Wednesday, 30 April 2014

April Review

A mega reading month for me due to Easter Holidays and 8 PJ days in a row when the Connor household were all poorly. I've read some amazing stuff and been on a bit of a Aussie YA fix

Book read in April
58) 50 ways to find a lover by Lucy Anne Holmes (British Books Challenge)
59) Smart by Kim Slater (British Books Challenge)
60) Weirdos vs Bumskulls by Natasha Desborough (British Books Challenge)
61) Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton (British Books Challenge)
62) Sweet Damage by Rebecca James
63) Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
64) The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
65) Trouble on Cable Street by Joan Lingard (British Books Challenge)
66) Close to the wind by Jon Walter (British Books Challenge)
67) Notes from the teenage underground by Simmone Howell
68) To all the boys I've loved before by Jenny Han
69) Now you see me by Emma Haughton (British Books Challenge)
70) Out of the easy by Ruta Sepetys
71) This Old Thing by Dawn O'Porter
72) Feeling sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty
73) The Twice Lived Summer of Bluebell Jones by Susie Day (British Books Challenge)
74) Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
75) Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James
76) Popular by Maya Van Wagenen
77) Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
78) The Best Thing that never happened to me by Jimmy Rice and Laura Trait (British Books Challenge)
79) Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar

I adored several books this month. I loved both Keris's new book and the new weirdos book. I also loved To all the boys I've loved before lots. I've also been pleasantly surprised by Rebecca James's work this month. Both books were really dark and really surprising. I am definitely going to be looking out for more by her.

I did also have a run of two star books this month including popular, out of the easy and love letters to the dead which is really unusual for me. I rarely finish a book which would probably turn out to be two star because my reading attention span is really small. This month alone I think I've given up on over 10 books.

Reading so much much this month also means that I have nothing left on my day to day TBR pile. I might have to cave and use my kindle to do some reading. Either that or delve into the bookcase of unread or given up on books. It is  mostly filled with signed books I bought and then never fancied reading, second or third books in the series which I have read and forgotten book one because it was so long ago that I read book one or a variety of adult titles none of which I'm all that motivated to read at the moment. Oh well perfect excuse to go shopping for more books then!

Onto May. Wish me luck I am hosting my first two book events this month at school over the next two days. One for James Dawson and one for Laura Dockrill. I am insanely excited by both and am desperately hoping they go well.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Bookcase Showcase: Author Jeff Povey

Today's Bookcase Showcase comes from author Jeff Povey as part of the blog tour for his new book Shift


The mainly Ed McBain collection

“I scoured the internet, old bookshops, anywhere I could think of, to find all of McBain’s books.  I sourced interviews with him and read about his methods and how he went out with New York cops looking for stories or characters.  I thought he was amazing.  I’ve got a lot of Jack McDevitt there as well, a sci-fi writer I discovered in an old bookshop by accident.  I hadn’t really read sci-fi until then.  He got me hooked.”

The Jonathan Coe and Kate Atkinson picture

“You can’t not read Johnathan Coe at some stage.  Kate Atkinson is just a hero of mine. Oh dear, I just realised that my long forgotten novel is in these pictures (there were clearly a few that didn’t sell J).  I was actually focusing on Wodehouse – as anyone with a sense of humour should.”

Rufus the dog in the library

“Rufus was disappointed that there are no dogs in Shift.”

The Art Collection

“Sadly not mine.  My wife is an artist, two of my daughters are studying printmaking and illustration, and therefore we have quite a collection.  I do look through them though, and we have some intense debates about shows we have been to and collections that we have seen.  Things have been thrown during the course of these discussions.  But that’s art for you.”

The William Boyd picture

“I seem to have two copies of a William Boyd novel The Blue Afternoon.  I think that was because I bought one thinking my wife would like it and she did the same for me at the same time.  His film script for Stars and Bars was the first screenplay I was ever shown by a film company.  They were trying to teach me how screenplays were set down – and written of course.  I sat there with the script in my lap while the film played.  Whatever I learned that day has stood me in good stead all this time.  If I ever met William Boyd I would bore him with that story.”

“Also I bought the rights to Caro Fraser’s The Pupil and convinced Kudos Productions to back the development of it into a TV series.  It’s about a pupil in a law firm and it’s a great read with a fantastic character at its heart.  Sadly a legal series with John Thaw started filming around the same time and the chance disappeared.  I still think it would have made great television.  You can see many different authors here, and some I will have read to see if they could make great TV or even a film.  Others I just chanced across.”

Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: Bombmaker by Claire McFall

The English government have closed the borders with their Celtic neighbours. Any Celt found in England is branded with a tattoo, found twice they are executed. Scottish Lizzie is the 'property' of psychopathic London gang boss Alexander. Can Lizzie escape Alexander's deadly grip and at what price her betrayal?

