Thursday, 30 April 2009

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs - Jack Gantos

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs - Jack Gantos

Pages: 181
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date: 3rd April 2009

Other Title by this Author: Joey Pizga series, Rotten Ralph series, Desire Lines, Hole in my Life

Everyone loves their mother. But what happens when you love her so much you can’t bear to let her go - ever? That’s the sign of the Love Curse. And Ivy’s got it…bad.

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs is one of the oddest books that I’ve ever read. The curse was a sort of Oedipus Complex and taxidermy was mentioned on nearly every page. It was creepy, weird and disturbing. I didn’t like it much at all.

I didn’t really connect with the main character Ivy very much. Her character and personality seemed to begin and end with the curse. I got no sense of who she really was. I also couldn’t work out what time period that the book was set in; it seemed muddled to me which was rather annoying.

On the cover there are brilliant reviews from two of my favourite British authors; Kevin Brooks and Melvin Burgess. That’s one of the main reasons that I took a chance with it, but they let me down. I’m really disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it.

However, being the science nerd that I am, the long passages explaining DNA, genetics, the nature vs. nurture debate and the processes of embalming and taxidermy (disgusting, by the way) were kind of fascinating to me. You could tell that Jack Gantos really did his research for this book, or has very strange hobbies!

I also liked how important historical figures and events were entwined in the Rumbaughs family history. I think that it added reality and depth to the story as well as telling the story of the Love Curse that definitely needed explaining!

Although The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs had a few highlights, I don’t think I’d recommend it. It was far too weird for me; even the cover was creepy (though kind of cool)!

Sophie

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress - Tina Ferraro

Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress - Tina Ferraro

Pages: 223
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: 13th March 2007

Other Titles by this Author: How to Hook a Hottie (my review), The ABC’s of Kissing Boys (my review)

Sophomore year, Nicolette Antonovich was dumped two days before prom by the hottest guy at school - Rod “Rascal” Pasqual. As a result, she became the proud owner of one unworn, perfectly magical pink vintage dress. And she got to stare at it all evening long as a reminder.

But Nic is determined to put that night behind her for good. She’s a junior now - older, wiser, and completely over-whelmed by a new set of problems: 1. The bank’s ready to foreclose her childhood home. 2. Her father’s too busy with his “replacement” daughter to care. 3. Her best friend’s brother is an eternal thorn in her side. 4. Her best friend isn’t exactly the rose attached to that thorn in her side. 5. Rumours are flying around school that could get her kicked off the volleyball team, which would 6. Ruin all chances of a college scholarship. 7. She still likes the guy who dumped her in the first place. And 8. What in the world do you do with an unworn prom dress, anyway?

Strangely, it’s getting to the bottom of this last dilemma that just might hold the answer to all Nic’s problems.

Tina Ferraro’s books are cute and fun with fantastic titles. I love them!

One of the things that I enjoyed about Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress was the mention of two of my favourite films; Bring It On and Pirates of the Caribbean (gotta love Johnny Depp!). Nic has good taste!

I also understand Nic’s connection to her prom dress. Mine is still on the back of my bedroom door even though I got to wear it to my year 11 prom last June. I can’t bear to get rid of it. It’s important to me as it holds precious memories so everything that Nic felt about The Dress I understood which allowed me to really connect with her.

The way that Tina Ferraro included Nic’s feelings about her parents divorce and her half-sister also helped me to connect with her as I knew exactly where she was coming from. They were real feelings and subtle in the way that Nic kept them to herself that made the situation very true to life.

I would definitely recommend this along with Tina’s other two books for anyone who wants a light and charming read.

Sophie

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Dreamland - Sarah Dessen

Dreamland - Sarah Dessen

Pages: 313
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date: 14th November 2002

Other Titles by this Author: Last Chance, Someone Like You, This Lullaby, Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, Lock and Key (my review) , That Summer (02/07/09)

Unable to deal with the family fall out when her elder sister runs away from home, Caitlin finds herself withdrawing into a private world. A dream world where everything - and everyone - can be kept at arms length. And a place where her damaging relationship with her boyfriend, Rogerson, need never be faced up to or discussed…

There are very few authors who can compare to Sarah Dessen. I really do love her books. Dreamland was no exception; powerful, striking and heart-breaking.

The way that all of her books are interconnected by places, schools and characters from previous novels cropping up. Having read Lock and Key not long ago, I noticed that Rogerson and Dave from this book appeared in it a few times. The two main schools in the town were the same as well. There aren’t many authors that I can think of that do this, but I think it’s very cool to be able to catch up on old characters. It makes them more real somehow. Now I’m just waiting to Wes from The Truth About Forever to pop up again! He’s my favourite of Sarah Dessen’s guy characters.

Sarah Dessen handled Caitlin and Rogerson’s relationship beautifully. It was scary how seemingly unimportant and subtle the events were that changed their relationship and each other completely. The instances in themselves were hardly noticeable until they culminated in, well, everyone who has read it knows what happens, and if you haven’t read it, why not?!

At some points I had to hold back tears, crying at college isn’t cool, but I couldn’t stop reading. I can’t wait for That Summer to be released in the summer and if you haven’t read Sarah Dessen before, now would be the perfect time as Along for the Ride will be released in the US in June!

Sophie

Monday, 27 April 2009

Operation Retirement Rescue (2): How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff

Due to all the talk about ARC's, Adele from Persnickety Snark came up with a great idea. Operation Retirement Rescue is a way for bloggers to remember and celebrate old YA classics.

All you have to do is:

Before May begins post reviews for 1-2 YA titles that -
1) were published more than five years ago,
2) hold fond memories, and
3) post the icon somewhere in your review.

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff

Fifteen-year-old New Yorker Daisy thinks she knows all about love. Her mother died giving birth to her, and now her dad has sent her away for the summer, to live in the English countryside with cousins she’s never met.

There she’ll discover what real love is: something violent, mysterious and wonderful. Then her world will be turned upside down and a perfect summer will explode into a million bewildering pieces.

How will Daisy live then?

How I Live Now was first published by Penguin in 2004.

Meg Rosoff’s debut YA novel, How I Live Now, blew me away. As a fairly sheltered twelve-year-old, this book shocked me. It introduced themes that I’d never encountered before in a starkly beautiful way. Rosoff’s writing style is, in my eyes, one of the most identifiable and individual. She really keeps you on your toes!

I remember this to be one of the first book that kept me reading by the light of my phone (I had to turn my lamp off and stop reading at ten) late into the night. The next day at school, my English teacher asked why I was so tired and just laughed and asked me what book it was so she could read it when I told her!

How I Live Now allowed me to have the confidence to branch out my reading tastes and read what I want about whatever I want. I became less childish and more free in what I read which has allowed me to read amazing books across genres that I’d never have dreamed of reading if How I Live Now hadn’t opened my mind the way it did.

