Friday, 30 September 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Published by Hodder


Featuring necklaces made of wishes; an underground shop dealing in teeth; magical tattoos; a wishbone on a cord, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is a thrilling story about Karou and her secret life as an apprentice to a wishmonger. Karou manages to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she is a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to an inhuman creature who deals in wishes and is the closest thing she has to family. Her life is surrounded by mysteries she is desperate to unveil.

***
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is probably one of the most original books I have read this year and a gripping read. I was hooked from page one and didn't want it to end.

At the start of the book you meet the main character Karou. I loved her as a character. She is a mysterious 17 year old art student with crazy blue hair and the ability to do magical things alongside a hidden life which she hides from her friends. Also her background is very mysterious as even she doesn't quite know where she came from or who she actually is. I loved her general quirkiness and how she stood up for herself and how she dealt with all the weird and wonderful things thrown at her on a daily basis.

The world created in this book is so uniquely strange and whilst uncomparable it I were to compare it I would point at Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials world. That's not to say it is anything like it but it is similar is how the world is like our own but totally not because of all the different things going on. I loved all the crazy little details that were thrown in and just enjoyed learning about what Karou's world was like as the description was done so beautifully.

The main plot the runs throughout this book is Karou's quest (not sure that is entirely the right word) to find out who she actually is which is spurred on when her foster family are attacked and disappear and the mysterious portals she slip through to other parts of the world are closed. She finds herself being hunted down and through this meets Akiva who is the person who finally unfolds the truth about who she actually is. At this point in the book when the twist was reveals I was literally unable to put the book down and had to stay up later until I have devoured every page. It is done so brilliantly and explains an awful lot of what has gone on and questions that were raised throughout the book. I won't tell you more because I don't want to spoil it for everyone.

The book ends on a excruciating cliff hanger which left me desperate for more. Definitely one of the best books I have read this year which builds up a world which absorbs you in and keeps you hooked from page one.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Review: The name of the star by Maureen Johnson

The name of the star
Published by HarperCollins


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

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


***

The Name of the Star was an awesome read which I enjoyed entirely. It was creepy and fast paced with brilliant characters.

The book is written from the point of view of Rory an American teenager who has just moved to London to attend a boarding school whilst her parents are working in the UK at Bristol University. Her arrival is over shadowed by the fact that people are being found murdered in the area in an apparent Jack the Ripper copy cat murder spree.

I loved loads of things about this book

I really enjoyed the links to Jack the Ripper. The history geek in me (ok the gruesome history geek) loved how the story linked into the history surrounding Jack the Ripper and how it linked in to all the theories around who the police thought Jack the Ripper might have been. I loved how the idea was played out to put so much fear into the people of London but also chuckled at how there were people about cashing in on the murders with Jack the Ripper merchandise!

I loved the setting of the book. I will admit I am a bit of a boarding school book geek having been brought up on Malory towers and St Clare's books. It was a bit stereotypical at times (eg the perfect yet slightly evil headgirl and the busy body matron) but I loved it all the same. I did however question whether such an exclusive boarding school would in fact exist in the white chapel area of London (I rather think not but do tell me if I'm wrong).

I really liked the main character Rory. I thought she was both sweet and funny and quite a likable soul who dealt with everything thrown at her brilliantly well. I loved the relationships she built up with her classmates (especially those with her room mate Jazza and Jerome) and liked seeing her grow as the book went on.

For me the thing that made this book stand out was the twist to the murders and why only Rory was able to see the main suspect (and therefore be the only witness). I thought it was done in a really clever way and I am so looking forward to seeing how this twist is used later on in the series as it has the potential to be awesome.

The story itself (which I won't go into too much detail about so I don't spoil it for anyone) was brilliantly fast paced which kept me reading and reading not wanting to put the book down as I needed to know what happened next.

All in all a fantastic book which I would recommend thoroughly.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

BLOG TOUR: VIII by Harriet Castor

Today I am very very excited to be hosting the book tour story for VIII by Harriet Castor as it has to be the best Historical fiction novel I have read this year so far.



When I’m asked how long it took me to do the research for my new book VIII, a YA novel told through the eyes of Henry VIII, my answer is ‘more than thirty years’. I’m not being facetious (and neither am I a gazillion years old – although my youngest daughter is convinced that I grew up in the Olden Days, probably with dinosaurs), it’s just that Tudor history grabbed me when I was at primary school, and has never let go.

