Sunday, 30 June 2013

June review

A busy month for me workwise which has really impacted on my reading. Never mind next month it'll go crazy again!

Read in June

98) Weirdos and Camel Toes by Natasha Desborough (British Books Challenge)
99) After Eden by Helen Douglas (British Books Challenge)
100) The Essence by Kim Derting
101) Every day by David Levithan
102) Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider
103) The Sound by Sarah Alderson (British Books Challenge)
104) Split Second by Sophie McKenzie (British Books Challenge)
105) All our yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
106) The Dark Judges by John Wagner (British Books Challenge)
107) the screaming staircase by Jonathan Stroud (British Books Challenge)
108) The boy on the wooden box by Leon Leyson

Book events
I went to a blogger's brunch at Simon and Schuster which was fab and brilliant. I got several fab titles to work my way through and got to meet Sophie McKenzie again and Candy Harper for the first time. I also got to hang out with some of my favourite people which was lovely

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Review: Gloss by Marilyn Kaye

New York, 1963.
Fashion, music and attitudes are changing, and there's nowhere in in the world more exciting. Sherry, Donna, Allison and Pamela have each landed a dream internship at Gloss; America's number-one fashion magazine.

Each girl is trying to make her mark on New York and each finds herself thrown head-first into the buzzing world of celebrity, high-end fashion and gossip. But everything isn't as glamorous as it seems - secrets from the past threaten to shatter their dreams.

They're finding out that romance in New York is as unpredictable and thrilling as the city itself.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed gloss for a variety of reasons.

I loved the time period it was set in and I did find myself absolutely as instead by the mindset of the girls in the book based on the world they had been brought up in. It was really telling when they were really worried about how they might be seen especially by men if they were out in the world earning a living for themselves and their world outlook for their future was really indicative of the values of the time that they had grown up with. For me the social history that came with this book really made it for me.

I really liked how the book flitted between the stories of the four different girls who were all quite different. It made things interesting to see their different stories and added more to the story as a whole than had you stuck with one. That said I did think a times things were a little bit rushed and I would have liked a bit more on each of them in more depth as there was so much more story to tell.

I loved how the book loved at the world of fashion which from the outside you'd presume would be all glitzy and glamorous but actually isn't. It's really interesting to see the ways in which they girls respond to the more mundane existence of being an intern stuck doing the jobs no one else wants to do all day without actually being paid for it.

All in all a nice summery read set in a really interesting historical setting. Definitely worth a look.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Review: Dusk by Eve Edwards

Dusk by Eve Edwards is a beautiful love story set against the brutal back drop of WWI.

A love worth fighting for.

When Helen, a young hard-working nurse, meets aristocratic artist Sebastian, she doesn't expect to even like him, let alone fall in love. But against the troubled backdrop of wartime London, an unlikely but intense romance blossoms. And even the bloody trenches of the Somme, where they are both posted, cannot diminish their feelings for each other.

But Helen is concealing a secret and when a terrible crime is committed there are devastating consequences for them both.

When lives are being lost, can true love survive?

My thoughts
I have really mixed feelings on this book

In someways I really loved it. I loved the fact it was written about World War One. I loved the medical history stuff and the history geek in me was happily entertained by both of these things for the entire book. I loved the main characters who the story follows both the charming and elegant Sebastian and the lovely and feisty Helen. I loved how the story flitted backwards and forwards between time period building up the story as a whole as it went along and in someways it was the perfect book for me. I can see myself recommending this series far and wide but especially at school for the student I teach to compliment work we do on World War One.

However the ending left me so frustrated as it feels it just ends and the story as a whole doesn't feel complete. I know it is the first book in a series and I get that but as a reader I still want that first book to be complete within itself with the possibility of more left open. It's almost make me want to recommend to others to wait for the rest of the series to be published before reading it.

So definitely a book I enjoyed and would recommend but maybe hold off for now if you hate cliffhangers as much as I do.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Review: The moon and more by Sarah Dessen

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

My Thoughts
I was so excited to receive this for review in the post not long back and picked it up straight away expecting to devour it in one greedy sitting as I seem to have done with every other Sarah Dessen I have read but alas it did not happen.

