of all our titles on the top two shelves! The spines of Victor Watson’s books (the blue and red with white typeface) designed by Nick Stearn really stand out. And I do think we’ve done the series of Jinny spines (top right) well.

There’s my stereo which is almost permanently tuned to 6Music, unless it’s playing some pop punk or emo, and next to that are some invaluable reference books – the most important being InDesign for Dummies. Working for a small company = no IT support. Without this book, I reckon I’d’ve thrown the computer out of the window by now.



The Catnipper has her own overflow in her room. Many of these books were once mine (Each Peach Pear Plum was my favourite) but she has some of her own. The board versions of the classics are her favourite for eating (she is a cross between The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Oliver Jeffers’ Incredible Book Eating Boy...). My favourite bedtime read is the signed Footprints in the Snow by Mei Matsuoka. My wolf voice sounds a lot like Mr Bean, which is worrying.

There is one set of shelves that remains unseen. This contains all the books I’m looking into publishing in the future... but I’m afraid I can’t show you those. Sorry.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Published by Egmont USA


One hour to rewrite the past . . .
 
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.
So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.
***
Hourglass is a uniquely different YA novel which I devoured in a matter of hours. It was fast paced and engaging throughout with excellent characters I just wanted to know more and more about.

Emerson Cole is a fascinating lead character. She has clearly been through a lot in her short life spending a great deal of time thinking she was stark raving mad because she saw ghosts floating around her to the point where she was institutionalised. Since being released back into the wider world she has spent her time trying to work out what has been going on. What I liked was that once she finally started to get some answers with the arrival of Michael on the scene she handled all the things thrown at her remarkably well whilst wanting to know more and more about her abilities and why she could see what see sees on a daily basis.

Michael is also a really interesting character. He is brought on the scene by Emerson's older brother a representative of the mysterious Hourglass company to mentor Emerson. Emerson finds herself immediately drawn to him to which he responds by attempting to be the perfect and totally gorgeous gentleman by her (with only the very occasional slip up). He is aloof throughout which seems to drive Emerson crazy meaning she goes to great lengths to get more answers from him as he seems to know an awful lot about Emerson and her condition. I loved how he starts to soften towards Emerson as the story progresses and found myself swooning in awe of his general gorgeousness.

Once the story gets underway the ideas put forward are awesome and the story is complex in how it plays out but I was never left wondering what was going on it that confused kind of way even though there were a few ideas you had to get your head round because the ideas were quite cleverly thought out. I loved the time travel element to the story and enjoyed seeing now the notion was used in the book in a very different way to what I have seen done before. I loved the twists and turns as they came along (me being me didn't see them coming at all) and am left wanting more, lots more.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Review: Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur
Published by Puffin


Elise and Franklin have always been best friends. Elise has always lived in the big house with her loving Uncle and Aunt, because Elise's parents died when she was too young to remember them. There's always been a barn behind the house with eight locked doors on the second floor.

When Elise and Franklin start middle school, things feel all wrong. Bullying. Not fitting in. Franklin suddenly seems babyish. Then, soon after her 12th birthday, Elise receives a mysterious key left for her by her father. A key that unlocks one of the eight doors upstairs in the barn...


***
Eight keys is a beautifully written story about friendship, family and belonging. I enjoyed reading it and will certainly be looking to read more of the author's work very soon.

For me this book had two messages.

The first was about family and belonging. Elise lives with Aunt and Uncle after having lost both her parents at a young age. She gets on well with them but often has questions about her real parents floating around her head. As the book progresses Elise receives eight keys each one unlocking a different room prepared by her father before he died to teach Elise something or tell her more about her family. I loved how this was done and thought it was a really nice touch.

The second message I though the book has was one about friendship and fitting in. Elise starts Middle School and has a terrible time due to the stereotypical "popular" girl in her class who goes out of her way to make Elise's life miserable. In a bid to deal the problem Elise alienates her best friend without realising she is doing it. Again I thought it was a really nice message and actually a bit of a thinker in itself as it something that I think many of us have done (even unwittingly) at some point in our lives as an attempt to fit in.

