Wednesday, 30 December 2009

My Favourite Books of 2009

I’ve decided to follow the example of bloggers such as Adele, Reggie and Steph Su in posting a list of my top reads of 2009. Not all of the these books were published this year, but I’ve read them all in 2009. The books aren’t listed in any particular and there’s quite a few of them. I tried for five but failed. Miserably!

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Possibly two of the best books I’ve ever read. The mixture of a kick-ass heroine, a brilliant love triangle and a terrifying dystopian world make them unforgettable. (My reviews are here and here.)

Perfect Chemistry - Simone Elkeles
An intense and enthralling love story of Romeo and Juliet proportions. I’m beyond excited to read the sequel, Rules of Attraction, next April. (My review is here.)

The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine
I love me some Morganville! This is one of my favourite series’. Action-packed, traditional bad vampires and lovable characters make them incredibly compelling reads. (Here are my reviews: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls’ Dance, Midnight Alley, Feast of Fools, Lord of Misrule, Carpe Corpus)

Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead
Another of my favourite series. And another about vampires! Truly individual lore, the irrepressible Rose and gorgeous Dimitri make them truly addictive books. (These are my reviews: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise)

The Mortal Instruments - Cassandra Clare
I know, another series. I can’t help it! I devoured the first two and nearly went mad waiting for City of Glass. Demons, Jace and forbidden love. What more could you want? (My reviews are here and here.)

Being Nikki - Meg Cabot
The mixture of Meg Cabot’s trademark humour, a geeky protagonist, some science-fiction and my sister’s threats if I didn’t put it on this list put Being Nikki on the best of 2009 list. (My review is here.)

If I Stay - Gayle Forman
A heartbreaking and beautifully written novel that should be a must-read for everyone. I doubt anyone who reads this will get to the end dry-eyed. Stock up the tissues! (My review.)

Stolen - Lucy Christopher
One of the best books I’ve ever read, it was hard to believe it was Lucy's first novel. Shocking, stunning and truly one of a kind. I've never read anything like it and I doubt I will again. (My review.)

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side - Beth Fantaskey
Vampires again! A steady, believable love story between an endearing heroine and a gorgeous, old-fashioned vampire. The wedding chapters on beth's website were a brilliant edition to the story. Fabulous! (Here is my review.)

Fallen - Lauren Kate
A sultry atmosphere, confounding mysteries, fantastic mythology and powerful writing. This is one of my favourite supernatural reads this year. It’s going to be a hell of a wait for the next in the series. (Here’s me review.)

Ice - Sarah Beth Durst
An enchanting and gorgeously written fairytale re-telling. I never expected to love this as much as I did and I'm so glad that I gave it a chance. Perfect for fans of the weirdly wonderful. (My review.)

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
One of the most beautiful books I’ve read this year. Captivating writing, a believable and intense love story and magic made this so much better than I expected it to be. I’m normally Team Vampire, but Shiver could easily change my mind. (Here's my review.)

These are only a small proportion of the amazing books that I’ve read this year and that’s mostly due to blogging. 20009 was a brilliant book year and I think that 2010 will be even better…


Monday, 28 December 2009

Girl, Aloud - Emily Gale

Girl, Aloud - Emily Gale

Pages: 276
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: 7th December 2009

This is serious.
This is big.
Dad has finally lost it.

He’s entered me for The X Factor.

This would be less of a crisis if:

1. I could sing.
2. Any tiny bit of me wanted to be a star.
3. I hadn’t lost my two best friends over a boy in brown boots.

Inside I’m screaming, I just wannabe…me!

Girl, Aloud is the story of a girl finding her voice that’s at once painfully embarrassing and incredibly sad.

Emily Gale wrote a brilliant cast of characters in Girl, Aloud. Kass is strong, funny, and even though nothing ever goes right for her, I didn’t want to pity her. I felt that she would work things out. Raff is funny and strange, like all little brothers, and even a little sweet. And Char and Izzy are great friends with distinctive character traits that set them apart.