For me I felt that this book was a bit samey as the rest if the Colby series - female teen protagonist, a few gorgeous boys, things don't run quite smooth, bit of moping, bit of happy, a bit of aren't drama along the way. Don't get me wrong I did happily read it and even enjoy it but I wasn't desperate to finish it neither did I need to know what happened next. It could be me as I'm struggling to find the time to read at the moment so whenever something comes along that isn't compelling I get a bit grumpy at it for holding up my reading speed. It could also be that maybe I had too high expectations for it. Nevertheless I must admit I wasn't wowed by this book which is a shame because I was so looking forward to it.

Certainly one to hunt down if you are a Sarah Dessen fan or a nice read for your summer holidays as it's set on the beach and has nice summer vibe but certainly not my favourite Sarah Dessen. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Review: The Essence by Kim Derting

“Danger, dread, mystery, and romance” (Booklist) continue in the second book of The Pledge trilogy, as Charlie’s reign is under siege from the most unusual of enemies.
At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.

Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.

My thoughts
I won't say too much about this book for fear of spoiling either this or the first book in the series. I must say I did enjoy getting back to the world of the essence and finding out more about Charlie's story. I do wish I had had the time to reread book one before starting this as I'm sure there were certain parts of this of the book which were lost completely on me.

I did feel a bit like this title had a bit of second book syndrome about it which left me a little bit disappointed but I am still excited to read the final book in the series to finish it off.  I do really enjoy the twist this series has in that the world at large is based on a matriarchal society and the historian in me loves all the tradition and bits at court.

Looking forward to seeing where the story finishes up

Review: Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham

This is the first book in a major new series. "Lost" meets "Gossip Girl". I jump at the sound of a whispered voice over my shoulder. But when I turn round all I see is sand, and the towering, green wall of the rainforest. I guess it must have been the breeze, but I can't help shivering. I have the weirdest feeling that we're being watched. Grace Delaney and her fellow dance students are en route to perform on a South Pacific cruise-ship when a freak storm hits and they find themselves stranded on a deserted island. With the tropical heat rising, passions and tensions swell to breaking point. And the island itself is quietly steaming with a terrible secret...

My Thoughts
The press release for this is bang on when it describes this book as gossip girl meets lost. A group of teen dancers are shipwrecked onto a tropical and oh so slightly sinister island and the story follows them as they adjust to their new settings.

The story is told from the point of view from Grace. Grace and her friends are hilarious to follow as they find themselves shipwrecked. The group immediately splits into cliques, the bitchy rich ones in one corner, the nice but poor scholarship students in the other with grace stuck in the middle. Just being on the island heightens those differences rather than seeking to bring them together and seeing their differing reactions is brilliant and pure comedy gold.

I liked seeing how grace grew as a character as the book went on and couldn't help but swoon with her over the very hot Spanish boy who is shipwrecked with them.

Not only are the teenagers shipwrecked they are shipwrecked on a very creepy island. It become apparent very quickly that not everything is as it seems. There are so many spooky things going on and it takes a while for you to get your head round which of the things are real, which are imagined and which a caused something else. I loved finding out more about this spooky element and have many many more questions that I am hoping are answered in book two.

A fab read and something really different and unexpected from an author I thought I knew.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Review: The Originals by Cat Patrick

I glance at the three baby portraits in thick wooden frames.
I feel a familiar prickling on the back of my neck.
Because I know there's another picture somewhere - and the baby in that photo looks identical to the babies on the wall.
Somewhere, there's a photo of the original.

Ella, Betsy and I look like sisters: triplets, you might think.
But that's not what we are at all.
We are clones in hiding. We split our lives and exist as one person in the outside world. And we've always been happy.
But now I've fallen head-over-heels in love . . . and that changes everything.
Because, to let love in, I need to be allowed to be Me

My Thoughts
Just a quick review today on this one.