All in all a wonderful book which I enjoyed and would recommend to others.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Lola and the boy next door

I loved Anna and the French Kiss (even though I was reluctant to try it at first) so I cannot wait for this to come out!!


Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books


Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.


***
I think the most frightening thing about this book is that the events in it could actually happen. At the start of the book you are propelled into a world where the majority of people do not leave their homes and interact with other people via computers through various social networking sites. I think the initial message of this books about the problems of new technology inhibiting social interaction is actually quite a poignant in today's day and age.

At the start of the book you met Maddie as she makes a rare venture out of house into the big wide world to attend a study group. Her parents, well her father in particular come across as very controlling not wanting her to attend what we today would see as an ordinary and everyday thing. It is there she meets Justin which is where the story really starts from. Justin doesn't like all the technology invading his day to day life and opens Maddie's eyes to the world without technology.

I will not go into detail about the plot of the story in too much detail but I did love several things about it. I loved the relationship that was built up between Justin and Maddie as the story went on. I love Maddie as a character and enjoyed seeing how she developed as the story went on. The whole anti-digital school movement was well done and was actually quite insightful in how the book portrayed the use of government sponsored propaganda in influencing the masses.

All in all an excellent debut with insightful ideas, awesome characters and a pacey plot which I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to others.

Monday, 8 August 2011

BLOG TOUR: Boys for Beginners by Lil Chase

I am pleased to be able to share with you an extract from Boys for Beginners.



Gwynnie, who has just turned fourteen, is a tomboy. The closest she’s ever got to a boy is tackle on the football field, and she’s perfectly happy being one of the lads. Perfectly happy, that is, until the gorgeous Charlie Notts joins her school. Suddenly Gwynnie starts taking an interest in the strange and terrifying world of hair-straighteners and lash-curlers. Luckily she’s got super-girlie girl Jenny to help her - queen bee of the BB (Bellybutton) Club, Jenny is more than happy to teach Gwynnie how it’s done. In this extract, Gwynnie arrives at school after an exhausting morning doing her hair and make-up...

