Monday, 30 April 2012

April review

Another nutty month for me workwise which has meant I haven't spent as much time reading as I'd have liked in the last two weeks but I did get a lot read in the Easter Holidays at the start of the month. I'm afraid this might keep up for a while yet - roll on the summer holidays and 6 weeks of reading time!

Books read in April
Insignia by SJ Kincaid
Chain reaction by Simone Elkeles
Charmfall y Chloe Neill
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
The Messenger Bird by Ruth Eastham
The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo
Burn Mark by Laura Powell
Spellbound by Rachel Hawkins
Ghost Flower by Michelle Jaffe
Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
The Summer of Skinny dipping by Amanda Howells
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
We'll always have summer by Jenny Han
Dream by Daniela Sacerdoti
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Callum by Malorie Blackman (e-book)
The New World by Patrick Ness (e-book)
Hana by Lauren Oliver (e-book)
The peculiars by Maureen McQuerry (Did not Finish)
Dying to know you by Aidan Chambers
Eleven Minutes by Megan Miranda (e-book)
Catching Suki by Sarah Alderson (e-book)
Hitler's Angel by William Osborne (Did not Finish)
Until I die by Amy Plum

Favourite book read in April

 Burn Mark by Laura Powell

Favourite Book published in April



All these things I've done by Gabrielle Zevin

Book events
None this month which makes me sad but I did add a new Kindle into the mix which is quite a big thing for me as I was offered one at Christmas and refused. I'm not sure what I think of it yet.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Bookcase Showcase: Author Sita Brahmachari


Ode To My Landing
There are five of us in our house, actually six, since the new puppy ‘Ringo Star’ arrived two weeks ago. I was happy to find him earlier, chilling out in the garden with a good book! 


We have books all over our house…
We have floor books





This random collection of books sit by my computer table at the moment. I collect book stands from junk shops so that I can have ‘Floor Books’ scattered around the house.
We have shelf books




This particular collection of books and objects belong to my daughter.  I loved this book shelf so much that it appears as Mira Levenson’s book shelf in the Jasmine Skies trailer.

We have ‘escape from the world for longer than you need’ books by the side of the toilet.




We have ‘much loved by boys … and girls… but especially boys’… books!



We have ‘do not touch my favourite books or my snow domes on pain of death’ book shelves



And, finally, we have… The Landing – my favourite room in our house… not a room at all but a space between stairs … a fitting place for the imagination to roam!
I love my book landing so much that I have been inspired to compose an ode to it! 



Ode to My Landing
A rattan sofa
Covered in silken threads woven with delicate Indian hands
What stories are told in these bright stitches?
Day after day
I sit here and read
I sit here and write
Surrounded by books
How to feed your baby books
How to plant your garden
How to talk to your teenagers, and get them to talk to you!
Books before I was a mother

Books I studied: poems, plays, politics, culture, history, fairy stories, myths and legends, horror, art, trees, and even books about how to make papier-mâché sculptures out of old news. 
Well-thumbed books bought when just a child.



Books holding memories of walking through galleries…
Books picked up in second-hand stores, or antique shops on rainy days and holidays.
Books belonging to family
Present and past
Inheritance books
A copy signed and dedicated to each of my children



Books that thread together lives.
‘Mum!’ the children holler when they return from school. ‘Where are you?’
‘Landing!’ I reply.










Friday, 27 April 2012

Review: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
Published by Simon and Schuster


After spending six hundred years on Earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world's riches but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago, her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to take the bodies of other humans from jumping from one vessel to the next, ending the human's life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she's done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body while trying to save her. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she's inhabiting--and falling in love with the boy who lives next door. But Cyrus will stop at nothing until she's his again, and every moment she stays, she's putting herself and the people she's grown to care about in danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that's eluded her for centuries: true love?


***

The Alchemy of Forever was a quick read from a debut author

The Alchemy of Forever follows the story of Sera an immortal as she escapes the group she has spent the last 600 years with and moves onto a new body in Kailey and takes on her life and all the things Kailey's life entails.

The main story then looks at Sera adjusting to Kailey's life and finding out more about the world she lives in and finding her actually falling in love a little bit when the world she has now found herself in especially after meeting the boy next boy Noah - who is just a little bit yummy.

For me however this book wasn't unlike the immortals series by Cate Tieran. While I though it was probably as good as that series I've almost been there and done that which meant I did get a little bored at times

The ending was actually the best thing about this book. I thought I knew where I stood and then in was all thrown up in the air.