My Thoughts
I wasn't sure when I first heard of this book but actually I really enjoyed it. Very gritty and very much a page turner.  

It is very much an older YA. The scenes with Lizzie and Alexander are uncomfortable where you see the way in which she is treated as he property used when he decides to and discarded when something better comes along. All the way through you get a real sense of dread for Lizzie and the way her life is whilst she is associated with Alexander and his gang.

The story says a lot about where our world could be heading if the economy continues to be poor and a lot about national identity and the way in which our society deals with foreigners who legitimately need help.

All in all a book I thoroughly enjoyed as it made me think. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Review: Breaking Butterflies by M Anjelais

The closest he will ever come to happiness is when he's hurting her. Will she let him? A beautiful and twisted story of first love and innocence lost--written when the author was just eighteen.

Sphinxie and Cadence. Promised to each other in childhood. Drawn together again as teens. Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic. Damaged. And diseased. When they were kids, he scarred her with a knife. Now, as his illness progresses, he becomes increasingly demanding. She wants to be loyal--but fears for her life. Only the ultimate sacrifice will give this love an ending

My Thoughts
I'm not sure I have the words for this one

It's like watching a car accident happen in front of your eyes. You want to look away but can't because you need to know what happens next.

Hands down the creepiest most intense relationship I've ever read about in a YA novel
and one that will stay with you for a long time after you finish it. I found myself oddly compelled to want to know more but wanted the ability to go in and pick up Sphinx and take her far away from this terrifying boy.

The role of the mothers was also a really interesting one in that it makes you think had their actions had been different would their children have been different in the way they lived out their lives.

All in all a really really creepy read which will make you think for a long time to come.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Books I can't wait to read

Here is my list of all the various titles that have caught my eye of late when browsing online which I cannot wait to get my hands on...

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most

Why I can't wait for it
I loved Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series and I love how different each of his titles are. Very much looking forward to giving this one a go.

Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar

 Imagine there is someone you like so much that just thinking about them leaves you desperate and reckless. You crave them in a way that's not rational, not right, and you're becoming somebody you don't recognise, and certainly don't respect, but you don't even care. And this person you like is unattainable. Except for one thing... He lives downstairs.

Abbie has three obsessions. Art. The ocean. And Kane.

But since Kane's been back, he's changed. There's a darkness shadowing him that only Abbie can see. And it wants her in its world.

A gothic story about the very dark things that feed the creative process

Why I can't wait for it 
Yes I know. I could by this tomorrow on kindle. I do know that but I hate kindle and this week I am in a wanting to reading all the aussie YA I can get my hands on phase and I adored Kirsty's Raw Blue. Can someone please publish this in the UK? 

Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon

Another scintillating tale from the bestselling author of The Longest Holiday and Lucy in the Sky.
Last year, Bronte left Sydney for a wedding in England, where she met newly single Alex. After a night of passion they parted ways, and Bronte returned to Australia.
Now working on a picture desk for a magazine in London, Bronte is about to meet her new colleague, who turns out to be all too familiar. Although awkward at first, as Alex is now engaged to the girl he was on a break from when they met, they soon become friends.
In her free time, Bronte is a wedding photographer, so Alex enlists her to do his wedding. Unable to refuse, Bronte is stuck with the job. But as the two get closer, and the wedding day looms, it is clear that Alex and Bronte have unfinished business.
Will Alex leave his bride at the altar, or will Bronte be forced to photograph the wedding of the man she herself should be marrying?

Why I can't wait for it
I only discovered Paige Toon in the last few months and have since read everything published by her that I can get my hands on. I am dying to get a copy of this!

Only Remembered by Michael Morpurgo

A timeless and seminal anthology of First World War literature for children fronted by the master of the period, Michael Morpurgo, and illustrated by acclaimed illustrator, Ian Beck.
     2014 will mark one hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. To mark the date, this beautiful anthology will collect favourite extracts, images and poems from some of the UK's leading cultural, political and literary figures.
     Poems, short stories, personal letters, newspaper articles, scripts, photographs and paintings are just some of the elements of this astonishing collection, with cover and artwork by renowned illustrator, Ian Beck. Among the many contributors are: Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, Sir Andrew Motion, Miranda Hart, Jacqueline Wilson, Anthony Horowitz, Eoin Colfer, Antony Beevor, Emma Thompson, David Almond, Dr Rowan Williams, Richard Curtis, Joanna Lumley, Raymond Briggs, Shami Chakrabarti and Sir Tony Robinson.