One of the elements of Girl, Aloud that I really enjoyed was Kass’s dream conversations with Simon Cowell. They were really brilliant. I loved the way that they argued and it made Kass realise things about herself. I’d never be able to talk to Simon Cowell, though: he scares me a little!

After such a great debut, I’m really looking forward to reading what Emily Gale writes next.


Sunday, 27 December 2009

In My Mailbox 44

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

For review:
Beautiful Creatures - Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

In Ethan Wate’s hometown there lies the darkest of secrets…
There is a girl.

Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head…green eyes, black hair.
Lena Duchannes

There is a curse.
On the sixteenth moon, of the sixteenth year, the Book will take what it’s been promised.
And no one can stop it.

In the end, there is a grave.

Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and, on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided.
Ethan never even saw it coming.

!!! I don’t even really have to say anything, do I?


Fade Out: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Without the evil vampire Bishop ruling over the town of Morganville, the resident vampires have made major concessions to the human population. With their newfound freedom, Claire Danvers and her friends are almost starting to feel comfortable again…

Now Claire can actually concentrate on her studies, and her friend Eve joins the local theatre company. But when one of Eve’s cast mates goes missing after starting work on a short documentary, Eve suspects the worst. Claire and Eve soon realise that this film project, featuring the vampires themselves, is a whole lot bigger - and way more dangerous - than anyone suspected…

It’s no secret that I love this series so when this was delivered on Tuesday, over two weeks before it’s publication date, I remembered why I love Amazon UK pre-orders so much.

Splendour: A Luxe Novel - Anna Godbersen

New York City, 1900

While the once revered Holland family recovers from scandal, the spirited Miss Diana Holland is seeking adventure abroad. But then a surprising clue about her father’s death is revealed and everything is thrown into question.

Meanwhile, the delectable Henry Schoonmaker has also left the city and bravely gone to war while his wife relishes her role as Manhattan royalty - until a real prince pays a visit and turns her fickle head.

As New York’s most dazzling stars chase dreams, cling to promises and tempt fate, society wonders: at exactly what price does a life of splendour come?

Another reason why I love pre-orders. I’m so excited the read this!

For Christmas:

Succubus Blues - Richelle Mead

Succubus (n.) An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men.
Pathetic (adj.) A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything for just a touch. Granted, they can often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven't stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess getup complete with whip and wings. And she can't have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy's life. At least there's her day job at a local bookstore--free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can't.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle's demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won't help because Georgina's about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny...

I love the Vampire Academy series so I’m really looking forward to starting her adult books.

How to Make a Tornado - New Scientist

Who on earth would:
- Burn off their beard with a laser?
- Produce a fireproof umbrella that doubles as a parachute?
- Use ‘glow-in-the-dark’ toothpaste - to reflect the headlights of oncoming cars?
- Celebrate Mozart’s bicentenary by inventing a musical bra?
- Replace police sniffer dogs with gerbils?

Drawn from the archives of New Scientist magazine, How to Make a Tornado is about the weird and wonderful margins of science - not the well-trodden routes of research, but its outrageous, outlandish and just occasionally brilliant by-ways. This extraordinary collection of scientific endeavour is a brilliant reminder that even as its most misguided, science is insanely creative, often hilarious, and can fire the imagination like nothing else.

More Heath Robinson that Albert Einstein, this astonishing collection follows the previous New Scientist bestsellers.

My mum gets me the new New Scientist every Christmas because they are really good fun and, well, I’m a nerd!

Can Reindeer Fly? The Science of Christmas - Roger Highfield

What are the thermodynamics involved in cooking turkey? Is the concept of a virgin birth scientifically feasible? How does snow form? How does Santa manage to deliver all those presents in one night? (He has, in fact, little over two ten-thousandths of a second to get between each of the 842 million households he must visit.)

