Friday, 31 December 2010

Top 10 of 2010

I know I haven’t been around much for the last couple of months amd I haven’t read nearly as much as I wanted to, but of the books I did read, there were a few that really stood out.

And so here are my ten favourite books of 2010 in no particular order:
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
This was my most highly anticipated book of the year and I wasn’t at all disappointed. Suzanne Collins’ portrayal of Katniss final chapter was intense, shocking, heartbreaking and beautifully done. A perfect ending to an extraordinary trilogy

The book began a love affair for me. This fey world is so vivid and full of life that you literally fall into it. And of course there’s Ash…

Kat Falls has created the only dystopian world that I’d happily live in with her cinematic storytelling and engaging characters. This book didn’t get nearly as much love as it should have.

Forbidden will stay with me for a very long time. It caused me heart-wrenching pain, ridiculous levels of inner conflict and awe at the talent of Tabitha Suzuma. If you haven’t read this, you’re missing out.

Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare
My love for Cassandra Clare’s books is no secret so that I loved this should be no surprise. Her world-building skills are second to none and I love all of the characters she creates. Especially Will.

Vampire Academy: Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead
This was another of my most highly anticipated novels of 2010 and it to lived up to my expectations. I was incredibly sad to see this series come to an end as I’ve really fallen in love with the feisty Rose and godly Dimitri.

Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
The cover was what initially attracted me to this book, but inside that was even better. I loved the myth and lore of Nightshade and I devoured it very, very quickly.

I loved the idea of a love triangle with a ghost and was intrigued as to how this would pan out. Brilliantly is the answer! The way that the supernatural and normal worlds merged and the pace of Aura’s grieving was refreshing.
Inside Out - Maria V. Snyder
I didn’t love Snyder’s Posion trilogy so I was hesitant to read this, but I loved it. It‘s a fantastically created world full of action and adventure. (My review of this will be posted later this month as part of a tour.)

Stephanie’s debut was the book that surprised me most this year. This Regency tale is full of charm, humour and warmth and I loved every page of it. This is one that you can lend to your little sister and your mum.

2010 was a brilliant book year and 2011 is already shaping up to be just as amazing. Bring it on!
Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Contest: Witch and Wizard by James Patterson (CLOSED)

Thanks to the lovely people at Random House, I have a brand new papaerback of James Patterson's Witch and Wizard  to give to one lucky UK winner.

To enter:
- Leave a comment with your name and email address. No email address, no entry.
- +2 for followers
- +2 for spreading the word (twitter, facebook, blog post etc.)

You do not have to be a blogger to enter this giveaway.
I will draw the winner on Monday 10th January, entries closing at 11:59pm GMT on Sunday 9th.

This contest is UK only. Sorry guys!

Good Luck!


Sunday, 26 December 2010

Matched - Ally Condie

Matched – Ally Condie

Pages: 366 (ARC)
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: 2nd December 2010

Watched by society.
Trapped by rules.
Freed by love?

On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life.

Except he’s not.

In Cassia’s society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die.

But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own.

And that’s when her whole world begins to unravel...

Ally Condie’s debut is one of the most highly anticipated YA novels of the year and I had very high expectations, and I was majorly disappointed.

I found Matched to be very slow-moving. Not very much happened in the way of action until the last hundred or so pages; it seemed to be very character driven and paid a lot of attention to establishing Cassia’s world and its rules. But, boy, what a world! Ally Condie’s dystopian world is controlled to the extreme, creating a ‘perfect’ society. Everybody is healthy, educated, working to their strengths, matched to their genes and personalities and die at the same age. They have no choice and no freedom.

Due to the Hundred Committee – people choosing a hundred poems, books, paintings, historical moments, etc. – Cassia can't even know of the world the Officials have supposedly saved them from. The idea of the Hundred actually terrifies me. Imagine a group of people limiting art and culture like that! This really enforced the feeling of the forbidden in everything that Cassia does, feels and thinks.

Even though I didn’t particularly like Cassia and I struggled to keep reading at some points, I can't deny that Matched was beautifully written and there were two quotes in particular that really stayed with me: ‘Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs.’ (p.65 UK ARC) and ‘Some things are created to be together.’ (p.213 UK ARC). Both are beautiful and very, very true.

Even though I doubt I’ll carry on with the series, Matched will appeal to fans of dystopia and forbidden love.

