Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Best of 2011 (According to Me...)

My original plan for this post was to do a Top Ten of 2011. Then I sat down and started to list my favourites and realised I’d gone a little overboard. When I tried to narrow it down I ended up arguing with myself over a few books and so I decided that in order to save my sanity I’d just highlight all my favourites. And here they are!

This is possibly the best debut of 2011. Written in dialect, Saba’s voice shines and jumps off the page with its originality and character and helps you to fall in love with a vivid and beautifully drawn character. Young’s world-building is pretty damn impressive, too. You won’t regret reading this.

This book needs very little introduction – it’s taken the blogosphere by storm. The kick-ass Tris, gorgeous Four and the fascinating five factions, Divergent has it all. Veronica Roth has left us all craving the sequel, Insurgent.

Paige Toon’s fifth novel is the only adult novel I read and reviewed this year because there isn’t an adult author’s books that I love as much as I do hers. As the sequel to the beloved Johnny be Good, fans had high hopes. And we were given everything we could have wanted. I cant wait for Paige’s next, One Perfect Summer.

This beautiful little book blew me away. Skip’s narration is hauntingly beautiful and I love the way that he views his broken world. I don’t think that A Small Free Kiss in the Dark got nearly as much love as it should have done. Go and read it, guys!

As you should all know by now, Sarah Dessen is my queen. I begin counting down until her next novel seconds after finishing her latest and I’m never disappointed. Dessen’s characters are the most realistic in YA (in my opinion) and I would happily live in one of her novels. Partly because I’d get a legendary Dessen boy...

Maggie Stiefvater’s beautiful, melodic prose is one of a kind. The conclusion to Sam and Grace’s story was set to be heartbreaking and utter fantastic. And it really, really was. I was pretty devastated that this trilogy ended, to be honest. It was a good job Maggie’s latest, The Scorpio Races, came out a few months later.

This is another book that could contend for my favourite debut of the year. Kirsty McKay’s blend of dark humour, brilliantly likable characters and non-stop action makes for a book to fly through.

Laini Taylor’s UK debut is also a book that needs very little promotion. The stunning imagery and mesmerizing mythology has captured everyone who has picked up The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. After a breathless ride through the dark and twisting streets of Prague, the next instalment of Karou’s story is top of everyone’s wishlist.

I loved this book so much. Ashes was extremely atmospheric and gripping because there wasn’t the omniscient ‘this is what happened’ sense, but we were in exactly the same position as Alex. And Alex is a perfect protagonist. She’s angry, damaged and ready to take on the world. Could you ask for a better guide through a post-apocalyptic America?

This series is one of my absolute favourites. Characters that I’ve become wholly invested in, non-stop action and a mythology that keeps on growing – I love The Morganville Vampires. And this, the eleventh instalment, had some of the most heartbreaking scenes and my favourite ending of the series so far.

I’d never read Robin McKinley before this. And I have no idea why. Soft, gentle and utterly beautiful - this book crept up on me and jumped straight into my heart. High fantasy doesn’t always work for me, but the incredible world-building and the perfect pair of main characters, Sylvi and Ebon. This book made me want to live in her world.

My love for this series is never-ending. Julie Kagawa has a beautiful writing style that I fall into effortlessly and never want to leave. Her descriptions of the Nevernever make me want to risk my life for just a glimpse of it and Ash, oh my goodness, Ash. He’s a faery Winter Prince, do I need to say anything else.

I also have to give a shout out to Marissa Meyer’s 2012 debut Cinder that I won’t be reviewing until the 5th – it completely blew my mind. So, so good.

I’ve read some amazing books this year and I’m sure next year will be even better.


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Trapped - Michael Northrop

Trapped – Michael Northrop

Pages: 325
Publisher: ATOM (Little, Brown)
Release Date: 15th December 2011

Other Titles by this Author: Gentlemen

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it would keep snowing for a week.

Scott and his friends are among the last seven kids at their school waiting to be picked up that day and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night there, especially when Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall.

Then the power goes out. Then the heat. The pipes freeze. The roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, the empty halls grow colder and darker and the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision...

Trapped is a tense and gripping novel of survival in an unforgiving situation.

I have to admit that my favourite element of this novel was reading from the perspective of a teenage boy. Most of the novels I read are about girls and from their minds so it’s very refreshing to hear from the other side. Scotty’s narration is brilliant to read. He feels authentic in his comments on the people he’s been stranded with, including the gorgeous Krista who he’s fancied for ages, and I loved how nervous he was around her – it’s reassuring to know that guys go silly around girls! He also directly addressed the reader which I loved.

