Sunday 31 July 2011

In My Mailbox 91

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:

Hartslove – KM Grant

Can the mysterious castle of Hartslove be saved by Daisy and her fiery red horse?

Daisy’s family is about to lose Hartslove, their beloved home, after their father has wasted the last of their money on a young, wayward horse.

It’s 1861 and Daisy’s mother has bolted, leaving Daisy and her five siblings to bring themselves up the best they can. The passionate Daisy believes she can save the crumbling Hartslove through the very horse everyone thinks will be the family’s downfall.

In their quest, Daisy, her four sisters and her wild brother will face catastrophes, thrills and possible ruin. Yet through their story beats the power of hope, the romance of Hartslove and the spirit of its horse.

Thanks, Quercus.

Lottie Biggs is Not Tragic – Hayley Long

Lottie is in the midst of an existential crisis. Her mum’s all soppy over a bloke with a horrible shemo* daughter, and her pal Goose and hit the road with the gorgeous Gareth (and his manly thighs). But things don't go exactly to plan...

*a female emo, obviously

I enjoyed the first book but haven’t managed to get my hands on the second yet, no I have this I have no excuse! Thanks to Macmillan for this.

The Ice Age – Kirsten Reed

She’s a strong teenage girl: smart, funny and hopeful. She thinks she knows herself, knows what she wants, and knows how to get it.

He’s an older man – old enough, in fact, to be her father. But he’s not.

As the pair drive aimlessly across America, they form an unlikely relationship – one they both know can’t last forever.

Told in her unique and seductive voice, this is the story of their encounter.

Road trip!!! A lovely surprise from Macmillan.

Night Road – Kristin Hannah

An exquisite, heartbreaking story that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

People on the island still talk about what happened in the summer of ’04. They sit on bar stools and in porch swings and spout opinions, half-truths, making judgements that aren’t theirs to make. They think a few columns in a newspaper give them the facts they need. But the facts are hardly what matter...

Lexi and Mia are inseperable from the moment they start high school. Different in so many ways – Lexi is an orphan and lives with her aunt on a trailer park, while Mia is a golden girl blessed with a loving family and a beautiful home. Yet they recognize something in each other which sets them apart from the crowd, and Mia comes to rely heavily on Lexi’s steadfast friendship. Something which, at first, worries Mia’s mother, Jude.

Mia’s beloved and incredibly good-looking twin brother Zach finds life much less complicated than his sister. Jude thought she’d never have to worry about her son, that he’d always sail through life easily achieving whatever he, and his family, wanted and expected – but then he fell in love.

The summer they graduated is a time they will always remember, and one they could never forget. It is a summer of love, best friends, shared confidences and promises. Then one moment one night changes them all forever. As hearts are broken, loyalties challenged and hopes dashed, the time has come to leave childhood behind and learn to face the future.

Moving, haunting and completely unforgettable, Night Road raises questions no mother, daughter or son would ever want to answer.

Another surprise from Macmillan. Thank you!


Baby Be Mine – Paige Toon

‘He’s not mine, is he? That’s the question I fear the most.’

You see, I have a secret. My son is not fathered by my boyfriend, but by one of the most famous people that ever lived. And he doesn’t even know it.

Meg is terrified. She lives in the South of France with her doting boyfriend Christian and their beautiful son Barney who has just turned one. Life should be idyllic. But she is living a lie – a lie that will turn their lives upside down and inside out. Because, as every day goes by, Meg’s son looks less and less like Christian.

How much longer can she keep her devastating secret from him, from their friends and family, from Barney? How much longer before the world realises that the father of her child is none other than Johnny Jefferson, wild boy of rock, constantly in the headlines, constantly in Meg’s thoughts?

YAYYAYYAYYAY! So bloody good!


Friday 29 July 2011

Bumped - Megan McCafferty

Bumped – Megan McCafferty

Pages: 323
Publisher: Corgi (Random House)
Release Date: 4th August 2011

Other Titles by this Author: Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings, Perfect Fifths

A virus has swept the world, making everyone over the age of eighteen infertile. Teenagers are now the most prized members of society, and would-be-parents desperately bid for ‘conception contracts’ with the prettiest, healthiest and cleverest girls – cash, college tuition and liposuction in exchange for a baby.

