Thursday, 31 May 2012

Emma Hearts LA - Keris Stainton


Emma Hearts LA – Keris Stainton

Pages: 254
Publisher: Orchard
Release Date: 7th June 2012
Edition: UK proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Della Says OMG!, Jessie Hearts NYC

Emma’s just arrived in Los Angeles, a million miles away from all her friends, and any chance of a boyfriend. Unless you count geeky Oscar - which she doesn’t. Not at first, anyway. Teen heart-throb Alex might have potential too. If she can get him away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi, that is.

Two boys, unlimited sunshine and a new life amongst the stars. Maybe LA’s not that bad, after all.

Keris Stainton’s novels are always fun, romantic and leave me with a smile on my face and Emma Hearts LA did all of that and more.

One of the first things that I noticed about Emma Hearts LA was how current and completely up to date it is. Keris managed to get a reference to the Ryan Gosling ‘Hey Girl...’ Tumblrs into the novel which actually made me laugh. There’s something about the internet being out in the real world that always jolts me, in a good way, of course! There were also mentions to The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother which everyone seems to love at the moment, and which I haven’t yet seen any of...

I loved Emma as a heroine. She’s cool and confident and funny but still has the tentative approach to boys and relationships and a very endearing vulnerability of most teenage girls that made her instantly likable and relatable. She was also unclear of her feelings and when she did work out what they are she didn’t quite know what t do with them which I instantly connected with.

Emma isn’t the only awesome character in Emma Hearts LA, however. There is a cameo from Jessie and her mum, Natalie, which was brilliant as I always love having the chance to catch up with characters from earlier books. There’s the extremely gorgeous Alex who turns Emma’s legs to jelly and pretty much a dream guy, and then there’s Oscar. Oscar who has a strange fashion sense, an obsession with space, talks to ducks and is completely adorable. He’s smart, funny and beyond cute and I feel head over heels for him.

As well as the aww-inducing love story, Emma Hearts LA broaches the repercussions of a divorce and the blame lain of each parent and the change in the parent-child relationships in a subtle and sensitive way. I also loved the way Keris presented the relationship between Emma and Bex – it’s the type of relationship that me and my sister can only manage when I’m at university 150 miles away. When we’re together we drive each other insane so I loved that Emma and Bex are friends.

I loved Emma Hearts LA – it’s by far my favourite of Keris’s novels so far – and I can’t wait to read whatever she delivers next. Preferably soon?


Sophie 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Adorkable - Sarra Manning


Adorkable – Sarra Manning

Pages: 384
Publisher: Atom (Little, Brown)
Release Date: 24th May 2012
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Diary of a Crush: French Kiss; Kiss and Make Up; Sealed with a Kiss, Guitar Girl, Let’s Get Lost, Pretty Things, Fashionistas: Laura; Hadley; Irina; Candy, Nobody’s Girl

Welcome to the dorkside. It’s going to be a bumpy ride...

Jeane Smith’s a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.

Michael Lee’s a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.

They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can’t they stop snogging?

As ever, Sarra Manning delivers a warm and life-affirming novel about a heroine and a message which girls can get behind with Adorkable.

After my post a few weeks ago about the way teenage girls are presented in most YA, Jeane Smith was a breath of fresh air. Firstly, Jeane does not have a traditional girly body shape – she’s short and stocky, but she’s completely comfortable with her body. She dresses exactly how she wants to; whether that’s old lady-style head to toe tweed or the poofy skirts of a fifties Prom Queen. Jeane is an unashamed dork who is surgically attached to Twitter and a blogging queen who likes jumble sales and Haribo and won’t apologise for it.

I was actually fully prepared to not really like Jeane because she’s rather harsh, to be honest, but I did. There’s a vulnerability and a desire to be loved just like any person underneath her snark that I found completely endearing. I loved how Sarra Manning turned her formula of a genuinely nice girl and a toxic boy around with Jeane and Michael. I wasn’t so sure at first, but it really worked. They are a couple that definitely can’t be accused of having fallen in instalove, more like instahate really. They are so, so different and on paper really shouldn’t work, but they do and I love them. There is also a fantastic cameo from Molly from Guitar Girl which I always love.