Being trapped in your school by several feet of snow miles away from town is a terrifying idea. Their situation got gradually worse as the power went out, the heat went off, the snow blocked out the windows and finally, the roof began to collapse under feet of dense snow. While scary, it’s fascinating to think about how I’d react in that situation and I often got lost in my thoughts about what I’d do if I were Scotty or Pete or Krista.

While reading Trapped it struck me how nice it was to read a survival novel where the only threat to them was the world. There were no zombies, mutated animals or savage grown-ups hunting them down. In fact, the action was minimal and I really enjoyed that; it was refreshing.

Trapped was a really enjoying and rather refreshing survival novel that I’d recommend for those wanting to take a break from the rampaging zombies of most survival novels and the insanity of a girl’s brain.

A big thank you to ATOM for sending me a copy to review.


Monday, 26 December 2011

Dystopian Challenge 2012

My last challenge for 2012 is the Dystopia Challenge hosted by Bookish Ardour. I decided to give this one a go as I failed it this year! Here are the details from the sign-up post:

What It’s All About

The Dystopia challenge is for those who love it and for those who have never tried it. From negative utopia to plain ol’ totalitarian, there’s much to love about Dystopia and many ways it can be written.
If you’re not sure what it is check out Diva Schuylers’s post and learn all about it, but for a quick run down think of unpleasant living situations, pure dystopia being when an entity or social force is involved, but you can think outside the circle with this one.
Here’s one of our Must Reads lists for some inspiration.

The Deets

·         Running Dates: 1st of January – 31st of December 2012
·         When Can I Sign Up: All the way up to the last two weeks of December 2012!
·         Crossover Genres: Our Dystopia challenge also includes Post-Apocalypse and Ecotopia (environmentally dystopian).
·         Mr Linky: To use the Mr Linky you’ll need to click on the graphic then enter your link. These will be updated and posted into this page every couple of weeks or so.
·         Further Details: Crossover challenges are fine, you can change levels at any time, this is eBook, short story, and graphic novel friendly, and you don’t need a blog to join in (read further for details).

The How To

1.    Choose Your Level: These are listed further down and you can change levels at any time.
2.    Grab The Badge: Place it somewhere on your blog, profile, or in a signature where possible and link back (main page or this page, it’s up to you).
3.    Sign Up Post: Create a post on your blog, in a group, or on a forum (only if allowed) to let others see what you’re aiming for (a predefined list of books is optional).
4.    Link Up: Grab the direct URL to your sign up post, not your blog, click the Mr Linky graphic and enter your link!
5.    Blogless? Don’t worry, you can sign up with your social network profile (YouTube,Twitter, GoodReads, Shelfari included), just make sure you link to your review list, shelf, tweet, or category. If you don’t have any of those feel free to comment!


1.    Your Reviews: Reviewing is optional! But if you do review we’d love for you to share them by submitting them on the Review Page
2.    Finished: When you’re done it’s completion post time and you can share these on the Completion Post page.

Challenge Levels

1.    Asocial– Choose 5 books to read
2.    Contagion – Choose 15 books to read
3.    Soldier – Choose 30 books to read
4.    Drone – Choose 50 books to read
5.    Conditioned – Choose 75 books to read
6.    Brainwashed – Choose anywhere between 76-135 books to read
7.    Totalitarian – Choose anywhere between 136-200 books to read


Extra Challenges

If you feel like that extra kick to your reading challenges here’s several you can choose from.
·         World: Choose a country as your theme, reading only books from that country or where it’s the setting. For how high you go you can choose more than one country;
·         Level Asocial to Soldier: Choose one country
·         Level Soldier to Conditioned: Choose two countries
·         Level Conditioned to end of Brainwashed: Choose three countries
·         Level Totalitarian: Choose four countries.
·         Gender Battle: Read books only by female or male authors. Another alternative is to read equal amounts of both.”

I am going to enter at Contagion level and so I intend to read 15 books. I have a few already lined up that I’m dying to get stuck into, but I’ll just add to the list when I read them.


Wish me luck!


Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Vampire Stalker - Alliso van Diepen

The Vampire Stalker – Allison van Diepen

Pages: 250
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 3rd November 2011

Other Titles by this Author: The Oracle of Dating, The Oracle of Rebound, Street Pharm, Stitch, Raven

Amy is in love with Alexander Banks. In fact, she’s obsessed with him. He’s brooding and handsome. He hunts vampires.