Sixteen-year-old Melody has scored an amazing contract with a rich couple. And she’s been matched with one of the hottest ‘bumping’ partners in the world – the genetically flawless Jondoe.

But her luck is about to run out.

She discovers she has a sister – an identical twin. Harmony has grown up in a strict religious community and believes her calling is to save Melody from her sinful intentions. All Melody wants is to meet Jondoe and seal the deal – but when a case of mistaken identity destroys everyone’s carefully laid plan. Melody and Harmony realize they have much more than DNA in common.

Sharp, sassy and original, this futuristic take on teen pregnancy is totally readable and scarily believable.

Bumped is a fresh and original dystopia that is scarily relevant today and Megan McCafferty pulled it off brilliantly.

We jump straight into Harmony and Melody’s lives with a split narration – which I love as I always do. And it’s shocking just how different these two girls are, especially as identical twins. Melody is so instantly likable and became my favourite of the two girls when immediately faced with the preachy and rather irritating Harmony. Though Harmony went on to surprise me and reveal that she really was a person with human desires after all, I still much preferred Melody’s chapters and would have been perfectly happy to read Bumped from her perspective alone.

Apart from the sisters, Megan McCafferty created some fabulous secondary characters. I loved Zen right from the start. I thought he was perfect for Melody I was cheering him on as he tried to jokingly charm her throughout the novel. He’s brilliant. And then there’s Jondoe who was not at all what I expected. Even though he’s the complete opposite of Zen, I kind of liked him too...

Unlike a lot of people, I didn't really have a problem with the slang; in fact, I really liked it. The theme of pregnancy that ran through the words was clever and very easy to grasp. It actually really reminded me of how the slang in Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series works perfectly with the themes of the books. I thought it was very well done and realistic to their society. And their society scares me! It’s only 25 years in the future and yet it opposes our world and its opinions on teenage pregnancy in every way. But at the same time, it’s completely plausible if a virus like that were to spread.

Bumped is going to be a sure hit with fans of dystopia who are looking for something a little different.


Monday 25 July 2011

Pegasus - Robin McKinley

Pegasus – Robin McKinley

Pages: 404
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin Books)
Release Date: 7th July 2011

Other Titles by this Author: Beauty, Rose Daughter, Spindle’s End, The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, Deerskin, Sunshine, Chalice, etc.

On her twelfth birthday Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to her own Pegasus, Ebon.

For a thousand years humans and pegasi have lived peacefully in the beautiful green country beyond the wild lands. They rely on human magicians and pegasi shamans as their only means of real communication- but not Syli and Ebon...

They can understand each other.

But as their bond grows more powerful it becomes dangerous – could their friendship threaten to destroy the peace and safety of the two worlds?

Robin McKinley has an epic reputation in both fantasy and YA circles so when I was offered Pegasus for review I knew I was in for a treat.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed Pegasus I didn't start that way. For the first couple of chapters I was bored. It was all background and very little actual plot and characterisation. But I persisted, and I’m extremely glad I did. Though I still felt that until the last 150-ish pages there was very little plot development and growth of the characters, it didn't really matter. Which I still don't really understand...

I’m still not entirely sure what it was about Pegasus that made me love it the way I did, but I think that Robin McKinley’s unquestionable skill with imagery and world-building. Although I was a little bored by the first chapter in which the history of Balsinland and the humans Alliance with the pegasi, it laid the foundations for the entire story. It also set the bar with its rich, vivid descriptions and the excerpts from the journal of Viktur who witnessed the signing of the treaty. The world that was created was so far away from my life that I was sometimes reading in awe-struck wonder. This surprised me a little as I usually don't really gel with high fantasy worlds.