Underneath Jeane’s quest for world domination is Sarra Manning’s open way of dealing with teenage sex and sexual relationships without handing out judgments or opinions – it is how it is. She also discusses feminism in the same way. Manning is clearly keen  to empower girls to take chances on themselves and go for what they want. These were two of the things about Adorkable that surprised me the most and that I loved the most, other than the split narration of course, because you should all know by now how I feel about that.

I thoroughly enjoyed Adorkable and, as ever, I’ll be waiting with baited breath for Sarra Manning’s next YA tome. I hope I don't have to wait too long.  


Sophie  

Sunday, 27 May 2012

In My Mailbox 117


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 unless otherwise stated.

For review:

Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas (ARC)

Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, a seventeen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in retur for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the Prince in a to-the-death tournament – fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she’s about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

Really looking forward to this one. Thanks, Bloomsbury!

Wentworth Hall – Abby Grahame

It's 1912 and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just their extensive grounds to maintain. They need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been for one of England's most elite families...even as whispers of secret romances and bitter betrayals threaten their fa├žade of perfection.

Maggie Darlington has a secret. And she's not the only one: The handsome groom, Michael, the beautiful new French nanny, Therese, even Maggie's youngest sister, Lila, are all hiding something. And when scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, they are soon looking over their shoulders, worrying about whose scandal will be next - because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret forever.

I’m so excited for this. It sounds a little like The Luxe which I’m a massive fan of. Thanks, S&S!

Bought:

The Map of Time – Felix J Palma

London, 1896

Andrew Harrington is young, wealthy and heartbroken. His lover Marie Kelly was murdered by Jack the Ripperand he longs to turn back the clock and save her.

Meanwhile, Claire Haggerty rails against the confinces of Victorian society. She yearns for a time when she can be free to love whom she chooses – not just the type of man her family deems ‘suitable’.

But hidden in the attic of popular author and noted scientific speculator, HG Wells, is a machine that will change everything.

As their quests converge, it becomes clear that time is the problem – to escape it, to change it, might offer them the hope they need...

Me and my housemate went on a post-exam book shop and I caught sight of this and thought it sounded excellent.

Gift:

Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer

Rumour has it Artmeis Fowl is responsible for every major crime of the new century.

Just twelve years old and already he’s a criminal genius, plotting to restore his family’s fortune with a spot of corruption and kidnapping.

Kidnapping a fairy for ransom, to be precise.

Artemis Fowl has discovered a world below ground of armed and dangerous – and extremely high-tech – fairies. But he may have underestimated their powers. They will fight back. Is the boy about to trigger a cross-species war?

Let the misadventure begin.

My previously mentioned housemate bought this for me. He was horrified that I hadn’t read it and didn't own it so he got me a copy. Knows the way to my heart, that boy.

Sophie 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley


Graffiti Moon – Cath Crowley

Pages: 257
Publisher: Knoph
Release Date: 14th February 2012
Edition: US hardback

Other Titles by this Author: A Little Wanting Song

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. Somewhere in the darkness, he’s out there, spraying colour, spraying birds and blue sky on the night. And Lucy knows that a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for – really fall for.

The last person Lucy wants to spend this night with is Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since punching him in the nose on the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells Lucy he might know where to find Shadow, the two of them embark on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s pieces of heartbreak and escape echo off the city walls. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

From Cath Crowley comes an exhilarating adventure set against a moonlit cityscape – one night of art and poetry, humour and longing, anticipation and risk, and (maybe) love.

Graffiti Moon is one of those books which have been praised left, right and centre in the blogging world in a way that put my expectations impossibly high.

Cath Crowley’s prose is beautiful, flowing and incredibly poetic. The images that she creates with her words are breath-taking and I’m pretty convinced that she could make a shopping list sound pretty. Cath Crowley captures the beauty and artfulness in everything; from riding a bike down a hill to looking at a piece of art to thinking about a boy.

