Wednesday 30 June 2010

Seriously Sassy - Maggi Gibson

Seriously Sassy - Maggi Gibson

Pages: 273
Publisher: Puffin/Penguin
Release Date: 2nd April 2009

Other Titles in this Series: Pinch Me, I’m Dreaming, Crazy Days (1/7/10)

Right now boys are not part of my life plan. I’ve got more than enough to do as it is.’

‘Yeah, like the planet to save,’ Cordelia says dreamily.

‘And my career to get off the ground, I’ve not even got my first demo disc yet!’

Sassy Wilde’s had enough of pollution and plastic bags - she wants to make a difference. It’s time to grab her guitar and start spreading some eco love…

But first she has to get round her mum and dad - officially the most embarrassing parentals In. The. World.

And it’s not just endangered creatures keeping Sassy awake at night. Why, oh why did Magnus (the Magnificent) offer her a bite of his muffin in biology?

Seriously Sassy is a hugely fun start to a series that’s perfect for younger readers.

Sassy is one hell of a main character. Her dedication to saving the planet is admirable and very impressive for a thirteen-year-old girl. She actually made me feel guilty for not staging tree-top protests and going to supermarkets. Sassy isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in and even get into trouble for it.

Another thing that makes me want to have been like Sassy when I was thirteen is her music. She dreams of being a star and using her songs and influence to help the planet. Her songs are even scattered throughout the novel. I loved how much music meant to her.

Surrounding the awesomeness that is Sassy are her Lolitaz obsessed little sister, Pip, psychic Goth best friend, Cordelia and two boys, Magnus and Twig, both vying for her affections. And I have to say that Twig was definitely my favourite of the boys. He seemed like Sassy’s perfect match.

I thoroughly enjoyed Seriously Sassy so I’ll definitely be reading the next two books, Pinch Me, I’m Dreaming and Crazy Days.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge

Sophie

Monday 28 June 2010

Sweethearts: Star-Crossed - Jo Cotterill

Sweethearts: Star-Crossed – Jo Cotterill

Pages: 253
Publisher: Red Fox/Random House
Release Date: 27th May 2010-06-17

Other Titles in this Series: Strictly Friends? (2/9/2010), Ice Dreams (3/3/2011)

‘You did WHAT?’ screamed Mari. ‘You turned down the cutest boy ever? Are you crazy?’

This summer, Fliss is playing Juliet opposite her dream Romeo. If only she could tell him how she feels!

But unless she finds some inner confidence, she’s going to miss her chance with him.

Because someone else has her eyes on Fliss’s role - and her leading man…

Star-Crossed is the great first book in Jo Cotterill’s very cute Sweethearts series.

First of all I have to confess my love for Romeo and Juliet. It’s the ultimate story of first, all-consuming, forbidden love and so the characters of this book being in a production of the play won me over before I had even opened the book. The portrayal of auditions, rehearsals and the final performance was detailed enough that I would know exactly what to expect if I was to take part in a play. And the passion that Fliss, Mari and Victoria have for acting is infectious; it’s how I feel about books, actually.

And these girls are so realistic with their emotions, doubts and interactions. Shy, introverted, but extremely talented Fliss and loud and confrontational Mari and horrible Samantha were very much like typical high school girls. I really, really dislike girls like Samantha. Really, really. Victoria is the only character that I feel wasn’t fleshed out too well. I mean, we learned that she was rich and a terrible actress, but I never felt that I knew her. Fliss’ mum, Jeanette, also has to get a mention. She’s unsupportive, dismissive and patronising of Fliss’ dream of being a great actress. Although saying that, I understand that she only wants her daughter to have the best life possible and the opportunities that she didn’t have. Don’t get me wrong, I still didn’t like her, but I did get where she was coming from.

But I think that Star-Crossed is ultimately a coming-of-age story. Fliss learns to believe in herself and her abilities and to stand up for herself through her summer of Romeo and Juliet. Her growth in confidence was touching and uplifting as and someone who isn’t particularly confident, it was all the more moving.

Star-Crossed is a very cute start to a series that will be a big hit with younger teens.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge

Sophie

Sunday 27 June 2010

In My Mailbox 69

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.

For review:

Trash - Andy Mulligan (no cover available)
I’ve been picking up trash since I could crawl, and people always say ‘maybe one day you’ll find something special’. Then one day I did.
Raphael Fernandez is fourteen years old and part of the slum that barely makes a living on the mountains of the dumpsite. No education and no prospects: a lifetime of sifting through rubbish.

Then, out of the blue, he finds a key.