For my 2010 Debut Author Challenge, 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Friday, 24 December 2010

Nightshade - Andrea Cremer

Nightshade – Andrea Cremer

Pages: 452 (ARC)
Publisher: Atom (Little, Brown)
Release Date: 28th December 2010

From Goodreads: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Nightshade is a fantastically engaging and compelling debut from Andrea Cremer that had me hooked with the very dramatic beginning.

This is an unusual novel regarding the usual conventions of YA paranormal romance. Instead of a normal human girl being thrown into the midst of a supernatural world and having to be introduced to its lore and have things explained, we join Nightshade’s protagonist, Calla, in the centre of the action. As she is already such an integral part of the supernatural elements the lore is revealed naturally and as it is needed. This approach is very refreshing in a genre that’s becoming clichéd.

I found the pack dynamics fascinating. All of the hierarchies and power plays that ruled the Bane and Nightshade packs were complex and very specific to wolves. Andrea Cremer then introduced the origins and lore of the Guardians and Keepers. It’s completely unique and original. I did find it a little confusing in the beginning with which wolves were members of which pack and other details like that, but I did eventually get everyone sorted out.

I’ve always believed that to love a book I need to love the protagonist, but Nightshade proved me wrong. It’s not that I didn’t like Calla, it’s just that I didn’t really feel anything for her. But saying that, I was cheering her on throughout the novel and I had a very clear idea on who I wanted her to be with: Shay, as I didn't like Ren at all. The relationship between Calla and the two boys were fiery and intense, made even more so by Andrea Cremer’s sensual and seductive writing.

Nightshade is a brilliant novel and left Calla’s story in such a way that has me dying for Wolfsbane.

For my 2010 Debut Author Challenge, 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Blog Tour: Nightshade

Today I have the exclusive first part of the first chapter of Andrea Cremer's fantastuc debut novel, Nightshade, to share with you. Enjoy!
I’d always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden.
 The bear’s roar filled my ears. Its hot breath assaulted my nostrils, fueling my bloodlust. Behind me I could hear the boy’s ragged gasp. The desperate sound made my nails dig into the earth. I snarled at the larger predator again, daring it to try to get past me.

What the hell am I doing?

I risked a glance at the boy and my pulse raced. His right hand pressed against the gashes in his thigh. Blood surged between his fingers, darkening his jeans until they looked streaked by black paint. Slashes in his shirt barely covered the red lacerations that marred his chest. A growl rose in my throat.

I crouched low, muscles tensed, ready to strike. The grizzly rose onto its hind legs. I held my ground.

Bryn’s cry sounded in my mind. A lithe brown wolf darted from the forest and tore into the bear’s unguarded flank. The grizzly turned, landing on all fours. Spit flew from its mouth as it searched for the unseen attacker. But Bryn, lightning fast, dodged the bear’s lunge. With each swipe of the grizzly’s trunk-thick arms, she avoided its reach, always moving a split second faster than the bear. She seized her advantage, inflicting another taunting bite. When the bear’s back was turned, I leapt forward and ripped a chunk from its heel. The bear swung around to face me, its eyes rolling, filled with pain.

Bryn and I slunk along the ground, circling the huge animal. The bear’s blood made my mouth hot. My body tensed. We continued our ever-tightening dance. The bear’s eyes tracked us. I could smell its doubt, its rising fear. I let out a short, harsh bark and flashed my fangs. The grizzly snorted as it turned away and lumbered into the forest.

I raised my muzzle and howled in triumph. A moan brought me back to earth. The hiker stared at us, eyes wide. Curiosity pulled me toward him. I’d betrayed my masters, broken their laws. All for him.


My head dropped low and I tested the air. The hiker’s blood streamed over his skin and onto the ground, the sharp, coppery odour creating an intoxicating fog in my conscience. I fought the temptation to taste it.

Calla? Bryn’s alarm pulled my gaze from the fallen hiker.

Get out of here. I bared my teeth at the smaller wolf. She dropped low and bellied along the ground toward me. Then she raised her muzzle and licked the underside of my jaw.

What are you going to do? her blue eyes asked me.

She looked terrified. I wondered if she thought I’d kill the boy for my own pleasure. Guilt and shame trickled through my veins.

Bryn, you can’t be here. Go. Now.

She whined but slunk away, slipping beneath the cover of pine trees.

I stalked toward the hiker. My ears flicked back and forth. He struggled for breath, pain and terror filling his face. Deep gashes remained where the grizzly’s claws had torn at his thigh and chest. Blood still flowed from the wounds. I knew it wouldn’t stop. I growled, frustrated by the fragility of his human body.