Not only is Graffiti Moon written beautifully, the characters are wonderful. Each of them is vividly and individually portrayed. There is a mixture of the wacky, the worrying, the adorable, the questionable and the loyal, just like in life. If you’re lucky, that is. They’re such a integral part of Ed ad Lucy’s story that they are not secondary characters at all and play equally important roles in the events of one night in Melbourne.

One of the things that I loved most about Graffiti Moon was the emphasis on art. I’m a big art fan; I even used to be fairly decent at it (an A at GCSE, thank you very much!), so when it has a presence in a YA novel it really makes me smile. But what’s special about the art in Graffiti Moon is that it’s not traditional art; it is mainly graffiti (obviously) and glass-blowing. Now, I love a good piece of graffiti, it really is art – I’m especially fond of lots of the pieces around Brighton; they’re brilliant. Glass-blowing is something that I sadly don't have very much experience with. I have seen it being done, however, and I was captivated. I love the idea of science and artistic talent coming together to create something individual and completely spectacular.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed Graffiti Moon, the ridiculous hype did take and edge off that I think would have made it for me. Saying that, I’m definitely eager to get my hands on A Little Wanting Song.


Sophie 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Black Dawn: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine


Black Dawn: The Morganville Vampires – Rachel Caine


Pages: 507
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Release Date: 1st May 2012  
Edition: UK paperback


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, Ghost Town, Bite Club, Last Breath


When a tide of ferocious draug, the vampire’s deadliest enemy, floods Morganville, its eclectic mix of residents must fight to save their town from devastation.


Chaos has taken over the quiet college town of Morganville as the threat of the draug rapidly spreads with the help of the city’s water system. Whilst most of the locals have already fled, student Claire Danvers and her friends Shane, Eve and Michael choose to stay and fight. 


Things may take a turn for the worse when vampire Amelie, the town’s founder, is infected by the master draug’s bite. Unless Claire and her friends can find an antidote to save Amelie and overcome the draug, Morganville’s future looks bleak...


I almost feel like I can’t really review this series anymore. There have been twelve books and I’ve adored each one of them for the same reasons: the pace, the characters, the relationships, the action and the head-spinning plot twists.


Black Dawn picks up exactly where Last Breath left off, with Morganville in chaos and the tensions between the vampires and humans relaxed in the face of a common enemy: the draug. This brings around some unusual alliances: Shane and Myrnin working together, Eve and Naomi making a deal and the strangest yet; Monica helping Claire, Eve and Michael all which make a massive change in the dynamics of a town that I’ve grown to know and love. And with the ending of Black Dawn, I imagine that Bitter Blood may bring us a Morganville that’s almost unrecognizable. 


Like in Last Breath, Black Dawn continues to explore different viewpoints and occasionally change tense. I thought that would be a little disruptive, but it isn’t – it works. The voices are clearly distinguishable and I found it incredibly easy to tell who was speaking even if I hadn’t checked who the chapter was narrated by. That’s how brilliantly Rachel Caine’s characters are drawn and that’s how well she’s let her readers get to know them over the Morganville Vampires series. But they continue to grow. A clearer idea of the tense relationship that Amelie and Oliver have is exposed, Eve and Michael finally realise the potential danger of their relationship, a glimpse of Myrnin’s true vampire nature is unveiled and the true terror of a Morganville without Amelie is hinted at. Seriously, the idea of Oliver in charge freaked me out quite a bit.


Something that struck me the most about Black Dawn was something that I haven’t really noticed in the series before, but has been there from the very beginning. Claire is a fiercely strong protagonist. But not in a strong-like-a-boy way, she’s strong, but she’s most definitely a girl. Claire is brave, loyal, ridiculously intelligent and cares for everybody that has a single redeeming quality. She’s not the strongest, the fastest or the most skilled with a weapon (all good things to be in Morganville), but that doesn’t matter because her qualities overpower them. I think this is a lot rarer in YA than it should be and I’m full of endless praise for Rachel Caine for creating Claire in such a way. Eve is the same – fierce and strong, but still vulnerable. 


