Monday, 30 June 2014

June Review

A very busy month for me workwise so my reading this month has slowed way down. Had a strong start to the month because I was off on half term holiday and then on a work trip with 6hr round trip commute but then work so stupidly busy and I read nothing for two weeks that made me sad. Never mind summer holidays and lots of reading time are almost insight now!

Books read
92) Serenity: Those left behind by Joss Whedon 
93) Serenity: Better Days by Joss Whedon
94) Serenity: The Shephards Tale by Joss Whedon
95) On the Fence by Kasie West
96) Delete by Kim Curran (British Books Challenge)
97) No place to fall by Jaye Robin Brown
98) Only remembered by Michael Morpurgo (British Books Challenge)
99) Divergent Movie Companion
100) Inside Divergent
101) Diary of a Mall Girl by Luisa Plaja (British Books Challenge)
102) Every second counts by Sophie McKenzie (British Books Challenge)
103) Summer's Shadow by Anna Wilson (British Books Challenge)
104) This Book is Gay by James Dawson (British Books Challenge)
105) Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve (British Books Challenge)
106) Unstoppable by Liz Bankes (British Books Challenge)
107) Shut out by Kody Keplinger
108) Fashion by Hennie Haworth
109) Love at first stitch by Tilly Walne
110) Knitting Smitten by Jessica Biscoe
111) Louder than words by Laura Jarrart (British Books Challenge)

Events attended
I hosted a brilliant event with Patrick Ness at school. Loved every second of it. Babbled at Patrick like a nutter and loads of kids got excited and bought books which was marvelous 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary's own brother.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris - but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee - even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned...

Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments

I've put off reviewing this book for awhile and I'm still not sure I have huge amounts to say about it. I came to this series after the original trilogy was published and read them in pretty quick succession and loved them. I've stuck with the rest of the series reading as and when they have been released and found myself less and less interested in them. I don't necessarily think it is even the fault of the books as such and more the fact that I read so much that I quite literally forget everything that has gone on before.

For me this instalment was quite honestly a bit of a let down. I did enjoy meeting the gang again and going back to the world but man alive this book is huge and I felt it suffered for it as it wasn't as pacey as it could have been.

Also I felt it just tied up just that little bit too neatly which just didn't sit right with me. Cassandra Clare  is known as an author who will include more diverse characters of different races and sexualities yet she still feels the need to pair everyone off happily and I just don't get why that has to be the case.

Am I over Cassandra Clare? No and I'm definitely excited about her next two trilogies but I'm not sure I'll hurry to read her next book until the entire trilogy is out so I can read back to back mostly so I have a clue about what is going on.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Review: Murder most unladylike

Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia's missing tie. Which they don't, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident - but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there's more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

my thoughts

I adored this book. It appealed completely to both my inner child, wrote read and reread her Enid Blyton boarding school books until they fell apart and had to be sellotaped back together, and my inner history geek.

For me this book captured the essence of those boarding school stories I adored perfectly but also managed to update them to be more relevant. There was Lacrosse, Mamzelles, bunbreaks and all those things that made me want to enroll in Malory towers. However what made this book particularly special and the reason why I would want to push into the hands of children is how relevant it is. While I love the Malory towers books I would never give them to a child now because the world view in them is quite elitist, racist and sexist. These books have none of these things and go as far as featuring girl leads who are as awesome and clever as any boy character could be and include characters from a non white background too. What I particularly like is that fact that the issues around racism are actually discussed when one of the main characters who is Asian talks about her initial reception in 1930s Britain and how after a while she is no longer seen by other students as not white in the way they deal with her but not in a good way. I thought the way this was done was particularly poignant and brilliantly well done.