Why I can't wait for it
I have heard only good things about this book and I think it'll appeal to my historical side a lot. Looking forward to it a lot.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Review: Echo Boy by Matt Haig

Audrey's father taught her that to stay human in the modern world, she had to build a moat around herself; a moat of books and music, philosophy and dreams. A moat that makes Audrey different from the echoes: sophisticated, emotionless machines, built to resemble humans and to work for human masters. Daniel is an echo - but he's not like the others. He feels a connection with Audrey; a feeling Daniel knows he was never designed to have, and cannot explain. And when Audrey is placed in terrible danger, he's determined to save her. The Echo Boy is a powerful story about love, loss and what makes us truly human

My Thoughts
While I'm not certain this book was entirely for me I can certainly think of several people I'd happily recommend it to.

Echo boy is set in the future in a works where echos are used as robotic human like servants and starts dramatically with the death of the main character's parents at the hands of one of the echos. The story then follows her as she goes to stay with her uncle, the man who owns the company who produces echos and gets to the bottom of the murder.

The world presented in echo boy is a scary one especially do as it feels so real. The action is fast paced and the mystery side keeps you guessing.

That said, probably because it was scifi it didn't grip me as much as I would have liked. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Review: Goose by Dawn O'Porter

It's a year and a half on from Paper Aeroplanes, and Renée is now living with her Aunty Jo. They even have geese, and Renée likes to sit and watch them, wondering if she'll ever find 'the One' - someone who will love her no matter what, and be there for her no matter how bad things get. She and Flo are in their final year at school, and they've got some tough choices to make - like will they go to university? And if so where - and will they go together? Renée's usual ambivalence on the matter shocks Flo, who had assumed they'd continue as they were, the best and closest of friends, forever. She feels as though she needs Renée's support more than ever, so when a handsome young boy enters Flo's life, she finds herself powerfully drawn to his kindness, and his faith. Renée and Flo's friendship will soon be tested in a way neither of them could have expected - and if Paper Aeroplanes was a book about finding friendship, Goose is the novel that explores whether it's possible to keep hold of it

My Thoughts
I'm deliberately going to write a short review for this book today mostly because I don't want to spoil it for others.

Put simply I loved Goose. For me this book (and indeed its predecessor) perfectly encapsulate what it meant to be a teenager in the late 90s before mobile phones and the Internet became a normal part of our daily existence. I loved this book because you get a real feel for the time and for me it meant it was so realistic. I relate to the main characters so well because I can remember throwing in that spice girls tape and dressing up in the fashions mentioned whilst spending the weekend out and about socialising rather than spending it behind a screen. If for no other reason this is why I loved it.

I also loved that this book stood alone as a story. I struggle with series and it has been a while since I read book one and it was nice to be able to pick up where book one left off with reasonable ease.

All in all a book. I thoroughly enjoyed mostly because it made me feel like a teenager again.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Review: Don't look back by Jennifer Armentrout

What if you had the chance to start again...but only if you promised never to look back? Samantha is popular, rich, and seemed to have it all...until the night she and her best 'frenemy' Cassie disappeared and only Sammy resurfaced, with no recollection of who she is or what happened. Sammy's a stranger in her own life - a life she no longer wants any part of. Losing her memory is a chance to start again. Then Sammy begins receiving mysterious notes warning her about that night, urging her to not look back. But she can't let it go. As she starts poking around in her past she begins to remember...and something sinister begins to surface.

My thoughts
I literally had no idea what to expect from this author not having read any of her previous books but I was keen to read this book as lots of my blogger friends went nuts when it dropped through their letter boxes.

I don't want to say too much about this book for fear of spoiling it but I will say that it was an awesome read which kept me guessing right through until the very last pages. It's nice to have a thriller mystery where you don't guess the outcome from the very start. I loved finding out more about what happened and who was involved.

A special mention has to go to the adorable Carson whom I loved entirely from the very first moment he stepped onto the page. I also loved what this book had to say about popularity and why you pick to be friends with the people you do.

All in all a really enjoyable read.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Review: 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.

My thoughts
This review is deliberately short because of two reasons. Firstly I'm not certain I have the words to do it justice and secondly I don't want to spoil it for others.

You can always rely on a Cat Clarke novel to rip you to shreds emotionally. This was no exception. It's gritty and hard hitting throughout. The story itself is one of those where you just know from the outset that it isn't going to end well for the characters involved. The situations they find themselves in are impossible and you just know that whatever happens their lives are going to be changed forever.

The thing I loved about this book more than anything else is the way it explored teenage sexuality without labels. All too often people want to put a label on a person to define the person they love and I think this book showed so brilliantly well that often sexuality has as much to do with making a connection with an individual be they male or female rather than a conscious choice to be attracted to someone of the same sex. YA needs more of this please.

I adore the characters in this book and I loved the relationship that developed and desperately wanted to root for it whilst knowing all along that speeding towards an impossible place. I also loved that it was A UKYA novel not set in England. I loved the setting of Edinburgh and it has left me wanting to go back to visit again.