Meg Rosoff’s fourth YA novel, The Bride’s Farewell is out on 6th August in the US and 3rd September in the UK.

Sophie

Sunday, 26 April 2009

In My Mailbox XIII

This was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. If you want more information check out her blog. All summaries are from the book jackets.

If I Stay - Gayle Forman

‘Just Listen,’ Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen.

‘Stay,’ he says.

For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, decisions seem tough, even when they’re all about a future full of music and love, a future that’s brimming with hope.

But a life can change an instant.

A cold February morning…a snowy road…and suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone. Except one. As alone as she’ll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.

Haunting, heart-rending and ultimately life-affirming, If I Stay will make you appreciate all that you have, all that you’ve lost - and all might be.

Thank you to Georgia from Random House for sending me my only book this week. I absolutely loved it, you can see my review here.

Sophie

Saturday, 25 April 2009

If I Stay - Gayle Forman

If I Stay - Gayle Forman

Pages: 210
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: 7th May 2009

Other Title by this Author: You Can’t Get There From Here, Sister in Sanity

‘Just Listen,’ Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen.

‘Stay,’ he says.

For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, decisions seem tough, even when they’re all about a future full of music and love, a future that’s brimming with hope.

But a life can change in an instant.

A cold February morning…a snowy road…and suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone. Except one. As alone as she’ll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.

Haunting, heart-rending and ultimately life-affirming, If I Stay will make you appreciate all that you have, all that you’ve lost - and all might be.

This book completely blew me away. It was beautiful.

The story was written in prose so calm and beautiful that the words almost flowed off of the page and carried you through the story. Even when Mia was describing the accident, the words were calm and smooth as if she were just recounting something she read in the newspaper, not her life, which should have been weird but suited the story perfectly.

Music was such an integral part of If I Stay that I don’t think the story would have been the same without it. I loved the way that it shaped all of the character’s lives and even brought them together and to life. I never noticed what an impact music can have on a person until I read this and realised how true it was.

The flashbacks of Mia’s life before the accident were really good. I loved seeing how her life was and comparing it to how different it would be if she decided to stay. They also really fleshed out the characters and gave you real insight into Mia’s life.

One line stuck with me throughout this book. The line was ‘We are like Humpty Dumpty and all these king’s horses and all these king’s men cannot put us back together again.’ It made me shiver and kept me awake thinking about it when I had finished reading.

The only thing I didn’t like about If I Stay was that it ended! Although it was tied up nicely and Mia’s decision was made, I wanted more. I can’t recommended this book enough. It’s amazing.

Sophie

Friday, 24 April 2009

When It Happens - Susane Colasanti

When It Happens - Susane Colasanti

Pages: 310
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: May 2008

Other Titles by This Author: Take Me There, Waiting for You

When you find something real, everything else falls into place…

Seniors in high school, Sara and Tobey couldn’t be more different. She is focused on getting into her first-choice college; he wants to win Battle of the Bands. Sara’s other goal is to find true love, so when Dave, a popular jock, asks her out, she’s thrilled. But then there’s Tobey. His amazing blue eyes and quirky wit always creep into her thoughts. Lucky for Sara, one of Tobey’s goals is also to make her fall in love with him. Told in alternating points of view, Sara and Tobey’s real connection will have everyone rooting for them from the minute they meet!

I had really high expectations for this novel because I’ve heard loads of great things about Susane Colasanti’s writing. I wasn’t disappointed.

The blend of romance and family drama reminded me of Elizabeth Scott and Sarah Dessen which is no bad thing! Lots of events in the book and feelings that the characters had will relate to so may teenagers out there. The split perspectives made is especially accessible because I was able to see both sides of the story.

Stories set in and around an American high school never fail to fascinate me. The characters lives are so different those of the same age over here in the UK. It really makes me want to be an American teenager for some reason. I said that to one of my friends and she gave me a really funny look, so it’s probably only me that feels that way!

When It Happens was a really great read that will appeal to fans of Elizabeth Scott and Sarah Dessen and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of her work.

Sophie

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Feast of Fools: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Feast of Fools: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Pages: 367
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Release Date: 23rd February 2009

Other Titles in the Series: Glass Houses (my review), The Dead Girls‘ Dance (my review), Midnight Alley (my review), Feast of Fools, Lord of Misrule (10/07/09)

It was hard to imagine how Claire’s day could get any worse…

And then the vampires holding her hostage wanted breakfast.

In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans have learnt to live in relative peace. Still, Claire Danvers knows that after dark her homework can take a backseat to staying alive. But this tenuous kinship is turned on its head with the arrival of Mr Bishop.

Bad to the bone, the ancient old-school vampire cares nothing about keeping the peace; staying at the top of the food chain is enough. What he wants from the town’s living and dead is unthinkingly sinister. It’s only at a formal ball attended by vampires and their human dates that Claire realises Bishop’s plan - and the elaborately evil trap he’s set for the warm-blooded souls of Morganville…

I’ve read the books in The Morganville Vampires series so quickly. They didn’t let me put them down!

I know I’ve said it before, but the story sucks you in (no pun intended). The danger, the action and the romance held my attention from beginning to end. And talking of endings; Rachel Caine really knows how to end a book that leaves you hanging.

I’ve connected with the characters so well that even some of the bad guys grew on my while I was reading Midnight Alley. The barren, creepy town of Morganville is even starting to seem not so bad! I think it’s just because I love these books so much. Right, I’m going to stop gushing in a rather fan-girly way now!

Sophie

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Midnight Alley: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Midnight Alley: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Pages: 365
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Release Date: 5th September 2008

Other Titles in the Series: Glass Houses (my review), The Dead Girls‘ Dance (my review), Feast of Fools, Lord of Misrule (10/07/09)

Morganville’s such a nice place to live…

And die. If you don’t mind that sort of thing.

When Claire Danvers learnt that her college town was run by vampires, she did what any intelligent, self-preserving student would do: she applied for a transfer and stocked up on the garlic. The transfer is no longer an option, but the garlic may come in handy.

Now Claire has pledged herself to Amelie, the most powerful vampire in town. The protection her contract secures does little to reassure her friends. All of a sudden, people are turning up dead, a stalker resurfaces from Claire’s past, and an ancient bloodsucker extends a chilling invitation for private lessons in his secluded home.

Wow. Could there be any more surprises in this book? Especially the last couple of pages. I was shocked!

Rachel Caine’s writing wraps you up in the story and doesn’t let you go until the very last word. There were two major things that I loved about Midnight Alley that stuck with me.
Firstly, the Glass House. I love the contrast between it’s sultry darkness and air of protection to the harsh, barren, brightness of Morganville. It’s such a powerful image that I can clearly call to mind long after finishing the book.