It used to be the dresses and the executions that fascinated me most – a slightly queasy combination. My gran had Antonia Fraser’s satisfyingly chunky biography of Mary Queen of Scots on the shelf by her armchair, and I could never stop myself from pulling it out and turning to the final pages, to read about the dramatic red petticoats revealed on the scaffold, and the little dog that hid in Mary’s skirts right to the end… and then wishing at bedtime that I hadn’t.

As I got older, I started paying attention to the other bits of that book about Mary, and plenty of other books besides. I read about Tudor history for fun – I’m afraid to say it was much more interesting than the history we did at senior school, though at last I did manage to study the 16th century at A-level (which I loved). I took a degree in history at university, during which I specialised in the Tudor period whenever given the chance. And all that time I loved visiting stately homes and castles, especially those that had a particular connection to my favourite period. If ever I came across a Holbein portrait in my wanderings, my gallery-visiting companions would find me hard to budge from the spot right in front of it…

And yet, when the idea for VIII began to form in my mind, one October evening a couple of years ago, I was overcome with fear. Despite thirty years of interest – of  reading and visiting and looking – I was convinced that I did not know enough. How could I possibly know enough to write a story set in the 16th century, let alone to write in the voice of Henry VIII? What was I – mad?

All those years of reading and studying had taught me, as much as anything, how endless the journey was. The more you find out, the more you realise how much you don’t know. But here I was with a story idea that felt so insistent, so desperate-to-be-written that it was hardly letting me sleep. I could see that I had a choice: gather my courage and dive in, or risk becoming a modern-day Mr Casaubon (the character in George Eliot’s Middlemarch who does so much research, he dies before he can finish writing his book).

So I dived. And I carried on researching as I went. Henry rides through London? So, search for a contemporary map that’ll tell you what he passed on his way. Anne Boleyn looks through Henry’s belongings in a private room? Get hold of a copy of the ‘Inventory of Henry VIII’ (and what a lose-yourself-for-hours fascinating book that is!). Needless to say I also had a pile of academic biographies permanently to hand, plus books on Henry’s army campaigns, archaeological investigations of his palaces, books on court manners, on education and on 16th century prophecies. I had British History Online’s excellent archive of documents bookmarked on my computer (http://www.british-history.ac.uk), and I was lucky in my friends, too. By chance, my next-door neighbours are not only archers, but experts on the history of archery. And one of my sisters is the historian and broadcaster Helen Castor – and a mine of information and expert opinion for me. I consulted psychoanalysts and costume experts, read detailed manuals on 16th century fighting, and even joined a martial arts class myself to get a bit of hands-on experience (eek!).

Above all, I loved it. I didn’t lose the fear – I’m sure it was useful, in fact, to keep that (terrified) respect for the task in hand – but I did begin to sense that what I was writing would work… that the book was taking shape, wearing all that research as lightly as possible and yet grounded in it too.

The world of the book became a vivid mental reality for me, one that was hard to relinquish when I finished. I had lived there, after all, for so long! What I hope, above all, is that the world of VIII will be as vivid for the reader as it was for me – that the reader will experience it as I did.

And now? I’ve got another world to create. Why do I look so happy? Oh, well, you see – I’m researching again… It’s Henry’s daughters this time: Mary and Elizabeth. And I’m loving it.

www.hmcastor.com 
Twitter: @HMCastor

Review: VIII by HM Castor

VIII by HM Castor
Published by Templar
Challenge: BBC
Series: Given by owner of Norfolk Children's Book Centre


If I had to think of how to sell this book I would describe it as being along the lines of the Tudor TV series but toned down to be more suitable for a YA audience. I enjoyed every page and thought it was a prime example of how YA historical fiction should be written.

I do get quite a bee in my bonnet when it comes to YA historical fiction. I get sent a lot of it for review because I am a history teacher and I have found of late that some of the stuff out there is just too weighty and too boring to engage youngsters especially things written about historical events pre 19th century. What I loved about VIII is that it the author seems to know the age range she is writing for (which always helps) and uses story telling in an engaging and effective manner to put across historical events in a way which would be entertaining for teens.

The first thing I liked about the book is that it gave the reader a real sense of historical period and what it would have been like for the main characters to live through the time period without overburdening the reader with lots and lots of tiny and somewhat irrelevant details which can get dull quickly.