But what really captured me were the characters in Pegasus. When the book begins, Sylvi is only twelve; a protagonist a lot younger than I usually read. But she is a princess. Instead of a precocious, arrogant and vain young girl she was shy and self-conscious and very relatable. But she eventually grew into a strong and thoughtful young woman with a huge heart. I loved her. And then she was bonded to her pagasus, Ebon, who is cheeky and jovial and a clear compliment to Sylvi’s personality. Their friendship was heart-warming to read about and I loved their interactions.

The whole of the pegasi people have been beautifully created by Robin McKinley. These beautiful, graceful and wholly good creatures had a rich and magical history with their own language that was created (!!) and used in Pegasus and were the envy of all of the humans. The only issue I had with the pegasi was that I found it very difficult to picture them clearly, but that is likely to have been the limits of y imagination as they were described often and intricately.

After an action-packed and heart-stopping ending, I’m very excited to read the sequel, and in the mean time I’m definitely going to have to pick up more of Robin McKinley’s books.

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


Sunday 24 July 2011

In My Mailbox 90

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:

August – Bernard Beckett

Trapped in a car wreck, upside down, bleeding and in pain, Tristan and Grace are staring at death. When dawn breaks, they might be seem from the road and rescued, or not.

They wait, desperately holding onto life, unravelling the sequence of events that brought them together.

Tristan is a philosopher struggling with the question of free will. Grace’s life of hardship allows no place for such ideas. But a brief encounter changes their lives, setting the on a collision course with love and death and each other.

Part thriller, part love story, August is a compelling novel about will, freedom, and the fight for survival.

Thanks, Quercus. I’m really liking the sound of this.

Forever – Maggie Steifvater

“Grace,” I whispered. “This isn’t how it ends.”

Sam has always loved Grace. As a wolf, he watched her from afar. As a boy, he held her in his arms.

Now facing the possibility of a life without her, he will do anything to keep her safe. Even if it means facing his demons. Even if it risks everything he has.

Anything, as long as their love can survive...

I already bought myself a copy of this. You can see my review here. Thanks anyway to Scholastic. If you want this, drop me an email and I'll send it out to you.

Eight Keys – Suzanne LaFleur (ARC)

Before I used it, the key had infinite possibilities.

Eleven-year-old Elise fells stuck. Her school locker-buddy squashes her lunch and laughs at her, every day. She doesn’t want to go to school – and her best friend Franklin just makes things worse.

Now I was ready for something to be different.
Anything, really.

One day Elise discovers an incredible secret. A secret that just might help her unlock her past, and take a chance on the future.

I decided that tomorrow I would see what that key opened up. it had my name on it, after all...

Very excited for this as I loved Love, Aubrey. Thanks, Puffin!

Sister, Missing – Sophie McKenzie (ARC)

It’s two years after the events of Girl, Missing and life for sixteen-year-old Lauren is not getting any easier, as exam pressure and a recent family tragedy take their toll. Lauren’s birth mother takes her and her two sisters on holiday in the hope that some time together will help, but a few days into the holiday one of the sisters disappears, under circumstances very similar to those in which Lauren was taken years before. Can Lauren save her sister, and stop the nightmare happening all over again?

I still haven’t read anything by Sophie McKenzie – I really should. Thanks, S&S!


Wednesday 20 July 2011

Forever - Maggie Stiefvater

Forever – Maggie Stiefvater

Pages: 493
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 13th July 2011

Other Titles in the Series: Shiver, Linger

“Grace,” I whispered. “This isn’t how it ends.”

Sam has always loved Grace. As a wolf, he watched her from afar. As a boy, he held her in his arms.

Now facing the possibility of a life without her, he will do anything to keep her safe. Even if it means facing his demons. Even if it risks everything he has.

Anything, as long as their love can survive...

*There may be a few spoilers for those who haven’t read Linger, but there will be no Forever spoilers.*

I really have no idea how to start this review because Forever was such a tidal wave of emotions that I can’t even begin to sort out.