So all in all whilst not ground breaking or all that unique for me to completely love I did enjoy this book and will most likely be continuing on with the series as and when it is released.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Slated by Teri Terry - Extract Three




Today I have the third extract of Teri Terry's Slated for you to enjoy




Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Review: When you were mine by Rebecca Serle

When you were mine by Rebecca Serle
Published by Simon and Schuster



"What's in a name, Shakespeare? I'll tell you: everything.
"Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her--and when he finally does, it's perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose's best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn't even stand a chance.
Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet's instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob's heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends.

*** 

I really loved this book and the main character Rose.

Rose is meant to be with Rob. They've grown up together as best friends but lately things have started to change and it seems like their friendship is going to develop into something more. They've been on one almost perfect date and kissed and Rose is just waiting for Rob is ask her to be his girlfriend. That is until Juliet arrives.

Juliet is Rose's cousin whom she hasn't seen in 10 years. She sweeps in and takes Rob from Rose before Rose even realises what is happening. As you can imagination Rose is angry and devastated at the same time and doesn't know what she should be doing next. How should you react when the boy you are meant to be with suddenly isn't yours anymore/

Without spoiling the story I'll say that I really enjoyed seeing how this book played out for several different reasons.

I really loved the relationship between Rose and her best friends Charlie and Olivia. They have the kind of friendship I longed for as a teen where they depend on one another completely and are there for one another no matter what.

I loved how the author really made you root for Rob and Rose as a couple which made it all the more heartbreaking when things went wrong between the two of them as soon as Juliet arrived on the scene. I was rooting for them so badly that it made me want to stab Juliet and her man-stealing ways and give Rob a good slap to teach him to think with his brain and not his trousers

Once Rob and Juliet the story twists slightly as you see how Rose goes about living her life without him and as you get to see her question whether she was meant to be with him. The addition of a character who was very much secondary at the start of the book into her life and the change you see in him now that Rose isn't blinded by Rob is really interesting to see

The ending is but devastating and uplifting at the same time which I thought was really unusual and not something I saw coming.

All in all a book I really enjoyed and not at all like I expected it would be.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Review: Unrest by Michelle Harrison

Unrest by Michelle Harrison
Published by Simon and Schuster

Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn’t slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around, while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out of body experiences are harmless - but to Elliott they’re terrifying.

Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out of body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something dead that wants to live again . . . and it wants Ophelia, too . . . 


***


I really loved unrest. I was completely hooked from the first page and had to keep reading page after page as I needed to know what happened next. It was both creepy and heartfelt and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.

Elliot is a really interesting character. He was in accident which technically left him dead only to be brought back to life by the paramedic team that arrived at the scene. Ever since then sometimes when he goes to sleep he finds himself quite literally drifting out of his body and seeing all manner of ghosts which frighten the life out of him. He is desperate to know whether it is as real as it feels or whether it is just him going crazy and starts work at an living history museum desperate for answers one way or another.

I'm not going to tell you too much more about the book because I don't want to spoil it (especially as I'm writing this a few months before it is actually released) but I will say the following few things.

The writing style in this book is exquisite and really draws you in as a reader. This story takes its time getting to where it wants to go and while sometimes this can drive me loopy in this case the writing style was so good it could have been twice as long and I still would have loved it.

The history geek in me loved the living history museum set up and loved the potential the setting gave to the story with having the characters and events based there.

I loved Ophelia who Elliot meets whilst working at the museum and adored the relationship that is built up between them. I really loved how different she was and how kick-ass she was and that she definitely wasn't one of your typical YA heroine stereotypes.

I really enjoyed the way this story went. Without telling you too much I liked how it all fit together and the explanations given for all the things that were happening and by the end I was left satisfied as a reader about what I had just read. This was particularly brilliant because so many books of late that I've read haven't had that sense of closure at the end leaving you with the feeling that you've only read half a book. I was delighted that this wasn't one of them!

All in all a fantastic read which I really enjoyed.

Monday, 23 April 2012

World Book Night

Just a quick post to wish everyone Happy World Book Night.

Today I was giving out copies of How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff which is one of my favourite books.



I dropped a few into staff pigeon holes in the morning and then got some kids I teach to come up to my room at lunch time (without telling them why) then gave them all copies of How I Live How along with their choice of whatever random books I had laying around at home that I was going to find a new home for. Very excited kiddies indeed which was lovely. Something I might need to do more of.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Published by Mira



In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.


***

 I honestly and truly thought I was done with vampires in YA but this book proved me wrong. I enjoyed every page and was drawn into the world the story was based around.