All in all a perfect YA novel which blew me away from the start, had me gripped until the end and left me in emotional tatters.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

My thoughts
A super sweet offering from an author who I have come to expect great things from. The Geography of You and Me was a quick and lovely little read which I enjoyed thoroughly.

The Geography of You and Me is the story of Owen and Lucy. They are very different and meet during a blackout when they both end up stuck in an elevator. I liked the contrast between the two and their backgrounds but also being the common ground they have in their stories. Both are quite lonely and being moved from place to place by dictated by their parents work.

The vast amount of the book the pair are separated whilst on their travels and their only communication being a series of postcards and email replies sent between the two. It was a really sweet idea and I liked seeing how their relationship developed in this unusual way.

For me the book was very much about seeing all the places the characters visited. I personally got very excited about seeing Edinburgh and London through Lucy's eyes and I loved the American Roadtrip feel of Owen's story.

All in all a book I very much enjoyed and an author I continue to follow with interest.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Bookcase Showcase: Author Tanya Landman

How do I organise my bookshelves?  I don’t.  How can I find anything?  I can’t.  Books are stacked all over the place, piled two or three deep on sagging shelves. Sometimes I worry that the sheer weight of them might bring the house down.

The bookshelf in this photo, however, is different. These are the sacred shelves to the right of my desk where I keep my hallowed collection of reference books (in fact there are another three shelves below these but they wouldn’t fit into the picture).  I like to have these volumes close to hand so I can keep checking things as I’m writing.

 It’s a wide-ranging mix of subject matter.  On the top shelf Special Effects rubs shoulders with The Treasures of the British Museum and the Concise Encyclopedia of the American Indian.   Ancient Egyptian Jewellery snuggles up to the Top 10 of Everything and The American Civil War.  What’s interesting is how they all feed into each other.

The Native American books date from the time I was researching for Apache.  Some are more useful than others, of course.  Frankly one or two ought to go into the bin, but I’ve never been good at getting rid of books.  Others, though  – like Eve Ball’s Indeh and In the Days of Victorio down there on the bottom shelf – are pure gold.

After finishing Apache I got interested in those very first moments of contact between Europeans and people from the ‘New World.’ Hence the many books on the Aztecs and the Spanish conquest of Mexico.  The Broken Spears – which gives the detailed accounts of Aztecs who saw the invasion and the destruction of their empire at first hand – gave me crucial insights into their society.  From these volumes grew The Goldsmith’s Daughter.

Some of the books that fed into Buffalo Soldier are there on the middle two shelves. While researching for Apache I came across references to ‘Negro soldiers’ in the US army. Wanting to know more about them I started reading books like Cox’s The Forgotten Heroes and Schubert’s Voices of the Buffalo Soldier along with Blassingame’s Slave Testimonials, Sojourner Truth’s Aint I a Woman?  Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Washington’s Up from Slavery and many, many others.

Gone With the Wind is there too.  I was taken to see the film when I was eleven and fell in love with Rhett Butler and the ball gowns!  After that, I read and re-read it, torturing myself over the agonies of doomed love (as you do) but skipping all the history bits and the political bits and the other bits that made me suspect that this wasn’t really how things had been. My original copy fell apart after being wept over once too often.  Reading it as an adult was a completely different experience and this edition is scribbled all over, the margin littered with exclamation marks, question marks and my outraged comments about the jaw dropping racism. In some ways Buffalo Soldier is my response to Gone With the Wind.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Book Break Episode 3 featuring Liz De Jager

Today at 12:30pm former Book Blogger Liz De Jager will be talking books on the third Book Break Episode Check it out below as it promises to be awesome.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Exciting News from Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

I got a really exciting email last week regarding a new book deal from Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. They have a new series coming out published by Random House in the UK in September called Magisterium. What a fantastic name! The first book will be called The Iron Trial and you can see the synopsis below.

About Magisterium Book 1: The Iron Trial 
Callum Hunt has grown up knowing three rules by heart. Never trust a magician. Never pass a test a magician gives you. And never let a magician take you to the Magisterium. Callum is about to break all the rules. And when he does, his life will change in ways he can’t possibly imagine. 

The Magisterium series is a five-book series of fantasy novels, one book for each year of Callum’s life as he struggles between the forces of good and evil, and discovers his true destiny.

The authors have spoken about the new series in a video which you can also see below

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Review: Going Over by Beth Kephart

In the early 1980s Ada and Stefan are young, would-be lovers living on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall--Ada lives with her mother and grandmother and paints graffiti on the Wall, and Stefan lives with his grandmother in the East and dreams of escaping to the West.

Just a quick review for this book.

I wanted to read this book purely for the historical setting and was excited to get stuck into it.

However it didn't quite do it for me. While I loved the setting I struggled to connect with the characters and therefore didn't get drawn in like I wanted to. Don't get me wrong it was beautifully written but something just didn't do it for me unfortunately.