But I guess, as with the entire trilogy, the first thing that I thought when I began reading Forever is how absolutely stunning Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style is. She has a way with words that woman. Her prose is so soft and enchanting that I fall in head first and don't even glance back; she lulls you into her world and traps you there. And it’s partly through this skill that I fall head over heels for all her characters with each book.

One of my favourite things about Shiver was the dual narrative switching between Sam and Grace, and then in Linger this moved on to include chapters from Isabel and Cole which continued into Forever. I wasn’t too keen on this in when it first appeared but I grew to love it in this instalment. Isabel is a difficult character to get to know, and then it’s sometimes even harder to like her, but I loved getting to see the fire trapped underneath her icy exterior in Forever and I grew to be very fond of her. I remember not really being able to recollect who Cole was for a large portion of Linger as he was a new addition and not initially crucial to the storyline that I was most invested in: Sam and Grace. But he really came into his own this time round. There’s way more to him than meets the eye and he became absolutely essential to Sam, Grace and the rest of the wolves. And I sort of fell in love with him a little bit.

But as with, I expect, most readers of the trilogy, what I was reading Forever for was Sam and Grace. And for the most part, their story is agonising. They spend the first 180 pages of the novel separated; Sam lonely and heart-breakingly empty and Grace as a wolf, grasping at snatches of fleeting human memories that don't quite fit her form and a longing for a boy that she can’t quite remember. It was literally soul destroying. But when they are together, it’s so right! Their love is the type that little girls dream of (and big girls, for that matter) and that anyone would be lucky to have. And my final impression of their love was not from the story, but from Maggie’s author’s note. It’s hopeful and beautiful:

‘Many, many readers have written me asking wistfully about the nature of Sam and Grace’s relationship, and I can assure you, that sort is absolutely real. Mutual, respectful, enduring love is completely attainable as long as you swear you won’t settle for less.’ (‘Author’s Note’, p.439, Scholastic UK)

Forever is a stunning, emotional and evocative finale to one of my favourite trilogies and if I’ve managed to convince at least one more person to delve into the world of Sam and Grace, then I’ll be happy.


Monday 18 July 2011

A Tangle of Magicks - Stephanie Burgis

A Tangle of Magicks – Stephanie Burgis

Pages: 282 (ARC)
Publisher: Templar
Release Date: 1st August 2011

Other Titles in this Series: A Most Improper Magick

Regency England’s feistiest twelve year old is back!

When Kat Stephenson’s family arrive in Bath in search of a suitor for her sister, it’s not long before Kat discovers that the town of Bath is fizzing with wild magic. Stumbling upon a plot to harness the magic in the Roman Baths, Kat finds that her brother is unwittingly involved. To foil the plot and save her brother she must defy the Order of the Guardians and risk losing her magical powers, forever...

A Tangle of Magicks is 300 pages of fun, fabulousness and magical frolics.

I know I mentioned Kat’s awesomeness briefly in my review of A Most Improper Magick, but to match her increase in awesome, I thought I’d expand it a little! Kat is the type of girl that I wish I was when I was twelve. She’s strong, fiercely loyal and completely kick-ass. When it comes to her family and the people she loves, there’s nothing she wouldn’t do. For all of her often disastrous plans, I was glad that she has a clueless older brother to teach her questionable skills such as ‘fisticuffs’, billiards and wrestling that are most definitely unladylike and actually very useful.

And speaking of Charles: what a completely hopeless man he is. In the Regency period, a man was judged so acutely on his conduct in society and he spent his days sleeping or gambling! And then it took something potentially dangerous for him to step up to defend his little sisters from the grubby hands of horrible men. If that wasn’t enough, he then went on to get himself involved in one of the most dangerous magical plots, unwittingly of course, that he possibly could with only Kat and the Guardian’s having enough power to save him. But he was kind of endearing at the same time...

There were, however, some characters in A Tangle of Magicks that were most definitely NOT endearing: Lady Fotherington and Lord Ravenscroft. My dislike of them began in A Most Improper Magick and only exploded in this instalment of the series. They’re so mean! I do hate it when horrible people have so much power. Though I have to admit that there was a moment during the final showdown when Lady Fotherington showed a hint of goodness; not enough to completely redeem her, however.