I’m even more in love with this series than I was twelve books ago and I’m already eagerly awaiting Bitter Blood. More of the Glass House gang, please!  


Sophie 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

In My Mailbox 116


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 unless otherwise stated.

For review:

City of Lost Souls – Cassandra Clare

Jace is now a servant of evil, bound for all eternity to Sebastian. Only a small band of Shadowhunters beliueve he can be saved. To do this they must defy the Clave. And they must act without Clar. But Clary is playing a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul.

Clary is willing to do anythig for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

What price is too high to pay, even for love?

Gah, at last! I adore the MI series and the synopsis of this absolutely terrifies me. Thanks, Walker!

The Selection – Kiera Cass

In a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels THE SELECTION is the cahnce of a lifetime to compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon’s heart. But for America Singer it means turning her back on a secret love, and leaving home for a prize she doesn’t want.

Then America meets Maxon and all her plans start to crumble. Can the life she’s always dreamed of compare to a future she ever imagined?

I’m really looking forward to this, and isn’t the cover gorgeous?! Thanks, HarperCollins!

Sophie 

Friday, 18 May 2012

Blog Tour: New Girl - Paige Harbison


New Girl – Paige Harbison

Pages: 314
Publisher: Mira INK
Release Date: 4th May 2012

Other Titles by this Author: Here Lies Bridget

The Queen Bee’s missing. Will you be next?

It’s hard fitting in as the new girl among the rich elite at Manderley Academy, especially when you’re assigned to the room of popular, perfect Becca – who disappeared. What really happened? And what other sinister secrets lurk in the school’s dark hallways?

Learning to survive Manderley’s cut-throat social scene, you can’t help but follow in Becca’s footsteps, even falling for Max, the boy she left behind. Although sometimes it seems that Becca’s still out there, watching you take her place.

Waiting to take it back.

I didn’t love Paige Harbison’s debut, Here Lies Bridget, but I decided to give New Girl a shot. I wasn’t as enamoured with it as I had hoped to be.

I was surprised to find that New Girl was written in split narration – my favourite format – to include chapters from Becca’s point of view. I didn’t expect to get to know the girl who was to inadvertently make the protagonists year at Manderley a living hell. If you’ve read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, unlike me, then you probably won’t be surprised that I can only refer to the main character of this novel as ‘new girl’ or the protagonist, because we don’t find out her name until a page before the end of the novel. I have to admit, this really irritated me. It’s such a crucial piece of information and I really didn’t understand why it wasn’t included – it didn't add another dimension to the story for me at all. Though for some, I’m sure it was barely noticeable.

While Becca’s chapters were interesting, they made me really dislike her at first. She was mean, manipulative and a little psychotic to be honest. But as her story progressed and we got closer and closer to the night she went missing, glimpses of the true girl behind the bitch became apparent. Becca is a vulnerable, broken and desperate little girl who goes about things the wrong way – I ended up feeling very sorry for her, though I still didn't like her. Dana was very similar in this way, for me, but I understood completely what had led her into being such a mess. But the one thing I realised about most of the girls in this book? They have no idea how to be a friend, Blake being one of the few exceptions.

I keep wondering if I would have enjoyed New Girl a little more if I had read Rebecca which this is based on, but I rarely enjoy reading about girls like these and that seems to be Paige Harbison’s trademark. I may give her next book a go, but I won’t be seeking it out. I do know that Paige’s books will be gobbled up in one sitting by readers not as picky as me!


Sophie 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

How to Keep a Boy as a Pet - Diane Messidoro


How to Keep a Boy as a Pet – Diane Messidoro


Pages: 338
Publisher: Electric Monkey (Egmont UK)
Release Date: 7th May 2012 
Edition: UK paperback


Can taming a gorgeous boy really be as easy as walking a dog?