He was a boy who looked about my age: seventeen, maybe eighteen. Brown hair with a slight shimmer of gold fell in a mess around his face. Sweat had caked strands of it to his forehead and cheeks. He was lean, strong—someone who could find his way around a mountain, as he clearly had. This part of the territory was only accessible through a steep, unwelcoming trail.

The scent of fear covered him, taunting my predatory instincts, but beneath it lay something else—the smell of spring, of nascent leaves and thawing earth. A scent full of hope. Possibility. Subtle and tempting.

I took another step toward him. I knew what I wanted to do, but it would mean a second, much-greater violation of the Keepers’ Laws. He tried to move back but gasped in pain and collapsed onto his elbows. My eyes moved over his face. His chiselled jaw and high cheekbones twisted in agony. Even writhing he was beautiful, muscles clenching and unclenching, revealing his strength, his body’s fight against its impending collapse, rendering his torture sublime. Desire to help him consumed me.

I can’t watch him die.

I shifted forms before I realized I’d made the decision. The boy’s eyes widened when the white wolf who’d been eyeing him was no longer an animal, but a girl with the wolf’s golden eyes and platinum blond hair. I walked to his side and dropped to my knees. His entire body shook. I began to reach for him but hesitated, surprised to feel my own limbs trembling. I’d never been so afraid.
A rasping breath pulled me out of my thoughts.

“Who are you?” The boy stared at me. His eyes were the colour of winter moss, a delicate shade that hovered between green and gray. I was caught there for a moment. Lost in the questions that pushed through his pain and into his gaze.
I raised the soft flesh of my inner forearm to my mouth. Willing my canines to sharpen, I bit down hard and waited until my own blood touched my tongue. Then I extended my arm toward him.

“Drink. It’s the only thing that can save you.”
I promise you that it gets even better, though you're probably wondering if that's possible! Look out for my review at the end of the week to see just how much I loved this.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Guest Blog: Sybil Nelson

My Interview with Sybil Nelson

By Priscilla Sumner

Hey, I’m Priscilla from the Priscilla the Great book series. I got an English assignment that’s due in like 20 minutes so I thought I’d get your help. I’m supposed to interview with someone I admire. But since Wonder Woman isn’t exactly a real person, I decided to interview Sybil Nelson, the author who created me. Why don’t you read it and let me know what you think?

Priss: Hey Sybil. Thanks for helping me out today.

Sybil: No problem. Glad to be your back up plan. I wouldn’t want you failing English now would I?

Priss: That would be awful. I’d get grounded. Literally, grounded. Mom and dad would take the keys to the jet away. Once you can fly an invisible jet anywhere around the world, getting a driver’s license seems lame.

Sybil: I’ll take your word for it.

Priss: So tell me how you came up with the idea for Priscilla the Great starring me, Priscilla.

Sybil: Well, I really wanted to write a book that embodied “girl power.” I wanted to show that girls could be strong and funny and save the day. I wanted a spunky girl superhero. The original story was called The Adventures of PMS Girl and it was about a girl who got super powers when she got her first period.

Priss: Gross.

Sybil: Gross, but funny. You have to admit it’s a hilarious concept to be able to shoot fire out of your fingers once a month. It’s a girl’s dream come true. Anyway, I decided to change the concept to make the book more palatable to the masses and so now we have Priscilla the Great.

Priss: Okay, I don’t know what palatable means or what this has to do with mass, but moving on. Are any of the characters in the book based on you?

Sybil: Your best friend Tai is a little like me. When I was her age I was a super nerd, always studying, reading, or making science fair projects. Even now, I’m working on my PhD in Biostatistics. In fact, we may need to hurry this up. I have a final exam tomorrow.

Priss: Once again, I don’t know what Biostatistics is. I’ll have Tai explain it to me. Anyway, why don’t you give us a quick summary of the book for people who have no idea about it?

Sybil: Well, you live in a small town called River’s Bend with two secretive parents, a hunky older brother, and annoying maybe twin brothers.

Priss: Wait. Did you just call my brother hunky? Gross on so many levels.

Sybil: Anyway, one day after a particularly embarrassing conversation with a cute boy, you discover you can shoot fire out of your fingers. You and Tai investigate the phenomenon and find out that you’re not completely human. One of your parents was genetically engineered to be a super weapon and you inherited some gifts.

Priss: Good summary, Syb, but there is so much more to the story. I think people are really going to be surprised by how funny I am.

Sybil: Well, they can find out soon enough. Priscilla the Great book 1 will be available December 15th. Be sure to go to the website to read excerpts, watch movie trailers, or vote on who plays the characters in the movie.