Keys open doors, and soon Raphael and his friends are just one step ahead of a desperate and dangerous police force. The three boys hold the key to a deadly secret. It leads to corruption, unimaginable wealth, and one man’s mission to put right a terrible wrong.

Children can’t be children when their lives are at stake…they have to be heroes.

A very cool surprise from David Fickling Books/Random House. I was wrapped in a paper bag with strips of paper filled with quotes.

Spirit Hunter - Katy Moran

Two empires are at war.

This time, the Empress of China is sure she will destroy the Horse Tribes for ever.

She sends a deadly weapon across the desert with her army: Swiftarrow, her Shaolin spy. But Swiftarrow has more than one mission to complete. He must also find a new recruit for the empress, a young barbarian to train as Shaolin: swift as a shadow, more silent than death.

Out on the Steppe, a young Horse Tribe shaman dreams of a great battle and the slaughter of her people. She knows that war is coming. She must stop the bloodshed. But how?

Thanks to Walker Books for this. I feel a forbidden love coming on!

Somebody’s Crying - Maureen McCarthy

When Alice looks up and sees Tom staring at her, everything closes down around them and becomes very still. No one is breathing. No one else is in the room. Tom feels as if he can see right into the soul of Alice Wishart. It lies open before him, like a wide, long pane of glittering glass. So delicate and beautiful and…ready to break.

Three years have passed since the murder of Alice’s mother, but still the killer is unknown. Alice, her cousin Jonty and his friend Tom are drawn together by the mystery, but what are they hiding? Will their secrets bind them even tighter or tear everything apart?

Maureen McCarthy’s intensely real characters will draw you deep into a world of suspicion, betrayal, desire and redemption.

A surprise from Allen & Unwin/Frances Lincoln. Hopefully I’ll get round to giving this a go.

No and Me - Delphine de Vigan

Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend called Lucas who gets her through the day. At home her father cries in secret and her mother hasn’t been out of their flat properly for years.

Then Lou meets and becomes friends with No, a teenage girl living on the streets, and asks her parents if No can come and live with them. No’s sudden presence within Lou’s fractured family has an explosive force that will change the lives of Lou - and her parents - for ever.

A brilliant, challenging and thought-provoking novel about the true nature of home and homelessness.

A paperback copy from Bloomsbury

Claire de Lune - Christine Johnson

Hanover Falls hasn’t had a werewolf problem in over one hundred years, but when people suddenly start dying in Claire Benoit’s town, panic spreads fast. The gruesome killings are all anyone can talk about at Claire’s sixteenth birthday party, though the only thing on Claire’s mind is gorgeous Matthew Engle chatting and flirting with her as if she’s the only girl there. But that night, Claire discovers something that takes away all sense of normality: she’s a werewolf.

Claire knows she must keep her changing identity a secret, especially from Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. But then a rogue werewolf threatens to put everyone she knows in danger. Struggling to feel comfortable in either skin, and with her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, Claire is forced to make a choice that will change her forever.

So excited for this! I love Simon Pulse/S&S!

Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready

Aura’s in love with two boys - but one of them’s a ghost. Can true love really conquer all - even death?
 Like everyone born after the Shift, sixteen-year-old Aura can see and talk to ghosts. She’s always found this mysterious ability pretty annoying, wishing only that she could reverse it and have some peace. But when her boyfriend, Logan, dies unexpectedly, Aura is forced to reconsider her connections to the dead…


Devastated by Logan’s sudden death, Aura ralises that her ability to see ghosts might actually be a blessing. Surely a violet-hued spirit Logan is better than no Logan at all? But just when Aura is coming to terms with having a ghost for a boyfriend, she starts developing feelings for her new friend Zachary, who is understanding, supportive and, most of all, alive. Each boy holds a piece of her heart - as well as vital clues to the secret of the Shift - and it’s time for Aura to choose between loving the living or embracing the dead…

Again with the Simon Pulse/S&S love.

She’s So Dead to Us - Kieran Scott

Ally Ryan’s back in Orchard Hill, a place she vowed never to set foot in again. Not after the trauma of her family fleeing their home in shame when her dad’s business dealings almost bankrupted their local community. Now she’s moved back, but her old ‘friends’ are cutting her dead. And while she may have outgrown the country club-trust fund-new car-every year-lifestyle, they certainly haven’t - and they won’t let her forget now she’s living on the wrong side of the tracks.

As if dealing with past demons and current grudges isn’t enough, now Ally’s met the handsome, wealthy and totally into her Jake Graydon, who just happens to live in her old house and be part of the clique that’s rejected her…complicated much?

Ally was hoping to start her life over again, but she’s learning that some things just can’t be forgotten…

Thanks, Simon Pulse/S&S!

