Thursday, 29 September 2011

Naked - Kevin Brooks

Naked – Kevin Brooks

Pages:  362 (ARC)
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)
Release Date: 6th October 2011

Other Titles by this Author: Martyn Pig, Lucas, Kissing the Rain, Bloodline, Candy, The Road of the Dead, Being, Black Rabbit Summer, Killing God, iBoy

London, 1976: It was the summer of so many things. Heat and violence, love and hate, heaven and hell. It was the time I met William Bonney – the boy from Belfast known as Billy the Kid.

I’ve kept William’s secrets for a long time, but now things have changed and I have to tell the truth. But I can't begin until I've told you about Curtis Ray. Hip, cool, rebellious, Curtis Ray. Without Curtis there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

It’s the story of our band, of life and death...and everything in between.

Kevin Brooks is one of the UK’s best authors of gritty, realistic and unflinchingly honest young adult fiction and Naked is one of the best examples of his work.

Firstly, I have to admit that I expected Naked to be told by the perspective of a male narrator. I was wrong. And I was surprised by just how young she was when she met Curtis, joined Naked and all of this went down. Lili is thrown in at the deep end and made to grow up very, very fast. Her relationship became serious and messy, her social life hectic and her home life stressful.

In the early stages of Lili and Curtis’ relationship, Lili acted like a love-struck teenage girl, which she was, and allowed Curtis to be an arsehole. As it changed and developed and Lili realised that she deserved better and began to see just how unhealthy their relationship was, she began to stick up for herself. This evolution made me really like Lili and catapulted her off the page with her genuineness and strength and straight into my heart.

Behind the struggles of Lili lies a London on the brink of change: the punk movement. Kevin Brooks evoked this pivotal time so beautifully that I felt I was right there in the centre of things alongside Lili, Curtis and William. The danger, the freedom and the utter unknown of the movement is captured perfectly. One of the strengths of Kevin Brooks is his portrayal of a gritty and unflinchingly honest situation and in Naked that only added to the grimy feel of the story and enhanced the atmosphere.

As well as the punk movement, there was something else going on in Britain in the 1970s: the troubles in Ireland. You’re probably wondering what on earth that has to do with a punk band in London, and I was surprised too, but it played a rather substantial part. I have to admit that I’ve never really understood what went on and why, and I still don’t, but this background to the novel provided another angle that was very unexpected.

I love Kevin Brooks’ novels and I always look forward to whatever he writes.

A huge thank you to Puffin for providing me with a review copy.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Blog Tour: Jeyn Roberts

I’m thrilled to welcome debut author Jeyn Roberts to So Many Books, So Little Time to tell us a little more about the inspiration behind dark inside and the importance of her MA to her writing.

1. Your four protagonists have very separate stories in the beginning of the novel. How did you keep track of them and make sure they aligned?

It was challenging. There was a lot of going back and forth while writing to make sure I was getting things right. But in all honesty, I had all four stories plotted out in my mind. But sometimes I got distracted when I’d be working on one story line and thinking constantly about another.

2. Why did you decide to include the ‘Nothing’ chapters? 
Nothing is what started it. One day I got the line “I’m standing at the edge of existence” stuck in my head and I wrote it down. Everything jumped into place from there.

3. In their position, which of your protagonists would you react most similarly to?
That’s a tough one because I think there’s a little bit of every single character inside of me. I’d like to say I’m most like Michael because I’m kinda of take charge sort of person. I’m also an Aries because I’d be trying to make sure everyone sticks together.

4. Will there be more books about Aries, Michael, Mason and Clementine?
Yes. Right now I’m currently working on the edits for book two. It should be out next spring.

5. How instrumental was your MA in Creative Writing? (I’m doing a BA at BSU at the moment so I’m very curious!)
think my MA was the most important thing I’ve ever done in becoming a writer. It taught me to be critical about my own work. I learned how to step back and see it from a perspective other than my own. As writers, we tend to get too involved in our own characters and it helps hugely to admit that we make mistakes and don’t always see them. The Bath Spa MA also was great because I got the chance to meet agents and publishers. I was able to learn so much about the field. That’s a huge process too. There’s so much more to writing than just putting words down on paper.

6. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell me anything about it? 
I said before, I’m finishing up the edits on the sequel to Dark Inside. I’m really pleased with the second book so far because it’s allowed me to get further into Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael’s lives. There are some great new characters too and a really creepy Bagger leader. I’m also working on a standalone novel but I don’t want to give away details just yet. 

A huge thank you to Jeyn for taking the time to answer my questions. Make sure you check out the next stop on the tour at The Book Lantern and read my review of Dark Inside.


Monday, 26 September 2011

Love, Inc. - Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout

Love, Inc. – Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout

Pages: 446
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Release Date: 26th September 2011

Make up, break up, or take up with someone new...Love, Inc. does it all!

Zahara, Kali, and Syd would never have met if their parents’ marriages hadn’t fallen apart. But when the three girls collide in group counselling, they all discover they have something else in common: they’ve each been triple-timed by the same wicked charmer, Eric, aka Rico, Rick. Talk about eye-opening therapy. Now all three girls have one mission: to show that cheater the error of his ways.

Project Payback is such a success the girls soon have clients lining up for their consulting services. Is your boyfriend acting shady? Dying to know if your crush is into you? Need matchmaking expertise? Look no further than Love, Inc.

Love, Inc. is a sweet, funny and warm-hearted novel that I read in a matter of hours. So much fun.

Although the premise of this novel has many similarities to Suzanne Young’s The Naughty List, I thought it had much more depth and was executed in a far superior way.  The way they stumbled into the business of matchmaking and revenge was natural and made a good grounding for the friendship between Zahra, Syd and Kali. Each girl had a distinct personality and while they were very different, they complimented each other perfectly. Rather than the whole novel being told based around Zahra, I would have loved a split narration between the three girls. I think that would definitely have added to the awesome of Love, Inc.

There was a prominent theme in this novel that was completely unexpected and not something I have come across very often: the clash of Pakistani grandparents and an American teenager. The way they were both so unwilling to accept the others’ values and culture was rather shocking. It took arguments and stubborn outbursts from both parties throughout the novel for them to come together and find balance.

All long with the missions and hassles that came with running love, Inc., there was the underlying theme of the girls’ parents’ divorces. I was actually rather surprised at the resentment and incomprehension they felt towards their parents, except in Syd’s case, which was perfectly acceptable. It is a very difficult thing for a person to go through at any age, but I thought that at fifteen they’d be able to handle it with a little more maturity. However, they did come out the other end with more confidence, a support system and a better understanding of relationships that would change their views.

I really enjoyed Sandy Rideout and Yvonne Collins’ collaboration and I’ll definitely be looking out for more of them.

A big thank you to Allison and Busby for providing me with a review copy.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

In My Mailbox 97

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 some seriously awesome books this week!

For review:

Dark Angel – Eden Maguire

I thought Orlando’s eyes would burn right through me. Say yes, you’ll come. Leave this Daniel guy, whoever he is, and walk away with me. Orlando, stay! I pleaded silently. Dont abandon me here! I saw how it must look from the outside, Daneil standing next to me, owning me.

Thanks, Hodder!

Mist – Kathryn James

There’s something in the mist – as beautiful as starlight, as fierce as wolves, as heartless as ice.

Mignight, in the woods. Nell searches for her sister, who has disappeared into the mist.she’s always thought the stories were old wives’ tales.

Have you heard of the lost girls? They go into the woods and never come back...

Nell knows she is way out of her depth, but she cant help being drawn to the mist and to the mysterious Evan with his pale skin and charcoal eyes. Does he hold the key to saving her sister?

Thanks again, Hodder!

A Tale Dark and Grimm – Adam Gidwitz

Reader: Beware!

Lurking within these covers are sorcerers with dark spells, hunters with deadly aim, and a baker with an oven big enough to cook children in. But if you dare, turn the page and come on in...It may be frightening, it’s certainly bloody, and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but unlike the other fairy tales you know, this one is true.

Thanks to Andersen Press for this one.

One Day – David Nicolls

You can live your whole life not realising what you’re looking for is right in front of you.

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their seperate ways.

Sowhere will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that?

And every year that follow?

I finally get to read this thanks to the lovely people running the Tesco Book Blog. They also sent me a Waldo Pancake notebook and bookmark and a bar of Amelia Rope dark chocolate. Thank you!

Verity Fibbs – Cathy Brett

Verity is a liar.