Second, Shane and Michael’s reactions to Claire and Eve’s outfits for Monica’s party. They had me sniggering aloud to myself. Brilliantly funny!

Now I’m off to Biology (I’m writing this in a free period) to twiddle my thumbs until I can go home and start Feast of Fools!

Sophie

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Interview: Sharon Dogar

Sharon Dogar is the British young adult author of Waves (2007) and Falling out earlier this month, both published by Chicken House. Sharon has been writing stories since she can remember.

1. Tell us a bit about Falling.

Falling started (as do most of my books) with an image. I saw a girl at a bus stop. An Asian girl, and was arrested by her sense of otherness from the world around her. The image returned and I found it haunting me. Then my father told me a story (as he often does) about his village back home, and a midwife/healer who was loved and loathed in equal measure. Somehow the two became entwined. Finally, I met an old friend and we began laughing about living on the council estate many years ago. We recalled a startling incident of racism. As I walked home the story clicked, I had all three elements and the words began running through my head, all I had to do now was catch them and give them shape. It took two years.

2. What made you decide to link Neesh and Sammy’s story with Jake and Farida's?

I linked the two stories in an attempt to explore what has and hasn't changed over the years. I think we all have a primal instinct to exclude others and keep ourselves safe within the social fold. There is no shame in this instinct, it's there to protect us from wild animals - but there is a shame in allowing it to take us over and be the thing that gives our lives meaning. I wanted to look at what this meant during colonial India and what it might mean now, in the twenty first century. It's a common perception amongst young, educated middle-class adults that racism doesn't really exist anymore. It does. And it's increasing everyday, especially with the rise of fundamentalist Islam and the growth in Eastern European immigrants coming to the UK.

3. None of the horrible events described in the novel were sugar coated in Falling. Was this your intention?

I don't see any point in pretending that horrible things don't happen. They do. Or in pretending that difficult, painful situations can always be endured, sometimes they can't be. I hate the way some writers pretend to young adults. I don't mean by creating other worlds, that can be a really fascinating way of exploring ideas (Malorie Blackman) but by pandering to their fantasies : E.g. everyone and anyone can be famous/all you need is love/all things can be conquered! On the other hand I do powerfully believe that with the right combination of circumstances, luck and judgement most things can be understood and lived with. So yes, I suppose it was my intention - although I didn't know that until I was asked this question!

4. The harsh reality of the cultural differences in interracial relationships wasn’t shied away from. Is this something you feel strongly about?

As you can probably tell by now, I feel very strongly about racism. I worry about where the lessons for this generation will come from. It feels a long way now from the second world war, which taught my generation about the horror and consequences of unbridled racism. However, I take great comfort from most of the young people I meet. They are almost invariably thoughtful and interesting about race and what it means. The problem is, that it isn't usually readers that are the problem. How do we reach the children that are disenfranchised and angry and want someone to blame - children like Kef? If you can think of a way tell me.

5. You blended romance and suspense in both Falling and Waves to make thrilling novels. Was there a reason for this?

No, this is just the way stories seem to come out of me. It's quite frustrating sometimes, a bit like always wanting straight hair when you've got curly, or vice versa. I wish I could write like someone else, preferably someone who writes best sellers, but there you go, I write like me, and I'm very grateful that some people like it.

6. If you could have lunch with any three authors, living or dead, who would they be and why?

What a question! I know I'm going to answer this and then change my mind and wish I could have another go. The truth is that it changes all the time.

Harper Lee - because she has written an almost perfect book for the reader. It's like a master class in how to do it, and I'd want to ask her how, and I'd want to ask her what she feels now about having so idealised her father (in Atticus) that it's made it difficult for mere mortal fathers to ever get it right.

Anne Frank - because wouldn't it be wonderful to tell her just what she has achieved and listen to her thoughts about it all in retrospect.

Primo Levi - because I've been re-reading all his books and I'd like to sit at his feet and actually hear his voice and really know how he managed to survive such terrible experiences and continue to be able to think about them in such a fruitful and elegant way.

7. Do you have a particular time or place that you do your best writing in?

Yes. I write in my kitchen mostly, in the mornings. When I'm stuck I sometimes go to cafes. When I edit I often go to the Bodleian in Oxford, it's very quiet and warm and beautiful and somehow helps me to structure things. I'm very lucky.

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?

I've just finished the first draft to my third novel. It's a very different endeavour this time, based on a true story. It's been amazing having to research and write about real people. It's a different way of imagining, carrying more responsibility, but it's exactly the same in that the characters still have to come alive for you. You have to feel as though they are actually speaking to you - and that is quite an odd experience when you know that they've really existed.

Thank you very much, Sharon. You can see my review of Falling here. I cannot recommend this, along with Sharon’s debut novel Waves, enough. You should all get your hands on a copy and read them immediately!

Sophie

Monday, 20 April 2009

The Dead Girls' Dance: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

The Dead Girls’ Dance: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Pages: 368
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Release Date: 4th July 2008

Other Titles in the Series: Glass Houses (my review), Midnight Alley, Feast of Fools, Lord of Misrule (10/07/09)

Good news, girls: your dates are here!

Claire Danvers has had her fair share of challenges - like being a genius in a school that favours beauty, dealing with the homicidal girls in her dorm and, above all, finding out that her college town is overrun with bloodsucking fiends. On the plus side, so far Claire and her friendship have managed to survive getting on the wrong side of some Morganville VIPs - Vampire Important Persons. But their temporary peace is in danger of collapsing, thanks to the arrival of her new boyfriend’s scary father and his vampire-fighting supporters.

Bad news, girls: they’re dead.

I love this series so much. They’re amazing.

The pace and action are relentless. There are surprises in every paragraph and every bad thing that could possibly happen to Claire, Eve, Shane and Michael does happen. Sometimes I just wanted Rachel Caine to give them a break!

The relationship and sense of protectiveness between them makes the story and the actions of the actions much more palpable. They seem to be the type of people that would die for those they love which, in my eyes, is definitely a trait worth promoting.

But Shane. I love that guy. Though I don’t think I’ve ever read about a character who gets hurt or into more trouble than he does! But he’s sweet and funny so I’ll let him off this time!
And now, Midnight Alley here I come!

Sophie

Sunday, 19 April 2009

In My Mailbox XII

This was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. If you want more information check out her blog. All summaries are from the book jackets.

Season of Secrets - Sally Nicholls

On a wild and stormy night Molly runs away from her grandparents’ house. Her dad has sent her to live there until he Sorts Things Out at home.

In the howling darkness, Molly sees a desperate figure running for his life from a terrifying ,midnight hunt. He has come to help her. But why? And who is he?

Season of Secrets weaves the tale of a heartbroken child and an age-old legend into a haunting story of love, healing and strange magic.