Cat Patrick is one of those authors I always seem to enjoy and I find her writing style really suits me and I find myself devouring her books pretty quickly. To a certain extent this book was no exception. I loved the ideas and the characters and I couldn't wait to find out more about what was happening. This book is the story of three clones living in hiding by pretending to be the same person. Each of the girls takes a third of the day she she gets to go out into the world and live a part of one life. As you can imagine it is a really interesting set up. They can't get too close to people, they have to follow strict routines and when they aren't out during their designated time slot they are stuck at home being homeschooled. Despite the problems the whole thing works. That is until two of the girls start to fall for different boys. Obviously 'one person' can date both of them and they have to decide which boy to go for.

As I said I really did enjoyed the concept behind the book and it had some really nice ideas about identity and being your own person which was especially interesting because the girls where technically the same when it came to DNA but actually were very different. However the reason why I didn't love this book was because of the ending. The whole thing resolved too nicely, too quickly and I felt like the author copped out a bit to give everyone a happy ending.

All in all definitely worth a read especially if you a already a Cat Patrick fan but certainly not my favourite book of hers. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Review: The 5th wave by Rick Yancey

The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up

My Thoughts

I'm going to say it .....

I did not get the hype at all that surrounds this book even though I wanted to dearly.

I must say for me I found the whole story a little bit samey as other books and TV series on a similar theme and I actually found myself skimming pages as I was getting bored. Yes there were some nice twists that kept me reading but even so they weren't enough to wow me in any way. I didn't really feel like I connected with any of the characters which meant I really didn't care what happened to them.

I got really confused because I didn't realise that the book was split narrative which meant when the voice changed the first time I was utterly confused and really didn't have a clue what was going on and them by the time I twigged I was actually a bit cross at the book for confusing me.

So not really the book for me. I did enjoy it enough to finish it but I'm not sure I'll actively seek out any sequels

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Blog Tour: Gloss by Marilyn Kaye author guest post

I’ve been writing books for young people for 30 years, and people have frequently asked me, “do you have teenagers,” or “do you work with teenagers?”  When I reply “no” to both questions, they’re surprised, and they want to know how I can write for and about teens when I’m not around them on a daily basis.  I reply, “because I was a teen.”  I believe that teens today face the same problems I faced: a concern for how we look, how are bodies are changing, how we care about what others think.  Rebellion, peer pressure, sexuality, identity – these are all concerns of teens, today, yesterday, forever.
        But I have to admit, there are differences between the world I lived in as a teen, and the world the teen today faces.  And that was my inspiration for writing Gloss – to show teens today that the teens of my time faced the same predicaments, but in a different world.
        Different how?  Well, for one thing, in terms of technology.  We didn’t have mobile phones or even answering machines for our phones at home.  So if you were hoping a certain guy might call and ask you out, you stayed home and by the phone, yelling at your parents or siblings if they kept the line busy.  If you had a favorite TV program, you had to be home at the time it was broadcast – you couldn’t tape it to watch later.  We didn’t have personal computers – if you had to get information, you went to the library.
        We didn’t use birth control pills, and abortion was illegal.  So we were a lot more hesitant about becoming intimate with our boyfriends – the potential consequences were huge.  Girls were expected to be virgins when they married, and marriage was the goal.  In doing research for Gloss, I obtained copies of magazines that were popular at the time.  I’d read these same magazines when I was 15, but I’d forgotten about all the ads for the silverware and china patterns you’d want when you got engaged.  Even at the age of 15, you were supposed to be thinking about these things!
        Marriage was important because there weren’t that many other options for girls.  There were careers like teaching or nursing that were considered acceptable, but a fortunate girl only engaged in these activities until she could get married, become a housewife and raise children.
        Some people think life was simpler for girls then.  There were rules that were accepted and followed.  For example, nice girls didn’t go “all the way”, and nice boys didn’t expect them to.  But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have the same needs, the same desires that girls have today – so maybe it wasn’t all that simple.
        In writing Gloss, I wanted to write about four ordinary girls who have the same feelings, the same concerns, the same joys as girls today, but who live in a time when the “rules” were different.  I hope readers today will identify with them, and see how circumstances can influence their decisions. 
        I hope I succeeded.  I hope you’ll let me know if I did.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Review: Gilt by Katherine Longshore

In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free--
and love comes at the highest price of all.

