Saturday, 30 November 2013

November review

A slow month for me reading wise. Work has been crazy not leaving a lot of time for reading

Books read
196) Witchfinder by Ruth Warburton (British Books Challenge)
197) All I Want for Christmas by Esme Taylor (British Books Challenge)
198) The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis (British Books Challenge)
199) Dead Ends by Erin Lange
200) Tape by Steve Camden (British Books Challenge)
201) This song will save your life by Leila Sales
202) The Engagements by J Courtney Sullivan
203) Boys don't Knit by Tom Easton (British Books Challenge)
204) The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop
205) Leopold Blue by Rosie Rowell
206) A boy called Hope by Lara Williamson (British Books Challenge)
207) How to be a woman by Caitlin Moran (British Books Challenge)
208) Finding Jennifer Jones by Anne Cassidy (British Books Challenge)
209) When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan (British Books Challenge)
210) Running Girl by Simon Mason (British Books Challenge)
211) The Black Crow Conspiracy by Chris Edge (British Books Challenge)
212) Before we met by Lucie Whitehouse (British Books Challenge)

Events attended
I will be at the Simon and Schuster blogger brunch today. Cannot wait to see all my lovely blogging friends

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Review: Everyone a Stranger by Victor Watson

I thoroughly enjoyed everyone a stranger and it was the perfect book to finish a series I have adored from start to finish.

Everyone a stranger is set at the end of the Second World War and finishes off Molly, Adam and Abigail's story. I loved several things about it. I loved how the book really got across this sense of people looking forward to a brave new world. The way it discusses the way in which people were keen to vote for labour and tackle the five giants as set out by William Beveridge's report is brilliant. You really get the idea that people, having given up everything for the war effort, were now wanting better for the country and themselves in the future and were keen to vote for it even if that meant ousting the Great War leader Churchill to do so.

This book was more grown up and darker in its feel than previous books and you really get the sense that these characters whom you've followed over the previous books have grown up and are about to become adults. The way in which they perceive their future and start making plans for who they want to be is really fascinating to see.

This book had a nice touch in that it has small parts set in the future and enables you to look back and see how things turned out for the characters. I like it as a touch especially as it wasn't done in a cheesy way.

All in all a fantastic series which I would thoroughly recommend for anyone who loves stories set in the Second World War. Unlike other series set in this time period I love how they are a bit tamer meaning they are perfect for younger teens but at the same time they aren't trivial and give the reader lots to think about and reflect on. Perfect for your budding historians

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Review: Dark Satanic Mills by Marcus and Julian Sedgwick

Goodreads Synopsis
Set in a near-future Britain, Dark Satanic Mills tracks a young girl's journey from the flooded landmarks of London to the vast, scorched and abandoned hills of the north. Framed for a murder she did not commit, the innocent and beautiful Christie has no other choice but to run for her life. Both a cautionary tale and a rip-roaring road trip, Dark Satanic Mills is altogether an intelligent, captivating and thrilling ride - The Wizard of Oz for a new generation, told in exhilarating shades of light and dark.

Dark Satanic Mills is a grim, brooding story of an England, very different yet still recognisable as our own, that has suffered acute environmental disaster.  This has been exploited by an opportunistic, fanatical religion known as The True Church who control the country through propaganda, fear and violence.  It is not dissimilar from V for Vendetta or 1984 – although in both those cases it was the state who were the totalitarian authority as opposed to a fascistic religion.
This has all been presented in a stunningly illustrated (for the most part in a black and white chiaroscuro) 176 page graphic novel.  It is extremely well written and rife with religious and literary references.  This tale of a dark future serves as a warning to allowing too much power wrest with any single body.

You'll love this if you loved
1984 by George Orwell
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

Monday, 25 November 2013

Review: Linked by Imogen Howson

For years, Elissa has suffered nightmarish visions and unexplained bruises. Finally, she's promised a cure, and an operation is scheduled. But on the eve of the procedure, Elissa discovers the truth: she's seeing the world through another girl's eyes. A world filled with wires, machines and pain. Elissa follows her visions, only to find a battered, broken girl. A girl who looks exactly like her. A twin she never knew existed. Elissa and her twin Lin go on the run, but even after changing their looks and clothes, they're barely a step ahead of the government agents who are ruthlessly tracking them down. For Lin and Elissa are too valuable to let go, and the dark truth at the heart of it all is too shocking to risk exposing..

My thoughts
Linked was an interesting read for me. I received it for review months ago and somehow never managed to get around to it until now.

Linked has bold ideas. The world it is set in is near future where a strict government imposes strict rules on a world where resources are precious and limited. As with most dystopian novels everything isn't quite as nice as it seems on the surface and once you start to dig a bit deeper you start to see the extent of the seedy underbelly of the society.

Whilst I loved the world setting and the ideas behind the world for me this book didn't quite do it. I never quite managed to click with the main characters and actually found the whole thing a bit too long winded and boring in places to keep me from lapsing into skim reading, never a good sign I'm afraid. That said I would be intrigued to see where the story as a whole is going and wouldn't rule out the possibility of reading the next book in the series if it ended up in my hands.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Being bullied by your friends

This week gone was anti-bullying week and my lovely vlogging team have been working on a whole variety of videos around the theme of bullying (and will continue to do so over the next week). Mine went up Thursday and is about being bullied by your friends and highlights two of my favourite books that deal with this issue.