I loved her first novel Ways to Live Forever so when Dad offered to buy me a book instead of an Easter egg I chose this.

Evernight - Claudia Gray

Bianca wants to escape.

At the eerily gothic Evernight Academy, the other students are sleek, smart, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn’t fit in.

When she meets handsome, brooding Lucas, he warns her to be careful - even when it comes to caring about him. But the connection between them can’t be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart…and to make Bianca question everything she’s ever believed.

I can’t wait to read this. It looks so good and the cover is very pretty.

The Dust of 100 Dogs - A.S. King

In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with the dust of one hundred dogs, dooming her to one hundred lives of a dog before returning to a human body - with her memories intact.

Now she’s a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

I wasn’t sure I’d like this when I first heard about it but I’ve read such amazing views that I thought I’d give it a try.

Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder

Choose:
A quick death
Or slow poison…

Yelena has a choice - be executed for murder, or become food taster to the Commander of Ixia. She leaps at the chance for survival, but her relief may be short-lived.

Life in the palace is full of hazards and secrets. Wily and smart, Yelena must learn to identify poisons before they kill her, recognise whom she can trust and how to spy on those she can’t. and who is the mysterious Southern sorceress who can reach into her head?

When Yelena realises she has extraordinary magical powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic in Ixia is punishable by death…

This book is one that I kept seeing in Waterstone's all the time and never buying so I decided to break that and get it.

Gone - Michael Grant

‘One minute the teacher was there, the next, he was gone. There. Gone.’

In the blink of an eye all the adults disappear in a small town in southern California and no one knows why. First a car crash; a house up in flames; then a complete communication breakdown…

Suddenly cut off from the outside world, those that are left are trapped, and there’s no help on the way. They must do all they can to survive. Chaos rules the streets. Gangs begin to form. Sides are chosen - strong or weak. Cruel or humane.

A new world order is rising, and, even scarier, some survivors have power - power that no one has ever seen before…

I don’t usually buy hardbacks. But this is everywhere, it was taunting me. And Amazon were selling it for £6.49, which is cheaper than a paperback over here, so I couldn’t not get it could I?

I had a really great week this week and I can’t wait to get started on these lovely books!

Sophie

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Flightsend - Linda Newbery

Flightsend - Linda Newbery

Pages: 242
Publisher: Definitions
Release Date: 2nd April 2009

Other Titles by This Author: The Shell House, Sisterland, Set in Stone

Flightsend is Charlie’s new home, whether she likes it or not. Her mother sees it as a chance for a fresh start.

Charlie’s certain that the move to a remote, ramshackle cottage will cause more problems than it solves. But she couldn’t be more wrong. Charlie’s first summer at Flightsend proves to be a turning point for both of them. It’s a summer of startling self-discovery, it’s a summer that Charlie will never forget.

I loved this book. I expected a light, fluffy read but what I got was so much more.

Lately I've been reading lots of American fantasy books so it was really nice to be back in the real world of the English countryside. The setting of Lower Radbourne sounded beautiful and the perfect place to grow up. I've always wanted to live in a little village in the country where you can walk everywhere, so maybe that's why it especially appealed to me.

Linda Newbery writes in a way that you aren't really aware of the serious issues that are intertwined in her story. They are effortlessly woven in with style and grace that adds so many layers to the plot and the characters.

Speaking of characters, I loved Dietmar. The story of him and his father added a lovely side-note to the main plot that was huge surprise and really added dimension to the lives of Charlie and Kathy.

I love the cover of the book, but I don't think that it fits the main character Charlie in any way. The girl is all wrong and far too generic in my opinion, although I do think it's really pretty.

Sophie

Friday, 17 April 2009

Operation Retirement Rescue (1): Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging - Louise Rennison

Due to all the talk about ARC's this week, Adele from Persnickety Snark came up with a great idea. Operation Retirement Rescue is a way for bloggers to remember and celebrate old YA classics. All you have to do is:

Before May begins post reviews for 1-2 YA titles that -
1) were published more than five years ago,
2) hold fond memories, and
3) post the icon somewhere in your review.

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging - Louise Rennison

There are six things wrong with my life:

1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but will lurk in a red way for the next two years.

2. It is on my nose.

3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.

4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be oer and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberf├╝hrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers.

5. I am very ugly and need to go to an ugly home.

6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.

Angus... was published in 1999 by Scholastic and later by HarperCollins in 2005.

Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson series were the books that introduced me to YA fiction when I was around eleven and are still among my favourites nearly six years later.

I was purely a Jacqueline Wilson girl before I was thrown into Georgia's world, head first and laughing my ass off I might add. The first four were already published when I discovered them and for four weekends in a row I bought the next book with my pocket money. Since then, I've bought all of them in hardback on the day that the are released.

From these books I've read YA non-stop and they were the best introduction to the genre that I could have possibly been given. I mean who doesn't love a girl who goes to a party dressed as a stuffed olive?

The tenth and final of Georgia's diaries will be released in the UK 25th June and 1st October in the US. There's no title or cover for it yet though. It's all very hush-hush!

Sophie

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Inkspell - Cornelia Funke

Inkspell - Cornelia Funke

Pages: 675
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: 5th June 2006

Other Titles in This Series: Inkheart (my review), Inkdeath

Let the imaginary become real…

Although a year has passed, not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of the extraordinary events of Inkheart, and the story whose characters strode out of the pages and changed her life for ever.

But for Dustfinger, the fire-eater, torn from his world of words, the need to return has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller with the magical ability to read him back, he sets in motion a dangerous reversal that sees the characters of Inkheart transported to a charmed Inkworld, about to be fought over by rival rebels and princes.

I know that Inkspell is a long book but it took me so long to read. I found it quite hard to keep slugging through it until the last hundred pages or so when the pace really picked up and all the exciting things happened.

The development of Meggie and Farid's relationship in this one kept me going. I'm sucker for romance and theirs was sweet and understated. The scenes between the two of them were definitely my favourite parts of Inkspell.

Inkworld was a place that I'd love to visit even through all the danger. I became obsessed with the idea of reading myself in and characters out of a book. Wouldn't that be amazing? Anyone want to meet Jace and Edward? I so do!

When Inkdeath, the final installment of the trilogy is released in paperback I'll get it and eventually read it but it's not a book I'm on tenterhooks for (like City of Glass for instance!).

Sophie

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Waiting on Wednesday V

This meme was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It tells everyone about the not-yet-released books you are most looking forward too. Summary from Amazon.

Envy: A Luxe Novel - Anna Godbersen

Jealous whispers.

Old rivalries.

New betrayals.