He’s perfect.

The only problem is, Alexander doesn’t exist. He’s a character in a book.

But, what if he showed up one day? What if he were somehow real?

The idea behind The Vampire Stalker is a brilliant one; I just wish it had been executed a little better.

There’s not a single reader out there who hasn’t fallen so head over heels in love with a book character that they wished they would appear on their doorstep: I know my list is scarily long... And that’s exactly what happens to Amy. I love how Allison van Diepen explains Alexander’s presence in Amy’s Chicago; it’s brilliant and easily my favourite aspect of The Vampire Stalker. However, I do think that it could have been made better use of; I honestly don't believe that it was used to its full potential.

With such a good idea, I expected the characters to hold up to serious scrutiny, but they didn’t really make the cut. I mean, I still enjoyed The Vampire Stalker, I just don’t think I could aspire to it or recommend it without explaining that the characters are rather superficial and aren’t explored as fully as they could be. Alexander was a standard dark, gorgeous and troubled vampire hunter, Amy was the typical not popular, not unpopular, secretly beautiful girl with a trademark burgeoning mean girl for a little sister. It was all a little stereotypical to me. And then there was the very cliché insta-love between Alexander and Amy – it was just SO quick and SO all-consuming that I couldn’t take it seriously.

Although I haven’t been particularly complimentary about The Vampire Stalker, it’s a quick, fun read that’ll quickly kill a few rainy hours.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

2012 Historical YA Reading Challenge

I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge hosted by YA Bliss this year and I completed it as well so I thought I’d give it another go next year. 

Here’s what you need to know about the challenge:

“Level 1: 5 books
Level 2: 10 books
Level 3: 15 books

·                     All Historical Fiction books must be YA or MG
·                     Books don't have to be 2012 releases.
·                     Anyone can join. Please link to a public (web) place I can find you.
·                     You can join at anytime. The challenge runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012”

As I read 8 historical YA novels this year, I’m going to aim for 10 next year and go for Level 2. There are only a couple of books that I specifically have in mind for this challenge at the moment so I’ll add to this list as I read them.


Wish me luck!


Sunday, 18 December 2011

In My Mailbox 104

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

I got home on Friday to find a pile of 30 packages on my bed – it was like Christmas before Christmas. Because I got so many, I’ve picked out the ones I’m most excited for to do how I normally do IMM and the rest will just be listed at the end of the post.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin (S&S)

When Mara Dyer wakes up in hospital  with no memory of how she got there, or any explanation as to why the bizarre accident that caused the deaths of her boyfriend and two best friends left her mysteriously unharmed, her doctors suggest she start over in a new city, at a new school, and just hope her memories gradually come back.

But Mara’s new start is anything but comforting. She sees the faces of her dead friends everywhere and now she’s started to see other people’s deaths before they happen. Is she going crazy? As if dealing with all this isn’t enough, Noah Shaw, the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen, can’t seem to leave her alone. But does he have her best interests at heart, or another agenda altogether?

Cinder – Marissa Meyer (Puffin, ARC)

Once upon a time a major new series for 11+ girls was launched.

Known across the land as The Lunar Chronicles, this action-adventure series starts Cinderella, red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. But not as you know them.

One extraordinary heroine. Four futuristic tales. Daring to go beyond the realms of Grimm... They’ll live on girls’ bookshelves happily ever after.

Cinder, the first incredible book in The Lunar Chronicles quartet.

Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl KindAndy Robb (Stripes, ARC)

If you haven’t worked this out yet, girls dont do this. They dont come to the Hovel. They dont like goblins and dragons. They dont paint miniatures. They dont play role playing games or re-enact fictional battles. And they dont talk to Geeks like me – especially if they’re pretty. And this girl is pretty.

What do you do if you’re a fourteen-year-old Geek, and a Beautiful Girl has appeared in the midst of your geeky world? And she seems to like you...

For Archie, the natural reaction would be to duck and for the a new model elf...Anything but risk stepping into the Real World.

But even Geeks have to put their heads above the parapet at some point.

With him mum barely able to contain her excitement that her son is about to join the human race, and and his step-father, Tony the Tosser, offering crass advice, it’s time for Archie to embark on a daring Quest to win the Beautiful Girl’s heart and shake of his Geekhood for good...