Fully revised and updated, Can Reindeer Fly? is a hilarious romp through the science of Christmas. Highlights include information on teleporting Santa, gravy science, the healthy aspects of eating chocolate and the latest research on a cure for hangovers…

Another sign of my nerdiness…


Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope you have a fantastic holiday and get loads of books!


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

Pages: 308
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: 1st July 2009

Other Titles in the Series: The Dead-Tossed Waves (US 09/03/10, UK 08/04/10)

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent.

And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future - between the one she loves and the one who loves her.

And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is Carrie Ryan’s bleak debut novel written in stark, beautiful prose.

At first I found this very heavy and hard to read. The disaster after disaster gave The Forest of Hands and Teeth a depressing and hopeless feel to it. The Sisters are creepy, harsh and quite scary in the power that they wield over the residents of the village and the secrets that they keep. I have to admit that I very nearly gave up on it.

But by the time that I got half-way through The Forest of Hands and Teeth I was very glad that I persevered with it. I ended up quite enjoying it. Carrie Ryan’s gorgeous writing was what made me carry on reading and even ended up making me cry. I never imagined that this book would have that effect on me!

Other than the gloomy beginning, I do have a few other complaints. I didn’t really like any of the characters. They were all either selfish, hard or disloyal towards each other and I just couldn’t connect with them properly. We were also launched straight into the story with no explanation or back-story of the Return. I know that Mary herself didn’t know very much about it and so she couldn’t really tell us, but I just felt that it needed it to complete it.

I did enjoy The Forest of Hands and Teeth in the end and I’ll be reading the sequel, The Dead-Tossed Waves, next year to how a new heroine deals with life alongside the Unconsecrated.


Monday, 21 December 2009

Sprout - Dale Peck

Sprout - Dale Peck

Pages: 278
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: 1st June 2009

A move from New York to rural Kansas following the death of his mother uproots Sprout. He’s sure he’ll find no friends, no love, no beauty there. But then friends find him, the strangeness of the landscape fascinates him and, when love shows up in an unexpected place, Sprout realises that Kansas is not quite as empty as he thought.

Subverting stereotypes and packed with gritty humour, Sprout is an inspirational coming-of-age story about a boy who knows he is gay in a town that seems to have no place to hide.

Sprout is such a refreshing read. I haven’t read anything like it before and I loved it.

Sprout is a truly individual protagonist. I mean, he has green hair for one, but he’s also witty, clever and darkly sarcastic. His wry sense of humour did go over my head occasionally, though! Sprout’s unique and original voice really captured me and I genuinely cared for him and Ty by the end of the book, though there was a point where I got really annoyed with Sprout and thought that he was pretty stupid.

The way that Sprout was written is something that you don’t come across very often. Sprout was consciously writing a book and at some points talked directly to the reader. It really involved me in his story. He also mentioned and pointed out writing techniques that he learnt about and used in his essays. I actually learnt a lot, too! But Sprout is also an issues book. But they weren’t shoved down my throat or at all patronising.

I do have one complaint about Sprout though; it felt a little unfinished. I turned the last page and I wanted more. That was definitely not the end of Sprout’s story, Ty’s story and even Ian’s and Ruthie’s stories. I really want a sequel to Sprout.

I loved Sprout and I really hope that Dale Peck continues their stories one day and I’d recommend this to anyone who wants something a little different.


Sunday, 20 December 2009

In My Mailbox 43

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

For review:

The Thirteen Curses - Michelle Harrison

When fairies stole her brother, Red vowed to get him back.

Trapped in the fairy realm, Red must beg an audience with the fairy court. There, she strikes a bargain. her brother will be returned - but only if she can find the charms of Tanya’s bracelet, scattered in the human world.

Returning to Elvesden Manor, Red is assisted by Tanya and Fabian, a desperate hunt begins. Soon they make a shocking discovery. The charms are now cursed with the twisted qualities of the thirteen treasures they represent…and the longer they are missing, the worse the consequences will be.

Can Red, Tanya and Fabian find all the charms? And even if they do, will the fairies keep their promise?