My mum is glamorous fashion designer Saffron Fibbs and I can do what ever I like while she’s in New York. I look exactly like her and it’s totally fine for me to pretend to be her at a celebrity night spot to impress a boy. I LOVE playing the online role-play game, Demon Streets, but I’m not addicted to it.

Unfortunately for Verity she’s not the only liar in town... At a time when ethical is the new black in fashion, verity just finds herself battling a very unethical villain, a REAL opponent with everything to lose. Her online gaming skills might be the only thing saving her from a terrifying game over...

Thanks, Headline! I love Cathy Brett’s books.

Glow – Amy Kathleen Ryan

Teenagers Waverly and Kieran believe their future is written in the stars.

They are part of the first generation born in space.

They are in love.

They have never seen a stranger before...until the day they are wrenched apart and suddenly find themselves fighting for thier lives.

Thanks, Macmillan! SO excited for this one!


The Beginning of After – Jennifer Castle

All it takes is a single moment to alter your life. Forever.

Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. As she tries to piece together the shards of what remains in the eerie stillness of life after the tragedy, David – the son of the man responsible – swoops in and out of her life. Laurel finds herself attracted to him against her better judgement, and their connection will change them both in unexpected ways.

Fans of emotionally true and heartfelt stories, such as Sarah dessen’s The Truth About Forever and If I Stay by Gayle Forman, will fall in love with Jennifer Castle’s incandescent debut novel.

I found this in a charity bookshop earlier in the week and snapped it straight. I’ll definitely be going back!

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean – David Almond

I wos a secrit shy and tungtied emptyheded thing.

I was tort to read and rite and spell by my tenda littl muther & by mr mcLaufrey the butcher & by Missuss Malone and her gosts. So I am not cleva, so please forgive my folts and mistaykes.

I am the won that glares into your harts & that prowls inside yor deepist dremes.

Wonce I was the angel childe.
Now I am the monster.
Just read and lissen and take note.
Let the words enter yor blud & boans.

I am Billy Dean.
This is the truth.
This is my tale.

VERY excited for this. I’m also meeting the man himself on Monday (along with Meg Rosoff and Melvin Burgess!!!) which makes me squee about loud every time I think about it.


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Pages: 420 (ARC)
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Release Date: 29th September 2011

Other Titles by this Author: Blackbringer, Silksinger, Lips Touch: Three Times

There once was a young artist called Karou who drew tales of monsters and demons that delighted and enthralled those around her.

But she has a secret, a secret that ties her to a dusty subterranean world chamber, where her beloved guardian brokers dark deals in a place that is not here. A place that is Elsewhere.

Living with one foot in each world, Karou has never really known which one is her true home.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing...

From all of the glowing reviews appearing over the last couple of months my expectations for Daughter of Smoke and Bone were sky high. I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.

Karou’s story is told in a style of prose so sensual and seductive that I literally fell onto the twisting streets of Prague next to Karou. Laini Tayor evoked the romanticism and mythical nature of such an old, cultured and intriguing city and I had such a yearning to visit while reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The mythology included in this novel falls seamlessly into the setting and I just wanted more. And more. And even more.

I was completely enthralled by the mythology. I found the chimaera endlessly fascinating and the concoctions of creatures literally broke my brain when I tried to imagine what they looked like. Especially Brimstone and Issa who were the chimaeras most central to the story. I kind of see them as those books I had as a kid that was split into three sections: heads, bodies and legs and you could put any ridiculous combinations together, but Laini Taylor manages to envisage this in a seamless and natural way.

However, my favourite element of Daughter of Smoke and Bone has to be the fantastically drawn characters. As a protagonist you have to be awesome. And Karou has awesomeness in spades. On the surface she’s full of spunk, individuality and overflowing with artistic talent, but underneath she’s lonely, incomplete and desperate to find love. I loved that there were so many layers to her. I had, however, guessed what was revealed about Karou’s past. Though I still loved it. Lots. You’ve also got the quirky and loyal Zuzana and Akiva who I can promise will get your heart beating faster.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a phenomenal start to the trilogy and I absolutely cannot wait to read more about Karou’s world.

A huge thank you to Hodder for providing me with a review copy.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Goddess Test - Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test – Aimee Carter

Pages: 293
Publisher: Mira INK
Release Date: 22nd September 2011

Every girl who has taken the test has died.
Now it’s Kate’s turn.