But I think that one of my favourite elements of A Tangle of Magicks is its setting: Bath. As some of you may know, I go to university in Bath and it has quickly worked its way into my heart. Stephanie Burgis’s evocative depiction of the city I now call my home stirred up quite a lot of emotions as I’m back where I grew up for the summer and missing Bath like a crazy person. As the Stephenson’s and the Wingate’s walked past the Abbey (my favourite place in the city), into the Pump Rooms or past the Roman Baths, I exploded with jealousy. I could envisage that walk so, so clearly that I had to stop reading because it made me so sad! Thankfully, I will be back in Bath next month to meet Stephanie herself and move into my new house.

I loved A Tangle of Magicks and if you haven’t read this series yet; do it! You won’t regret it, I promise.


Sunday 17 July 2011

In My Mailbox 89

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

I had a brilliant week and I got some seriously good books that I’m very excited for.

For review:
Sean Griswold’s Head – Lindsey Leavitt

I’d sat behind Sean Griswold since the beginning of forever. Staring at the back of his oversized head was a standard part of everyday life. But it wasn’t until I discovered the truth about my dad’s illness that I forced myself to actually look at Sean Griswold’s head. And once I did, well, let’s just say that Sean, and his head, really started to grow on me...

LOVE the sound of this! Thanks, Scholastic!

Everlasting: The Immortals – Alyson Noel

Will their love be everlasting?

Ever and Damen have loved and lost each other for hundreds of years – facing deadly enemies, dark secrets and a powerful curse. Now their love will be tested to its limit.

Ever and Damen finally have the chance to discover their true destiny. The choice they’re about to make will unite them – or tear them apart – forever.

I actually gave up on this series after book two, but I feel like I should try them again... Thanks, Macmillan.
Crypt: The Gallows Curse – Andrew Hammond

Meet Jud Lester:
Star agent with CRYPT, The Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team

When a crime is committed and the police are at a loss, CRYPT is called in to figure out whether something paranormal is at work. Jud is their star agent.

Jud, unwillingly paired with new recruit Bex, has just landed his biggest case yet...people have been disappearing in mysterious circumstances while others are viciously attacked – yet there are no suspects and a complete lack of hard evidence. The only thing that links each attack is the fact that the survivors all claim that the culprits were 17th century highwaymen.

Can Jud and Bex work out what has caused the spirits of these dangerous men to return to the streets of London before they wreak more death and destruction?

A fantastic blend of teenage spies, horror and ghost-busting for fans of Cherub and Young Bond.

This sounds really interesting. Thanks, Headline!

Boys for Beginners – Lil Chase

Why are boys so stupid?!

I mean it’s great playing football and having a laugh but as soon as they fancy a girl they act like idiots.

And girls are even worse! Jenny Gregson spends ages doing her make-up and talking about boys, wondering what’s going on in their heads. When is she going to learn? There’s nothing going on in boys’ heads!

Well, that’s what I thought until Charlie started at my school. He is the hottest thing to hit Year 10 and now the game has changed. I’m going to ditch the t-shirts and football boots and make him fall for me.

I just need a little help from girlie girls.
No problem.

Gwynnie x

This sounds a little younger than my usual read, but really cute and fun. Thanks, Quercus!

Forbidden: The Demon Trappers – Jana Oliver

Hell has a plan for Riley Blackthorne...

Riley’s beginning to think being a demon trapper isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Her dad’s been stolen by a necromancer, her boyfriend’s gone all weird and she’s getting warm and fuzzy feelings for someone who’s got more secrets than the CIA. It’s tempting to give it all up and try to be normal, but that’s not an option with Hell watching her every move.

One mistake will cost her everything – and that’s the one she’s about to make...