Priss: Wait. Movie? There’s gonna be a movie?

Sybil: Yep, movie rights have already been sold.

Priss: Well, who is playing me???!!!

Sybil: Go to the website and see who’s winning the poll. And everyone should sign up for the newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will get a discounted autographed version of the book, plus they’ll be entered to win a $25 iTunes gift card.

Priss: Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with me Sybil. This better get me an A.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Vampire Academy: Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy: Last Sacrifice – Richelle Mead

Pages: 584
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: 7th December 2010

Other Titles in the Series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound

It all comes down to now.

The queen is dead and the Moroi world will never be the same.

Rose Hathaway is awaiting wrongful execution and there exists only one man who can stall this terrible fate. Rose must look to both Dimitri and Adrian, the two great loves of her life, to find him.

With her best friend, Lissa, in a deadly struggle for the royal throne, the girls find themselves forced to rely upon enemies and questioning those they thought they could trust.

But what if true freedom means sacrificing the most important thing of all?

Each other.
 Before I start raving about how amazing Last Sacrifice is, I should warn you not to read this review if you’re not up to date with the Vampire Academy series. I won’t include spoilers for this book, however.

As the last book in one of my favourite series, there was a lot hanging on Last Sacrifice. But Richelle Mead has never let me down before and she most definitely didn’t this time. I was captured from the very first sentence and spent most of the novel tense and on edge.

Now Rose is one of my favourite fictional heroines and this made the emotional trauma of the last two novels difficult to read so it was so good to see her back on form. Kind of. She is such a fighter and she rarely lets anything get to her. Her strength is unbelievable and I can see why both Dimitri and Adrian love her. Speaking of Dimitri, I love him too so I was very pleased to see him back on godly form after Spirit Bound. They are so perfect together!

As well as the usual action and drama that comes with a Vampire Academy novel, there was also lots of complex world development to do with the laws and politics of the Moroi world. Rose’s world is definitely one of the reasons why i love this series so much. There were so many little side stories and facets to the mythology that just kept adding more and more depth to the novel. Although my focus was definitely on Rose and Dimitri’s relationship.

And boy did their relationship develop! There were some moments of serious sexual tension between them that literally set the pages alight. I have championed their relationship from the beginning but Last Sacrifice provided the added complication of Adrian being Rose’s boyfriend. There’s also Sydney’s continued presence, which I didn’t expect, that kept interrupting them at crucial moments. So frustrating! The only other thing that I found frustrating was the repeated scenes at Court through Lissa and Rose’s bond. Although i know they were crucial to the plot, i just wanted to know what Rose and Dimitri were up to.

Last Sacrifice is a beautiful, fitting and very surprising ending to an amazing series. I loved every page.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Monday, 29 November 2010

Beautiful Darkness - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Darkness - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Pages: 508
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: 28th October 2010

Other Titles in the Series: Beautiful Creatures

From Goodreads: Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Beautiful Darkness is as beautifully written and intensely gripping as its predecessor, Beautiful Creatures.

One of my favourite things by far about this book is the writing. Together, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have written a novel in soft, languid and lyrical prose that weaves images of Gaitlin and the Caster world seamlessly into your consciousness and bringing it to life. This also contributed to the air of charm that Beautiful Darkness contains with the madcap traditions and ideals of the South.

The Caster world continued to develop in ever surprising ways as the story unfolded. It has so many different facets and sidelines that throw the characters in the opposite direction and alter the story completely. The revelations about the world and characters are built up to with a painfully slow and steady drip of information that never quite fits together until the very last moment.

As well as developments in the world nearly the entire cast of characters had an overhaul in one way or another. Amma continued to amaze me with her never-ending awesomeness; Lena infuriated me with her frequent stupidity; Ridley surprised me in general and the adults had shocks and secrets that really filled them out. There was also a new character, Liv, who I’m still not really sure about.

I thoroughly enjoyed Beautiful Darkness and I’m eagerly awaiting the next instalment of The Caster Chronicles.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Bits and Pieces

I just thought that I'd compile a post of all of the various information, links and updates to do with the publishing world and the like that I've been emailed over the past past couple of weeks or so.

25 Blogs Every Aspiring Novelist Should Read

Enjoy a wide selection of children's books & stories that you can read online. Bedtime, spanish, stories with morals, church books & more!

Harry Potter re-editions Facebook page

Alyson Noel's Night Star Trailer

Released November 16th in the US from St Martin's Press


Wednesday, 10 November 2010


I know that that the title of this post (and the HUGE image) probably gave it away but I've reached 500 followers and I need to say a huge thank you.