If you ask any child to tell you something about Henry VIII they will say one of two things - he was very fat or he had lots of wives which really only scratches the surface. I loved how this book looks more broadly at Henry's life as a whole and considers in more detail his earlier life when he was this gorgeous all powerful ruler. I also liked the sections where it looked in detail at Henry's younger life before he became 1st in line to the throne and showed how he was treated by his family because of this. Yes this book does go through Henry's wives and yes he does become fat but that isn't the sole focus of this book which is what I liked and the reason why I made the comparison The Tudors TV series as it is the only other thing I can think of that has also given a more broad view of Henry's life rather than the more narrow interpretations which are usually given.

Another reason why I liked this book and thought it would be engaging for teens is that it really did capture the drama of the period with all the political intrigue that would have surrounded Henry as he threw his weight around trying to get his own way in areas such as his marriages and religion, when trying to wage wars with France and at home in the way he ruled his country in the ruthless manner he did.

Definitely a book I would highly recommend both as blogger and a history teacher. A brilliant example of how Historical Fiction can be used to engage people with historical events and personalities.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Review: Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Love Story by Jennifer Echols
Published by MTV books
Source: Purchased myself


She's writing about him. he's writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines..

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.


***
I was very very excited to get my copy of this book because I have loved the other Jennifer Echols books I read and while I did enjoy reading this for me I didn't think this latest offering was as strong.

I found Erin to be an extremely frustrating lead character. She has made this huge fuss about refusing her grandmother's offer to fund her time at college because she wants to do her own thing and make it on her own but the entire book she is so utterly miserable and either working or studying that she is actually quite boring. I felt her stand against her Grandmother was only one step away from her playing the poor little rich girl martyr and I really didn't like her for it. It got to the point for me where it was just one sob story too far

So there is Erin in her writing class completely absorbed (may I add in a completely self obsessed way) with her own writing ready to pounce on anyone who dares to criticise her writing, in what is a writing critique class and in walks the boy her steamy romance story is based on. The pair then proceed to battle it out in story form, baring their souls to each other layered in stories of hidden (and not so hidden meaning). I didn't get to the point where I wanted to bash both their heads together and tell them to actually talk face to face or grow up and stop it.

Once Hunter and Erin finally start to talk and hang out I then started to like them both a bit more. I enjoyed getting to know them rather than their writing and finding out how their relationship developed as the story went on. Unfortunately this was a little too late and there wasn't enough book left to do this as well as I would have liked.

all in all I felt that this book was not as strong as the other Echols books I have read and I was left feeling that there was so much more that could have been done by the end of the story.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Review: Love Inc by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout

Love Inc by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout
Published by Allison and Busby
Source: Review Copy



Zahra, Kali, and Syd would never have met if their parents' marriages hadn't fallen apart. But when the three girls collide in group counseling, they discover they have something else in common: they've each been triple-timed by the same nefarious charmer, Eric, aka Rico, aka Rick. Talk about eye-opening therapy.Cheerful, diplomatic Zahra is devastated. Rico had been her rock and sole confidant. How could she have missed the signs? Folksy, flirtatious Kali feels almost as bad. She and Rick had only been on a few dates, but they'd felt so promising. Hardened vintage-vixen Syd is beyond tears. She and Eric had real history... Or so she'd thought. Now all three girls have one mission: to show that cheater the folly of his ways.
Project Payback is such a success, the girls soon have clients lining up for their consulting services. Is your boyfriend acting shady? Dying to know if your crush is into you? Need match-making expertise? Look no further than Love, Inc.

***

Love Inc is one of those books who girls who love romantic contemporary fiction will devour eagerly and be left wanting more about the three main character and their madcap adventures.

The story revolves around three girls who meet at therapy. They're there because of their divorced or divorcing parents to ensure they don't go off the rails and when they meet they find out they have a whole lot more in common. It turns out they have all been seeing the same boy who has been willingly triple-timing them. Rather than turning against each other they put their heads together and do something together to teach him a lesson.

The stunt they pull becomes infamous and off the back of it the girls form their own business called "Love Inc" set up to help others deal with all their relationship issues both positive and negative.