All in all a book I adore and whole heartedly recommend

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Books I can't wait to read

Famous in love by Rebecca Serle

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

I've heard good things about this book so cannot wait to get my hands on it

Sorry about me by Laura Dockrill

Ten-year-old Darcy sees the extraordinary in the everyday and the wonder in the world around her. This third book sees Darcy encounter extra-large-amounts of drama - mice have invaded her house, which means the family must get a cat. Cue a mega-meltdown in a pet shop and then the arrival of Pork, an angry dumpling of a cat who terrifies Lamb-Beth. And while chaos rules at home, Will's long-lost dad has turned-up and taken him out of school. Who will Darcy be friends with now? Must she hang-out with school secretary Mavis EVERY DAY FOR ALL ETERNITY?

I love Darcy Burdock. I love this series of books and am so genuinely excited about carrying on with it

Everything leads to you by Nina LaCour

A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

Yes I know this is already out. I've put off ordering it because it is on my birthday wishlist but if no one buys it for me I'll order it for the summer holidays. Another one I've heard nothing but good things about

Lies like Love by Louisa Reid

'There were a few problems . . . bullying . . . a fire . . .'

'I think she's verging on psychosis . . . now she's lashing out.'

'She's got no one else to fight for her.'

Sixteen year-old Audrey just wants to be normal.
She's trying to fit in.
But what happens when the person closest to you suffocates you with their love?
What happens then?

I wanted this book as soon as I heard it was coming out long before I had even seen a synopsis for it. I adored Louisa's debut novel and was haunted by it for a long while after finishing it. I suspect this will do the same to me

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Review: To all the boys I've loved before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Just a quick little shout out today for this book. I've stopped reviewing books I have bought myself of late because I've been so busy with work in order to take the pressure off. While I can see that continuing for the forseeable future I don't want to never talk about books I've bought myself especially when they are books I love. This book is a prime example. I adored every page reading it in one sitting and loving every page entirely. I particularly loved the relationships between the sisters and cannot wait for the sequel to be published. Will definitely have to sneak onto my preorder list

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Blue by Lisa Glass

Surfing is sixteen-year-old Iris’s world, and when the ultra-talented Zeke walks into her life, it soon becomes her passion.

Over one amazing summer, as she is drawn into his sphere, she experiences love, new friendships, but also loss, with an intensity she never dreamed of.

But is Zeke all he seems? What hides beneath his glamorous and mysterious past? When Iris decides to try for her own surfing success, just as her ex-boyfriend comes back into her life, she will test her talent, and her feelings for Zeke, to the limit…

My thoughts
Put simply I adored this book. It crept up on me as it wasn't particularly on my radar and wasn't a book I needed to read as soon as I got my hands on it but once I got started I couldn't put it down as the story completely and utterly hooked me in.

I'm not a surfer but there seems to be something about surfing books which I can't get enough of. I love reading about the lifestyle and always fall completely for the characters. This book was no exception. I adored both Iris and Zeke from the first page and found myself completely and utterly absorbed in their story. I won't spoil the storyline for anyone but thought it was brilliant and kept me guessing throughout.

I love that this book was a UKYA novel set in Newquay which made it feel that bit more real and relatable than books set on foreign shores because I could see the setting in my head as the characters went about their business.

All in all a fabulous offering from a new UKYA author and perfect reading for the summer holidays. I can't wait for the sequel.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Review: Smart by Kim Slater

I found Jean’s friend dead in the river. His name was Colin Kirk. He was a homeless man, but he still wanted to live.

There’s been a murder, but the police don’t care. It was only a homeless old man after all.

Kieran cares. He’s made a promise, and when you say something out loud, that means you’re going to do it, for real. He’s going to find out what really happened. To Colin. And to his grandma, who just stopped coming round one day. It’s a good job Kieran’s a master of observation, and knows all the detective tricks of the trade.

But being a detective is difficult when you’re Kieran Woods. When you’re amazing at drawing but terrible at fitting in. And when there are dangerous secrets everywhere, not just outside, but under your own roof

My thoughts
I must admit I wanted this book because of the cover. It wasn't until I started the first few pages that my heart sank a little bit. Not another curious incident style book featuring an autistic protagonist solving a crime! Despite my reservations I stuck with it and I am so glad that I did.