Thank you!

Even though I've been largely absent for a while you still comment and check my blog when I do post. It really does mean a lot to me and I can't thank you all enough.

I'm proud to say that quite a few of my first followers and some of the subsequent ones have become friends and you've made blogging for the last year and ten months a pleasure.

Hopefully I'll be posting more frequently now I've settled into my life at university, but I do love it quite a lot and I'm having too much fun so I won't be as present in the blogosphere as I was. Though I will do my best to post at least once a week and keep up with the lovely blogs that I follow.

Thank you again you awesome people!


Monday, 8 November 2010

Ghost Town: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Ghost Town: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Pages: 379
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Release Date: 4th November 2010

Other Titles in this Series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls’ Dance, Midnight Alley, Feast of Fools, Lord of Misrule, Carpe Corpus, Fade Out, Kiss of Death

From Goodreads: The fragile peace between humans and vampires in Morganville is in trouble, and when Claire takes drastic action, she's put under serious pressure to re-establish the barriers that keep the town residents inside, and wipe the memories of those who leave. But working with her half-crazy vampire boss Myrnin means that things don't always turn out as planned ... and as the people of Morganville begin acting strangely, Claire and her friends must solve the mystery and try to put things right. But one by one, her allies are turning on her ... even the ones she trusts most.

It’s no secret how much I love The Morganville Vampires series so telling you that I adored Ghost Town is not going to be remotely surprising.

As the lack of reviews posted on my blog for the last month and a half may have suggested, I’ve been in a bit if a reading slump. I just couldn’t make myself sit down and read a book on top of those I have to read for my course until I saw this on a shelf in Smith’s about a week early and nearly wet myself with excitement. Ghost Town has made me want to read again! It’s so good to be back in dusty Morganville with Claire, Shane, Michael and Eve with still more new twists, turns and unexpected occurrences.

There were loads of scary new changes in Morganville. The fluctuations in power threw the whole town out of balance and confused the world that I’ve fallen in love with over the last eight books, and yet I still adored Ghost Town. It was through these changes that Oliver’s character was further developed, embellishing on all we learnt in Kiss of Death and I was also reminded of how harsh and unforgiving Amelie can be when she’s backed into a corner. But for some reason, I still really like both of them. Even when they’re cruel.

But one of my favourite elements was getting to see how Myrnin was before Claire arrived in Morganville. It was odd and a little unnerving, yet so fitting of the glimpses of insanity Rachel Caine has given us of him. The heartbreaking depth of his feelings for Ada were revealed to such an extent that I just wanted to bring her back for him. Even though she’s crazy. Moments like those didn’t stop with Myrnin, however. There were horrible, heart-wrenching scenes with Shane and Claire and Shane and his dad. Rachel Caine really knows how to pull on the heart strings.

Like I’ve come to expect from this series, Ghost Town ended on a particularly evil cliffhanger. I’m actually dying for Bite Club now.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Scared Kid

London, UK. -- October 26, 2010 -- Puffin Books announces the release of The Scared Kid, a chilling short film for Halloween created by best-selling children’s author, actor and comedian, Charlie Higson.

The video footage was produced by Charlie Higson and the makers of Colin, a zombie film that was shown at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and hit the headlines for its £45 budget.

The Enemy is an action adventure zombie series for teenagers and horror fans. Set in and around London, a mystery disease has broken out attacking everyone over the age of 14. Some survive but those that do face a more terrifying fate – they turn into hideous zombies with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. Children form gangs and attempt to survive in an unrecognisable world where there are dangers around every corner.

The film features a one-and-a-half minute clip of a boy who posts a webcam video to YouTube when the disease first breaks out, and which becomes the most viewed video in YouTube history.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Featured on Friday: Simon Cheshire


by Saxby Smart, brilliant schoolkid detective

Before you can WRITE a detective story, you have to be clear about what DEFINES a detective story.

It's a story with a Detective Inspector in it, dum-dum! So- and-so Of The Yard, or Some Guy In A Trenchcoat With A Whispery Voice. Right?

No, not necessarily. A detective story doesn’t HAVE to include any official kind of investigator. The detective in a detective story can be any character you like.

A detective story is not defined by WHO appears in it, but by WHAT HAPPENS in it: there is always a MYSTERY, and there is always an INVESTIGATION into the mystery (sounds obvious, I know, but crime fiction is essentially a simple recipe!).