The beauty of this book is the relationship built up between the three main characters who start as virtual strangers but end up as the best of friends despite the fact they are all totally different personalities. The story managed to be both funny and heartfelt all the way through. The story would also appeal to a a good mix of different girls as the main characters were so diverse.

All in all a really sweet story which is a nice and easy read.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

In my Mailbox (62)

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

I got four fab books this week for review


Mist by Katherine James (UK paperback)
This looks awesome


Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (UK proof)
I  have been looking forward to this one for ages now!


The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima  (UK paperback)
Another one from the new Orion Imprint. I have loved everything they've published so far


15 days without a head by Dave Cousins (UK proof)
My lovely blogging friend Sarah managed to get me one of these. She is my book star

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Author Christopher Edge


Today's Bookcase Showcase Post is by  Christopher Edge, author of The Dead Ways and the forthcoming Twelve Minutes to Midnight.

First, an apology – when I heard you were coming, I had to start tidying my shelves. There’s an imminent house move on the cards here and, for some reason, this has resulted in chaos blooming amidst the bookshelves.  So, to protect you from the full horror of my book collection in its current state of disorder, here is an abbreviated and sanitised tour of my shelves.


The first picture shows the bookshelf next to my desk in the study. This is where I keep the books I need for research depending on the books I’m currently writing. As I write fiction, non-fiction and have even recently turned my hand to gift and novelty books, these shelves can end up being a strange mix of bedfellows. Currently there are lots of reference books here about the strange and supernatural, as well as books covering topics such as stone circles, silent cinema, Victorian fiction and the English motorway system! I also keep a dictionary and thesaurus here, conveniently close to hand.



The next picture shows one of the three bookshelves that stand in the dining room, and the only one that is tidy enough to show you in full. Here, you’ll see some of the authors and books that have inspired me: the collected stories of Sherlock Holmes, His Dark Materials, Roald Dahl, Frank Cottrell Boyce and J.R.R. Tolkien. There are author biographies and books about writing, music biogs, screenplays, graphic novels and lots of books about comics. If you squint, you might also see a signed copy of Black Orchid #1 which I bunked off school over 20 years ago to get Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean to sign. Queued for hours and got into a heap of trouble when I got home, but it was worth it!


The last picture is a cropped shot of one of the other bookshelves where chaos still reigns, but I’ve managed to tidy just the one shelf to show you some of my favourite authors, as well as one of the finest children’s books ever written: The Princess Bride.
Apologies for not sharing with you the rest of the literary Ragnarรถk currently raging across the shelves: the travel guides tussling with cookbooks, reference books fighting a desperate rear-guard action against children’s fiction, but I thought it was probably for the best. The shelves would die of shame if anyone saw them in their current state!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
Published by
Source: Swapped on www.readitswapit.co.uk


The thing is, you can get used to anything. You think you can't, you want to die, but you don't. You won't. You just are.

This is Alice.
She was taken by Ray five years ago.
She thought she knew how her story would end.
She was wrong.


***
When I first opened this book I really didn't know what to expect from it but I most certainly did not expect the book I then read.

This book pulls no punches and doesn't shy away for one second from the horrors it portrays. The result is that you are left at the end feeling heartbroken for this tragically awful tale which continues to play on your mind long after you put it down.

Living Dead Girl is the tragic tale of a teenager who was kidnapped as a child and forced to live a terrifying life with a man who uses her to serve everything one of his nasty and horrible whims. It makes for uncomfortable reading through and as the story went on I found my heartbreaking just a little bit more for this poor girl who had had everything stolen for her by this horrible man.

I can imagine that this book has picked up a lot of criticism for tackling such a untalked about / unwritten about topic and it is probably argued that the topic is not suitable for teenagers. I would would argue the case that it may be a little too much for younger teenagers I think this book would goes along way to open the eyes of teenagers to the dangerous present in society that they ought to be made aware of.

All in all a beautifully written and haunting tragic book which will keep with you long after you read it

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Review: The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Published by Mira
Challenge : DAC
Source: Review copy


It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.


***
I really enjoyed reading The Goddess Test and loved how the book was based on the ideas of Greek Mythology.The characters were interesting and the plot line was really engaging.

At the start of the book the reader meets Kate. She has just moved half way across the country to allow her mum to be able to die in her hometown. From the first page you feel for her as she clearly has put her life on hold to help her mum.