The Flappers: Vixen – Jillian Larkin (Corgi, ARC)

Three girls. One city. Whol will be the last Flapper standing?

Chicago, 1924. Born into American high society, Gloria is the girl who has it all. Living the debutante dream along with her best friend Lorraine, Gloria is just a trip down the aisle away from from her future life as Mre Sebastian Grey.

But surely there’s time for a little partying before she settles down?

With an illegal speakeasy on every corner and mobsters rubbing shoulders with the city’s most sensational flappers, Chicago’s jazz-fueled underworld is certainly not the kind of place for a society princess like Gloria.

And she’s never had so much fun.

Everneath – Brodi Ashton (S&S)

Six months ago, Nikki Beckett vanishedinto an underworld known as the Everneath.

Now she’s returned to her old life for another six months before the Everneath comes to claim her...this time for ever. Nikki longs to spend this precious time reconnecting with the people she left behind – her family, her friends and, most importantly, her boyfriend Jack, the one person she loves more than anything.

But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smouldering immortal  who enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki home, convinced that she is the key to claiming the throne to the Underworld. Cole wants to bring Nikki back to the Everneath, but this time as his queen.

Now Nikki only has six months for goodbyes she can’t find the words for, six months to make the hardest decision of her life, six months to find redemption, if it exists...

Smoulder – Brenna Yovanoff (S&S)

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time – until her brother Obie is kidnapped, and Daphne realises she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying.

With the help og the human boyshe believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie’s whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world human is hardest to be...

Trapped – Michael Northrop (ATOM)

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week.

Scott and his friends are among the last seven kids at their school waiting to get picked up that day and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night there, especially when krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall.

Then the power goes out. Then the heat. The pipes freeze. The roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, the empty halls grow colder and darker and the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision...

Bsrk – Michael Grant (Egmont)

A global war is raging. You can’t see it, but it’s happening all around you.

Inside you.

Down in the heat.

Welcome to the nano – the microscopic matrix where invisible armies will determine the future of mankind. Here, the ultimate battle is for sanity. Losing is not an option when a world of madness is at stake.

Seizure – Kathy Reichs (Arrow)

A 300-year-old legend.

The Virals’ home on Loggerhead Island is under threat, and only one thing can save it: a lot of money.

Rumour has it that notorious pirate Anne Bonny hidher treasure somewhere in Charleston in 1720. No one knows where, but Tory Brennan – great-niece of famous forensic anthropologist Dr Tempe Brennan – is certain that the Virals can work out Bonny’s cryptic clues.

A deadly path

It isn’t long before Virals are on the right track. But they aren’t the only ones searching for the treasure. Someone is following them, and will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.

Dead bodies litter the trail. Time is running out before the island will be sold.

Will the Virals’ special powers be enough to save them?

Wonder – RJ Palacio (Bodley Head)

From Goodreads: WONDER is the funny, sweet and incredibly moving story of Auggie Pullman. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, this shy, bright ten-year-old has been home-schooled by his parents for his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the stares and cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, Auggie is being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. The thing is, Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all? 

Through the voices of Auggie, his big sister Via, and his new friends Jack and Summer, WONDER follows Auggie's journey through his first year at Beecher Prep. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking,
WONDER is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

The Future of the Us – Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (S&S)

It’s 1996 and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented for another eight years.

Josh and Emma have been neighbours their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long – as least they were up until last November, when everything changed. Things have been awkward ever since, but when Josh’s family get a free AOL CD in the mail, his mum makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When the two friends log on, they discover their profiles on Facebook.

And they’re looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

Everyone wonders what their destiny will be.
Josh and Emma are about to find out.

I also received:

Torn, Cat Clarke (finished copy. I’ve already read and loved an ARC.)
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Jennifer E Smith (finished copy. I’ve already read and loved an ARC.)
In Darkness, Nick Lake
The Traitors, Tom Becker
Wolf Springs Chronicles: Unleashed, Nancy Holder & Debbie Vigue
Monster High: Where There’s a Wolf, There’s a Way, Lisi Harrison
Black Arts, Prentice and Wiel
Pandemonium, Lauren Oliver
To Be a Cat, Matt Haig
Sea Hearts, Margo Lanagan
A Beautiful Evil, Kelly Keaton
Fated, Sarah Alderson
Bullet Boys, Ally Kennen
Night School, CJ Daughterty