Provided that the MYSTERY and the INVESTIGATION are both there, the story itself can unfold in various ways. For example:

1. Lady Moneybag’s ruby tiara is stolen! Nobody (including the readers of the story) know who did it. Inspector Cleverperson turns up, examines the evidence, and reveals the truth! This is what you might call the standard, ‘traditional’ detective story plot.

2. Strange things happen. Our detective investigates various clues and gradually uncovers the cause of the mysterious goings-on. This plot turns things back-to-front: we follow the investigation and only discover the true nature of the mystery when we get to the end of the story.

3. A crime takes place! We, the readers, know exactly who did it and why, right from the start! The story is all about how the investigation proceeds, and how the good guys outwit the bad guys to uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, the inner mechanics of crime stories usually involve various Plot Devices. Some of my personal favourites are:

PLOT DEVICE 1: The Red Herring

A red herring is a clue which looks like a clue but might not be a clue. Or maybe it is. Or maybe it’s not…

Red herrings are things which may (or may not!) be deliberately misleading – elements which steer the reader and/or the fictional detective into following up clues which are irrelevant or fake. Or are they…?

(Why it is called a ‘red herring’? Nobody really knows. It’s been supposed that it’s linked to hunting dogs in ye olden days being deliberately led off the scent of prey using something stinky such as a herring. But it may be a phrase made up in the early 19th century by the writer William Cobbett. So the definition of ‘red herring’ could itself be… a red herring!)

PLOT DEVICE 2: Who did it? Nooo waaaay!

One popular trick of the trade used by mystery writers is to make the least likely suspect the guilty one, so that it’s a big surprise when you find out who committed the crime. For instance, you could have a story full of shifty-looking people dressed in stripey shirts and
eye masks, yet the guilty one turns out to be…the tea lady!

PLOT DEVICE 3: A sneaky disguise.

It’s quite common in detective yarns to find that a character isn’t quite who you thought they were. Maybe Character A has a secret link to Character B that nobody knew about, or perhaps Character C and Character D turn out to be the same person in disguise. The simplest form of this plot device is to have the crime committed by a certain type of person (eg. a very tall woman with long hair), and then reveal that it was actually a totally different type of person all along (eg. a short man on stilts wearing a wig).

PLOT DEVICE 4: We’re trapped!

If a mystery writer wants to encourage the reader to turn detective and try to solve the mystery for themselves, one useful plot device is to have everything happen in some kind of enclosed situation. For example, in an isolated country house during a violent storm (when nobody can get in or out), or on a boat in the middle of the ocean (when nobody can get on or off). The idea is to have only a few characters, and thus only a few suspects, and thus an easier mystery for the reader to solve. This plot device most often turns up on TV or in movies, because it makes the drama cheaper to produce!

PLOT DEVICE 5: You can’t trust ‘em, Inspector!

A particularly crafty plot device. Our detective talks to an important witness; the witness gives interesting information; the detective carries on with the investigation, using this information as crucial evidence. Then something happens which throws a spanner in the works: it turns out the witness might have had a reason to lie. Did they? Can our detective trust the evidence? Was the witness telling the truth or not?

There are LOADS of others. Sometimes, one mystery is used to cover up a second. Sometimes, absolutely nobody in a story can be trusted. And sometimes, the old cliché ‘the butler did it’ turns out to be true! Try it for yourself. It's actually much harder than you might think.

Saxby Smart is a brilliant schoolkid detective who's really bad at Maths but really good at logical deduction. Eight volumes of his casefiles are available now, the latest of which is called “Secret Of The Skull”. The above is adapted from his new non-fiction title “Saxby Smart's Detective Handbook”, in which he investigates the world of real-life crime as well as famous fictional detectives.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo - Becca Fitpatrick

Pages: 427 (ARC)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 14th October 2010

Other Titles in the Series: Hush, Hush

Nora should know better than to think her life can return to normal after falling in love with a fallen angel. And Nora’s life isn’t normal - her dad was murdered, and the facts about his death just don’t add up. Now Nora’s own life is in imminent danger. Are she and Patch strong enough for the battle ahead?

There’s been a long wait for Crescendo, made even longer by the questions left hanging at the end of Hush, Hush. And not many were actually answered.

In Crescendo’s prologue we saw the final moments in Harrison Grey’s life, and yet it still until the very end of the novel to find out what really happened to him, why and who was involved. There was also pondering over whether Patch was involved or not. This really annoys me because it was really quite simple but it took over 400 pages to get around to it. We did, however, find out what Patch’s real name is. And in a really unexpected way.