Kate starts her new school after moving and meets the popular girl who invites her to a party. The party isn't what it seems and the evening ends in a terrible accident. Kate is offered an offer to opportunity to put things right and to help her dying mother but at a price.

The main storyline is linked very much to ideas and stories from Greek mythology. While no expert at all on Greek mythology I loved the way this was done and how it made them more accessible for a YA audience.

Once the story gets going it follows Kate as she is put through seven Goddess tests. I loved how this was done as the entire story keeps you guessing about what the nature of tests. I loved how the story finally twisted in the end as it was revealed what the tests actually were and who the judges of the tests actually were.

All in all an interesting and engaging YA title which I really enjoyed.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Twilight Graphic Novel Volume two

I love twilight and I love the artwork in the first volume so I am very excited about this even though I don't really read graphic novels

coming out October 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Review: Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
Published by Bloomsbury
Challenge: BBC
Source: Purchased from Topping and Co


Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister. 

***
Mary Hooper is one of those YA historical novelists I have only recently discovered but I am already rapidly falling completely in love with what she writes and only wish I had discovered her work sooner.

Fallen Grace is a beautifully written novel which I devoured in a matter of hours.

The first thing I loved about this book was that each chapter was headed by a little note, be it a quote, business card or an advert which is linked to the story and added to the whole experience of the story. I loved seeing what was going to come up next.

I loved the setting for the story. The book gave the reader a real sense of what it would have been like to be poor living in the middle of London. The sheer detail about the squalid living conditions endured and the differing jobs people had to take on just to survive on a day to day basis was completely fascinating.

I loved everything about Grace, the main character of the book, and instantly felt for her as you saw what she went through on a daily basis to ensure that her sister Lily had everything they needed to exist. From the outset my heart broke a little bit for her when you see what she went through with the loss of her child and as her tale continued I wanted nothing more than to be able to pick her up and take her away from all the hardship she and her sister dealt with.

The story takes a slight twist when you learn that Grace and Lily are being searched for with regards to an inheritance which is due to them which they knew nothing about and end up feeling very angry at the family of undertakers who seem to be helping the girls out but actually are trying to use them to get their hands on the money. The villains of the piece are really underhand (if the book had been a pantomime there would have been hissing every time they entered a scene) and it ends up making you root even more for Grace and Lily and hope even more that they finally get the justice they deserve and receive what is rightfully theirs.

All in all this book is a shining example of good YA fiction. Fast paced, engaging, well researched with intriguing characters and a fascinating storyline. Definitely a book I would recommend highly.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Review: Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
Published by Simon and Schuster
Challenge: DAC



IN THE ENCLAVE, YOUR SCARS SET YOU APART, and the newly born will change the future.
In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother's footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve. Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.


***

Birthmarked is one of those books that I have been waiting to read for a while as the concept is a fascinating one. I have read a lot of dystopian fiction of late but this one definitely stands out as a good one.

Birthmarked is a story based in a future world in which the privileged few live in a walled city and while the majority live in villages surrounding the city. The majority have to provide a quota of babies for the families in the city each and every month in service of the Enclave. This is the role of Gaia a trainee midwife who lives in one of the villages.

The Enclave appears to be this all seeing, all knowing, intolerant and ruthless big brother which rules the lives of everyone with an iron fist. While Gaia is doing her job everything is going on fine but one day she returns to find her mother and father have been taken for being traitors and her world is thrown upside down.

Gaia finds herself the centre of attention, in the middle of something she doesn't quite understand, being interrogated about a code what she knows nothing about. The Enclave has got themselves in trouble. Taking babies from the outside had meant that people didn't know who they were biologically related to meaning they were growing up and having relationships with relations leading to a whole generation with birth defects. This makes anyone who knows in more detail about where the children actually come from very valuable.

What I enjoyed about this book is that it had shades of 1984 in how the society and the authority within it was written mixed in with ideas taken from the Handmaid's Tale. The ideas used were cleverly written and twisted and turned as the story progressed. By the end of the story the pace of the story was break-neck and so engaging that I couldn't put it down as I needed to know what was going to happen next.

All in all a awesome offering in full-to-bursting dystopian market which I thoroughly enjoyed and am looking forward to reading the sequel of.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

In my mailbox (61)

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

I got some fab books this week.

For Review

Darkness Falls by Mia James (UK hardback)
I was so excited to receive this in the post. I can't wait to get started on it.