‘I refuse to spend my life swooning pointlessly.’
Circe Shaw is on a mission.


‘I must transform into a fabulously sophisticated journalist and discover the amazing scientific truth about boys.’


But life is beyond complicated. Circe has to deal with a poisonous rival, her mum’s annoying ‘just friends’ men and her own Dark Past.


Can Circe’s daring investigation really teach her the facts of love?


Will it help her finally get a boyfriend?


Or will it break her heart...?


Diane Messidoro’s debut is a sweet and funny story with an unexpected emotional depth that surprised me. 


My first impression of How to Keep a Boy as a Pet was that it reminded me of some of the series that I adored when I was a younger teen. Circe is reminiscent of a slightly less insane Georgia Nicolson and a more troubled Jess Jordan from Sue Limb’s Girl series and I instantly warmed to her charming narration. I think that she’s the kind of character that every girl and woman will recognise themselves in. The similarities continued with the mind-bending confusion over boys, some rather cringe-worthy incidents and her complete and utter essence of being a teenage girl. 


One of the things that I loved most about How to Keep a Boy as a Pet was Savvy’s comments on Circe’s blog posts. I would have loved to have a cool, clever and sophisticated mentor-figure when I was fifteen and I think that she’d be good for lots of other girls with their confidence. I also loved how effortlessly Diane Messidoro switched from English to American English – it was brilliantly done and felt very authentic. There was also a rather interesting turn of events that involved Savvy, which I did guess, but was still really effective.


 Along with Circe’s boy drama with the confusing and eternally intriguing Rufus, there was also a healthy dose of mystery that was continually hinted at throughout her blog posts. There was the devastating incident with Portia that wasn’t revealed in its entirety until the very end that had an effect on a lots of what Circe felt and thought of herself and the mystery of what had happened to her dad. That also had a presence for most of the novel and it was a constant burden to Circe until she finally talked it out with somebody who she trusted.


I thoroughly enjoyed Circe’s exploits and I can’t wait to read more from Diane Messidoro.


For my 2012 Contemporary YA Challenge and 2012 Debut Author Challenge


Sophie 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Why are they all so skinny?


The other night, me and my housemate had a girly movie night - we watched Never Been Kissed and She’s All That. In both of these films, the clever, geeky and severely unpopular heroine undergoes a transformation and becomes the beautiful queen of the school. This is a staple of 80s and 90s teen movies, but that particular time, it got me thinking. 


I’ve struggled with my body and the lack of confidence that comes along with that for as long as I remember. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had watched a film were the protagonist was slightly geeky, not very popular and didn’t have that perfect body hidden underneath her terrible outfit, ready to be unveiled in a dramatic staircase moment, I may not have spent my time as I have. Instead of standing off to the side with my arms crossed and hands gripping my sides, hiding my body from view, using my mind instead of my voice and constantly obsessing over how I look to others. Then I thought, well I read YA: possibly the most diverse genre you can read. Where nothing or no one is discriminated against and heroines come in all different shapes, sizes, colours and orientations.


But are they really? I began to mentally scroll through the books I’ve read recently, yearning to recall a protagonist whose physicality I related to. I came up with scores of author’s who had me nodding along with opinions, ideas, thoughts and feelings, but very few who had viewed themselves, physically, in the way I had. Or even heroines who embraced their slightly bigger bodies and worked them! The heroines who were larger than average went on fad diets and hated themselves, lost weight and became happy and popular or they weren’t actually big to begin with. I just wonder what all those girls like me who all they saw in the mirror was rounded cheeks, a soft stomach and touching thighs think when they read and watch impossibly beautiful skinny girls getting the guy while the bigger girls mill around in the background alone. 