When I first started reading this I applauded Becca Fitzpatrick for giving Nora more strength than in Hush, Hush, but then she got really, really stupid. She became even more dangerously obsessed with Patch and that got her into so much trouble. But Patch himself was different, too. He wasn’t as creepy or stalker-ish as he was in Hush, Hush, but also wasn’t in it nearly as much. I actually kind of missed him, especially as he developed a rather interesting power.

Even though I read Crescendo sporadically, it really is very addictive and hard to put down even when Nora is frustrating the hell out of me. Becca Fitzpatrick really does know how to keep her readers on edge of their seat and keep them coming back for more.

I’m really looking forward to reading more about Patch in the next instalment, Tempest.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Friday, 8 October 2010

New Recruits!

During the two weeks I've been at university I've been trying to convert my housemates to the world of YA. And after going book shopping with one of them (Fliss) I suceeded. I made her buy Perfect Chemistry, The Luxe and The Sky is Everywhere and she's already finished Perfect Chemistry and loved it. And now she's begun a blog and I think you should all check it out.

Gold in the Air of Summer

And then another of my housemates (Abbey) decided that she was going to do the same. But a book and film blog that you should also check out and follow.

Dreams are made of this...

They are both extremely awesome ladies and hopefully you'll all do me proud and welcome them to the blogosphere with open arms.

Oh, and I will be back to blogging properly soon.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Blog Tour: Christine Johnson

So, there are a lot of differences between the US and the UK. Obviously. I mean, we drive on opposite sides of the road. Tea vs. Coffee. The Queen vs. . . . well, No Queen, I guess. But when it comes to books and publishing, there are two things that come up a lot, one major and one minor.

The major one, is, of course, covers. Why are they different? Which is better?

I have to say, I was VERY NERVOUS about the UK cover for Claire de Lune. I adore - and I mean *adore* - the cover of the US version. I thought the UK cover had to be a disappointment. The cover Gods couldn’t smile on the same book twice, right?


I love the UK cover just as much as the US one. They’re so utterly different. The US version with the gorgeous girl and the cool moon and the dark forest captures the romance and mystery of the story so perfectly. But the British version, with the thorny red heart and bold colors gives a great glimpse into the intensity and heat of the book.

Everyone I know really loves both of them. My mother expressed a slight preference for the British version, because my name is bigger and “stands out more” on the cover.

Spoken like a true mother, huh?

My bookclub had a special meeting just after the release of the US version to celebrate, and one of the members has a friend who makes gorgeous cakes. She combined the two covers, putting Claire’s profile inside the thorny heart with the moon shining overhead. It worked shockingly well, and it was DELICIOUS, though eating that much black frosting was a bit disconcerting. Still, it was a pretty perfect metaphor for my feelings about the covers. Instead of one or the other, she picked BOTH. And I do to.

So. That’s my take on my two covers. Truly, it’s like having kids. I can’t pick between them - I love them both for different reasons! I’m always interested to hear others opinions. Please leave your thoughts in the comments! Which do you like better and why?

Okay, moving on. The “small” issue. It shows up in the color of Matthew’s eyes. Brown in the US and brown in the UK, but is it “color” or “colour?” In this matter, I have a firm opinion, unlike the “which cover is better” issue. I like the British spelling. I like “colour” and “favour” and “realise.” Of course, since I’m trapped in the United States, I have to hide my extra, anglophiliac u’s. I just think the British spellings look more elegant. I’ve always felt this way, but I think my opinion was cemented when I spent two years at DePaul University’s conservatory - The Theatre School. I wrote “theatre” so many times that it just sort of . . . stuck.

I’ve always wondered what Brits think of our “western” spellings. All those truncated - or’s and the harsh z’s instead of the more restrained s’s. If they think about it at all. I can accept that I may be the only one who’s nerdy enough to worry about this particular issue. In my defense, I *did* say that it was a small issue! *gets down off odd-coloured high horse* *pets book covers*

Sophie: In answer to Christine's question - I don't like the "western" spellings; they kind of annoy me. Spell properly people! :)

Friday, 1 October 2010


As you've probably noticed, I've been more absent from the blogosphere this week than I have in a long time. This is partly because I haven't even picked up my book since I arrived here at uni last Saturday morning. I know, it's completely awful. But I have several excuses:

1. I'm still settling in to uni life.
2. My roomates and everyone I've met are awesome and I want to spend lots of time with them.
3. I've turned into a person who's actually reasonably social and enjoys going out clubbing which pretty much removes my designated time for reading.
4. I have over 15 books to read for my course and quite a few of them are huge and complex.