When her mother’s dying wish is to return to her home town, Kate’s willing to do anything to make it come true. Even if it means startinh at a new school with no friends – and no hope.

Then she meets Henry. Dark, tortured and mesmerising, Henry offers Kate a reprieve. She thinks he’s crazy. Yet when he brings a dead girl back to life right in front of Kate’s eyes she’s not so sure any more...

Claiming to be Hades, God of the Underworld, Henry’s prepared to make Kate a deal.

He’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

If she suceeds, she’ll become a goddess – and Henry’s bride. If she fails she’ll never see her mother again...

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed Aimee Carter’s debut. It was cute, fun and unexpectedly educational!

Greek mythology is one of those things that I just love learning about so The Goddess Test was the perfect book for me. I think I could now name nearly all fourteen (even though I thought there were only twelve) Olympians and tell you what they reside over and that makes me very happy indeed. All of the knowledge of the gods, godesses and myths that is essential to Kate’s story are included in the novel. But it’s the way that the gods and goddesses themselves appear in the story that I love most: it’s brilliant, I love it. I didn't expect was The Goddess Test to be modern take on the myth of Perspehone though, but it was done really, really well.

For the most part, I loved Kate. The way that she gave up everything to look after her dying mum was incredibly touching and I was in awe of her strength. But the years of caring for her had left Kate a little hard and very tough to get to know, though she softened up eventually. She also reacted very believably to Henry’s declaration that he’s Hades and his promises of impossible things. Kate’s intial refusual to accept that the gods and goddesses of myth and legend actually exist was only accepted after receiving irrefutable proof, though she still tried to use reason and rationale to explain them. The only aspect of her I didn't like was how dramatically her dislike for Ava and annoyance at James turned into them being her best friends in a matter of a couple of pages. It seemed extremely unlikely.

But at the centre of The Goddess Test are, of course, the seven tests that Kate must undergo to save Henry and become the Queen of the Underworld. I expected the tests to be obvious, big tasks that would be intricately detailed so I was pleasantly surprised for them to be subtle and completely unexpected. I really liked the way they were represented in the novel. Henry/Hades was obviously a massive part of the story, too. And I fell for him. He wasn’t hard and cold like I expected from Hades, but lonely, tortured and on the verge of giving up.

Kate changed that. Their relationship was full of uncertainties and what-if’s and I was rooting for them all the way. About fifty pages before the end of the novel there is a passage where Kate describes their relationship and how she feels about it (which I won’t summarise as I don't want to ruin it!) and I knew exactly what she meant. I understood completely how she felt and I suddenly understood her. And once all of this was resolved, there was a perfect ending waiting for them.

I think that The Goddess Test would be superb as an standalone novel and I really don't think it needs anymore, but after falling for this world I’m definitely going to be reading Goddess, Interrupted when it’s released next year.

A huge thank you to Midas PR and Mira Ink for the review copy.


Monday, 12 September 2011

Beautiful Days: A Bright Young Things Novel - Anna Godbersen

Beautiful Days: A Bright Young Things Novel – Anna Godbersen

Pages: 358
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: 1st September 2011

Other Titles by this Author: The Luxe, Rumours, Envy, Splendour, Bright Young Things

It’s the last summer of the jazz age and the bright young things of New York are revelling in beautiful days and glittering nights.

Letty Larkspur has shaken off her small town origins and is set to chase her Broadway dream no matter what the cost.

Cordelia Grey is reeling from the tragedy that’s befallen her new-found family but she won’t let it hold her back.

Astrid Donal  is leading a dazzling life but her liason with a gangster could threaten everything she holds dear.

The latest book in the addictive Bright Young Things series.

I’m a huge fan of Anna Godbersen’s The Luxe series and so I keep expecting the same sparkle from her latest series Bright Young Things. But for me, neither Bright Young Things nor Beautiful Days have hit the mark so far.

There was a sense of scandal and naughtiness in The Luxe series that this series seems to be missing. There are of course the familiar themes of forbidden love and rebelling against your family but transported to the freedom and flightiness of 1920s New York it doesn’t quite work in the same way. I’m not really sure why as I love this period. The glamour, the decadence and the sense of a changing world, especially for women, against the glitzy backdrop of the city that never sleeps is utterly enthralling. I also love the world of the Prohibition, bootlegging and speakeasies because it’s SO far from my life and it seems like a hell of a lot of fun!