There is one book of the few I could recall as having a bigger heroine that portrays the message of empowerment to girls wit curves: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. Jess is a US size 14, a UK 16 (I think), and I loved her for it because at that time in my life, I was exactly the same size as her. I immediately understood her self-consciousness and unwillingness to accept that she could look good in clothes and Lucius’s reaction to her body was even more reassuring. There’s a moment where Lucius takes Jess shopping for an elegant gown where he tells her about dressing women and how we’re meat to be that shape:


“Why do you all want to be nearly invisible? Why not have a physical presence in the world? Women should have curves, not angles. Not points. One should never confuse fashionable with beautiful. ...Eat. Be happy to have curves. A presence.”*


It gives me hope that a character with such strength and life who has concerns about her weight can overcome them and learn to love her body for exactly what it is and appreciate that those who don’t like it aren’t worth thinking about because there are books where the opposite to that happens to the heroine. 


Mary Hogan’s novel Pretty Face is largely centred around the body issues of her protagonist, Hayley, who is bigger than the skinny girls she goes to school with and is frequently told that she has a ‘pretty face’ as a compensation for her body. Living in LA with her fitness-obsessed mother who makes her miserable and attempts to put her on the latest fad diets, she is set to Italy for the summer as a last resort. While I Italy, Haley begis to exercise and lose weight as she gets happier ad stops turning to food for comfort. While she’s there (decidedly slimmer) she meets and falls in love with an Italian boy who loves her (slimmer than before) body. I remember being slightly appalled that Hayley didn’t feel comfortable with her body until it was more traditionally acceptable and a boy had given her his approval. 


This isn’t the kind of message that young teenage girls should be receiving. I don’t want my little sister to read a book like Pretty Face and think that her body isn’t good enough until it’s seen by society as acceptable or validated by a guy. I don’t want her to struggle through her teenage years feeling the way about her body that I did, and frequently still do, about mine. She’s always going to be bombarded by images of stick-thin beautiful girls by magazines, films and the media in general, but she shouldn’t in YA. Not the refuge of teenagers; where they come to feel acceptance and that it’s okay to be different.


One book that instantly springs to mind when I consider the ways that a larger heroine deals with the pressure to have a perfect body is Jacqueline Wilson’s Girls series, specifically book two, Girls Under Pressure. Ellie is thirteen and slightly chubby and when shopping with her gorgeous friends, Magda and Nadine, the girls end up in a queue to be photographed for a modelling competition. Ellie is told that she is “far too fat” and turns to obsessive dieting and a mild form of bulimia. It isn’t until a friend of Ellie’s is admitted to hospital for anorexia and Ellie is horrified at how frail and thin Zoe looks that Ellie realises that her body is completely fine as it is and that being healthy is the important factor. Not this is the kind of message that only the queen of early teen issue novels that can perfect so brilliantly. There’s a reason Wilson’s books are devoured thy way they are – because they empower children and young teens while 


I feel like I’ve ranted on a little bit, so now I’d like to know what you think. Are there enough bigger girls in YA? Do you think there should be more? Can you add any books where they are portrayed positively? 


*My copy of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is at home, where I am not, so I and to rely on the abbreviated version I the Goodreads quote section. If anyone has the exact wording, I would be very grateful! 


Sophie 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

In My Mailbox 115


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 unless otherwise stated. 


For review:


Emma Hearts LA – Keris Stainton (ARC)


Emma’s just arrived in Los Angeles, a million miles away from all her friends, and any cance of a boyfriend. Unless you count geeky Oscar – which she doesn’t. Not at first, anyway. Teen heartthrob Alex might ave potential too. If she can get him away from te prying eyes of the paparazzi, that is.


Two boys, unlimited sunshine and a new life amongst the stars. Maybe LA’s not that bad, after all.


Yay, so excited! Thanks, Orchard!


Saving June – Hannah Harrington


If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d have been June who dies in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.


When sixteen-yer-old Harper’s sister June, the perfect, popular, pretty one to Harper’s also – ran*, commits suicide just before her high-school graduation, nothing in Harper’s world makes sense anymore. 


With er family falling apart, Harper has a plan – steal June’s ashes and take her sister to the one place she always wanted to go: California. 


Embarking on a wild road trip of impromptu gigs and stolen kisses with mysterious musician Jake, the one person who could hold answers about June, Harper’s determined to find peace for her sister.


But will she also find peace for herself along the way?


Love the sound of this – thanks Mira/Midas!


* I copied this bit from the book cover, but it makes no sense to me. Can anyone enlighten me?


Unwholly – Neal Shusterman (ARC)


Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa, and teir hig-profile revolt at Happy jack arvest Camp, people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens and, in the same stroke, providing muc-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally bee brought into question. But unwinding has become big business, and there are powerfuk political and corporate interests that want to see it not only contiue, but expand. 


Connor has is hands full running the Graveyard, a safe haven for AWOLs, kids like him who escaped unwinding. Low on supplies and always afraid of discovery, it’s all he can do to keep the place afloat. Risa, paralyzed from te waist down after te attack on Happy Jack Harvest Camp, is struggling to stay positive ad help Connor, but she is afriad that she may be more of a burden to him than a help. And Lev finds himself involved in an underground movement to rescue tithes, were he is practically worshipped as a god. 


One of them will be betrayed. One of them will go on the run. And one of them will cross paths with Cam, a teen who doesnt exist, and make a startling discovery about the truth behind unwinding.


I adored the first book when it came out years ago so I was extremely excited to win a US ARC from S&S! Thank you!


Shine – Jeri Smith-Ready


Life can change in an instant, and no one understands this better tha Aura. It’s been almost a year since her boyfriend, Loga, tragically died and Aura is finally letting go of his violet-hued ghost, but not her search to uncover the truth about the Shift – and her past.


As the first I a generation who can see ghosts, Aura is convinced that she has a connection to the Shift, and with the gorgeous Zachary by her side, she is on the brink of discovering its mysterious secrets. But when Zachary’s life is threatened in an attempt to expose Aura’s secrets, she realizes she must stop at noting to protect herself and the one she loves...eve if that meas betraying her own heart.


I really adore this trilogy and I can’t wait to see how it all ends. Thanks, S&S!


I also received a gorgeous finished copy of Changeling by Philippa Gregory from S&S. 


Bought:


The DUFF – Kody Keplinger


Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper knows she’s not the hottest girl at school, but when school jock and resident moron Wesley casually refers to er as a Duff – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – the gloves are off!


If there’s a thin line between love and hate then Bianca has crossed it. She was just never thought she was capable of breaking anyone’s heart...


I’ve heard such varied things about this so I decided to go ahead and grab myself a copy!


One Perfect Summer – Paige Toon


Ever wondered what happened to your first love?


Alice is 18 and about to start university while Joe’s life is going nowhere. A Dorest summer, a chance meeting, and the two of them fall into step as if they have known each other forever. 


But their idyll is shattered unexpectedly, Alice heads off to Cambridge and slowly picks up the pieces of her broken heart. When she catches the attention of Lukas – gorgeous, gifted, rich boy Lukas – she is carried along by his char, swept up by his ambitious plans for a future together.


Years later, at just the wrong time, Joe is back, but out of reach in a way that Alice could ever have imagined. Life has moved on, te divide betwee them is now so grear.


Surely it is far too loate to recapture that perfect summer of long ago?


I love Paige Toon. She’s the only adult author that I read, really. 


Sophie 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Featured on Friday: Julie Kagawa


The lovely Julie Kagawa, the author of the brilliantly successful The Iron Fey series and the first book in a new dystopian vampire series, The Immortal Rules, has stopped by to answer a few questions for me. 


1. Was it hard to leave Megan and Faery behind to write something in a completely different world?
It’s always fun to explore new and unfamiliar characters and learn who they are as you write them, and I enjoy building new worlds and filling them with stories. I loved every minute of writing The Iron Fey series, but after four books and two novellas, I was ready to move on to something different. I'd been wondering if I could write something a little darker, and The Immortal Rules was the perfect opportunity for that. At the same time, the characters of the Iron Fey series are like old friends, and going back and writing more on them and their world is like putting on an old, comfortable hoodie.


2. In your novels, the sense of place is vivid and strong. Is this something you feel is important and consciously set out to do?
I definitely think it’s important. A well-developed setting can be a character unto itself and can have as big an impact on a story as anything else. A few descriptive lines around where the characters are can set the tone, build tension, speed up or slow down the pacing, and a thousand other things. I think settings should be as vibrant and dynamic as the characters in the story.


3. I've read that you said you'd never write a vampire novel. Why is that and what made you change your mind?
I had been toying with writing a post-apocalyptic YA story after The Iron Fey, when my agent suggested I might want to try vampires. Although not terribly intrigued with the idea at first, I then had the thought of combining the two, and from there everything sort of fell into place. Vampires have been popular since before Bram Stoker's Dracula, so creating something completely new and unseen was pretty much impossible. When I did decide to write about vamps, I didn't want to go down the well-tread upon "girl meets vampire, falls in love" route. Though there have been many stories lately about moral, good vampires, I wanted to bring them back to their original roots as scary, bloodthirsty killers.


4. If you had the choice between living in the Fringe or as a pet in the Inner CIty, which would you choose? Why?
I would probably be a Fringer like Allison; I have a bit of a rebellious streak in me and don't do well bowing to tyrannical overlords.


5. Was it difficult for you to balance Allison's monstrous vampire nature and the very human character that we were initially introduced to?
Not hugely difficult. Allison was so stubborn and hated vampires so much, it made sense that she would try to retain her humanity. What was trickier was the scene where she lost control and fully understood what it meant to be a vampire. I feared turning her into a true monster but at the same time, I couldn't gloss over it. She had to realize exactly what she was, even if it left her, and the reader, quite horrified.


You can read my reviews of The Iron King, The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen, The Iron Knight and The Immortal Rules to whet your appetite for Julie’s awesome books. 


I’d like to thank Julie and the ladies at Midas PR for organising this interview.


Sophie 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Dying to Know You - Aidan Chambers


Dying to Know You – Aidan Chambers


Pages: 275
Publisher: Bodley Head (RHCP)
Release Date: 26th April 2012 
Edition: UK hardback


Other Titles by this Author: The Kissing Game


Shy, likable Karl is in love with clever, beautiful Fiorella. To prove his affection, she demands that he bare his soul to her in letters. The difficulty? Karl is convinced he can’t write, or at least not well enough for Fiorella, who loves books and words. In a Cyrano de Bergerac-like twist, Karl sets out to persuade Fiorella’s favourite novelist to write the letter for him. When the famous author unexpectedly agrees, a series of misunderstandings ensues, resulting in a startling revelation, a near tragedy, and an unexpected friendship that transforms the lives of all three.


In this smart, exhilarating book about love, identity, and finding one’s own voice in the world. Aidan Chambers shows once again why he has been called “one of young-adult literature’s greatest living writers” (Booklist). 


Dying to Know You is a soft and unassuming novel about love, friendship, loss and finding yourself in the most surprising places and with the help of unexpected people.


I hadn’t read any reviews of Dying to Know You before I began reading it so I didn't really know what to expect from it; a very rare occurrence now days, and you know what, it was lovely. I was actually quite shocked when I started reading and found that the story was told from the perspective of the unnamed writer that Karl asks for help. I loved how their friendship developed. It was a touching relationship that really helped both Karl and the writer to move on and to discover and re-discover their talents. 


One of my favourite elements of the novel was how Aidan Chambers connected the ideas of love, communication and language; it was a very thought-provoking way to approach all of the issues that arose in the novel. Everything from love, grief, dyslexia, ageing, friendship, art, writing and depression was either discussed or experienced by the characters in Dying to Know You and yet it wasn’t heavy and suffocating as an issue-novel can be, but gentle and contemplative.


Dying to Know You is a thoughtful and insightful novel and after turning the last page I was left with the impression that just maybe this writer’s story could be Chambers’ too...


For my 2012 Contemporary YA Challenge


Sophie