The Runaway Troll - Matt Haig

There’s one thing every troll child dreads more than anything else - ns hat’s being sent to the Betterer - the most evil creature in Shadow Forest.

The Betterer is furious when one troll boy escapes to be with his favourite human, Samuel Blink. But then he realises that perhaps the most useful thing to have in his Bettering Tower would be a real life human child.he sets out on a quest to kidnap Samuel and the troll he’s been hiding in his wardrobe. Sameul's not allowed to enter Shadow Forest, but what’s to stop the forest coming to him?

Thanks to Bodley Head/Random House for this one. It sounds like so much fun!

Bought:

No books, but I did get…

…after countless recommendations from Jenny and Luisa. I watched season 3 when it was repeated on TV and fell in love so I felt I had to see it from the beginning!

Sophie


Friday 25 June 2010

My Name is Memory - Ann Brashares

My Name is Memory – Ann Brashares

Pages: 324 (ARC)
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 1st June 2010

Other Titles by this Author: The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants, Forever in Blue, Girl of Lost Things, The Summer (of You and Me), The Summer That Changed Everything

‘I have fallen in love, and she is the one who endures. I killed her once and died for her many times and I still have nothing to show for it. I always search for her. I always remember her. I carry the hope that someday she will remember me.’

Their story spans a thousand years. Time and again, they have been together, yet apart. He knows they are meant to be one. Only he carries the memory of their love.

Discover a love story with the power and intensity of The Time Traveller’s Wife and the passion of Twilight.

My Name is Memory is an epic tale of a love that spans centuries and continents.

I have to get a few minor criticisms out of the way first. One of the reasons that o agreed to review the book was the claims likening My Name is Memory to two of my favourite books: The Time Traveller’s Wife and Twilight, and I honestly didn’t see a very strong connection. I did, however, think that it is reminiscent of Lauren Kate’s Fallen with reincarnation, the guy remembering and even the names Lucy and Daniel. But I still loved it!

This is a slow-moving novel that is very character driven. There are only about ten pages of action near the end and this as well as the dual narration really allowed Ann Brashares to explore the characters of Lucy and Daniel deeply. All of their feelings, actions and motivations are clearly explained and even though Lucy and Daniel were barely together, their love for each other is so obvious.

And, man, did I want a happy ending for them. After nearly 1500 years of being kept apart, I think they deserved it. But as often happens, as soon as things are going well (and, oddly, usually after they’ve slept together for the first time) everything begins to unravel and you can never guess where the story will go next. And I was extremely anxious to find out how Lucy and Daniel’s story would end (in this life, anyway) as they changed so much after their reunion.

My Name is Memory is a beautiful novel and I hope to get to read more of Ann Brashares’ work at some point.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge

Sophie

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Forbidden - Tabitha Suzuma

Forbidden – Tabitha Suzuma

Pages: 418
Publisher: Definitions/Random House
Release Date: 3rd June

Other Titles by this Author: A Note of Madness, From Where I Stand, A Voice in the Distance, Without Looking Back

‘You’ve always been my best friend, my soul mate, and now I’ve fallen in love with you too. Why is that such a crime?’

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen, gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But…they are brother and sister.

Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden is probably the most intensely powerful novel that I’ve read in a seriously long time and I really don’t know where to start with this review.

Consensual incest is one of the most controversial subjects out there, and to be honest, I was extremely curious as to how the author would handle it. But, quite frankly, it blew my socks off. Lochan and Maya’s story is delivered beautifully, but in an artful, unflinching way that really captured my attention. All at once I was cheering Maya and Lochan on and feeling a little uncomfortable. The conflict between my heart and mind kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire novel.

All of the questions that would be asked about Lochan and Maya’s relationship, they asked themselves. And couldn’t answer them any more than an outsider could. But their situation is so different and something unusual was bound to stem from it. A closeness in age, running their household, being parents to their three younger siblings and having to work together made them much closer than a normal brother and sister would be. From this partnership stemmed a passionate, but tender, love that’s both so wrong and so right. It is incredibly moving and I found myself dreading the inevitable.

One of the most prominent questions was how incest could possibly be consensual. To ensure that Lochan and Maya’s relationship is perceived by readers that way, my favourite technique is used: dual narration. Strong, silent, Lochie and confident, chatty Maya were most definitely in love. And I, myself, fell quite in love with Lochan, too which made the ending so much more heartbreaking.