I love the main character Allie. I thought she was brilliant from the start as this kick-ass human girl who was up for doing whatever was needed to be done to survive. When the worse happens and Allie finds herself having to make the decision to become one of the monsters she has so long despised it was really interesting to see her transformation as she started to get used to her new life.

The world the story is set in is bleak and sinister. The vampires are creepy and the ways in which people are forced to live is both desolate and frightening. You get a real sense from reading the book of how hard people have it and how fragile their lives are. This book doesn't attempt to save everyone or give them a fluffy and happy ending meaning you are often on the edge of your seat wondering who is going to survive and what might happen to them next.

After seeing Allie start to get to grips with her vampire self the story twists again after she is forced out into the world on her own and joins a group of humans and has to pass off as one to blend in. For me the scariest thing about this book was the fact that no one saw that she wasn't human and she blended in well. This meant as a reader I was on the edge of my seat trying to work out who to trust and who not to trust.

I won't give much away about the plot line except to say that when the action kicks off in this book it really does. There were some really interesting ideas thrown out which I am sure will be picked up in future books. I also liked the fact that although it is clear the author is building up to do a series this book in itself had a nice sense of closure and that left me quite satisfied as a reader as I felt I was getting somewhere and wasn't just left with loads of unanswered questions rattling around my brain.

So all in all if you thought you were done with Vampire books think again. This one is awesome and something a little bit different. Not a sparkly vampire in sight!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Bookcase Showcase: Author Randy Russel


Bookcase Showcase.  Author R.S. Russell

I learned this morning that I have too many books and too many bookcases. Because of this, my bookcases often end up shelving and eclectic array of other objects that have caught my fancy over the years. As for any reasonable arrangement of books by genre, topic, date, etc., …forget about it. I don’t even know what genre means anymore.

I have no idea what might be made of the photo below. Other than my ignorance of how to focus a cell phone camera, I do notice that books I am currently reading tend to end up in stacks on their backs… if not in a bookcase, then on the coffee table, mantel, and dresser top in my office at home...  





As a folklorist (aside from writing fiction), my home reading material is more likely the stuff books are created from, rather than books themselves. I am obsessed with learning what I can of the human heart and with collecting old diaries, journals, letters, photos… and anything else where I might stumble across individual folk history. 

Below is a recently acquired batch of 35 (or so) letters than have captured my full attention. Each has been multi-folded to the size of a note you might pass to a friend in school (see the red circle in the image).  Within the first few letters, the method of exchanging letters between a mountain farm girl and the boy she has a crush on is described in detail. Letters were sent by placing them under a rock near the well on the girl’s family farm. 




My primary-source reading material is full of ghosts … Tucked away on one of my bookshelves is a series of love letters from a girl called Joan to her boyfriend from around 1959-1961. She is about 15-years-old at the time of the letters. She died in 1963.  Her letters are ardent, to say the least, expression of an overwhelming first love. As I was writing Dead Rules I kept Joan in mind.   


Friday, 20 April 2012

E-Reader? Convince me!

I love my books.
I live in a house which has shelves in pretty much every room stacked everywhere.
I have a full library of my own in my classroom purely because I do not have the room at home (No idea what I'm going to do if I ever move jobs).

This leaves me with a problem

What do I do when the shelf space actually runs out??

I am close to this dark day. Without doing radical like moving, getting rid of my bed / fridge/ bathroom I reckon I have space for one more bookcase then I'm done.

One solution that seems obvious to the outside observer is for me to purchase an e-reader of some kind. I'm really hesitant to do this because I love having books everywhere and am reluctant to spend money on something ebooks when often a real print copy of the same book is the same price. I know this line of argument is flawed because I download songs for my ipod and think nothing of it but I can't get my head around not having a pile of books to pick up and flick through and hold right in front of me.

There's only one thing that has started to chance my mind. It's a beast named Netgalley whose very existence threatens to do dangerous things to my TBR pile. It is luring me in with its offerings of gorgeous titles and I'm not sure how much longer I can keep it at bay.

So my question to you my dear readers is do I buy an e-reader?

If so which one would you recommend and why do you like it?

If not why not?

Help me make up my mind!!!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Slated by Teri Terry Extract 2

Today I have the second extract of Teri Terry's Slated for you all to enjoy

If you missed extract one find it here




Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Review: Eve by Anna Carey

Eve by Anna Carey
Published by Harper USA



The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.


***

I'm not entirely sure what to say about this title except to say that it wasn't the best YA dystopian I've ever read.