Two months after Elizabeth Holland's dramatic homecoming, Manhattan eagerly awaits her return to the pinnacle of society. When Elizabeth refuses to rejoin her sister Diana's side, however, those watching New York's favorite family begin to suspect that all is not as it seems behind the stately doors of No. 17 Gramercy Park South.

Farther uptown, Henry and Penelope Schoonmaker are the city's most celebrated couple. But despite the glittering diamond ring on Penelope's finger, the newlyweds share little more than scorn for each other. And while the newspapers call Penelope's social-climbing best friend, Carolina Broad, an heiress, her fortune—and her fame—are anything but secure, especially now that one of society's darlings is slipping tales to the eager press.

In this next thrilling installment of Anna Godbersen's bestselling Luxe series, Manhattan's most envied residents appear to have everything they desire: Wealth. Beauty. Happiness. But sometimes the most practiced smiles hide the most scandalous secrets. . . .

Release Date: 7th May 2009 (UK)

I haven't done a Waiting on Wednesday post for a while and it's taking me ages to read Inkspell so here it is! I loved the first two books in this series so I'm really excited for this. The covers for this series are completely gorgeous as well.

Sophie

Monday, 13 April 2009

I Was a Teenage Popsicle - Bev Katz Rosenbaum

I Was a Teenage Popsicle - Bev Katz Rosenbaum

Pages: 248
Publisher: Berkeley Jam Books
Release Date: 3rd October 2006

Other Titles By This Author: Beyond Cool, Wanted: An Interesting Life

I, Floe Ryan, was frozen - well, “vitrified” - when I was sixteen years old. My parents and I had a rare disease, and it was our only option until they found a cure. Now I’ve been thawed, and guess what, it’s ten years in the future and I’m still a teenager. And my parents are still, shall we say, chilling out…

So now my little sister is my older sister, and payback’s a beyotch. She’s making me suffer for every snotty thing I ever did. Try getting used to that…not to mention a new school, new technology, and a zillion other new things that happened while I was napping in the freezer. Luckily, I have Taz. He’s the hottie skater boy who used to make me melt before I was frozen. He was a Popsicle too, so at least we get to reintegrate together. But now they’re trying to close the Venice Beach Cryonics Center - with my parents still in it! Now that’s cold. It’s up to me to save the clinic and my parents - so I can finally have a chance for a somewhat normal life…

This book was really good. It was so unusual; I've never read anything like it.

The concept of being vitrified than brought back to life is something that could be common in the future which really freaks me out! The world after only ten years that Bev Katz Rosenbaum created was very different from now. Everyone had plastic surgery every six months and wore unitards. My mum told me they were like jumpsuits, I had no idea what they were! Does anyone know for sure? People got around on hoverblades which I loved, just like I want a hoverboard from Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. I love the idea of flying!

This is a really great book to read to escape to, literally, another world for a couple of hours. I'm definitely going to read the sequel, Beyond Cool, when it's back in stock on Amazon UK but who knows how long that's going to be!

I hope everyone had a great Easter and ate lots and lots of chocolate!

Sophie

Sunday, 12 April 2009

In My Mailbox XI

This was started by the amazing The Story Siren who was inspired by Alea. If you want more information check out her blog. All summaries are from the book jackets.

Lock and Key - Sarah Dessen

Ruby Cooper likes to expect the worst. That way, she’s never disappointed.

Abandoned by her mother and forced to leave the house she calls home, Ruby is facing too many changes. her world has been transformed into a life of luxury by her long-lost sister, but all Ruby wants to do is leave - she can make it on her own. Even Nate, the gorgeous boy next door, can’t seem to change her mind. Will Ruby finally realise first impressions don’t always count? And that sometimes, people can surprise you, so it’s OK to let the closest ones in…
Sarah Dessen is a genius. Here is my review.

Dreamland - Sarah Dessen

Unable to deal with the family fall out when her elder sister runs away from home, Caitlin finds herself withdrawing into a private world. A dream world where everything - and everyone - can be kept at arms length. And a place where her damaging relationship with her boyfriend, Rogerson, need never be faced up to or discussed…
This is out of print here in the UK so I was very pleased to finally get my hands on a copy.

Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress - Tina Ferraro (Signed!)

Sophomore year, Nicolette Antonovich was dumped two days before prom by the hottest guy at school - Rod “Rascal” Pasqual. As a result, she became the proud owner of one unworn, perfectly magical pink vintage dress. And she got to stare at it all evening long as a reminder.

But Nic is determined to put that night behind her for good. She’s a junior now - older, wiser, and completely over-whelmed by a new set of problems: 1. The bank’s ready to foreclose her childhood home. 2. Her father’s too busy with his “replacement” daughter to care. 3. Her best friend’s brother is an eternal thorn in her side. 4. Her best friend isn’t exactly the rose attached to that thorn in her side. 5. Rumours are flying around school that could get her kicked off the volleyball team, which would 6. Ruin all chances of a college scholarship. 7. She still likes the guy who dumped her in the first place. And 8. What in the world do you do with an unworn prom dress, anyway?

Strangely, it’s getting to the bottom of this last dilemma that just might hold the answer to all Nic’s problems.

Tina sent me a copy of this and it's signed! My first ever signed book! I was so excited.

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs - Jack Gantos

Everyone loves their mother. But what happens when you love her so much you can’t bear to let her go - ever? That’s the sign of the Love Curse. And Ivy’s got it…bad.

This sounds really odd, but the cover is really cool.

Parasite Positive - Scott Westerfeld

One year ago, Cal Thompson was a college freshman more interested in meeting girls and partying in New York City than in attending class. Then he met a girl called Morgan, they had a fun night together and she passed on a parasite that turns people into ravenous vampires. You know how it goes.

Cal himself is only a carrier, but he’s infected the girlfriends he’s had since Morgan, and it’s now his job to hunt them down before they can create even more of their kind.

Because I loved the Uglies quartet I thought that I should try some of Scot Westerfeld's other stuff. I hope I won't be disappointed!

Meet Me at the Boathouse - Suzanne Bugler

Louise knows that Danny loves her more than anyone ever could. It isn’t his fault he gets things mixed up sometimes…

It doesn’t mean he’s a liar.

Then something terrible happens, and all the good things melt away. Louise and Danny are hanging out with dodgy people, doing things that aren’t right. Danny isn’t exciting anymore…he’s weird, and he’s starting to scare her.

Could everyone else have been right all along?

Ink Exchange - Melissa Marr

Images cluttered the page, but one tattoo set her nerves on edge: inky-black eyes surrounded by wings like shadows coalescing.

Mine. The need was overpowering. Leslie looked up. “This one,” she said. “I need this one.”

But the image is more than just tempting art, and it draws Leslie into a world of shadows and desire - into the world of Faerie.

I can't wait to read this; I absolutely loved Wicked Lovely. I ended up with two copies by accident so I've got to wait until April 20th to get the return form from Amazon at school because we have no ink. It's so frustrating!

