Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 review

2013 has been a really busy year for me. I've been working on getting myself back up to full fitness after last year's leg break and work has been insanely busy. That said I still have managed to read loads (227 at time of writing this although I'm sure it'll go up over the last 8 days of the month) and get down to London for some events

This year I have taken my foot off the pedal a bit. I've been reading lots which I haven't bothered to review including some adult books and I must admit it has been nice. Scheduling ahead has worked brilliantly for me and my TBR pile has been all but annihilated meaning I've been able to read well ahead and do some work around 2014 releases both for Bookish Brits and for We Love This Book.

Thanks for all my lovely blogging friends including Sarah, Lyndsey, Carly, Raimy, Laura, Darren Andrew, Jesse, Sammee and Sophie. I'm glad we are all going strong blogwise and I don't know how I managed to keep sane without you guys about to fuss and coo over books all the time.

Thanks to all the Bookish Brits girlies and the opportunity you gave me to try out a new bookish adventure with Bookish Brits. I am amazed and so pleased at now much of a positive start with have made with the channel and am looking forward to more adventures.

Thanks to all my wonderful publishing contacts who keep me stocked up with reading material and want me to read and review their books. I never cease to be blown over my the opportunities you offer me.

Here's to an awesome 2014 reading year

Monday, 30 December 2013

December review

Another slowis month for me reading wise on the whole helped only by the Christmas holidays

213) Johnny be Good by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
214) Baby be Mine by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
215) Johnny's Girl by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
216) Cowgirl by Giancarlo Gemin (British Books Challenge)
217) The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
218) The Absolutist by John Boyne (British Books Challenge)
219) The Madness by Alison Rattle (British Books Challenge)
220) How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (British Books Challenge)
221) Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
222) Lucy in the Sky by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
223) Pictures of Lily by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
224) One Perfect Summer by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
225) One Perfect Christmas by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
226) Salvage by Keren David (British Books Challenge)
227) Defy the Stars by Sophie McKenzie (British Books Challenge)

Book Events Attended

None sadly (Although I do have a few lined up for January that should be super exciting)

Monday, 23 December 2013

2014 recommended reads

Just wanted to let you know about a couple of things I have been involved in of late recommending books released in 2014.

The first was a blog post on We Love This Book where I recommend my top 10 UKYA reads for early 2014. All of them were books I have recently read and loved.

I've followed this up with a Bookish Brits vlog recommending some 2014 reads. Be warned I get far too excited in parts of this video

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Best books of 2013

So with the end of 2013 almost upon us it is time for me to think about which of the numerous books I have read this year (total currently stands at 225 at time of writing this post) I loved the best. What follows, in no particular order are my best books of 2013. I deliberately am not going to include books with a 2014 release date as I'll deal with them in another blog post.

Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne

I loved this book entirely and devoured it in one sitting. It's set at a boarding school, it's twisty and turny and once I'd done it spent a long time thinking about it afterwards. Just fab.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Another thinker. I couldn't review at the time apart from saying "wow buy this" because I didn't have the words to do it justice. Just Brilliant YA fiction

Battlelines by Will Hill

I don't read much horror and barely anything supernatural but I do love this series. It is action packed and gory and keeps you on your edge of your seat throughout. The series keeps getting stronger and I am dying for the next instalment.

Where the stars still shine by Trish Doller

A beautiful story which hooked me in. I loved Alex in this and had to keep reading to know what happened next.

Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma 

This book is utterly heartbreaking and leaves you wanting to curl up in the corner and rock back and forth while you get over it.

Every Day by David Levithan

One book definitely worth all the hype that was around it. Really clever and a real thinker. I loved it.

Weirdos vs Quimboids by Natasha Desborough

Without a doubt the funniest book I have read this year. So funny and brilliant. Cannot wait for the sequel.

Heroic by Phil Earle

Another really moving book looking at post traumatic stress disorder and the long term effect going to war can have on some young soldiers. Every word is perfect.

Cruel Summer by James Dawson

A perfect beach read. Very point horror and kept me guessing right through to the end. Begs to be made into a teen horror film.

Rose under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Loved this book. The history geek in me was over the moon at it. Utterly harrowing and stays with you for a long time after.

If you want to see a wider range of books I loved this year check out the vlog below I did for BookishBrits zooming through my 5 star reads of 2013.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter

Are you more than the number on the back of your neck?

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered. The same one that got her killed…and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand

My thoughts
I have mixed feelings about this book. I think I liked it but I must admit I wasn't blown away.

Pawn is a dystopian story set in a future America where one family is in charge and people are given their place in the world based on a test they take at the age of 17. The world is interesting but I am now getting to the point where I feel a reader like dystopian has been over done for me and I'm not reading anything substantially different from all the other books on a similar theme.

This particular story focuses on Kitty who tested low on the test and was offered to improve her social status if she asked no questions. It led to her being made into a double of the daughter of the ruling family to help cover up her murder. It was really interesting to see how she dealt with becoming this new person but I really struggled to connect with her. I did enjoy that there were several twists which I didn't see coming at all and those were the reason why I kept reading to the end however as to whether I'll actually bother to pick up book the jury is still out.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Review: Crash into you by Katie McGarry

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

My thoughts ...

It appears the lengthy review I wrote after I read this back in September has gone astray so I'll leave you with a few short words on this on.

Put simply this was my favourite of the series and I loved getting to know the main characters and seeing their relationship develop over the course of the book. Fab throughout and left me wanting lots more. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Books I can't wait to read

Welcome to December's Books I can't wait to read post.