I actually haven’t read, and don't own, the first book so this will have to wait until I get that. Thanks, Macmillan!
Emerald – Karen Wallace

Emerald St John is in trouble. She has been condemned to marry a man she hates, her enemies are conspiring to have her pet bear torn apart in the baiting pits, and the man she loves is far away on the high seas. And now she has stumbled into a web of spies with a plot to poison Queen Elizabeth I. To save herself and the kingdom, Emerald must beat the spies at their own game – which means transforming herself from a country girl into a lady of the court. Can she do it in time?

Not sure about this one, but I’ll give it a go. Thanks, S&S!

Delirium – Lauren Oliver

They say the cure for love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them.

Until now.

Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years suffocated by a lie.

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found the cure.

Thanks, Hodder!
Undead – Kirsty McKay

It was just another school trip – stuck on a bus with a bunch of freaks...

When their ski-coach pulls up at a roadside cafe, everyone gets off except for newbie Bobby and class rebel, Smitty.

They’re hardly the best of friends, but that all changes when through the falling snow, they see the others coming back.

Something has happened to them. Something bad. Soon only a pair of double-doors stands between those on the bus and the Undead outside.

The time has come to get a life.

Really looking forward to this. Thanks, Chicken House!
Life, Death and Gold Leather Trousers – Fiona Feden

Riley Hart is heart-stoppingly cute.
Clover has a major crush.
Unfortunately, Riley is also best mates with Clover’s arch-nemesis, Sophie.

But right now, Clover’s life holds bigger problems. Jupe, her beloved rock-star uncle, has died and Clover will never know what she did to make him cut her out of his life.

Is there anyone who can tell Clover the truth? Could Jupe have cared, even at the end? If only Riley would leave Sophie’s evil grasp and help her find out...

Thanks, Scholastic.

Rip Tide – Kat Falls

Ty has always known that the ocean is a dangerous place, populated by sharks, killer whales – and savage outlaws. Every time he swims beyond the borders of his family’s subsea settlement, he’s prepared to face all manner of predators.

What he isn't prepared for is the discovery of an entire township chained to a sunken aeroplane, its inhabitants doomed to a watery grave. It’s only the first clue to a mystery that has claimed hundreds of lives and stands to claim two more. Lives which are very precious to TY and his topsider ally, Gemma...

YAY! I loved Dark Life so thanks, S&S! (This isn’t the right cover, though. I couldn’t find it; it’s red.)
He’s So Not Worth It - Kieran Scott

Summer is here, and after her devastating humiliation at Shannen’s birthday party, Ally can't wait to get away from all her troubles: the old friends who seem determined to destroy her, Jake – the boy she liked who lied to her – and, oh yeah, the dad who abandoned her, and is suddenly back.

A trip to Jersey Shore is just the escape she needs. Jake is stuck in Orchard Hill for the summer, and gorgeous but dangerous local boy Cooper seems to want her around. But the more time she spends with Cooper, the more confused she feels...

Time apart from Jake was meant to help her sort out her feelings, not make everything more complicated!

I haven’t read the first book, though I’ve heard good things. Thanks, S&S!
Nocturne – Christine Johnson

Claire feels like her life is finally settling down and she couldn’t be happier. She’s been fully initiated into her family’s pack of female werewolves, her best friend Emily is back in town, and the gorgeous Matthew Eagle is now her boyfriend.

But Claire knows all too well that life as a werewolf is never simple. And when she discovers that new girl Amy knows more about her than she’s letting on, Claire feels that things are beginning to unravel.

Claire knows that if her werewolf identity is exposed everyone she loves will be put at risk. And, as her human and wolf lives continue to collide, Claire must fight to keep her secret safe.

Thanks again to S&S.


Forever – Maggie Steifvater

“Grace,” I whispered. “This isn’t how it ends.”

Sam has always loved Grace. As a wolf, he watched her from afar. As a boy, he held her in his arms.

Now facing the possibility of a life without her, he will do anything to keep her safe. Even if it means facing his demons. Even if it risks everything he has.

Anything, as long as their love can survive...

The heart-wrenching finale to the bestselling Shiver and Linger.

I’m ¾ way through this and trying to read it slowly so that it won’t end. It’s not really working...