The first of three surprise packages from Simon and Schuster. I actually squealed when I pulled this out, I’m that excited.

Wicked: Legacy & Spellbound - Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Holly Cathers us not the same person she was almost a year and a half ago. After discovering her connection to an ancient legacy of witches, Holly has accepted her destiny as a descendent of the House of Cahors and is determined to end an intergenerational feud that has plagued her family for centuries.

But Holly will have to overcome unworldly obstacles as she battles to protect her loved ones - including Jer, a member of the rival House of Deveraux and her one true love. A war of magical proportions is being waged, and Holly is right in the middle of it. Lives will be lost - and sacrifices will have to be made…

This is actually books 3 and 4, but I don’t have the first two! Looks like I’m going to have to change that!

A Million Shades of Grey - Cynthia Kadohata

At twelve years old, Tin is the youngest elephant handler in his village. He loves nothing more than spending his days looking after his elephant, Lady, and dreaming of being an elephant trainer when he grows up.

But as Tin dreams of his future, the world around him is being changed dramatically by the events of the Vietnam War, and when Viet Cong attack his village, Tin’s life is turned upside down. Suddenly held hostage by soldiers who don’t care if he lives or dies, Tin has to harness all his courage to escape from his captors and save not only his own life, but his precious elephant’s too.

I love elephants! I think this one if going to make me cry.

Girl, Aloud - Emily Gale

This is serious.
This is big.
Dad has finally lost it.

He’s entered me for The X Factor.

This would be less of a crisis if:

1. I could sing.
2. Any tiny bit of me wanted to be a star.
3. I hadn’t lost my two best friends over a boy in brown boots.

Inside I’m screaming, I just wannabe…me!

Thank you, Emily! I’ve heard great things about this one so I’m really excited to give it a go.

When I Was Joe - Keren David

It’s one thing watching someone get killed.
It’s quite another talking about it.

But Ty does talk about it. He names some ruthless people and a petrol-bomb attack forces him and his mum into hiding under police protection.

Shy loser Ty gets a new name, a new look and a cool new image. Life as Joe is good. But the gangsters will stop at nothing to silence him. And then he meets a girl with a dangerous secret of her own.

A completely irresistible thriller by an exciting new writer.

Thanks, Keren! This is something new for me so I’m looking forward to it.

My Totally Secret Diary: Reality TV Nightmare - Dee Shulman

If you happen to pick up this books - PLEASE don’t show it to anybody. It is totally PRIVATE. And quite disheartening.

It tells the tragical story of a helpless innocent person (me) trying to live an ordinary private life with a very DIFFICULT mother.

But how can you live an ordinary private life if your difficult mother invites a TV crew to come film in your house???

How are you supposed to keep that a secret from everyone at school???!

Thanks to Random House for this. It looks really fun!


Friday, 18 December 2009

Featured on Friday: Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst is the author of three novels: Into the Wild, Out of the Wild and her new release, Ice. Sarah lives in New York with her husband, their two children and their cat.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
Any time works. But I like to write at my desk. I have a laptop, and I always imagine being able to write in romantic locales like by the seashore, on a hammock, or in a cafe... but there's too much glare on the beach, too many bugs swarming the hammock, and too many distracting conversations at cafes. (I'm a terrible eavesdropper.)

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
Growing up, I loved Tamora Pierce, Terry Brooks, Patricia C. Wrede, Robin McKinley, Diane Duane, Diana Wynne Jones, Mercedes Lackey, and Anne McCaffrey. Now that I'm older and wiser... I still love all those authors! They're awesome. Really, my taste hasn’t changed. Give me a girl who kicks butt and has a talking dragon/wolf/horse, and I'm a happy Sarah.

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island (or the Arctic :) ), what would they be?
Only three?! Can I get all of the above authors' books compiled as an omnibus and bring that? If not... Beauty by Robin McKinley, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and a survival guide book with idiot-proof instructions for starting fires and not dying on desert islands.