The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (UK proof)
I got this via Amazon Vine after hearing quite a bit about it over the past few weeks. I am actually gutted because the author is coming to Norwich in October but it is during the day which means I can't make it.


Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (UK paperback)
I just finished this one last week. This is the finished UK copy. The review will be on the blog in October but is already up on my goodreads account if you are interested.

Won


Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson (UK paperback)
Won in a competition on The Crooked Shelf (If you've never seen Carla's blog check it out because it is totally unique)


A year without Autumn by Liz Kessler (Signed UK paperback)
I won this from Liz herself on facebook. I love signed books as many of you know so I was very very excited to get this through.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Scattered Laura from Scattered Figaments

 Today's Bookcase Showcase guest post is by Scattered Laura from Scattered Figaments


I went back to work this week (I'm a teacher in mourning for the summer holidays), and after just two days my desk is groaning under the weight of books, desperate-to-be-filed paperwork, notebooks, stickers and hastily scribbled notes-to-self. These latter are a particular indication of my muddled madness. They read like fortune cookies or vague advice from a spiritual guru. This week's gems include:

"Values and Philosophy  are in the bottom of the schoolbag"

"The curly tree needs thumbprints and leaves"

"Bumblebee is still missing - needed a holiday?"

Now I  know what I mean. But to the more sensible eye, these are surely the writings of a mad woman. I'm sure there are plenty who would agree with that conclusion. 

If my desk is a mess, then my handbag is confused chaos. There are books, notebooks, pens, a purse, contacts, deodorant, makeup, loose change, more scribbled notes, sunglasses, bottled water, chewing gum... all of which are fairly sensible things to have in a handbag, right? But then there's the other stuff. The stuff which can only be filed as "Misc". Those bits and pieces which just make me look a bit peculiar whenever I should succumb to my own clumsiness and drop the handbag. Such things include, seashells, fake blood capsules, a pair of odd socks, 2 tennis balls, leg wax strips, a bandage, a miniature bottle of Penderyn, a bag of assorted beads, seven buttons (none of which match), a full box of coffee-mate, a bottle of Lysterine, 2 empty glasses cases, coloured pencils and a partridge in a pear tree. 

Yesterday morning I spent a good chunk of time fishing around in the disarray of the handbag, trying to grasp a pair of sunglasses. There are at least THREE pairs in there: I know it, the bag knows it, the sunglasses know it. But we all play the "I wonder if they're in here" game every time. Finding what I'm actually looking for in my handbag always makes me feel like I've accomplished something wonderful. 

I live with my chaotic mind and, despite the day-to-day complications it throws at me, we usually get along famously. It adds a nice element of "randomness" to my days. But still, it's nice to have just one teeny-tiny part of my life that is predictable, uncomplicated and so-not-me! And that's where my bookshelves come into it.



Take a look at that picture! If well-organised bookshelves are symbolic of a well-organised mind, then you might be fooled into thinking that I'm the kind of girl who always knows what she's meant to be doing and where she's meant to be doing it. [I wonder how many of you snickered at the phrase "doing it"...? Go on, admit it!] This little corner of my home is the one in which I can sit and pretend, just for a moment, that I am not a complete and utter scatterbrained nutter. My little study is my haven. I think I might have to frame this picture and put it on my desk in work, just to remind myself that I actually have the capacity for organisation. Saying that...in less than a week the picture would be buried under left-over balls of bluetack and post-its asking such sage questions as "Are there marshmallows in the ladybird?" * 

Welcome to my head!


*Again, this note exists and makes perfect sense to me.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Review: Sister Missing by Sophie McKenzie

Sister Missing by Sophie McKenzie
Published by Simon and Schuster
Series: Girl Missing #2
Challenge: BBC
Source: Review copy

 
I was a huge fan of Girl Missing and was very very excited to hear that there was another book in the series. I am pleased to say I enjoyed this instalment just as much as it was just as entertaining including all of the things I have come to expect from Sophie's novels: Fast pace, engaging story line, likable characters and loads of twists and turns to make for a thrilling read.

Sister missing follows a similar format as Girl Missing but goes off in its own direction which makes it different in its own right. Lauren is spending her holidays with her American family at a seaside resort in the UK. She takes her 8 year old sister to the beach and whilst there her sister is kidnapped in circumstances similar to her own abduction.