Forbidden is a truly extraordinary novel that should be a must read for everyone.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge

Sophie

Monday 21 June 2010

A Most Improper Magick - Stephanie Burgis

A Most Improper Magick - Stephanie Burgis

Pages: 295 (ARC)
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Release Date: 1st August 2010

At twelve years old, any proper young lady should be quietly sitting at home practising her embroidery, learning French and keeping her opinions to herself.


But Kat Stephenson is no ordinary young lady.

Kat’s father may be a respectable vicar, but her late mother was a notorious witch, her brother has gambled the whole family into debt, and Kat herself is the newest target of an ancient and secretive magical Order.

In the first thrilling instalment of The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, Kat sets to win her older siblings their true loves, battling highwaymen, sinister aristocrats, wild magic and even ghosts along the way.

A Most Improper Magick is an immensely fun Regency adventure filled with irresistible humour and bucket loads of charm.

I have to begin by saying that the Regency period is by far my favourite in history. Manners, courtship, balls and handsome, brooding gentlemen in breeches. You can’t really ask for any more, and so I was pleased to learn that Kat’s story has each of these elements with added sparkle and life. The downsides of Regency times (sexism, class divides, marrying for money) are all present and accounted for without taking the shine off of things.

This novel has the most brilliant cast of characters. Kat is spunky, funny and full of brilliantly mad-cap plans who reminded me a lot of Diana from The Luxe series. Then you’ve got her older sisters, passionate and impetuous Angeline and polite, sensible Elissa who fancies herself a tragic heroine. They really are like the Dashwood sisters. All of them are fabulous and I’d very much like to know them myself!

Stephanie Burgis’ debut is a cute and fun start to what I’m sure will be a fantastic series.

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

Sophie

Sunday 20 June 2010

In My Mailbox 68

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.

For review:
The Blackhope Enigma - Theresa Flavin

An old painting…
A strange labyrinth…
The sudden appearance of skeletons in a locked room…

For centuries, Blackhope Tower has been shrouded in intrigue, which seems to centre around a curious painting hanging in the Mariner’s Chamber. Its meaning has baffled historians, but when fourteen-year-old Sunni Forrest visit’s the tower, she finds herself transported to the very heart of the Blackhope Enigma, and the painting itself. Can she and her friend Blaise overcome its dangers and evade their ruthless pursuers? And will they find their way home…alive? An age-old mystery is about to unravel.

Thanks to Templar Publishing for this. It sounds great.

Seriously Sassy - Maggi Gibson

‘Right now boys are not part of my life plan. I’ve got more than enough to do as it is.’

‘Yeah, like the planet to save,’ Cordelia says dreamily.

‘And my career to get off the ground, I’ve not even got my first demo disc yet!’

Sassy Wilde’s had enough of pollution and plastic bags - she wants to make a difference. It’s time to grab her guitar and start spreading some eco love…

But first she has to get round her mum and dad - officially the most embarrassing parentals In. The. World.

And it’s not just endangered creatures keeping Sassy awake at night. Why, oh why did Magnus (the Magnificent) offer her a bite of his muffin in biology?

Seriously Sassy: Pinch Me, I’m Dreaming - Maggi Gibson

‘I sing cos I care about things. I’m not gonna change just being famous!’

Sassy Wilde has plenty to say about life, love and…lemurs. She’s a rock chick with eco attitude, but for Sassy it’s not all a bout fame.

There’s Twig, the boy who makes her feel squidgy inside. And Cordelia and Tas, her bestest mates. But as the Wiccaman Festival beckons, and Sassy’s dreams start to come true, will she have to leave them behind?

Suddenly Sassy’s in a whirl of bezzies and boys. It’s not just her guitar strings that are twanging - it’s her heart strings too…

Seriously Sassy: Crazy Days - Maggi Gibson

‘I’m gonna use my fame and money to make the world a better place…OK?’

Life is seriously good for Sassy Wilde - she’s had her first kiss, she has the two bestest bezzies ever and her rock-chick dreams are on the verge of coming true.

But just as everything’s set to take off, her new boyfriend starts acting weird - and then the record company turns Sassy’s world upside down!

Sassy feels like giving it all up - until a real disaster strikes. Now’s not the time for Sassy to pack away her guitar, cos her talents are needed more than ever…

iBoy - Kevin Brooks

Before the attack, sixteen-year-old Tom Harvey was just an ordinary boy.

But now fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain and it’s having an extraordinary effect…

Because Tom now has powers. The ability to know and see more than he could ever imagine. And with incredible power come knowledge - and a choice. Seek revenge on the violent gangs that rule his estate and assaulted his friend Lucy, or keep quiet?

Tom has control when everything else is out of control. But it’s a dangerous price to pay. And the consequences are terrifying…

Thanks to Puffin for the last four. They all look really good.