4. Is there a novel that you wish you’d written? Why?
Harry Potter. Because it would be amazing to make that many people happy.

5. Why did you choose to re-tell East of the Sun, West of the Moon?
I love fairy tales, but I was tired of all the stories where the heroine sleeps through all the cool parts. East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a Beauty and the Beast kind of story where the beauty kicks butt and saves the prince. For my version, I chose to make beauty a modern-day Alaskan girl who spends her days riding snowmobiles and chasing polar bears with her Arctic research scientist father.

6. Have you always been a fan of fairy tales? Do you have a favourite?
I love Beauty and the Beast because it's about true love. The characters become friends first. They form a real bond based on mutual respect, not admiration for impractical transparent footwear.

7. The way that you described the Arctic in Ice made me want to go there, and I hate the cold! Have you ever been?
I hate the cold too. And the heat. In fact, if I'm not at 68 degrees, I'm grumpy. So I did all my Arctic travelling through books, maps, and documentaries. I spent months in research immersing myself in the details. Best kind of travel. No packing necessary.

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
Yes, I'm working on a YA fantasy to be published fall 2010 by Simon & Schuster. It doesn't have a final title yet, but it's about getting into college, talking to gargoyles, riding on dragons... I'm really excited about it.

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

You’re welcome!

Thank you very much, Sarah! You can visit Sarah at her website and blog. You can also read my review of Ice here.


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Love, Aubrey - Suzanne LaFleur

Love, Aubrey - Suzanne LaFleur

Pages: 262
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 25th June 2009

Something heartbreaking has happened. Eleven-year-old Aubrey is on her own.

'It was fun at first, playing house. Nothing to think about but TV and cheese. A perfect world.’

She’s determined to hide away and take care of herself, because facing the truth is too much to bear.

‘I couldn’t let anyone know that I as alone. I was staying right here.’

But with the love of her grandmother and the letters she writes, can Aubrey begin to see that even though she’s lost everything - all is not lost?

Love, Aubrey is a heartbreaking tale of grief, loss and, ultimately, hope. You’d never guess that this is Suzanne LaFleur’s first novel. It’s beautifully written.

Though Aubrey is a much younger protagonist than I usually read about, she quickly became one of my favourites. Her voice is one that I connected with immediately and I felt like I was riding the wave of her emotions along with her. Sometimes, Aubrey was far more mature than her eleven years, having to make decisions that a child should never have to make. But she also hated doing certain chores, refused to get out of bed some days and liked to get messy. Aubrey is a completely loveable character.

Aubrey’s memories of before were scattered throughout Love, Aubrey along with her letter. I loved the insight they gave me into her life and family from before and also her innermost thoughts. What’s more, they showcased just how much she’d had to grow up. These were also the bits than made me cry!

But the thing about Love, Aubrey that captured me most was Suzanne LaFleur’s writing. Her effortless prose carried me through Aubrey’s story beautifully. The language wasn’t complex and the descriptions brought both the blistering heat of summer and bitter cold of winter in Vermont to life.

I loved every word of Love, Aubrey and I’ll read whatever else Suzanne LaFleur writes. She’s definitely an author to watch.

Monday, 14 December 2009

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You - Ally Carter

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You - Ally Carter

Pages: 284
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: 20th March 2007

Other Titles in the Series: Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover

Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school - typical, that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses, but it’s really a school for spies.

Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man seven different ways with her bare hands, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl.

Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real “pavement artist” - but can she manoeuvre a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You is a fun story of a group of very special girls at a very special boarding school.

I loved all of the spy gadgets and adventures in this book. The secret codes, undercover missions and hidden identities were so much fun to read about. It made me want to be a spy at times! But one of the best things about I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You was how much more to the story there was than just the spies-in-training.

Cammie really is an average teenager, well, with the exceptions of being able to speak fourteen languages and floor a grown man effortlessly. She worried about her future, wanted a normal family (at times) and went gaga over cute boys. I also noticed something while reading this: the ordinary girls want to be special and the special girls always want to be ordinary. No one’s happy with their lot!