I did like the concept to this book and thought the initial ideas for it was quite good however what the author then did with those ideas left me feeling somewhat disappointed

I felt like the story went too fast. There was always something new happening. This meant that as soon as you got your bearing as a reader and thought you knew what was happening something else would kick off and suddenly you were thrown in a new direction. I like twists in a storyline as much as the next person but it just got to the point where it felt like the author was throwing in it for the sake of it.

This therefore meant I never really felt like I got to know the main character and therefore didn't really care what happened to them.

I felt that this story itself while aiming to be a YA title was pitched a little young and therefore it felt like I was been patronised throughout the entire story.

All in all not a series I'll be worried about continuing with any time soon.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Review: Girl Stolen by April Henry

Girl Stolen by April Henry
Published by Walker


Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of the car while her stepmom fills a prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, the car is being stolen.

Griffin hadn't meant to kidnap Cheyenne and once he finds out that not only does she have pneumonia, but that she's blind, he really doesn't know what to do. When his dad finds out that Cheyenne's father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes--now there's a reason to keep her.

How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare?


***

if you liked Lucy Christopher's Stolen you'll really enjoy this book.

I really loved the main character in this book. I loved getting inside her head and seeing the way in which she viewed the world and her situation.

The thing I really took from this book is how resourceful and independent Cheyenne is throughout it. You really get an insight of the way in which people who are blind adapt to deal with their situation and also the way in which they are treated by other people. There are a few instances where she reminds the other characters that she is only blind not stupid or deaf.

In a strange way I really loved Griffin, the boy who kidnaps Cheyenne. You can see that actually he is a victim himself due to the circumstances in which he is forced to live. I loved seeing how the relationship between the two of them develops as the book progresses and seeing the way in which he changes his views on the only world he has lived in dramatically.

The story itself is brilliantly pacy meaning you want to keep reading more and more to find out what happens next and you never get to the point where you have time to be bored.

The end of the book is both perfect and frustrating leaving it open to the reader to decide what happens next

All in all a satisfying little read that I really enjoyed.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Review: Fear by Michael Grant

Fear by Michael Grant
Published by Egmont


Despite the hunger, despite the lies, even despite the plague, the kids of Perdido Beach are determined to survive. Creeping into the tenuous new existence they've built, though, is perhaps the worst incarnation yet of the enemy known as the Darkness: fear.

***

 This review isn't going to be long. That isn't because I didn't like Fear (I really did) but because as always I am at a loss when it comes to Michael Grant's book to be able to know the words to say to do the book justice

What I love about this series (and this book in particular) is that it really gets under the skin of people and how they react to extreme circumstances and that is isn't afraid to tell things as they really are. I finding this particularly refreshing in Young Adult fiction which I have found can hold back at little bit at times which I find a little patronising.

This particular volume looks at fear and deals with the whole idea of what makes us really afraif through the story. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Astrid grew as a character throughout this story and love the person she is becoming.

I loved how this book is slightly different to those that went before it in how you nw get the odd chapter from the point of view of Connie Temple (Sam's mother). I found her story really fascinating and enjoyed looking at the Fayz in this new way.

Wow the ending was immense. I really wasn't expecting it at all and I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here.

A brilliant instalment to a series I love. I cannot wait to see how it all ends!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Guest Review: The Enemy by Charlie Higson

The Enemy by Charlie Higson
Published by Penguin





What if every adult under the age of 15 was transformed into a mindless, bloodthirsty zombie.  This story follows the plight of a group of children who find themselves living in a nightmare version of London where exactly this has happened.  One year on from the collapse of civilisation the children of London find themselves drawn into groups for survival, avoiding marauding adults while trying to find the essentials for living such as food and shelter.  This book explores how different groups of youngsters would deal with this scenario and how communities would be formed with conflicting ideas of how the human race should continue to survive.  The book deals equally with human-zombie confrontations as much as human-human ones.

This is a chilling read with a high body-count and graphic descriptions.  It is also a little unnerving to read not just what the adults will do if they were to catch you but also what the humans are prepared to do to one another to prolong their own existence.  Certainly the author has no qualms about killing off people, including multiple lead characters, just as the reader has gotten got to know them.  This leaves you wondering if anyone is safe.  Certainly each time someone fell under the onslaught of zombie hordes I really wasn’t certain whether or not they would be getting up again.

On the strength of this book I’ll certainly read the next.  Burning questions for me are:
  • What will happen as the children grow older and turn 15?
  • Why did the zombie outbreak occur in the first place?
  • Has the same devastation been observed across the rest of the world?


Guest review by Hadley