When Kitty Tylney's best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII's heart and brings Kitty to court, she's thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat's shadow, Kitty's now caught between two men--the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat's meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

My Thoughts
I must admit I have been putting off reading this book for a while. I love historical fiction when it is good but I am always apprehensive in case particular stories aren't so I often find I need to be in the right mood for them. As it happens I am currently watching the Tudors on DVD and the series which is about the same time period as this book is set so I finally decided I was in the right frame of mind to pick this one up.

The history geek in me loved this book. It is reasonably accurate in the portrayal of events and people it portrays. The storyline is fast and pacy and keeps you wanting to read more and more. I loved getting into the intrigue at Henry VIII's court and loved that this book was about one of the wives who isn't as frequently featured in books or TV shows which meant I wasn't reading a story that I already knew back to front.

Definitely a book I will be recommending in future both as a YA reader but also as a History Teacher. 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Review: Parallel by Lauren Miller

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach

My Thoughts
Quite honestly I loved this book. It's a time travel novel for teens and couldn't have been more perfect for me as I loved The time between us and the time travellers wife.

The entire story is based around the idea that some decisions, even ones we think are insignificant, can change our lives and the path we follow completely. In this book We follow Abby. Abby had a plan but due to a scheduling change on her timetable on the first day or her last year at high school she ends up following a totally different and totally unexpected path. That is until one evening when something happens and she wakes up and finds her life has changed completely again. To cut a long story short it turns out that two parallel worlds have collided and because of the different decisions past Abby now makes it changes the path future Abby is now on radically. Yes it sounds insane and really complicated and to start with you have to get your head round it all but actually once you are a few chapters in it totally makes sense. My biggest tip is take note of the dates at the start of each chapter.

I won't tell you too much about what happens but I will say I loved the story as a whole. The sciencey bits all make sense and the concept behind the story was really interesting. I loved Abby as a character, loved the love story that develops over the book and I really particularly loved Abby's best friend Caitlin mainly because she was both gorgeous and geeky.

A fab page turner which I literally couldn't put down.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

My  Thoughts

I have stupidly left this review far too long after reading the book and therefore this review is going to have to be short not because I didn't enjoy it but because my poor brain is so tired of late it can't remember all the things I was going to say.

In short I really enjoyed this book. I loved it as much as book one and cannot wait to see where the series is going next. I love america as a character and love following her story. I love all the political stuff that lies behind the main story and the whys and wherefores of the world the book is set in. I do have to say I am totally as Team Maxon girly and I do want to shake America a little bit for not jumping on that bandwagon from the outset and am still desperately hoping that is where is ends up.

All in all a fab sequel which I enjoyed thoroughly.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Review: The Savages by Matt Whyman

They'd love to have you for dinner . . .

Sasha Savage is in love with Jack - a handsome, charming ... vegetarian. Which wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that Sasha's family are very much 'carnivorous'. Behind the family facade all is not as it seems. Sasha's father rules his clan with an iron fist and her mother's culinary skills are getting more adventurous by the day. When a too-curious private detective starts to dig for truths, the tight-knit family starts to unravel - as does their sinister taste in human beings . . .

My Thoughts
This book is an example of black humour at its best. The Adams family meets Desperate Housewives. I loved every page and will be highly recommending it in the future.

Sasha's family are odd ... So odd that when Sasha gets a new boyfriend she isn't keen for him to meet them especially considering he is a vegetarian and her family are big meat eaters and she has decided to join him in his vegetarianism. While to some families this wouldn't be a problem to Sasha's family and particularly her father it is seen as a complete rejection of their whole family way of life.

I loved the family involved in the book and I loved getting to know them and their unusual ways as the book went on. You really had to feel for Sasha is what she deals with .... Think all the worries you had as a teenager about your family being embarrassing and triple them! All the characters within the family are brilliant, the shopaholic mother, the crazy old grandfather and her evil little brother who is a particularly nasty piece of work.

I won't say too much about the story or what happens as whatever I say will spoil it but rest assured it is brilliant. I found myself laughing all the way through about the variety of things that went on and was left by the end of the book completely impressed at how fabulous a read it was. Definitely well worth a look when it is published in June.