I thoroughly enjoyed I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You so I’ll definitely be getting myself a copy of Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy to see what Cammie and the girls get up to next.


Friday, 11 December 2009

Cover News: Swapped by a Kiss and If I Stay

I've got some fabulous covers for you today! All links are to Amazon UK.

Swapped by a Kiss - Luisa Plaja (UK PB April 1st 2010)

The third book from the lovely Luisa Plaja! I'm very excited the read the sequel to her debut novel Split by a Kiss.

If I Stay - Gayle Forman (UK PB April 1st 2010)
I've already read this one, but this beautiful paperback cover will hopefully draw lots of attention so that many people read this amazing book.


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Ember Fury - Cathy Brett

Ember Fury - Cathy Brett

Pages: 232
Publisher: Headline
Release Date: 6th August 2009

PYROMANIA: A mental derangement, excitement or excessive enthusiasm for fire.

Having celebrity parents isn’t as hot as it sounds. Yes, there’s money to burn, fame and some totally smoking guys…But when your dad’s more interested in blazing a trail to the top of the charts than why you got kicked out of school, again, it can make you seriously angry. And if there’s one thing Ember knows, it’s that the smallest spark of anger can ignite a whole heap of trouble…

Ember Fury was completely new territory for me and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction into the world of graphic novels.

I’ve always been a bit hesitant of graphic novels so Ember Fury’s half-and-half format really appealed to me. The illustrations enhanced the story and I loved the way that they integrated with the text so that they didn’t feel separate from the story; you had to take it all in together. I also loved the stage directions at the beginning of some of the chapters. Very cool!

There was something about the writing in Ember Fury that is pretty rare, not just in YA, but generally. Ember as talking to me, and only me. Every word was for my benefit. I really love this in a story as it fully involves you in the lives of the characters.

Speaking of the characters; Ned’s my favourite. He’s witty, sarcastic and very cool. Ned and Ember’s adventures together are an unexpected, but brilliant, addition to Ember Fury. Though a little confusing at first, they soon became one of my favourite elements of the book.

I loved reading Ember Fury and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting a subtle introduction into the world of graphic novels.


Monday, 7 December 2009

Beautiful Dead: Arizona - Eden Maguire

Beautiful Dead: Arizona - Eden Maguire

Pages: 276
Publisher: Hodder
Release Date: 15th October 2009

Other Titles in the Series: Jonas (my review), Summer (06/05/10), Phoenix (2010)

Not alive. Not dead. Somewhere in between lie the Beautiful Dead.

There’s been no sign of the Beautiful Dead for weeks. Darina achingly misses Phoenix all over again. Surely he will return to help her solve the remaining mysteries.

It’s been a year since Arizona drowned in Hartman Lake. Suicide, it would seem. But something doesn’t add up… Drowning herself in a lake does not sound like strong, confident Arizona: Ellerton High School’s high-maintenance drama queen.

Darina must help Arizona the way she helped Jonas. But invisible wings are beating, the Beautiful Dead are in danger and time is running out…

The second instalment of the Beautiful Dead series is as engaging and easy to read as the first.

I really love the mysteries of Jonas, Arizona, Summer and Phoenix’s deaths. the ones that we’ve explored so far are no where near as simple as they first seem. I love being so completely wrong about what really happened! To me, that’s one of things that say great writing.

In Arizona, we learn a lot more about Hunter’s history and also the level of control he has over the Beautiful Dead. Darina isn’t exaggerating when she calls him a ‘zombie overlord’! He’s the only one of them that actually seems like a zombie and scares me a little. I hated the fact that he kept Phoenix and Darina apart in the beginning and then continues to restrict their time together later on, though. Haven’t they been through enough?!

One of the things that I love most about the Beautiful Dead series is the atmosphere that the setting creates. It’s not explicitly stated what state they’re set in, but they have a laid-back, languid American Midwest feel to me. It makes me even more fed up with my boring and rainy English town than I already am!