The Necromancer - Michael Scott

Sophie and Josh have returned to San Francisco. They must protect themselves from the Dark Elders, but they’ve not yet mastered the magic they’ll need to do so. Their trust in Nicholas Flamel is shaken, and their friend Scatty is missing.

Unbeknownst to the twins, John Dee has amassed an enormous army of foul creatures, with which he plans to battle Nicholas and his wife, Peronelle. In order for his plan to work, he must train a necromancer to raise the Mother of the Gods from the dead.

The twins of legend will make the perfect pupils in his diabolical scheme…

A surprise from Random House. This series looks fun!

Bought:

White Cat - Holly Black

Cassel is cursed.

Cursed by the memory of the fourteen-year-old girl he murdered. Life at school is a constant trial. Life at home even worse. No-one at home is ever going to forget that he isn’t a magic worker. And now he is being haunted by a white cat…

Cassel’s family are magic workers. Ever since magic was prohibited in 1929 magic workers have been driven underground and into crime. And while people still need their touch, their luck, their curses, their magical killings, their transformations, times have been hard. His grand-dad is a black-fingered death-dealer, his mother is in prison and his brothers detest him as the only one of their family who can’t do magic.

But there is a secret at the centre of Cassel’s family and he’s about to inherit it. It’s terrifying and that’s the truth.
White Cat is the sensational new novel of a changed world and the price we have to pay for magic from the internationally bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles.

I actually have a US ARC, but I have Holly Black’s other books in the UK editions so I needed them all to match!

Sophie

Friday 18 June 2010

Featured on Friday: Siobhan Curham

Siobhan Curham is the author of five books. Her fourth novel, Dear Dylan, was published in April by Author House.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
I like to write best late at night, when most people are asleep and the world has quietened down. This isn’t always practical though, as I have to get up at six in the morning for my job as a children’s editor. Now I write whenever I get the chance, at any time of day or night – on the tube, in a café, in my head in a supermarket queue!

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
As a young teenager I loved Judy Blume for the issues she covered in her books and her colourful characters. Then I went through a phase of loving really dark, powerful books like ‘1984’ by George Orwell and ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath. Now I like to read a lot of the latest teen fiction by writers like Rachel Ward, Jenny Valentine and Kate le Vann.

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
‘Catcher in the Rye’ by JD Salinger, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert and a collection of poems by Carol Ann Duffy.

4. Is there a novel that you wish you’d written? Why?
‘Catcher in the Rye’ – for the narrator’s voice alone. I’ll never forget first reading the book at the age of 13 and being blown away by the style. The way in which he talks directly to the reader was so exciting to me and it made me want to write.

5. Why did you turn down an offer with a traditional publisher to go down the self-published route?
I wrote ‘Dear Dylan’ to try and help teenagers who might be going through similar problems to Georgie. When a traditional publisher offered me a two book deal for it I was overjoyed. However, when they started to mess me about financially – offering me one thing verbally and quite another in my contract – I decided to bite the bullet and go it alone. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but I was so fed-up with being messed about I decided to give the e-version of the book away for free – something I never would have been able to do with a traditional publisher. Giving it away for free was also in keeping with the whole ethos behind the book; to try to help people. Hopefully this way it will reach as many young people as possible. Readers can download it from my website www.siobhancurham.co.uk

6. Dear Dylan encounters some heavy issues but manages to deal with them sensitively and realistically. How did you achieve this?
Thank-you. I am the mother of a teenage son and I do a lot of workshops in high schools. Through coming into close and regular contact with young people it reminds me of what a tough time the teenage years can be. It is very important to me that I keep it real though and don’t over-dramatise things. One key piece of advice I would give any aspiring writers out there is to always remember there are two sides to every story. If a character has a drink problem or is violent you have to ask yourself why that might be and try to show it in your story. Otherwise you risk ending up with characters who are two dimensional and unreal.

7. What made you decide to write Dear Dylan entirely in emails?
I thought it would be an interesting challenge as a writer and I also really like the way people tend to relax and let go in emails. I thought it would be a good opportunity to really get inside the heads of the two main characters and hear their voices. It was a lot of fun to write. Apart from the bit where they decide to meet and I had the challenge of how to let the reader know what happened. It’s not as if you email a friend just after meeting them to give them a blow by blow account of everything you have just done together – so that was a real tricky one for a while!

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m writing my next novel for teenagers and it’s called ‘Finding Cherokee Brown’. It’s about a girl who is being picked on in school and how she finds the courage to fight back – in a spectacular and original way. Bullying is a subject that I feel very strongly about. I know a couple of people whose teenage lives were ruined by it so I wanted to write a novel exploring the issue and how somebody manages to overcome it.