On a personal note Anti-bullying week is a special one for me. I had a rubbish time at high school as a result of friends who were slyly unpleasant to me without my realising which was not in the least fun at the time and continued to effect me a long time afterwards (even now it hits me from time to time).

From a work point of view Anti-bullying week has also been a busy one. I have been involved in running our school peer support team for a few years now which I was keen to take on when it was offered. The kids involved are amazing and over this week we have been super busy promoting anti-bullying messages across the school and further afield which was fab.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

THE ISOBEL JOURNAL is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author's sketches, mini-graphic novels, photographs and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: 'Love', 'Friends, Art and Otters' and 'Me'.

Resonant of Laura Dockrill's MISTAKES IN THE BACKGROUND and with the powerful naïve illustrative style of cult Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, this is a collector's gift for teenagers and all who have the teenage experience still in their hearts. Readers will emphasise with this witty and honest journal of a girl getting to grips with impending adulthood. A must-have for all hipster teenagers and anyone who appreciates the raw creativity of youth. Enchanting and poignant.

My review
It says my review above this. That isn't actually accurate as I'm not fully sure how to review this book so it is less a review and more of a heads up for those of you who haven't checked this book out yet. I got it last week and thoroughly enjoyed every page and was entertained throughout. A real snapshot into the brain of a ordinary teenager and well worth a purchase.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Finding it by Cora Carmack

Kelsey Summers is looking for love in all the wrong places.

Spending a few months travelling around Europe - with no parents, no responsibilities and a no limit credit card - Kelsey's having the time of her life.

But when she completely embarrasses herself in front of the hottest guy she's ever seen, she soon realises there's more to life than the next party.

What she doesn't realise is that although she's on a journey to find herself, she will end up finding The One...

My thoughts
A really brief review for my favourite book of the series so far. I really liked the main characters and their relationship. I loved that it didn't have an American setting an it made want to go on an European trip to see all the things the characters saw. The chemistry was sizzling and there are certainly scenes with some smoking hot action going on. If you aren't sure about NA books and want a good place to start this is it.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Books I can't wait to read

I always have a wishlist of future titles I am desperate to read and I thought from time to time I'd share the books I am most looking forward to. All links go to goodreads so you can add them to your wishlist

Banished by Liz De Jager

Sworn to protect, honour and slay. Because chaos won’t banish itself…

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

I literally cannot wait for this book to be published. I'm going to say it up front I love Liz. She is a book blogging hero and inspiration and I am so so so excited for her that her book is soon to be published.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

 Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Yes it is an adult book. No I don't often read those however. I have only recently read through everything I can get my hands on by Rainbow Rowell and run out. I need this book in my life 

Running Girl by Simon Mason

Meet Garvie Smith. Highest IQ ever recorded at Marsh Academy. Lowest ever grades. What's the point, anyway? Life sucks. Nothing ever happens.

Until Chloe Dow's body is pulled from a pond.

DI Singh is already on the case. Ambitious, uptight, methodical - he's determined to solve the mystery and get promoted. He doesn't need any 'assistance' from notorious slacker, Smith.

Or does he?

I don't know a lot about this book. I just know I want it! I've heard so many good things on twitter.

When Mr Dog bites by Brian Conghan

Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. For Dylan, life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that escapes whenever he gets stressed. And, as a sixteen-year-old virgin and pupil at Drumhill Special School, getting stressed is something of an occupational hazard.

But then a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he's going to die next March.

So he grants himself three parting wishes: three ‘Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It’.

It isn’t a long list, but it is ambitious, and he doesn't have much time. But as Dylan sets out to make his wishes come true, he discovers that nothing – and no-one – is quite as he had previously supposed.

A story about life, death, love, sex and swearing, When Mr Dog Bites will take you on one *#@! of a journey . .

Another book I don't know huge amounts about but definitely one I am excited about from Twitter Buzz

The Madness by Alison Rattle

Sixteen-year-old Marnie lives in the idyllic coastal village of Clevedon. Despite being crippled by a childhood exposure to polio, she seems set to follow in her mother's footsteps, and become a 'dipper', escorting fragile female bathers into the sea. Her life is simple and safe. But then she meets Noah. Charming, handsome, son-of-the-local-Lord, Noah. She quickly develops a passion for him - a passion which consumes her.

As Marnie's infatuation turns to fixation she starts to lose her grip on reality, and a harrowing and dangerous obsession develops that seems certain to end in tragedy. Set in the early Victorian era when propriety, modesty and repression were the rule, this is a taut psychological drama in which the breakdown of a young woman's emotional state will have a devastating impact on all those around her.

I loved Alison's first YA book and I cannot wait for this one. The historian in me is super excited 

Before we Met by Lucie Whitehouse

Hannah, independent, headstrong, and determined not to follow in the footsteps of her bitterly divorced mother, has always avoided commitment. But one hot New York summer she meets Mark Reilly, a fellow Brit, and is swept up in a love affair that changes all her ideas about what marriage might mean.