I thoroughly enjoyed Beautiful Dead: Arizona and I’m really looking forward to reading Summer next year.


Sunday, 6 December 2009

In My Mailbox 42

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

From my Secret Santa:

Graceling - Kristin Cashore

In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited. Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.

Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?

The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out - but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks around the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king…

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerising world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will captivate you, and leave you wanting more.

Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-tine cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out much. Not because she’s not pretty. She is. It’s just that, well, Sookie has this sort of ‘disability’. she can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill: he’s tall, dark and handsome - and Sookie can’t ‘hear’ a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting for all her life.

But Bill has a disability of his own: he’s a vampire. Worse than that, he hangs around with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble - of the murderous kind.

And when one of Sookie’s colleagues is killed, she begins to fear she’ll be next…

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception - Maggie Stiefvater

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a prodigiously gifted musician. She’s about to find out she’s also a clover hand - one who can see faeries.

Unexpectedly, Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy named Luke who enters her ordinary life, seemingly out of thin air. But his interest in her might be something darker than summer romance. When a sinister faerie named Aodhan shows up with deadly orders from the Faerie Queen, it forces Dee right into the midst of Faerie. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend.

Deirdre had been wishing her summer weren’t so dull, but taking on a centuries-old Faerie Queen isn’t exactly what she had in mind.

Ahh! I’m so excited to read all three of these. Thank you so much, Secret Santa!


Friday, 4 December 2009

Demon Princess: Reign or Shine - Michelle Rowen

Demon Princess: Reign or Shine - Michelle Rowen

Pages: 274
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: 29th September 2009

Other Titles by this Author: Immortality Bites series, Warner Forever series

For Nikki Donovan, being a teenage can be hell. Literally.

As if trying to fit in at a new school and navigating the social scene isn’t enough stress for her, sixteen-year-old Nikki Donovan just found out that her long-lost father is, in fact, the demon king of the Shadowlands - the world that separates and protects us from the Underworld. When she is brought there by a mysterious - and surprisingly cute - messenger Michael she learns that he father is dying, and that he wants her to assume the throne. To complicate matters, a war is brewing between the Shadowlands and the Underworld, her half-demon qualities are manifesting, and her growing feelings for Michael are forbidden. Ruling a kingdom, navigating a secret crush, and still making it home by curfew - what’s a teenage demon princess to do?

Demon Princess: Reign or Shine is a cute, fun and unexpectedly brilliant read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Michelle Rowen crafted a tale full of excellent and likeable characters. Nikki is brave and stubborn and yet still manages to represent a loving and confused sixteen-year-old girl. Michael is so sweet and protective of Nikki. But he also has the mysterious thing going on and brings one of my favourite story elements to Demon Princess: forbidden love. In addition, you’ve got perfect popular Chris, insecure best friend Melinda and Nikki’s dad who she got totally wrong.

I also loved all of the magical elements in Demon Princess. The idea of the Shadowlands lying between the human realm and the Underworld and Hell and preventing the evil from passing through is genius. And the variety of creatures covers the favourites of every fantasy fan.

Towards the end of the novel, lots of possible new storylines were laid down that could be picked up later on in the series. I’m especially looking forward to learning more about Melinda, finding out how Nikki and Michael will work their relationship and, hopefully, seeing a lot more of Rhys.

The first instalment of the Demon Princess series has made me very excited for what I’m sure will be a great set of books and I’m eagerly awaiting the second book, Demon Princess: Reign Check, when it’s released next June.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

My Secret Santa Goodies!

Last moth I signed up for the Secret Santa with Kate at The Neverending Shelf and yesterday, I got my pressie! I got three amazing books that I can’t wait to start. Here’s what I got:

Graceling - Kristin Cashore
Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception - Maggie Stiefvater

I’d like to say a huge thank you to my Secret Santa. Thank you! I hope the rest of your Secret Santa's are as amzing as mine.