‘You look so good!’
I can’t tell if Jenny’s being honest, or being nice. Or maybe neither.
‘Hi Jenny.’ I just about get the words out.
‘Is this because of the lesson I gave you yesterday?’ She’s still speaking really loudly. ‘If you want, I’ll give you some more coaching after school, to teach you properly.’ She can see my worried look so she quickly adds, ‘Don’t get me wrong- you look fabulous!’ I’m just saying that it’s not easy when it’s your first try.’
I hope no one can see how red I’m going under all this make-up.
‘And why have you been hiding your divine little stomach under all those gross T-shirts and sports clothes?’
‘Erm.’
‘From what you’re wearing, I’m guessing you want me to get you into the BB Club,’ she stage-whispers. I nod. ‘I can get you in, no sweat. It is basically my club after all!’
                I don’t know if I feel like a supermodel or a five-year-old, but I let Jenny lead me over to the BB Club because I am totally out of my depth here and she is slap bang in the middle of her depth. The BB girls are standing in their usual space: leaning against the railings of Beckett’s Park.
                I can see Charlie Notts up ahead and we have to pass him to get to the girls. I’m praying that we won’t have to talk to him, but Jenny makes sure that we do. ‘Hey Charlie, look at Gwynnie. Don’t you think she just looks awesome?’       
                I’ve got shooting pains all up and down my left arm: the first sign of a heart attack.
                Charlie says, ‘You look really nice, Gwynnie.’
                Charlie Notts thinks I look really nice. I act completely gracefully by replying, ‘Hwah, phnma, sllmp.’
                Jenny starts laughing at me, but not in a mean way, just in a kind of isn’t my friend Gwynnie so silly sometimes? way. ‘Oh Gwynnie, you’re an absolute riot when you’re shy around boys!’
                Charlie says, ‘Gwynnies’s not shy around me, are you Gwynnie?’
                ‘Hsma, waa, ngag,’ I say, coherently.
                ‘Besides,’ he says, ‘she has nothing to be shy about. She looks good.’
                Charlie Notts said that I look good! I don’t give a damn if this heart attack kills me, my life is complete. It couldn’t get better unless I was signed for Tottenham.
                She does look good, Charlie, you are right,’ says Jenny. ‘And I don’t care what anyone says, but over-applying the make-up is brave, and some people can even pull it off.’
I was worried about the make-up, but Jenny is making this out to be a good thing.
                ‘The critics might disagree, but size zero is still so in right now,’ she continues, as if evaluating some piece of modern art. Wasn’t there an artist who tried to pass off elephant dung as a masterpiece? That’s what I feel right now.
                ‘Well,’ she says, ‘Gwynnie is more like a double zero, which is even better. Most guys say they want girls with a bit more meat on the. What do you think Charlie?’
                Whatever Charlie says now is going to be the most important thing he ever says ever. He will either finish me off, or make me float.
                ‘I couldn’t possibly comment on what most guys want, but I think Gwynnie looks very nice today.’ He looks at me and says, ‘Not that you don’t look nice every day Gwynnie. I’m just saying, make-up suits you.’
                That’s it, I’m airborne.
                ‘Are you going to talk to Paul?’ he asks. ‘I want to see if I can borrow one of his games.’
                I didn’t see Paul arriving at the bus stop. I am worried what he’ll say about how I look, but I also want to spend every second with Charlie, so if Charlie is going to talk to Paul then I am too.
                ‘Yeah, of course-‘
                ‘Er, no!’ Jenny cuts in. ‘Gwynnie is coming to talk to my friends over here. Gwynnie and Paul are not joined at the hip, you know!’
                Jenny drags me away and we leave Charlie stranded.
                ‘You’re welcome,’ says Jenny, and I don’t know what I’m welcome to. ‘I purposefully steered you towards Charlie so that he could see how nice you look. But top tip, sweetie: always leave them wanting more. If they want to spend time with you, that’s when you leave.’
                Jenny is going to teach me so much about being a girl.
                We get to where the BB Club are standing and I feel almost as nervous as I did when I was approaching Charlie Nott. Jenny takes the lead.
                ‘Heya ladies how’s it going?’
                They are dumbstruck.
                ‘Don’t stand with your mouths open, you might catch flies,’ she says. ‘Gwynnie wants to be in the BB Club and I think we should let her.’
                Kimba pulls her bitchy face, which she does so often it’s become her normal face. She looks me up and down and says, ‘She doesn’t have her belly-button pierced, so she can’t. Sorry Gwynnie.’ She doesn’t really look sorry at all.
‘But,’ Elizabeth Philip says really quietly, ‘Tanya doesn’t have hers done and neither do I.’
                ‘Yes, thanks for that, Elizabeth,’ says Jenny, frowning at her as if she’s interrupted an adult conversation. ‘Kimba, the BB Club has always been about a shared ideal.’
                ‘But’, says Melissa, ‘as Gwynnie herself once said, we don’t want to include even more members that haven’t got their belly-buttons pierced. People might start thinking we’re idiots.
                I have to fight back the urge to say what needs to be said. Yesterday’s Gwynnie wants to kick Today’s Gwynnie in the bum. But Yesterday’s Gwynnie wasn’t called really nice-looking by Charlie Notts, so who gives a flan about Yesterday’s Gwynnie?
                ‘Actually Gwynnie was quite rude about the whole thing,’ says Melissa.
                ‘What’s with the long memories, girls?’ asks Jenny. ‘How about this? How about we give her, like, a bronze membership, like not a full membership, until she’s proved herself?’
               

Will Gwynnie ever manage to get Charlie to see her as more than  just a great football player?  And why is Jenny so eager to help her? Can Gwynnie turn her back on her footie-playing past? And will she ever learn to master those lash-curlers?
Find out in this cringingly hilarious debut from a fresh new voice in British children’s fiction