I’m also setting up an organisation called Write Club with my friend and fellow author Sara Starbuck for young people who want to write. We will be running workshops and giving author talks and lots of other cool writing-related stuff. If anyone wants to find out more then please email me via my website or get in touch via the ‘Dear Dylan’ Facebook page.

Thank you so much, Siobhan! You can visit Siobhan at her website and read my review of Dear Dylan here.

Sophie

Wednesday 16 June 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer

Pages: 178
Publisher: Atom
Release Date: 5th June 2010

Other Titles by this Author: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, The Host

Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood…life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don’t draw attention to yourself, and above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn’t know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they know only as her. As they come to realise the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trust. But when everything you know is based on a lie, how do you find out the truth?

In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

My review of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is going to be hugely biased as I LOVE Stephenie Meyer and The Twilight Saga.

I loved every page of this. It was so good to be back in the, if slightly different, world of Twilight and to once again be sucked in by Stephenie Meyer’s unbelievably addictive prose. Speaking of the writing, I really noticed a difference in it from the rest of the saga. It wasn’t as luscious or flowery (though neither is a bad thing!) and was a lot simpler which really set it apart as Bree’s narration and not Bella’s.

Seeing Stephenie Meyer’s sparkly vampires being evil and ruthless and hunting humans was very strange, but very cool. I really enjoyed seeing the nature of ‘real’ vampires. I do like good vamps generally, but you need a bit of evil to shake it up every now and then and who better to do it than the current queen of vampire fiction? No one. She does I perfectly (can you see the bias creeping in now? :))

But what I loved most, as expected, is the Cullen’s. Seeing them through Bree’s eyes was a very strange experience and really brought home what a rarity such good, veggie vampires are. (Have you noticed how I talk about them as if they actually exist? I just noticed and it made me giggle to myself.). And it made me love them even more. Especially a certain ‘redheaded mind-reader’ *sigh*. I really, really do love him, you know. Bree’s reaction to Bella also made it very difficult to imagine Edward and the rest of the Cullen’s (except Jasper) as newborns. Very odd indeed.

Even without chapters and text breaks, I loved every word of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and it made me want to re-read the entire saga. I will read everything that Stephenie Meyer ever writes without a millisecond of hesitation.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge

Sophie

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Birthday Contest! (CLOSED)

Today is my 18th birthday and to celebrate and make up for the fact that I have an exam this afternoon (yep, lots of sympathy, please! :)), I'm holding a contest.

You can win a book of your choice from The Book Depository.

To enter:
- Leave a comment (or email me at solittletimeforbooks@googlemail.com) with your name, email and book choice.
- Open to everyone The Book Depository delivers free to.
- Closes 11:59pm GMT on Tuesday 22nd June.

Extra entries:
- +3 Old follower (before 15th June)
- +2 New follower
- +2 Spread the word (eg. tweet, blog post, sidebar, etc.)

Good luck, everyone!

Sophie

Monday 14 June 2010

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors - Francisco X. Stork

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors - Francisco X. Stork

Pages: 344 (ARC)
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 7th June 2010

Other Titles by this Author: The Way of the Jaguar, Behind the Eyes, Marcelo in the Real World

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is a novel about the big things we live and die for, and the people who make those things matter. Two teenage boys bound together in a story of death, revenge and the ultimate friendship.

When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he'll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister's killer. But then he's assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth.

D.Q. tells Pancho all about his "Death Warrior's Manifesto," which will help him to live out his last days fully--ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol.

As Pancho tracks down his sister's murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q. said she would be; and he is inexorably drawn to a decision: to honour his sister and her death, or embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is a funny and uplifting tale of a summer and a friendship that will change the life of two desperate teenage boys.

The title of this book suggests nearly 350 pages of sadness, well, it does to me anyway. And so I was surprised to find a book full of dry humour, hope, anger and revenge with only hints of sadness now and then. The friendship between Pancho and DQ grows slowly and turns into a connection that won’t be easily forgotten by the readers of The Last Summer of the Death Warriors.

What makes this friendship so special is Pancho and DQ. Now they are unforgettable! Pancho is the kind of guy I’d cross the road to avoid: angry, threatening, aggressive and coated in death. But there’s something incredibly attractive in his silence and mysteries. Pancho is the hugest contrast to chirpy, talkative, positive and terminally ill DQ. And yet they need each other to keep them going.