I will try to be around to comment and I'll obviously carry on answering emails and there will be the tour posts that I'm scheduled for and sporadic reviews.

Hopefully I'll be back soon when I get into the swing of things. I still love you all, I promise!

Sophie xx

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Dead - Charlie Higson

The Dead - Charlie Higson

Pages: 450
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)
Release Date: 16th September 2010

Other Titles in this Series: The Enemy

A terrible disease is striking everyone over the age of fourteen. Death walks the streets. Nowhere is safe.

Maxie, Blue and the rest of the Holloway crew aren’t the only kids trying to escape the ferocious adults who prey on them.

Jack and Ed are best friends, but their battle to stay alive tests their friendship to the limit as they go on the run with a mismatched group of other kids - nerds, fighters, misfits. And one adult. Greg, a butcher, who claims he’s immune to the disease.

They must work together if they want to make it in this terrifying new world. But as a fresh disaster threatens to overwhelm London, they realise they won’t all survive…

I loved The Dead just as much as I did The Enemy. Charlie Higson has ne hooked on this series.

Before I talk about the story I have to mention how much I loved it’s presentation. The black-edged pages and x-ray effect skulls on the endpapers are excellent. I really like it when publishers go all out on appearance.

But, anyway, The Dead didn’t follow Maxie, Blue and the others as I expected and instead is set near the beginning of the disaster, about a year before the events of The Enemy with a group of private school boys. I have to admit to being a bit hesitant because I’d grown really find of them, but I soon began to appreciate the newbie’s. Especially when places, events and chaarcters from The Enemy became involved in the story. I thought it was done very cleverly and I loved how The Dead ended in line with the previous books.

As I mentioned earlier, the new characters took a while to grow on me. My first impressions of them weren’t great: Jack was harsh, Matt a nutter, Ed a wimo and Brooke, Aleisha and Courtney brash and irritating, but I soon began to understand the effect of the pressures of leadership on Jack, saw Ed harden and become a brave leader, the girls let their guards down and, well, Matt just got nuttier. They were real and struggling to deal with unimaginable horrors. We also saw the return of David and his soldiers and Small Sam.

In The Dead my curiosity about the disease; its cause and origin, began to take over. I think it’s unlikely to be revealed with certainty as the kids have no idea (although they have their theories), but I became desperate to know why under-14’s were protected and why the sun seemed to accelerate it so dramatically. My inner nerd was having a field day!

I’ve fallen in love with this zombiefied series and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Monday, 27 September 2010

The Enemy - Charlie Higson

I wanted to quickly let you know that I'm alive and the internet is working fine (well, for me, anyway) so I'll be around. My flatmates are awesome and my room is bigger than my one at home. It's going to be a good year.

The Enemy - Charlie Higson

Pages: 407
Publisher: Puffin/Penguin
Release Date: 3rd June 2010

Other Titles in this Series: The Dead

When the sickness came, ever parent, police officer, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry.

Only children under fourteen remain, and they’re fighting to survive.

Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait.

But can they make it there - alive?

The Enemy is a heart-stopping novel filled with page after page of murder, fighting and rotting zombies.

I’m not usually a huge a horror fan, but this book is the perfect antidote tp contrite, sappy paranormal romances. The descriptions of the extremely gross grown-ups were graphic and gory from the very beginning: “The skin blackened, shrivelled and split, the overripe flesh inside squeezing out. His insides had turned to mush.”* There are some really disgusting passages in this book.

Unlike most post-apocalyptic novels, The Enemy doesn’t start at the beginning of the change, but instead we join the Waitrose crew about a year after what they call the disaster began. I liked this because at this point the kids were having to fight harder to survive in a world that is falling apart around them. It actually quite reminded me of the later books in Michael Grant’s Gone series, especially when you also consider the age of fourteen being the cut-off for the disease.

But for me, all of these things would mean very little without a fantastic cast of characters. And Charlie Higson’s characters are definitely that. My favourite is Sam. He’s so young, only nine, but so fierce and brave and doggedly determined to survive things that you couldn’t even begin to imagine. But I also loved The Kid who’s funny turns of phrase butchered the English language and Blue with his very surprising revelations about his past that he confided in Maxie. The only characters that I really didn’t like were brash and bloodthirsty Archilleus and crazed, power-hungry David.

The Enemy is a fantastic novel that’ll sate the thirsts of both boy and girl horror fans. And I’m so glad that I’ve already got my copy of The Dead!

The Enemy, Charlie Higson page 6 (Puffin/Penguin UK) 2009

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge