Wednesday 30 September 2009

Blue Moon: The Immortals - Alyson Noel

Blue Moon: The Immortals - Alyson Noël

Pages: 284
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: 7th July 2009

Other Titles in the Series: Evermore (my review), Shadowland (17/11/09)

Just as Ever is learning everything she can about her new abilities as an immortal, initiated into the dark, seductive world by her beloved Damen, something terrible is happening to him. As Ever’s powers increase, Damen’s begin to fade after he is stricken by a mysterious illness that threatens his memory, his identity, his life.

Desperate to save him, Ever travels to the mystical dimension of Summerland, where she uncovers not only the secrets of Damen’s past - the brutal, tortured history he hoped to keep hidden - but also an ancient text revealing the workings of time. With the approaching blue moon heralding her only window for travel, Ever is forced to decide between turning back the clock and saving her family from the accident that claimed them - or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows weaker by the day…

Blue Moon is the explosive sequel to Evermore. I loved it, much more than I did Evermore.

Ever’s developing psychic powers were really explored in Blue Moon. I was completely absorbed by her powers and I was eager to know what she could do with them. I also kept wondering what it would be like to have them myself…

We also saw a lot more of Summerland this time. A magical realm that holds a lot more than it first seems. I love that you can manifest anything, including people; I could have hours of fun with that! But as I learned more about Summerland I began to feel that it had quite a few similarities to the Realms of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy.

I think that one of the reasons that I liked Blue Moon a lot more than Evermore was the utterly unpredictable plot. My mouth was often left gaping in shock and I even gasped a once or twice. I didn’t even bother guessing what would happen next; I knew I’d get it wrong anyway! There was also a new character introduced in Blue Moon, and I didn’t like him one little bit. I think he’ll be popping up in Shadowland quite a lot, though.

I loved Blue Moon and after it’s ending, I can’t wait for Shadowland.


Monday 28 September 2009

Incarceron - Catherine Fisher

Incarceron - Catherine Fisher

Pages: 458
Publisher: Hodder
Release Date: 3rd May 2007

Other Titles in the Series: Sapphique

Imagine a prison so vast that it contains cells and corridors, forests, cities and seas. Imagine a prisoner with no memory, sure he came from Outside - though the prison has been sealed for centuries and only one man has ever escaped.

Imagine a girl in a manor house, in a society where time in forbidden, held in a 17th-century world run by computers, doomed to an arranged marriage, tangled in an assassination plots she dreads and desires.

One inside, one outside.
But both imprisoned.
Imagine Incarceron.

I was really disappointed with Inacrceron. I wanted it to be much better than it was.

I have to admit that I had to force myself to read Incarceron, and I gave up after 220 pages. This is the first time for a seriously long time that I haven’t been able to finish a book. I suppose I should give it some credit for that!

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made me dislike it. I guess it’s a mixture of these things: I didn’t really feel a connection with either Claudia or Finn, the Era set as the 1600s in a world of amazingly advanced technology that was very strange and I really just didn’t get it. I mean, I’m usually good with weird, but this, it just didn’t make sense to me!

Although I didn’t like Incarceron, I think that lots of you will and I’m curious as to what you’ll think of it.


Sunday 27 September 2009

In My Mailbox 34

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

Paper Towns - John Green

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues - and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

Printz-medalist John Green returns with the brilliant wit and searing emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

I was going to wait for this in paperback, but I decided that I like hardbacks more!

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

The pack circled around me, tongues and teeth and growls.

When a local boy is killed by wolves, Grace’s small town becomes a place of fear and suspicion. But Grace can’t help being fascinated by the pack, and by one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. There’s something about him - something almost human.

Then she meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away…

A chilling love story that will have you hooked from the very first page.

I waited for the UK version of this because I LOVE the cover and it’s even more gorgeous in person.


Friday 25 September 2009

Featured on Friday: Becca Fitzpatrick

Becca Fitzpatrick has a degree in health which she then abandoned for writing. Becca grew up reading Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon. Hush, Hush is her first novel.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
Most of my writing happens at night, after my kids go to bed, but my son recently started preschool, which gives me an extra five hours during the week...and in the morning! I love it! I feel like my brain is a little sharper at 10am compared to 8pm.

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
Early in my teens, I read a ton of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike. Back then, the YA section was filled with horror paperbacks. I was also a big Sweet Valley High junkie. By the time I hit sixteen, I was reading classics. I fell hard for Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables. As an older teen, I read John Grisham. My favourite authors today are Jane Austen, Diana Gabaldon, Emily Bronte, Sandra Brown, L.M. Montgomery, and J.K. Rowling, so yes – I'd definitely say some of my favourite authors as a teen are still favourites today.

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
Trick question – one of my three has to be Wilderness Survival, right? Okay, I'm going to pretend Wilderness Survival comes with the whole deserted-island-package, and say, The Complete Works of Jane Austen (technically it is one book), The Phantom of the Opera, and my own journal.

4. What inspired you to write Hush, Hush?
The very first inspiration for the story came from an experience in my own tenth-grade biology class. We must have been studying human reproduction, because my teacher asked me, in front of the whole class, to name characteristics I would be attracted to in a mate (I know!!) I sat next to a really cute boy, and the thought of naming characteristics I might look for in a mate was a humiliation I was not about to subject myself to. I basically said “pass” and my teacher moved on to someone else. The experience always stuck with me, and when I sat down to write Hush, Hush, that little piece of my history evolved into an early scene in the book.

5. How does it feel for Hush, Hush to be one of the most anticipated books of the year?
Oh man, I don't even know what to say! I never could have anticipated all the support behind Hush, Hush – my publisher has been amazing, my friends and neighbours are spreading the word, and so many book bloggers have done incredible things to get the word out. I feel overwhelmingly grateful. And excited! Oh, and nervous too :). But whatever happens, I'll always be appreciative to the people who've helped me make it this far. Thank you!

6. I thought that the setting of Maine really enhanced the dark and creepy atmosphere of Hush, Hush. Was this your intention when picking the setting?
When I was in third grade, I wanted to grow up to be a writer. By the time I was in high school, I was pretty sure I would grow up to be a marine biologist. I had posters of whales and dolphins pinned up all over my bedroom, I had a huge collection of whale/dolphin T-shirts, my Christmas present from my parents in 9th grade was a whale-watching vacation to California, and my aunt and uncle adopted a humpback whale for me named Tanith. Every so often, the whale adoption agency would send me photos of Tanith in the wild, and once I even got a humpback whale calendar. As I was flipping through the photos in the calendar, I came across this amazing photo of a breaching whale, and in the background was the Maine coast, dense with evergreens. I hung on to that picture for years, and it was my dream to someday move to Maine. Eventually I forgot about that dream, but when I started writing Hush, Hush I found myself writing about a girl growing up in a small, atmospheric Maine town without even realizing that of course I'd picked Maine as the setting because of my childhood dream. It's funny how something so seemingly small as a photograph I first saw when I was fourteen years old could have such a big impact on Hush, Hush, but there you have it.

7. How did you develop the myth surrounding fallen angels and the Nephilim?
I relied on Judeo-Christian mythology for the basic idea, then spread my wings a little, to make the mythology in Hush, Hush a little more fantastical. Like The Da Vinci Code, Hush, Hush has roots in the Bible, but I like to think I took it a few steps further, which was a lot of fun!

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
I'm editing the sequel to Hush, Hush, currently titled Crescendo. In Crescendo, readers will find out what really happened the night Nora's dad was murdered. Expect more twists and turns...and lots more Patch!

Thank you very much, Becca! You can visit Becca at her website here and read my review of Hush, Hush here.


Wednesday 23 September 2009

The Cinderella Society - Kay Cassidy

The Cinderella Society - Kay Cassidy

Pages: 303
Publisher: Egmont
Release Date: 13th April 2010

What’s a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn’t want to wear it anymore?

Sixteen-year-old Jess Parker survives by staying invisible. Then she gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join the Cinderella Society, a secret club of some of the most popular girls in school, where makeovers are the first order of official business. Catching the eye of her popular crush, and with a chance to finally fit in, Jess feels like she’s found her fairy tale.

Until the Wickeds - led by Jess’s archenemy - begin targeting innocent girls, and Jess learns that there’s more to being a Cindy than reinventing yourself from the outside. She’s become part of a battle for good vs. evil, and now the Cindys need Jess on special assignment. Is honouring her new sisterhood worth destroying her dream life?

The Cinderella Society is a chick-lit novel with a twist, introducing a secret, prestigious society that teens will love to read about.

Kay Cassidy’s debut novel, The Cinderella Society, is a brand new take on high school cliques and is pure girl power.

Throughout the book, Kay emphasises, through Jess, how awesome us girls are. The focus on strength, confidence and friendships gives every girl a chance to come out on top without using anyone else to do it, like the Wickeds do. She’s all about girl power by encouraging girls to embrace all of their good points. However, I didn’t like the focus on Jess’s makeover so much - the guy didn’t take a serious interest until she had a fab new haircut, new wardrobe etc. That annoyed me a little.

Up until Jess became a Cindy, I really identified with Jess, well apart from the whole new kid thing. All of the things that she felt and wanted were things that I do or have felt or wanted at some point. She changed a lot when she became a Cindy and I didn’t like it at first, but as I read on, I realised why, it no longer bothered me and she went back to being a great heroine.

The high school battle of good and evil that seems to be present in most teen movies and lots of books was taken to a whole new level in The Cinderella Society. It’s not really like that at my college and wasn’t really at my high school either so I have no first hand experience, but Kay seemed to capture the hierarchy perfectly. Although, nice cheerleaders are a little different to the norm! I loved how deeply the Society ran and I had a little shock every now and then at just how big it really was.

I enjoyed The Cinderella Society and hopefully some of the secrets will be revealed in the sequel.


Monday 21 September 2009

Contest: Glass Houses - Rachel Caine (CLOSED)

I won a UK copy of Glass Houses by Rachel Caine from a competition that I don't remember entering, and I already have a copy of this fabulous book. So, I'm giving it away to one of you!

Welcome to Morganville.

Just don’t stay out after dark.

Morganville is a small college town filled with unusual characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad come out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows - one that will spill out into the bright light of day.

For Claire Danvers, high school was hell, but college may be murder. It was bad enough that she got on the wrong side of Monica, the meanest of the school’s mean girls, but now she’s got three new roommates, who all have secrets of their own. And the biggest secret of all isn’t really a secret, except from Claire: Morganville is run by vampires, and they are hungry for fresh blood…

To win:
+1 leave a comment containing your email address. No email, no entry.
+2 blog or twitter about the contest or put in your sidebar. Let me know what you’ve done in your comment.
+2 become/are a follower

This contest will be international and will end at 11:59pm Monday 5th October GMT.

Good luck!


Sunday 20 September 2009

In My Mailbox 33

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

Lucas - Kevin Brooks

Caitlin's life changes from the moment she sees Lucas walking across the causeway one hot summer's day. He is the strangest, most beautiful boy she has ever seen - and when she meets him, her world comes alive. But to others, he quickly becomes an object of jealousy, prejudice and hatred. Caitlin tries to make sense of the injustice that lurks at every unexpected twist and turn, until she realises that she must do what she knows in her heart in right.

I read this a couple of summers ago and loved it; it made me cry, so I thought it was about time I got my own copy.

Carpe Corpus: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

In the small town of Morganville, vampires and humans lived in (relative) peace - until all the rules got rewritten when the evil vampire Bishop arrived, looking for the lost book of vampire secrets. He’s kept a death grip on the town ever since. Now an underground resistance is brewing, and in order to contain it, Bishop must go to even greater lengths.

He vows to obliterate the town and all its inhabitants - the living and the undead. Claire Danvers and her friends are the only ones who stand in his way. But even if they defeat Bishop, will the vampires ever be content to go back to the old rules, after having such a taste of power?

This is why I love pre-ordering. This isn’t meant to be out until the middle of next month, and I got it Wednesday and finished it yesterday! So good!

The Secret to Teen Power - Paul Harrington

So what’s the big secret?
And what can it do for you?

Well, if you ever had a dream, a secret ambition, a passionate desire or goal, but had no idea how to make it real, then The Secret to Teen Power is for you. The Secret has already shown millions of people all over the world how to change their lives and make their dreams come true. And you can do it too.

The Secret gives you the power to have, do, or be anything you choose. We’re talking wealth, success, great relationships, better health and self-esteem…anything your heart desires. It’s all totally achievable.

And all you need to do is discover this Secret.

This was a complete surprise. I’m not a big fan of non-fiction and self-help books, so I don’t know if I’ll read it.

Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld

Two opposing forces on the brink of war.

The Clankers - who put their faith in machinery - and the Darwinists - who have begun evolving living creatures into tools.

Prince Aleksander, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, comes from a family of Clankers, and travels the country in a walker, a heavily-fortified tank on legs.

Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, works for the British Empire, crewing an airship made of living animals, the ultimate flying machine.

Now, as Alek runs from his own people, and Deryn crash-lands in enemy territory, their lives are about to collide…

The fabulous S&S sent me a beautiful, finished hardcover and, I admit, I squealed a little when I opened the package. This is going to be good…

Incarceron - Catherine Fisher

Imagine a prison so vast that it contains cells and corridors, forests, cities and seas. Imagine a prisoner with no memory, sure he came from Outside - though the prison has been sealed for centuries and only one man has ever escaped.

Imagine a girl in a manor house, in a society where time in forbidden, held in a 17th-century world run by computers, doomed to an arranged marriage, tangled in an assassination plots she dreads and desires.

One inside, one outside.
But both imprisoned.
Imagine Incarceron.

Thanks so much to Hayley from Pollinger for sending me this. It sounds amazing.

I also received another copy of Glass Houses by Rachel Caine (my review) from the publisher as I won a contest that I don’t remember entering, so look out for a contest soon! My sister also gave me her UK copy of Being Nikki by Meg Cabot (my review) as she bought the US hardcover.


Friday 18 September 2009

Featured on Friday: Michelle Harrison

Michelle Harrison grew up in Essex and now lives in Oxfordshire with her partner. She is an author and illustrator and works for a children’s publisher. Her debut novel, The Thirteen Treasures, won the Waterstones’s Children’s Prize in January 2009.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
I work in the dining area of my flat, sometimes at my desk but mainly sitting on a day-bed as it’s more comfortable and closer to the window. I work here because it’s quietest (my partner, Darren, plays guitar a lot)!

I tend to work best during the day but only manage this at weekends as I work full-time as well as writing. Much of my writing is done in the evenings because of this.

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
My favourite author as a teen was Christopher Pike. I read nearly all of his books, many of them several times. I also loved the Point Horror series.

Some of my favourite YA authors at the moment are Anne Cassidy, Sarah Singleton and Marcus Sedgwick, so my tastes haven’t really changed. I’ve always liked dark stories with twisty plots and elements of fantasy.

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn, Good Faeries, Bad Faeries by Brian Froud, and a blank notebook for me to write in.

4. Do you prefer writing or illustrating?
I get equal satisfaction from both and find that the balance between them works really well.

5. Why did you decide to weave a mystery into The Thirteen Treasures?
For me the mystery aspect was the main thread of the story, everything else was woven around it. I’ve always been intrigued by mysteries and suspenseful stories, especially involving missing people.

6. What inspired you to write about faeries?
A couple of things come to mind: stories of fairies in the garden that my older sister told me when I was a child. Then later, I was introduced to the fairy art of Brian Froud and Arthur Rackham during my Illustration course, which challenged my perception of fairies and led me to think about the darker side.

7. Did you do a lot of research into faerie myth and folklore before you began writing The Thirteen Treasures?
I didn’t do so much research before as during, although I’ve always been interested in folklore and mythology. As ideas developed, I read more and began targeting my research on fairies as I went along.

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’ve just finished working on the edits for my second book, The Thirteen Curses, which is a sequel to The Thirteen Treasures and is due in January 2010.

In this story Red becomes the main character as she continues to search for her little brother, James, who was stolen by fairies. After making her way to the fairy courts she is set a task to complete for his return – but she soon discovers that there is more to the task, and getting her brother back, than she ever imagined.

Thank you very much, Michelle! You can visit Michelle at her website here and read my review of The Thirteen Treasures here.


Wednesday 16 September 2009

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Pages: 472
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 7th September 2009

Other Titles in the Series: The Hunger Games (my review)

From Amazon: After winning the brutal Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen returns to her district, hoping for a peaceful future. But Katniss starts to hear rumours of a deadly rebellion against the Capitol. A rebellion that she and Peeta have helped to create. As Katniss and Peeta are forced to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. Unless Katniss and Peeta can convince the world that they are still lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying... The terrifying sequel to The Hunger Games.

I don’t really know what to say about Catching Fire other than it was phenomenal!

My expectations were high, although I never anticipated that it would surpass The Hunger Games. But it did. Katniss and Peeta’s story continued at break-neck speed and I hung on every single word. The plot twists and surprises just kept on coming. And some of them were pretty horrifying.

In Catching Fire I hated the Capitol and willed Katniss and Peeta on more than ever. I usually wish to be catapulted into the world that I’m reading about when I love a book, but after reading about life in Panem, I am extremely grateful that that isn’t possible.

On my Goodreads I gave Catching Fire five stars, but only because you can’t give any higher. This book has a firm place in my top five favourite books ever, along with it’s predecessor, and it’s going to take one hell of a book to knock it out of there.

I’m literally chewing my fingers off in anticipation for the final instalment of this amazing trilogy. It’s going to be one hell of a finale.


Monday 14 September 2009

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle - Catherine Webb

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle - Catherine Webb

Pages: 311
Publisher: Atom
Release Date: 7th September 2006

Other Titles in the Series: The Obsidian Dagger, The Doomsday Machine

The Bank of England robbed!
Murder on the streets of London!
Hypnotism! Mystery! Pursuit!
Saint Paul’s Cathedral ablaze!

Horatio Lyle is a former Special Constable with a passion for science and invention. He’s also an occasional sleuth. Thrown together with Tess (a reformed pickpocket) and Thomas (a rebellious young gentleman), Lyle and his faithful hound Tate find themselves pursuing an ancient Chinese plate, a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of polite society and a dangerous enemy who may not even be human…

Welcome to the world of Horatio Lyle: when mystery beckons, he gathers his courage, sharpens his wits and fills his pockets with things that explode.

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle is a fun story full of murder, mystery and utter mayhem.

The story is full of wonderfully individual characters. Horatio is an incredibly clever inventor who is a Special Constable in his spare time. He’s eccentric and likes to carry around explosives, but isn’t very sociable! Tess is cheeky and has some really funny lines; especially when talking to Horatio and Thomas is a bit of a rebel!

I loved the mixture of genres in The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle. There was the murder mystery, the setting of Victorian London and the supernatural beings behind all of the trouble. It has something for everyone!

As a self-confessed science geek, I loved all of the science that Horatio, Tess and Thomas used to get themselves out of trouble and help solve the crime. I especially enjoyed it when Horatio used lit magnesium to blind people so that they could get away one moment and used it as a light source the next. Brilliant!

I really enjoyed The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle and fans of Y.S. Lee’s A Spy in the House will love it too.


Sunday 13 September 2009

In My Mailbox 32

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

I was away during IMM time last week so these are my books from the last two weeks.

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

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

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

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

Last Chance - Sarah Dessen

Never in one place long enough to make friends or put down roots, Colie doesn’t expect her trip to the North Carolina coast to change a thing.

Always the outcast, she’s resigned to a holiday with her only eccentric aunt Mira for company. But when she finds a job at the Last Chance café, she also finds acceptance, new friends and the beginnings of romance…

I borrowed this from the library years ago as it’s been out of print for a while, but I finally tracked a copy down only to find out that it's been re-released with a pretty new cover (not this one).

Ember Fury - Cathy Brett

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

This sounds brilliant. I love the whole half-graphic novel thing! Thanks, Jenny!

The Last Song - Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks uncovers the secrets of the human heart.

Seventeen-year-old Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Miller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York to Wilmington, North Carolina. Since then she has remained angry and alienated from her parents, until her mother decides she should spend the summer with her father.

Ronnie’s father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town. He is immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centrepiece of a local church.

What unfolds is an unforgettable story about love - first love and the love between parents and children - that demonstrates the many ways that relationships can break our hearts…and heal them.

Now, I’m a sucker for romance, and not many authors do it better than Nicholas Sparks. I can’t wait to become immersed in his latest tragic tale.

The Tear Collector - Patrick Jones

Between hookups, makeups, and break-ups, there isn’t a day a Lapeer High School without drama turning to trauma turning to tears.

And tears are just as essential as air for Cassandra Gray. She and her family are vampires who thirst for human sorrow, and the energy that they soak in from a good crying jig can keep them fuelled up for days.

Anytime a friend needs a shoulder to cry on, Cass is there. Anytime a boyfriend gets too secure, she breaks his heart. Cass’s work as a school peer counsellor and hospital volunteer also provides the perfect cover and access to her family’s energy source. But she is getting tired of all the lies and manipulation - especially now that she’s actually fallen in love with a human. Can she bear to betray her family for a chance at happiness and a life lived with joy?

A perfect blend of romance and the supernatural, this unique kind of vampire story will hook readers.

I can’t wait to see how this new vampire myth unfolds.

Crazy Beautiful - Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I would give a lot to see that smile again, directed at me.
It may not be much, but I would give everything I’ve got.

In an explosion of his own making, Lucius blew his arms off. Now he has hooks. He chose hooks because they were cheaper. He chose hooks because he wouldn’t outgrow them so quickly. He chose hooks so that everyone would know he was different, so he would scare even himself.

Then he meets Aurora. The hooks don’t scare her. They don’t keep her away. In fact, they don’t make any difference at all to her.

But to Lucius, they mean everything. They remind him of the beast he is inside. Perhaps Aurora is his Beauty, destined to set his soul free from his suffering.

Or maybe she’s just a girl who needs love just like he does.

A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s Crazy Beautiful strips away the original tale to get to it’s essence, revealing the truth about forgiveness, redemption, and the power of love.

I also got the last books that I needed for when college started on Wednesday:

Songs of Innocence and Experience - William Blake
Equus - Peter Shaffer
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad


Friday 11 September 2009

Featured on Friday: Amanda Ashby

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia and now lives in New Zealand with her husband and two children. Her debut, You Had Me At Halo, has been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice award. Zombie Queen of Newbery High is her first novel for young adults.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
I like to think it's in the morning after I've dropped the kids to school but unfortunately I'm such a procrastinator and get so easily distracted by things on the Internet that I end up trying to get my entire word count down in the afternoon before I pick them up, or worse, last thing at night when I really should be in bed!

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
I grew up in the eighties so it was all about Judith Krantz, Joan Collins and Virginia Andrews, and my friends and I use to all buy one each and then pass them around. I definitely don't read those sort of books anymore, however some authors that I did first read as a teenager and I still love today are Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. I also loved the Trixie Beldon books.

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
Oh this is such a hard game to play. I do re-read some books (like Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer) but on the whole I prefer new books so I'd have to say the next Janet Evanovich, the next Suzanne Collins and the next Raymond E Feist book (pretty please!!!).

4. Where did you get the idea for Zombie Queen of Newbery High from?
I used to joke around that I was going to write a zombie book but the more I thought about it, the more I decided that I really wanted to do it so I sat down one night with my zombie loving husband and we brainstormed it. However, we weren't getting anywhere so we decided to think of titles first. Anyway, I started humming that song - Witch Queen of New Orleans and that's where my title came from. Then, because I like to do everything backwards, I started wondering how on earth a person would become a zombie queen and from there we got the plot (and let me add that this is only the second time my husband has ever volunteered to brainstorm with me, the other time was when I wanted to write a book about blowing up the world!)

5. Do you have an irritating little sister like Grace?
Hahaha - no I don't, but that's a great question. I actually have no idea where Grace came from but she was so over the top that she made me laugh (and if I laugh at a character they have less chance of getting the chop!!!!)

6. Are any of your characters based on real people?
None of my characters are based on anyone I know (mores the pity because I would love to hang out with some of them!). However, I do think that my main characters often have fragments of me in there. It's not something that I ever do consciously, but issues and interests do tend to have a nasty habit of rising to the surface no matter how hard you try to ignore them!

7. Why zombies?
Honestly, there is something so inherently funny about the word zombie. Plus, with all the crazy walking and the drool, I just found them irresistible!!!!

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
My next book for Puffin is tentatively titled Fairy Bad Day and is about a teenage girl who wants to be a dragon slayer like her mom, but ends up getting stuck with fairies instead. I've also just sold a mid-grade series about an eleven year old girl who gets turned into a djinn (genie) the day before she is due to start sixth grade!

Thank you very much, Amanda! You can visit Amanda at her website here and read my review of Zombie Queen of Newbery High here.


Wednesday 9 September 2009

Eyes Like Stars - Lisa Mantchev

Eyes Like Stars - Lisa Mantchev

Pages: 352
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Release Date: 7th July 2009

All her world’s a stage.
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theatre.
She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.
Until now.

Nate: Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie (as she’s known to the theatre).
Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, and Peaseblossom: Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. Bertie’s sidekicks.
Ariel: Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.
Bertie: Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book - an ancient magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family…and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Eyes Like Stars is Lisa Mantchev’s fantastically magical debut. It was utterly enchanting.

One of my favourite parts of Eyes Like Stars is the characters. Bertie is headstrong and impulsive, Ariel is extremely intriguing, Nate is protective and a pirate - I love pirates - but Ophelia really surprised me and I got to like her a lot. But it was the fairies that were my favourites. Moth, Cobweb, Mustardseed and Peaseblossom had me laughing throughout the novel and I loved how protective of Bertie they were.

The world that Lisa Mantchev created blew me away. I loved the scene changes, the players and the competition between the staff. It made me remember how much I love going to the theatre and how long it’s been since I went. The Theatre is a spellbinding place I would love where to see a show. But I may never come home again!

Lisa Mantchev’s imagination continually astounded me whilst reading Eyes Like Stars. It was original and completely unique; I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it before.

I loved Eyes Like Stars and I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in the series to see how Bertie’s quest pans out.


Monday 7 September 2009

Oh.My.Gods. - Tera Lynn Childs

Oh.My.Gods. - Tera Lynn Childs

Pages: 264
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: 14th May 2009

Other Titles in the Series: Goddess Boot Camp

Phoebe’s life is about the get ungodly…

All Phoebe Castro has to do is keep her grades up and have another stellar cross-country season and her dream of attending USC with her friends on a track scholarship is a reality. So it’s a complete shock when her mom announces that she’s marrying a near-stranger and moving them to Greece.

Before Phoebe knows it, she’s stuck on a secret island in the Aegean and attending the super-exclusive Academy, where her new stepfather is the headmaster and the kids are anything but your average students - they’re descendents of the Greek gods, superpowers included. If regular high school wasn’t bad enough, this is mortal misery.

Phoebe’s only chance of reclaiming her old life lies in securing that scholarship. But managing that may be an ungodly challenge, considering she’s got a sabotaging stepsister from Hades and a gorgeous guy - what a god! - in her way…

Oh.My.Gods. is such a cute, fun read. I really enjoyed it.

This book made me want to go to Greece so badly! The clear blue skies, white sandy beaches and gorgeous sunshine are a little bit different to England’s weather, me thinks! It sounds like such a fantastic place to be.

I loved learning about the Greek gods, goddesses and mythology in Oh.My.Gods. I didn’t really know very much beyond the basics and the very famous gods and goddesses, but know I want to know much more. The way that the descendents reflected their god or goddess was very cool and it became a strange, but fitting, version of high school cliques.

Despite all of the myths and legends, there was still plenty of typical teen drama in Oh.My.Gods. There were mums remarrying, bratty step-sisters, bitchy popular girls and the guy. The supernatural elements were well balanced and fit nicely into the, kind of, real world.

I really enjoyed Oh.My.Gods. and I can’t wait to get started on the sequel, Goddess Boot Camp.


Friday 4 September 2009

Featured on Friday: A.S. King

A.S. King lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children. Her short fiction has been published in lots of journals and has been nominated for the Best New American Voices 2010. The Dust of 100 Dogs is A.S. King’s first young adult novel.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
I work in my basement. A corner of it. It’s small and there are no windows and if the dehumidifier breaks, it smells like a hamster cage. That is where I presently do my best writing! I’ve worked in prettier places, though, and aspire to do so again.The best time for me to write is all day. At the moment, my best first draft time is between 9AM and 3PM.

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
As a teen, Paul Zindel was my favorite. I haven’t read him in years, though. (Thanks for the reminder.) I read Ray Bradbury and George Orwell and Madeline L’Engle. I was attached to Stephen King’s short story collection, Night Shift, for years as a teen. I was so in love with that book! My current favourites are Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins, which, in many ways, share the same qualities I enjoyed in the novels I read as a teen.

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
A large collection of American short stories
A large cyclopedia
Catch-22 (Great stuck-on-an-island book, I reckon.)

4. What inspired you to tell Emer and saffron’s stories?
When I started writing D100D, I had just begun to read a lot about Irish history. I wanted to write about Cromwell, because his army came through our area and I could really visualize it. I saw a plaque in a local town that paid tribute to the people who’d fought the invasion including a “warrior wife” which added to my thinking about warrior women.

5. What in the way of research did you do in order to write about Emer’s piratey exploits?
I read a lot of non-fiction and Googled a lot, once I had access. I spent some time in Jamaica and the Caribbean. The most helpful research for this book were a few pirate games on my computer. They really helped me understand the basics of sailing times and necessary supplies and even battle tactics.

6. Emer and Saffron are very different characters. Did you find it hard weave their stories together?
I tend to write two threads at the same time which weave themselves together without much help from me. This was how it happened for Emer and Saffron. The difference between the two characters is one of my favorite aspects of the book. They led such different lives in such different times.

7. I loved all of the dogs facts scattered throughout the book. What made you decide to include them?
I think the whole book started with the dogs. They wrote themselves nearly in place. Again, it seems to be the way my brain spits out stories. Halfway through, I squint at a project and think, “What are these dog bits doing in here?” but eventually, it becomes clear.

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
This month I’m finishing two books. I am about to hand IGNORE VERA DIETZ to my editor at Knopf, and I’m just about finished what I hope will fill the next slot—a book about a boy, his missing grandfather, and a community pool.

Thank you very much, Amy! You can visit Amy at her website here and read my review of The Dust of 100 Dogs here.

P.S. I'm going to be away this weekend so I'll do an IMM post next weekend with both weeks worth. Have a great weekend guys!


Wednesday 2 September 2009

Blood Promise: A Vampire Academy Novel - Richelle Mead

Blood Promise: A Vampire Academy Novel - Richelle Mead

Pages: 503
Publisher: Sleuth Razorbill
Release Date: 25th August 2009

Other Titles in the Series: Vampire Academy (my review), Frostbite (my review), Shadow Kiss (my review)


Bound by love, but sworn to kill…

The world thought Dimitri was dead. And to a certain extent, he was. But I hadn’t been able to forget a conversation he and I had once had. We’d both agreed that we’d rather be dead - truly dead - than walk the world as Strigoi. It was time to honour our words.

Guardian Rose Hathaway’s life will ever be the same. The recent attack on St. Vladimir’s Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose’s neck; a mark that says she’s killed far too many Strigoi to count.

But only one victim matters…Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honouring her life’s vow to protect Lissa - her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess - or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

Now, with everything at stake - and worlds away from St. Vladimir’s Academy and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend - can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?

Readers who fell in love with Rose, Lissa, and Dimitri won’t want to miss Blood Promise, the much-anticipated, epic fourth novel in Richelle Mead’s enthralling Vampire Academy series.

It feels like I waited forever to read Blood Promise and there were lots of things that I really wanted to happen in it. But I never could have anticipated what actually did happen.

There is always more to learn about in the world of Vampire Academy. The lore and dimensions of Rose’s world are constantly growing and developing. And like every teenager, Rose learns new things and her ideals change as she changes and experiences the world. You can’t take your eye of the ball for a second when reading Blood Promise and you won’t even be able to draw breath, let alone get bored!

Dimitri as a Strigoi is definitely different. I don’t want to say too much about it because I don’t want to spoil it, but be prepared for a very different man. I had to go back and read my favourite bits from the previous three books to make myself feel better!

But it was Rose’s memories of her and Dimitri that I really loved. Tiny snippets of their lives that we don’t see in any of the books are a lovely contrast to the relentless action and emotional torment of Blood Promise. They also helped to emphasise just how much Rose changed in the book.

With all the plot set-ups for Spirit Bound, I can’t wait to see how they play out. Though there are a few things that I definitely want to happen! But April is a long way away!