I had a really good week this week. I've tried to stop buying books but I just can't. I'm weak!

Sophie

Saturday, 11 April 2009

In Your Room - Jordanna Fraiberg

In Your Room - Jordanna Fraiberg

Pages: 203
Publisher: Razorbill Books
Release Date: 16th October 2008

From: Molly
To: Celeste
Date: June 14, 2008 10:33pm
Subject: yoda-is that you?!

Celeste -FINALLY arrived. I’m sleeping in some boy’s room. Three words: STAR WARS SHEETS!!! HELP!! Can you send me mine (the white with the lilac trim)? And while you’re at my house find out is the boy staying in my room is cute or a crazy sci-fi freak. I want details!!!- XOXO Molls

When their families randomly switch houses for the summer, retro-chic LA fashionista Molly Hill and laidback granola boy Charlie Richards find themselves living in totally unfamiliar rooms for two long hot months. Soon they become entwined in each other’s secrets, relationships and dreams. Day by day, they grow closer…even though they’re living 1,000 miles apart and have never met face-to-face.
Can perfect strangers be perfect for each other?

Will Molly and Charlie make it through a summer of seductions, missed connections and the thousand miles between them to find out?

This book was so cute. It was light and fun, a real easy summer read.

Jordanna Fraiberg's writing was easy to slip into and connect with the characters. I really liked the emails and IM conversations in the novel. They allowed a direct connection with Molly and Charlie that is sometimes hard to get, even in first person narration.

For some odd reason, reading this made me want to go to Colorado to see what Molly and Charlie were describing, even though I've never felt the need to go there before! It just sounded really pretty and you can tell that Jordanna Fraiberg really loves Colorado and being outside from the way that she wrote about it.

This was a really fun book and I'm looking forward to reading other books by her.

Sophie

Friday, 10 April 2009

Falling - Sharon Dogar

Falling - Sharon Dogar

Pages: 344
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: 6th April 2009

Other Titles By This Author: Waves

Neesha is afraid - haunted by the fragments of a nightmare about a girl falling, far away and a long time ago.

Just when the echoes in her head threaten to overwhelm her, a boy unexpectedly comes to her rescue.

Handsome and talented, Sammy finds himself strangely drawn to Neesha - but it’s only when they come together that they begin to realise why.

Are they falling in love or being pulled into the past - fated to replay a love affair that ended in blood?

Wow. This book was absolutely amazing. It was so powerful and engaging. Sharon Dogar's descriptions made the story come alive on the page, even the horrible events, and there were a few, were told so intricately and brilliantly that it was uncomfortable to read at times.

Some of the themes that the novel was based around were ones that aren't usually prominent in YA books. Sharon Dogar didn't flinch away from the harsh reality of the difference in cultures and how people live. It was eye-opening and something that didn't fit in with my view of how the world is now, maybe fifty years ago, but not now.

The flicking between two different stories, times and places was done effortlessly. Sometimes I barely even noticed, it was such a smooth transition. If you want to read a book that will take your breath away, Falling along with Sharon's debut novel Waves, fit that criteria perfectly. I can't recommend them enough.

Sophie

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Lock and Key - Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key - Sarah Dessen

Pages: 421
Publisher: Puffin Books
Release Date: 2nd April 2009

Other Books By This Author: That Summer, Someone Like You, Last Chance, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth About Forever, Just Listen

Ruby Cooper likes to expect the worst. That way, she’s never disappointed.

Abandoned by her mother and forced to leave the house she calls home, Ruby is facing too many changes. her world has been transformed into a life of luxury by her long-lost sister, but all Ruby wants to do is leave - she can make it on her own. Even Nate, the gorgeous boy next door, can’t seem to change her mind. Will Ruby finally realise first impressions don’t always count? And that sometimes, people can surprise you, so it’s OK to let the closest ones in…

I love Sarah Dessen's books. They pull you into the story and don't let go until the very end and even then you're still thinking about it long after you've finished reading. Lock and Key was no exception. The cover is also completely gorgeous which helps!

Her characters are lovable and easy to identify with even when they're nothing like you. Sarah Dessen also creates great guys for her books that have their own lives and stories outside of the one of the main character which is pretty cool really. I really didn't expect Nate to have the type of life that he did.

Sarah Dessen's books provide relief from real life in way that allows you to relate it to your own life, if you know what I mean. I know that sounds weird, but that's how her books are to me. Sometimes I just really need to read one of them to make me feel better, and it works every time. The only other books that can do that are The Twilight Saga.

I just love her books and I can't wait for Along for the Ride and That Summer which is being released in the UK for the first time in August.

Sophie

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

I Heart You, You Haunt Me - Lisa Schroeder

I Heart You, You Haunt Me - Lisa Schroeder

Pages: 226
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: 1st January 2008

Other Titles By This Author: Far From You

Girl meets boy.
Girl loses boy.
Girl gets boy back…
…sort of.

Ava can’t see or touch him,
unless she’s dreaming.
She can’t hear his voice,
except for the faint whispers in her mind.
Most would think she’s crazy,
but she knows he’s here.

Jackson.
The boy Ava thought she’d spend the rest of her life with.
He’s back from the dead,
as proof that love truly knows no bounds.

This is definitely the best verse novel that I've ever read. Though I have only read about three!

I loved the slow unveiling of what happened the day Jackson died and it was written beautifully. It was appropriately poetic and the words had a flow that carried me through the story.

The thing that I don't like about verse novels is that I feel that the character's aren't fully developed and I can't get to know them as well as I would like. For me, that happened in I Heart You, You Haunt Me. But saying that, I'm definitely going to read Far From You when it's released in paperback.

Sophie

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Sweethearts - Sara Zarr

Sweethearts - Sara Zarr

Pages: 217
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: 5th February 2009

Other Titles By This Author: Story of a Girl

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also each other’s only friend. so when Cameron disappeared without warning. Jennifer thought she’d lost the one person who could ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she is popular, happy, and dating - everything “Jennifer” couldn’t be. But she still can’t shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they both are confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

I don't know what I was expecting from Sweethearts but it definitely wasn't what I got.

It was sad and sweet and everything else in between. I don't really know what to say about it. Parts of it made me want to stop reading because it was uncomfortable but I couldn't. Sara Zarr is an amazing author to be able to create an atmosphere like that and I can't wait to read more of her writing in the future.

Sophie

Sunday, 5 April 2009

In My Mailbox X

I've borrowed the idea of this from the amazing The Story Siren who was inspired by Alea. If you want more information check out her blog. All summaries are from the book jackets.

The Dead Girls' Dance: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Good news, girls: your dates are here!