DQ’s Death Warrior Manifesto is what keeps him optimistic a rather hopeless situation and tries to pass it on to Pancho so he can let go of his desire for revenge. And I think that it’s a great manifesto to live by: no whining, embrace life and love everyone and everything. But it’s only great in theory, I doubt I’d be able to keep it up for even a day. I’m way too pessimistic!

I really enjoyed The Last Summer of the Death Warriors and I’m looking forward to reading more from Francisco X. Stork in the future.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge

Sophie

Sunday 13 June 2010

In My Mailbox 67

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.

For review:
 
Pastworld - Ian Beck

To Eve, a lifelong resident of PASTWORLD, horse-drawn carriages and gas lamps are modern technology. Eve doesn’t even know she’s living in a simulation - until she is forced to flee the only home she’s ever known, and to confront the truth about her city and herself.

To Caleb, a tourist visiting PASTWORLD, the theme park is the perfect antidote to the stifling conformity and regulation of 2048. Until he finds himself at the scene of a murder, holding the knife, and suddenly becomes a fugitive from an antiquated justice system.

And in the midst of it all, a dark and deadly figure prowls, claiming victim after victim. He’s the Fantom, a creature both of the past and of the future, in whose dark purpose Caleb and Eve will find their destinies combined.

I’ve had my eye on this since it came out in hardback last year, so thanks, Bloomsbury!

Manifest - Artist Arthur

Krystal just met the perfect boy. Trouble is, he’s dead.

When fifteen-year-old Krystal Bentley moves to Lincoln, Connecticut, her mom’s hometown, she assumes her biggest drama will be adjusting to the burbs after living in New York City.

But Lincoln is nothing like Krystal imagined. The weirdness begins when Ricky Watson starts confiding in her. He’s cute, funny, a good listener - and everything she’d ever want - except that he was killed nearly a year ago. Krystal’s ghost-whispering talents soon lead other “freaks” to her door - Sasha, a rich girl who can literally disappear, and Jake, who moves objects with his mind. All three share a distinctive birthmark in the shape of an M and, fittingly, call themselves the Mystyx. they set out to learn what really happened to Ricky, only to realise that they aren’t the only ones with mysterious powers. But if Krystal succeeds in finding out the truth about Ricky’s death, will she lose him for good?

Thanks to Kimani Tru for this one. I do like a ghost story every now and then.
 
Forest Born - Shannon Hale

Growing up in the Forest, Rin always turns to the trees when she needs peace or reassurance, then one day she senses a change. Rin knows that something bad is happening, and maybe she will find answers in the city.

But a mysterious threat haunts Bayern too, and Rin must join the magical fire sisters - Isi, Enna and Dasha - before venturing back into the woods towards the kingdom of Kel, to face what lies in wait for all of them.

Shannon Hale once again proves herself an irresistible storyteller, bringing readers back to a world rich with plot twists and a little dose of magic.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for this. I didn’t like the other Shannon Hale book I read so I’m not sure if I’ll read this one.
 
Sweethearts: Star-Crossed - Jo Cotterill

‘You did WHAT?’ screamed Mari. ‘You turned down the cutest boy ever? Are you crazy?’

This summer, Fliss is playing Juliet opposite her dream Romeo. If only she could tell him how she feels!

But unless she finds some inner confidence, she’s going to miss her chance with him.

Because someone else has her eyes on Fliss’s role - and her leading an…

This sounds so cute! It also came with four little packets of Sweet Hearts (fizzy, fruity candy for you non-UKer‘s) and a bookmark. Thanks, Red Fox/Random House.

Annexed - Sharon Dogar (ARC)

From Goodreads: Everyone knows about Anne Frank, and her life hidden in the secret annexe - or do they? Peter van Pels and his family are locked away in there with the Franks, and Peter sees it all differently. He's a boy, and for a boy it's just not the same. What is it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, to hate her and then find yourself falling in love with her? To know you're being written about in her diary, day after day? What's it like to sit and wait and watch whilst others die, and you wish you were fighting? How can Anne and Peter try to make sense of one of the most devastating episodes in recent history n the holocaust? Anne's diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter's story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion, the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz - and the terrible conclusion. It's a story rooted firmly in history and it asks a question of us all: Are we listening? 'Is anybody there'? Peter cries from the depths of his despair in the camps. Read it, and you will be.

I loved Sharon Dogar’s first two books so I’m really looking forward to this. Thanks, Andersen Press!

Blog Tour:

A Most Improper Magick - Stephanie Burgis (ARC)

At twelve years old, any proper young lady should be quietly sitting at home practising her embroidery, learning French and keeping her opinions to herself.

But Kat Stephenson is no ordinary young lady.