Now, living in their elegant, expensive London townhouse and adored by her fantastically successful husband, she knows she was right to let down her guard.

But when Mark does not return from a business trip to the U.S. and when the hours of waiting for him stretch into days, the foundations of Hannah’s certainty begin to crack. Why do Mark’s colleagues believe he has gone to Paris not America? Why is there no record of him at his hotel? And who is the mysterious woman who has been telephoning him over the last few weeks?

Hannah begins to dig into her husband’s life, uncovering revelations that throw into doubt everything she has ever believed about him. As her investigation leads her away from their fairytale romance into a place of violence and fear she must decide whether the secrets Mark has been keeping are designed to protect him or protect her . . 

Another book for grown ups. I read a book by this author ages ago and loved it enough to want to read more by her

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Review: Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself ...of the wolfish predator within. But he's also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him. A deftly woven, elegant, unnerving psychological thriller about a boy at war with himself. Charm and Strange is a masterful exploration of one of the greatest taboos

My thoughts
I'm not sure I have the words to review this so this review will be brief.

This book thoroughly messed with my brain and I think I need a few days to get my head around it all. It's very clever and says a lot about mental health and the perceptions of people with mental illness within society. It is told in a really clever way and generally made me think quite a bit. Definitely recommended for that alone.

Monday, 11 November 2013

History Books I rate: Tudors

Some of you might know I teach History at High School. I love finding good YA historical fiction which I can use in the classroom if only to recommend to my students as wider reading.

I do however find that I can be very critical of historical fiction and I do find myself having to give up on books others have raved about because I can't get over historical inaccuracies or stories where events are treated lightly.

This month I have a selection of books set in and around the Tudor Period

YA Titles

Gilt by Katherine Longshore
I really enjoyed this book and its companion Tarnish. I loved how it looked at the story of Henry VIII in a slightly different way from the way the story is usually told.

Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
I have a bit of a love hate relationship with this book. I love its potential to engage teenage girls who are into paranormal romance into historical fiction. However I hate the role of Elizabeth I in it and it really bothers the historian in me.

VIII by HM Castor
I freaking love VIII. It looks at Henry VIII from a young man right the way through his reign and challenges the stereotypes we always see about Henry VIII. It's not to say that he didn't become those things but it also looks at him as the young, desirable and powerful man he started out as.

Traitor's Kiss by Pauline Francis
I must admit I cannot for the life of me remember too much about this plot. I do know it is about a young Elizabeth I and I do remember flying through it and really enjoying it and thinking about how I could use it at school.

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards
I loved this series. It has a Downton feel but set in Tudor England. I loved the scandal and gossip and seeing the ways in which the people lived at the time. Definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Review: Dare to You by Katie McGarry

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...

My thoughts
I meant to read this book as soon as it came out I really did but it didn't happen. It is a companion to Katie's first book (which is a good thing as I can't remember at all what happened in the first book) focusing on the story of Beth whom you met in the first book.

Beth is a damaged soul. She has grown up being treated like a punch bag by her mother's boyfriend and spent her teenage years dragging her mother out of bar at e rely hours of the morning, feeding her, being responsible for the bills and acting like the adult in their relationship. Things come to a head when the police are involved and Beth gets arrested whilst trying to protect her mother and she ends up living with her uncle Scottt. Beth is not at all happy about the situation to say the least.

Beth is moved to a new school with Ryan the baseball playing popular kid whom she met incidentally a fe nights previously when he was dared and failed to get her phone number. From here on out you see their relationship develop.

What I love about this book is how you see Beth change. She starts out this fragile and wreck of a girl hiding behind a really tough exterior but over the course of the book with Ryan's influence she begins to soften. I loved seeing their relationship develop complete with all the hotness that occurred regularly. I also enjoyed delving into Ryan's story in a bit more depth and seeing how his perfect life wasn't all what it first seemed. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him stand up to his father and make the decisions he wanted to rather than the ones he was told to.

A fab read I really enjoyed. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Reading for myself update

You may remember at the start of September I posted saying I had gone through a stage of reading a lot of books I had bought myself and not reviewed them to take a bit of pressure off. I have continued to do this over the next two months and just wanted to update on here everything I have read of late and not reviewed.

So what have I been reading for myself of late

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
not my favourite Sarah Dessen unfortunately
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Liked the ideas but wasn't blown away
All these things I've done by Gabrielle Zevin (reread)
I love this series. I reread this so I could read the second book in the series I also loved

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This is as good as everyone says. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Where the stars still shine by Trish Doller
I also loved this book. Really thoughtful and made me think.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Not for me as it was fantasy but never mind
The Offering by Kim Derting
I must admit I was a little bit disappointed with it as the end to the series. I wanted a lot more and felt it was a bit rushed. 
Divergent by Veronica Roth (reread)
Loved this as much as the first time round.
I must admit this is such a second in the series book that I got quite bored with it. It was better reading it back to back with the first book but even still.