I have some real crackers this month. So many books I am just dying to read have had covers announced since I last did one of these posts. All links take you straight to goodreads so you can add them to your wishlists.

The Bubblewrap Boy by Phil Earle

Charlie Han's troubles are way bigger than he is. At school, he's branded an outsider, a loser - the tiny kid from the Chinese Chippy. His only ally is Sinus Sedgely, the only lad in school with a worse reputation than Charlie himself. Life at home isn't much better. His dad is better with a wok than he is with words, and his mum is suffocating the life out of Charlie, wrapping him in enough cotton wool to fill a pharmacy. But when a new passion leads Charlie to the mother of all confrontations, he finds his mum's been hiding a massive secret. A secret that whilst shocking, might actually lead Charlie to feeling ten feet tall. The Bubble Wrap Boy is about the terrors of friendship, family and one undersized boy's ability to think BIG...

Why I want this book
Put simply because it is written by Phil Earle. His books to date have been thoughtful and pack an emotional punch. I cannot wait to get my hands on this.

The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson by Paige Toon

Meet Jessie, the daughter of Johnny Jefferson, as featured in Johnny Be Good and Baby Be Mine…
My fifteenth birthday was the worst day of my life, and it's inconceivable to think that any single day in my future will ever be as bad. My mum was killed in a freak accident on her way to pick up my cake. Even when there was still no sign of her after two hours later, and my friends started to arrive at our house, it never occurred to me that she wouldn't be coming back.
That was six months ago. My mum died without telling me who my real dad was. And for a while I hated her for it. I thought she's taken the secret of my father's identity with her forever. But she didn't. Holy hell, she didn't. Because three weeks ago I found out the truth. And I'm still reeling from the shock of it. My dad is none other than Johnny Jefferson, mega famous rock star and one-time serial womaniser. And now I'm on my way to LA to meet him and his family.
My tiny little world has just got a whole lot bigger…

Why I want this book
Had you asked me two weeks ago if I was fussed with this book I would have told you no. However I met Paige Toon at the end of November and got copies of her adult books this title spins off from. I whizzed through them in the weekend and have since ordered all of the books currently published by her and have loved and flown through all of them. Cannot wait for this one now!!

 Say her name by James Dawson

 Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of 'Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear... But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror... five days... but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before... 

Why I want this book
Another book I need to read just because of who it is written by. I love James Dawson to pieces and even though I am worried this book will give me nightmares I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy.

Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens

Rose's granddad takes her on a trip to Ypres, Belgium to visit the graves of those who died in the Great War. It's the day before Valentine's Day, but Rose can sense the shattered old city beneath the chocolate-box new. And it seems that it can sense her too. When she goes up to her room that night, she hears the sound of marching feet and glimpses from her window a young soldier on his way to the front line..

What I want this book
The History Teacher part of me is so freaking excited to read this book and use it in the classroom. I take a bus load of kids out to visit the grave this book was inspired by and never fail to be moved by it.

Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Sam and Hannah only have the holidays to find 'The One'. Their lobster. But instead of being epic, their summer is looking awkward. They must navigate social misunderstandings, the plotting of well-meaning friends, and their own fears of being virgins for ever to find happiness. But fate is at work to bring them together. And in the end, it all boils down to love.

Why I want this book
Does it just look the cutest book out? I want it from the cover alone.

A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke

When Alex meets Kate the attraction is instant.

Alex is funny, good-looking, and a little shy – everything that Kate wants in a boyfriend.

Alex can’t help falling for Kate, who is pretty, charming and maybe just a little naive…

But one of them is hiding a secret, and as their love blossoms, it threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their lives.

Why I want this book
Because it is written by Cat Clarke. I love her books and always fly through them in a matter of hours because they are awesome.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Review: Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr

Goodreads Synopsis
It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

My thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed Roomies mostly because I loved seeing a friendship develop via emails. The story is split narrative and tells the story of two girls who get in contact after they are assigned to be roommates for the coming academic year and follows their story in the led up to their first day at college.

I particularly liked seeing how their friendship develops over the course of the book when the only contact they have is via the back and forth of emails. I liked seeing how intense it could get even though they hadn't met and I loved how it changed the nature of how they were with each other and the misconceptions both had about the other. It reminded me so much of when I had an email pen friend in the early days of the internet and of the friendship I had with her.

Really easy to read as you just keep wanting to know more

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

History Books I Rate: Victorian

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 Victorian period (some do slip into Edwardian too)

The Quietness by Alison Rattle

This book utterly fascinated me as a historian. It looks at Victorian baby farms and I was hooked right from the first page. As well as a fascinating story line the main characters were awesome and the ending is truly brilliant. I loved it.

Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

I adore this series and possibly like it more than his Dark Material series. Sally Lockhart is an awesomely brilliantl female lead and I loved her courage and they way she deal with the situations she is forced into. I loved the world building and could happily reread this series over and over again

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Another book featuring baby farms but also looking at the stigma surrounding unmarried mothers. I loved the side notes and was utterly hooked when reading this one. Felt very Pullman actually.

Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Chris Edge

This reminds me of a younger Ruby in the Smoke. There's a supernatural hint to the story which makes it appealing to a younger audience. I love Penny Treadwell. I want her and Sally Lockhart to team up!

Monday, 2 December 2013

We Love This Book: The best books of 2013

I just wanted to highlight for you the list of The best books of 2013 posted on We Love This Book today.

It is a list of 10 books picked by 10 UK bloggers picking out their favourite read of 2013 and I am featured on it talking about Heroic by Phil Earle. Check it out here