My favourite character in this series is most definitely Letty. I am a sucker for the underdog who ends up on top. There were many moments in Beautiful Days where I just wanted to give her a huge hug because nothing seemed to go the way she deserved. I have to admit to growing to love Astrid even more. There’s just something about her view of the world that’s sweetly naive without being annoying and I love it. Cordelia, however, is another story. She became very selfish and spoilt in this instalment of the series and I found it rather difficult not to get angry at her.

And then there are the boys that keep the minds of Astrid, Letty and Cordelia very occupied: Charlie, Grady and Max. I was very, very pleased to see Grady and Max again. They are slightly unusual love interests, especially with Max’s reserved personality and a few secrets that I really didn’t expect from him, and it really adds a nice dynamic to the story and makes for some very interesting relationships. But it was Charlie who caused me the most issues in Beautiful Days. One moment he was sweet and kind and the next he was consumed with blind fury! I felt for poor Astrid. Though with the last time we saw him in the novel I can say for sure that it was the sweet side I was left thinking off. Unusually for me, two very minor male characters caught my attention: Danny and Victor, two of Charlie’s men. I think there’s a lot more to them than just being Charlie’s muscle and I really hope they get a bit more exposure in the rest of the series.

Though not my favourite novel of Anna Godbersen’s, I really enjoyed Beautiful Days and I’m looking forward to the next instalment of Astrid, Letty and Cordelia’s stories.

A huge thank you to Penguin for providing a review copy.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

In My Mailbox 96

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 am going back to university tomorrow (a little early as I miss my friends) and so, once again, posts and reviews may slow down a little. I will do my very best to keep up two/three posts a week as I have over summer, but no promises! IMM posts will always be sporadic as most of my books go home. 

For review:

The Other Life – Suzanne Winnacker

3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One fifth of my life.

Sherry has spent one fifth of her life in an underground bunker. It’s been 3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since she’s seen daylight. And now Sherry and her family have run out of food, forcing her and her father to leave the safety of the bunker and venture out into the unknown.

The city of LA is an eerie wasteland, buildings have been destroyed and great cracks have appeared in the highways. No noise, no people, nothing.

However, nesting in deserted buildings and roming the streets at night are the ghastly and frightening Weepers – humans mutated by a virulent strain of rabies. With their skin shedding from their mutated bodies and their eyes weeping milky tears, these repugnant creatires have begun to hunt humans.

When her dad is snatched by the Weepers, Sherry finds solace with the gorgeous but troubled Joshua, who takes her to Safe Haven, a refuge for survivors trying to make a life amongst the wreckage. As they fight to rescue Sherry’s dad and struggle to stay alive, Sherry can’t shake the growing feeling that someone – or something – is watching them. Are the Weepers the only threat they face, or are there greater forces at work...?

After seeing this in a few people’s IMM’s last week I started lusting after it and then it came through the door on Monday! Thanks, Usborne!

The Goddess Test – Aimee Carter

Every girl who has taken the test has died.
Now it’s Kate’s turn.

When her mother’s dying wish is to return to her home town, Kate’s willing to do anything to make it come true. Even if it means startinh at a new school with no friends – and no hope.

Then she meets Henry. Dark, tortured and mesmerising, Henry offers Kate a reprieve. She thinks he’s crazy. Yet when he brings a dead girl back to life right in front of Kate’s eyes she’s not so sure any more...

Claiming to be Hades, God of the Underworld, Henry’s prepared to make Kate a deal.

He’ll keep her mother alive whil Kate tries to pass seven tests.

If she suceeds, she’ll become a goddess – and Henry’s bride. If she fails she’ll never see her mother again...

Thanks, Mira! I’m really looking forward to this as I love Greek mythology.

Mister Creecher – Chris Priestly

Can a monster and a boy ever really be friends?

1818. London.

Billy is a street urchin, pickpocket and petty thief. Mr Creecher is a monstrous giant of a man who terrifies all he meets. Their relationship begins as pure convenience. But a bond swiftly develops between these two misfits as their bloody journey takes them ever northwards on the trail of their target...Victor Frankenstein.

I love Frankenstein so I’m very excited to read this. Thanks, Bloomsbury!