Claire Danvers has had her fair share of challenges - like being a genius in a school that favours beauty, dealing with the homicidal girls in her dorm and, above all, finding out that her college town is overrun with bloodsucking fiends. On the plus side, so far Claire and her friendship have managed to survive getting on the wrong side of some Morganville VIPs - Vampire Important Persons. But their temporary peace is in danger of collapsing, thanks to the arrival of her new boyfriend’s scary father and his vampire-fighting supporters.
Bad news, girls: they’re dead.

Midnight Alley: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Morganville’s such a nice place to live…

And die. If you don’t mind that sort of thing.

When Claire Danvers learnt that her college town was run by vampires, she did what any intelligent, self-preserving student would do: she applied for a transfer and stocked up on the garlic. The transfer is no longer an option, but the garlic may come in handy.

Now Claire has pledged herself to Amelie, the most powerful vampire in town. The protection her contract secures does little to reassure her friends. All of a sudden, people are turning up dead, a stalker resurfaces from Claire’s past, and an ancient bloodsucker extends a chilling invitation for private lessons in his secluded home.

Feast of Fools: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

It was hard to imagine how Claire’s day could get any worse…

And then the vampires holding her hostage wanted breakfast.

In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans have learnt to live in relative peace. Still, Claire Danvers knows that after dark her homework can take a backseat to staying alive. But this tenuous kinship is turned on its head with the arrival of Mr Bishop.

Bad to the bone, the ancient old-school vampire cares nothing about keeping the peace; staying at the top of the food chain is enough. What he wants from the town’s living and dead is unthinkingly sinister. It’s only at a formal ball attended by vampires and their human dates that Claire realises Bishop’s plan - and the elaborately evil trap he’s set for the warm-blooded souls of Morganville…

Thank you to Chiara from Allison and Busby for sending me these.

Have a good week everyone!

Sophie

Interview: Hilary Freeman

Hilary Freeman is the British young adult author of ‘Loving Danny’ and ‘Don’t Ask’ released this month by Piccadilly Press. Hilary is a journalist and agony aunt, working for national newspapers, magazines and websites.

1. Tell us a bit about ‘Don’t Ask’.

Don't Ask is a book about love, friendship, secrets and social networking sites. I wanted to explore how social networking sites have affected the way people communicate, and how easy it is to pretend to be somebody else on one of these sites.

The story follows a girl called Lily, who has suspicions about her boyfriend, Jack, because he's very secretive when it comes to his past. Using a social networking site, she invents a new persona and befriends his ex girlfriend, hoping that she'll find out the truth. But things soon get out of control and Lily finds herself trapped in a growing web of deceit, with unexpected and disturbing consequences.

2. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?

I'm not one of those people who can write a novel when I have a spare few minutes between finishing work and watching Eastenders. I have to get totally absorbed in my writing and my characters to do it well. So I tend to write in spurts. I'll take a week off work, lock myself away from all distractions, and write solidly for 10 hours a day.

I'm a night owl - I'm hopeless in the mornings - so I tend to start mid-morning and go on till quite late. I usually have my best ideas in the shower. Someone needs to invent a waterproof laptop!

3. How did you get into writing young adult fiction?

I've been writing fiction for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first 'novel' at about the age of seven. It was about an orphan named Annabel! I have no idea what happened to it.

But when I was a teenager, I went through an awkward, self-conscious stage and lost confidence in my creative writing ability, and I didn't really get it back until my late 20s. By then, I was working as a journalist and agony aunt for newspapers and magazines. I covered a lot of young adult issues and, as agony aunt for CosmoGirl!, I talked to teenagers all the time. I sent some ideas to Piccadilly Press and, to my delight, they liked one of them, which became 'Loving Danny', my first young adult novel.

4. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?

There wasn't that much young adult fiction around when I was a teenager, so I mostly read adults books. But I remember loving Judy Blume's books, especially Forever, which was a revelation to 12-year-old me. I also remember reading the Sweet Valley High series, which were a guilty pleasure, rather than good reads. I remember I had one which was interactive; depending on which option you chose you had to turn to a different page, which influenced the character's fate.

I still think Judy Blume is great. I also really like Anthony McGowan, who writes really clever, gritty books, and Gabrielle Zevin. Elsewhere made me cry.

5. You touched on serious subjects such as domestic violence, self-harm and false identities in both your novels. Is this something that you set out to do?

Yes, I think books should be entertaining and have something to say. I've learned so much about life, other people and relationships from reading books, and I'd like to think that readers of my books can take something away with them too. I want to make readers think and feel something, as well as - hopefully - make them laugh and be absorbed by my books. As an agony aunt, I get so many letters about relationships that have gone wrong, people who self-harm, violence, eating-disorders etc. and I know these are issues which affect lots of teenagers. I hope that by tackling them in fiction I can provoke thought and even provide some answers, without preaching!

It's interesting you picked up on the issue of identity. I think that's probably the most important theme in both my books. Being a teenager is a time when your identity is changing, growing and being challenged all the time. It can be very scary and confusing, and also exciting, as there's so much future possibility. I try to capture that in my novels. And, to be honest, I'm still trying to work out who I am and where I'm going too!

6. Are you a fan of social networking sites like Katie is of ‘Topfriendz’?

I'm not a fan of them, but I have joined a few, notably Facebook, because so many of my friends badgered me! I caved in to peer pressure, I'm afraid. They are a terrible distraction - I can't help myself checking Facebook about 40 times a day, when I'm supposed to be working. But I am now back in touch with some friends I'd lost contact with, which is great.

On the other hand, I'm not sure if it's healthy the way social networking sites have made friendship about quantity rather than quality. They say you only ever have four or five true friends in your life - people you can really trust and count on. Most people on Facebook have hundreds!

The site from Don't Ask - Topfriendz (www.topfriendz.com) - is now a real, working social networking site, so readers can join if they want to meet some of the characters in my books, talk to each other, or ask me anything.

Danny, from Loving Danny, has his own myspace page too: (www.myspace.com/wonderfulls).

I like messing around with truth and fiction...

7. Both of your novels feature boys in bands. Do you think every girl likes boys that can sing or play an instrument? (I know I do!)

Well, that's not entirely true. Loving Danny is all about a guy who is the lead singer of a band, but the boy in the band in Don't Ask doesn't exist - he is a figment of Lily's imagination...but I don't want to give anything else away. You'll have to read it if you want to know more.

I don't think every girl likes musical boys, but I'd hazard a guess that the majority do. Otherwise, why have guys from Elvis to the Beatles to Duran Duran (big in my day!) to McFly etc. etc. been so popular with teens?

There's something very sexy about a guy who can sing or play an instrument. I think it's the mixture of talent, creativity, good looks (usually), passion and edginess that does it.

I actually ended up marrying a singer-songwriter, so clearly I never grew out of it!