Smart is the story of Kieran. Kieran is an artist and wants to be a news reporter so jots down observations about the world around him in his secret notepad. I loved his innocence but also how he made his own way in the world and wasn't a victim of his condition. I loved the scenes where he is trying to get his head around the various things he sees in his world which he isn't quite happy with.

For me this book is all about the things that go unsaid in the book. Kieran's mum lives with a nasty man and his son and they are no good. It is implied They are drug dealers and the father is violent towards Kieran's mother. While you never see this on screen as such you can see the wedge it has built between Kieran and his mother and between the two of them and their wider family. It really is one of those books where you read certain passages with a lump in your throat and a sense of dread about what might happen to the characters next.

All in all a book I really enjoyed.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Review: Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivson

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.

My thoughts
I wanted this book the moment I first heard about it because I thought it'd be my sort of book. I wasn't at all disappointed by it and enjoyed it thoroughly from the very page through to the last.

Lobsters is the story of Hannah and Sam and their pursuit to find their Lobster. The theory being that lobsters mate for life. It is told in alternating sections flitting back and forth between Hannah and Sam's point of view.

Firstly for me this book is so so so funny. There were several sections whilst reading when I sat giggling like a loon to the events unfolding before me. Secondly I thought the teenage voices in this book were spot on and therefore the events and dialogue felt brilliantly authentic. Thirdly I loved how frank the book was towards teenage sex and how it didn't hold back with the swearing but it wasn't thrown in to shock or for the sake of it. I also loved that the main characters were that little bit older and on that cusp on moving onto university. The story itself was effortless to read and kept me wanting to read page after page late into the night to know what happened next.

All in all a book I thoroughly enjoyed and can't wait to push into the hands into my older students to introduce them to Hannah and Sam. Perfect if you are a Sarra Manning fan.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Review: 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... 

My thoughts
This is a really scary read and very much has left me terrified of the gigantic mirrors in my living room. I recently had James into school to do an event for the book and several of the kids who bought books have been to tell me the same thing. Not one to read at night time. Or alone. Or in a room with mirrors!

It is no secret that I am huge James Dawson fan. His books appeal to the teenage book geek in me and I wish I'd had them to read when I was 15. I love his wit and the way he writes his characters. I love how his books keep me guessing. While I'm not especially a horror fan I picked this up because Jame wrote it and very glad that I did because all the elements I love about his books were there and as a consequence I'll happily read anything he writes in the future no matter what the genre

If you love 90s teen horror films like I know what you did last summer and point horror you will adore these but be warned this is scarier by far. 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Review: Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan

Bea Hogg is shy but fiery inside. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It's just a shame her best friend agreed to enter with school super-cow Pearl Harris. Bea will fight back! But when school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea, she will have more than a fight on her hands.

My thoughts
This was such a fun read for me and I already can think of a load of teen girls I'll be happily recommending it to for the foreseeable future.

Flirty dancing is the story of Bea who is super shy at school and ends up entering a national dance competition with the hottest boy at school who unfortunately is going over with Bea's ex best friend and now sworn rival.

I liked several things about the book.

Firstly the voice of Bea was really authentic. It was spot on when you saw the two sides of Bea. One being this bubbly confident girl and the other being the shy persona she took on once she walked into school. It really resonated with me because that was exactly how I was at school because of the people I happened to be surrounded with when I was there who made me feel like I had to be that way. I loved seeing her confidence grow over the course of the book.

The storyline itself was sweet and funny. It's compared to a Georgia Nicholson book but actually I think this is better purely because Bea is a sweeter character on huge whole. I loved the scenes with her younger sister and I loved the relationship she had with her Nan.

For me this book was about friendship and the overriding message that surrounding yourself with the right people is so crucial. As I said before I loved seeing how Bea changed and grew as a character once the influence of ex best friend turned nasty girl pearl lessened over her as she started to care less about what that girl thought of her.

All in al a fab little read which I enjoyed.