The story which follows is a fast paced rides with several twists and turns thrown in to take the story off in directions you didn't quite see coming. My favourite part had to be when Shelby and Lauren finally talked which is something they hadn't really done up until that point. I thought it was a really sad and poignant bit in the book.

Can I also say that the cover of this one (even though it doesn't match my first book in the series grrr) is awesome and the design is really clever and it still playing with my head even now as I look at it.

All in all a book I really enjoyed and one that her fans will love as much as Girl Missing. Every bit the thrilling rollercoaster ride.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Review: Shelter by Harlan Coben

Shelter by Harlan Coben
Published by Orion
Challenge: DAC
Source: Review Copy


Mickey Bolitar’s year can’t get much worse. After witnessing his father’s death and sending his mom to rehab, he’s forced to live with his estranged Uncle Myron and switch high schools.

A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For awhile, it seems like Mickey’s train-wreck of a life is finally improving — until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley’s trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn’t who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey’s father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury – and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew. 


***
Harlan Coben is one of the very few adult authors I can claim to actually have read and enjoyed so when I heard he was writing a young adult series I knew I would want to get my hands on it asap. I am pleased to say that Shelter was every bit as satisfying as his adult novel (maybe even more so) and I really enjoyed reading it.

Mickey is the new kid at school. He has been sent to live with his Uncle after the death of his father and institutionalisation of his mother. From day one he isn't too sure about his new home. The crazy "Bat Lady" said things to him about his father that left him unsettled and his girlfriend (if you can call her that yet) has gone missing without a trace. This grips Mickey's curiosity and the rest of the book follows him as he tries to solve the mystery he has found himself in the middle of.

I actually thought Mickey was a fantastic character, cool without being nasty with a brilliant sense of how to be a good friend. I particularly loved the relationships he built up with Ema and Spoon the two rather odd individuals he meets when he first starts High School. I thought Ema in particular was brilliantly funny and stole the show whenever she was in a scene as she was so fast thinking and witty.

The mystery side of the story is just what I have come to expect from a Harlan Coben. There are loads of twists and turns which keep you guessing right through until the very end of the book meaning you are in for a bit of a rollercoaster ride because you never really know what is going to happen next and which way the author is going to go.

Whilst this book came to a satisfying end in itself I have been left with so many more questions that were opened up towards the end of the story about Mickey's family and their background which I am dying to know more about. I cannot wait for the next instalment to be released.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

I know this is already out in America but I want the UK paperback to match my others which I loved. Anyone know who is publishing it and when??



Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles



Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill.

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.

Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Review: pod by Stephen Wallenfels

Pod by Stephen Wallenfels
Published by Templar
Source: Review copy


POD's - strange alien spheres hover menacingly in the sky, zapping anyone who ventures outside.

Josh is 15 and stuck in his house with his OCD dad. They're running out of food... Megs is 12, alone and trapped in a multi-storey carpark. The hotel next door is under the control of dangerous security staff, but Megs has something they want, and they'll do anything to get it...

When the aliens invade, the real enemy becomes humanity itself.

What would you do to survive?


***
If I had to compare Pod to anything else I would say it is like the film signs in that they are both about an alien invasion but focusing on the human side of that invasion showing how ordinary humans would deal with such an event rather than the government or the aliens themselves. I thought it was a really clever book and liked more and more as the story went on.

The story alternates between two voices Josh who is 15 and stuck with his Father at home and Megs who is 12 and stuck alone in a multi storey car park where a gang of rogue security guards are out to terrorise whoever they find.

The main focus of this book is the lengths both of the main characters have to go to to survive. Where as Josh is quite blase about it all, laughing at his dad when he starts to fill everything with water, Megs is more practical and spends a great deal of her time searching for anything at all she can eat. I actually found her story to initially more harrowing as she is is in constant danger compared to Josh who has it reasonably easy but doesn't know it and as a consequence I found him quite ungrateful and spoilt for.

For me the story went along quite nicely throughout the book and was an interesting read throughout. Megs story was the most engaging especially when she confronted the people in the car park who were terrorising the people living in the adjoining hotel. With Josh's story it wasn't until the very end that his story started to get more interesting and the very end was really quite horrible and has continued to make me think long after putting it down.

An interesting read which will give you a new perspective on the traditional alien invasion story and stay with you long after you finish reading it.