8. What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a couple of ideas for novels, which I can't really talk about at the moment. Watch this space...

Thank you very much, Hilary. You can see my review of ‘Don’t Ask’ here. You can read a bit more about Hilary and her books at Piccadilly Press website. I highly recommend Hilary’s books; they’re brilliant.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Zombie Queen of Newbury High - Amanda Ashby

Zombie Queen of Newbury High - Amanda Ashby

Pages: 199
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: 5th March 2009

Other Titles By This Author: You Had Me At Halo

A prom night Mia will never forget…

Quiet, unpopular, non-cheerleading Mia is blissfully happy. Rob - super hot football god - has asked her to prom! Life couldn’t get any better. Enter Samantha - cheerleader queen and Miss Popularity - who has made it quite clear that Rob should be her prom date. Mia is desperate to make sure she doesn’t end up dumped in front of the whole school. So with prom in just a few days, she turns to Candice - her holistic, hypochondriac best friend - and decides to try a love spell to make Rob stay with her.

Unfortunately, she ends up inflicting a zombie virus on her whole class instead, and she is their zombie leader! At first, she loves all the attention. But when she learns from zombie hunter hottie Chase that her classmates will actually try to eat her in a few days, she’s not too thrilled. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, but in the meantime, she’s suggesting that no one wear white to prom, because things could get very messy.

This was such a fun book. I loved all of the characters, especially Candice. She was so funny and very theatrical. Really funny to read about though I don't know whether I'd be able to spend every day with her without killing her!

For such a short book, the plot and characters were well developed and it was so easy to read. It only took me two hours! I figured I should start my Easter holidays as I mean to go on and I'm glad I started it with this one. Two whole weeks to read as much as I like! Fun, fun!

Sophie

Don't Ask - Hilary Freeman

Don't Ask - Hilary Freeman

Pages: 213
Publisher: Piccadilly Press Ltd.
Release Date: 27th March 2009

Other Titles By This Author: Loving Danny

Lily believes her boyfriend Jack is perfect, but wonders why he won’t talk about his past. Wouldn’t it be fantastic, she thinks, if she could talk to his ex and fill in all the gaps?

Lily devises a way to do just that. But what begins as a bit of fun has unexpected - and disturbing - consequences…

Don't Ask is a story about love, friendship and secrets. Sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions.

Hilary Freeman's second novel is a lovely blend of witty humour and serious issues that is really well-written.

Every character, even the minor ones, were real and well-developed. Hilary didn't shy away from serious issues and they were handled with care and subtlety. It wasn't heavy with the issues though. Lily and Katie shared hilarious conversations with brilliant one liners that had me giggling out loud.

I also loved the way that Hilary's previous novel Loving Danny was referenced by talking about Danny's band The Wonderfulls. It was a really great read that I highly recommend along with Loving Danny.

Sophie

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Interview: Luisa Plaja

Luisa Plaja is the British young adult author of the fabulous Split by a Kiss and Extreme Kissing that will released on 2nd April (ooh, tomorrow!) by Random House. She is also the editor of the brilliant teen book review website Chicklish. Luisa was kind enough to answer a few questions.

1. Tell us a bit about ‘Extreme Kissing‘.

OK! Extreme Kissing is a story about two best friends who go on an adventure in London, spending the day trying to overcome their worries by doing random challenges taken from the pages of a teenage magazine. Over the course of the extreme day, the girls start to reveal secrets to each other, and possibly find out things they never suspected about themselves. There are also boys involved, and dancing, shopping, danger... and kissing.

2. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?

Yes, I write best at night when the house goes quiet and it's harder to persuade my lovely online friends to distract me. I'm a total night person and I can write for hours into the morning. If only it didn't make the other side of the morning so difficult...

3. How did you get into writing young adult fiction?

I never stopped reading books aimed at teenagers and I probably never will. It's a genre I love passionately and I think everyone should read it! When I tried writing it, I knew immediately that it was what I wanted to do. I write for myself, really - I'm sure all writers do - and writing in this genre just feels right.

4. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
When I was a teenager I'd read anything I could get my hands on! I had favourites in every genre, and I was a huge fan of horror fiction at that age, especially Stephen King. But my overall favourites are definitely authors I still love today - for example, Judy Blume and Mary Hooper (who used to write contemporary romance, and now writes mostly historical YA). I also devoured teen series like Sweet Valley High and the love story series Sweet Dreams. My tastes haven't really changed but I've added scores of authors to my favourites list, including Sarra Manning, Meg Cabot, E. Lockhart, Jaclyn Moriarty... I could definitely go on, but I'll stop myself there!

5. Your main characters are confused and conflicted girls. Is this something that you feel is present in the lives of most teenage girls?

I think there's probably some confusion in everyone's life, really, male and female, and at any age. But there's something that attracts me to reading and writing about the teenage years - it's a time in life when you experience certain powerful emotions for the first time, and everything can feel heightened. It's also a time when you're deciding who you are and who you want to be, and all the possible paths you can take are stretching ahead of you. In Split by a Kiss, I wanted to look at the consequences of making a decision that could take a character down two different paths. And Extreme Kissing is a lot about taking safe routes versus riskier ones. I don't think things are cut and dried: there's not necessarily a 'right' or 'wrong' decision (within reason), and it's not necessarily better to be 'safe' or 'reckless' (also within reason). It's a question of figuring out your own path and trying to stay true to yourself and the people you care about - and that's what my books are about. Although that makes them sound very serious, and they're not! They're full of fun and snogging. :)

6. Have you ever done a silent rave like Carlota, Bethany, Zac and Yves? It sounds like fun!

I happened to have a chat once with a writer who took part in a huge silent rave on the South Bank and his description definitely influenced this scene in my book! (So thanks to Gareth P. Jones, if you ever see this!) I've also seen silent raves on television, but I've yet to be involved in one. Maybe it's time to start organising one. Who wants to join me...?

7. I love the way Bethany and Carlota try to keep their friendship going. Is this something that you feel is important?

Yes, definitely. Friendships can be complicated and often not quite what they seem on the surface, and there can be bad patches, but this doesn't mean they won't be long-lasting. In Extreme Kissing, Bethany and Carlota seem to have very different personalities, almost at opposite extremes, and they both have moments of wishing they were more like each other. But I think they start to see that they're not that different, and their friendship clearly works. I wanted to write about friendship but also about how self-image can colour relationships - one of my favourite themes in teen fiction!

8. What are you working on at the moment?

I'm working on a sequel for Split by a Kiss, which will hopefully be out next year.


Thank you very much, Luisa. You can see my review of Split by a Kiss here and Extreme Kissing here. You can also visit Luisa on her website www.luisaplaja.com. I can't recommend Luisa’s books enough because they are brilliant.

Sophie