Kat’s father may be a respectable vicar, but her late mother was a notorious witch, her brother has gambled the whole family into debt, and Kat herself is the newest target of an ancient and secretive magical Order.

In the first thrilling instalment of The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, Kat sets to win her older siblings their true loves, battling highwaymen, sinister aristocrats, wild magic and even ghosts along the way.

I’m reading this at the moment and it's extremely cute and lots of fun.

Bought:

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer

Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood…life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don’t draw attention to yourself, and above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn’t know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they know only as her. As they come to realise the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trust. But when everything you know is based on a lie, how do you find out the truth?

In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

Yay!! Need I Say more?

Sisters Red - Jackson Pearce

Countless teenage girls have been murdered…and Scarlett and Rosie March know how they die; torn apart by werewolves. For Scarlett, the memories of a similar attack have left not just emotional scars, but physical ones. The sisters fight side by side to save others from the same fate.

When the mysterious and brooding Silas arrives he inadvertently causes a series of events that could endanger them all. As passion grows between Rosie and Silas, Scarlett uncovers some shocking secrets about Silas’s family history that could tear the sisters apart - one way or another…

After all of the brilliant reviews I’ve read of this, I had to get it. And the cover is gorgeous!

I also got a fabulous new laptop that Im completely in love with. Technically I shouldn’t be using it yet as it isn’t my birthday until Tuesday, but hey ho!

Sophie

Friday 11 June 2010

Blog Tour: The Moonstone Legacy - Tony Wild

The Moonstone Legacy by Diana de Gunzberg and Tony Wild

In a sacred cave high in the mountains of northern India, a white-haired hermit sits cross-legged, and signs his final testament: “George Abercrombie, 1874...”
 In present-day England, the mother of fourteen-year-old Lizzy Abercrombie dies in a tragic accident under the full moon. But was it really an accident? Lizzy discovers that her death may be linked to a mysterious family curse.

Determined to solve the mystery, her quest takes her from an Anglo-Indian mansion on the Yorkshire moors to India, where she uncovers the terrible truth about her ancestor and a stolen inheritance. But her discoveries put her in mortal danger from a ruthless enemy…

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
From five in the morning (summer) or seven (winter) until lunchtime. At home in the heart of the French countryside.

OR in cafés in Paris where one watch the world go by while reflecting or simply being productively vacant.

OR on long trains journeys. Where one can also watch the world go by while reflecting or simply being productively vacant.

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
I loved spooky stuff.

Ian Niall's The Boy Who Saw Tomorrow. The title explains it all. Terrifying, and pretty much out of print these days.

The Haunting of Borley Rectory by Harry Price. A non-fiction book about Britain's most haunted house. There were photographs of 'a brick floating in mid-air' and mysterious ghostly handwriting that appeared on the wallpaper saying only 'Marianne'. Fraudulent poppycock, of course, but the fact that it posed as non-fiction made it very powerful.

and not spooky stuff....such as

The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. Quite why my father thrust this early feminist track into my impressionable sixteen year old hands, I'm not sure, but it has stuck with me ever since.

The Ship of Adventure by Enid Blyton. Standard Blyton adventure fare, but with the benefit of being much longer than usual, so over less soon.

The Hornblower series by C.S. Forester. Riveting high jinks on the high seas.

Billy Bunter series. Frank Richards. My maths teacher, Capt Hamilton, used to read it to the class as an end of term treat (only he generally started four weeks before the end of term). It features one Hurree Ram Singh in one story, my first experience of a tale set in India.

The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse. An essential adolescent right of passage. Dense, deep and meaningless.

I've read none of the above since, and have no urge to do so.

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
The Bible, Shakespeare, and Down with Skool by Geoffrey Willands and Ronald Searle. Anarchic, but spot on.

4. Is there a novel that you wish you’d written? Why?
Lifemanship by Stephen Potter, a almost forgotten 1950's humourist. Unbeatably preposterous illustrations. More psychologically incisive and actually useful than Freud's Interpretation of Dreams or Jung's Memories, Dreams and Reflections.

5. How did the collaboration with Diana come about? Was it difficult?
We've worked together on lots of creative projects over the years, and so no, it was inevitable, not difficult.

6. What was it about the original story of The Moonstone that made you want to develop the tale further?
It's practically the only Western novel in which India and the Indians are treated respectfullly.

7. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
Books Two and Three of The Moonstone Legacy. The story evolves, as does Lizzy, our heroine.

 Last Stop: Lyndsey at Narratively Speaking
Next Stop: Jean at Magic Bean Review

Thank you, Tony! You can visit the official book website and read my review of The Moonstone Legacy here.

Sophie