Wednesday 29 February 2012

Legend - Marie Lu

Legend – Marie Lu

Pages: 301 (ARC)
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin UK)
Release Date: 2nd February 2012

From Goodreads: The United States is gone, along with its flooded coasts. North America’s two warring nations, the western Republic and the eastern Colonies, have reached a breaking point. In the midst of this broken continent and dark new world are two teenagers who will go down in history...

Born into the slums of Los Angeles, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. A mysterious boy with no recorded image. A boy who should no longer exist. A boy who watched over his family until one evening, when the plague patrols mark his family’s door with an X – the sign of plague infection. A death sentence for any family too poor to afford the antidote. Desperate, Day has no choice; he must steal it.

Born into an elite family in Los Angeles’ wealthy Ruby sector, fifteen-year-old June is the Republic’s most promising prodigy. A super-intelligent girl destined for great things in the country’s highest military circles. Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country – until the day her brother Metias is murdered while on patrol during a break-in at the plague hospital.

Only one person could be responsible.


And now it’s June’s mission to hunt him down.

The truth they’ll uncover will become legend.

Marie Lu’s fantastic debut novel starts with mysteries and two intriguing characters and turns into an action-packed ride in a fascinating world.

The Plague is immediately introduced as a major problem in Day and June’s world and immediately introduced questions about how it started, whether it began the apocalypse that led to their world. The warring between the Republic and the Colonies was then introduced as well and we weren’t immediately told what they were fighting over. This many questions in such a short amount of time could have been overwhelming, but Marie Lu handled it beautifully. I also loved the idea of the Trial in that it was horrible – a brilliant idea perfect for a totalitarian regime.

In the dual narrative, hearing from Day and June, we got glimpses of life on both sides and I couldn’t decide which was better. I have to admit that I didn’t immediately connect with either protagonist and I never became fully attached to them. I thought they both seemed much older than fifteen, though this could be purely down to their lives they have lived, but aside from this, they were engaging enough to carry me through Legend. I especially loved how June retained her tough, rebellious nature throughout.

I enjoyed Legend and read it through very quickly and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

Thank you to Penguin for providing me with a review copy.


Tuesday 21 February 2012

Kiss, Date, Love, Hate - Luisa Plaja

Kiss, Date, Love, Hate – Luisa Plaja

Pages: 278
Publisher: Corgi (RHCB)
Release Date: 2nd February 2012

Other Titles by this Author: Split by a Kiss, Extreme Kissing, Swapped by a Kiss

Lex Murphy and her friends have complicated relationships. If only there was a way to avoid all the dating/hating drama...

When Lex fills a cool new computer game with characters based on herself and her classmates, she makes some ‘wishful thinking’ adjustments to the profiles. Finally, everyone can be perfectly matched and happy, at least on screen. Love, Life, Looks – it’s all under Lex’s control in a harmless game.

After all, these changes can’t come true...can they?

Luisa’s fourth novel Kiss, Date, Love, Hate is definitely my favourite of hers. It’s brilliant!

Kiss, Date, Love, Hate’s brand of freaky contemp (coined by Luisa!) is one of my favourites. I love the way that Luisa writes realistic, relatable characters with a sprinkle of magic that really could happen if you wish hard enough. Well, I like to think so, anyway! Especially when there are the possibilities the ones Lex and George come up against here...

Being able to change yourself and your friends to suit your own wants and needs is essentially a dream come true. You may not want to admit it, but we’d all jump at the chance to have perfect hair, perfect curves and the power to get that guy that’s always been a little too far away. It also worked out in a way that taught them all exactly what they want which would be extremely useful to a lot of people. Basically, someone needs to invent this game, giving Luisa full credit, of course, so we can sort ourselves out!

A plot such as this one wouldn’t work without a fantastic cast of characters. I personally fell a little in love with Drew – a mysterious, quiet bad boy with a sexy Scottish accent. I’m sold. Then as we got to know him, he got even better! I didn’t quite get the appeal of Matt at all really, he didn’t really seem to fit with Lex. Now Lex, I loved. She loud, fun and completely hides behind it.

Kiss, Date, Love, Hate is fresh, funny and smart and throws in a brilliant twist near the end. I love it!

Thank you to RHCB for providing me with a review copy.


Sunday 19 February 2012

In My Mailbox 107

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

My parents came up this week and brought me some packages from home. I sent some back with them and forgot a few of the names so there are a few missing!

For Review:

Bunheads – Sophie Flack

As a dancer with the Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward is living her childhood dream. And while she might not be a prima ballerina yet, she’s moving up the ranks and surely if she works hard enough she can make it happen.

But devoting her whole life to ballet leaves very little time for anything else: friends, family, school have all fallen by the wayside. Hannah doesnt mind, until a chance encounter brings Jacob into her life. He’s cute, he plays guitar and he’s offereing a whole future than Hannah never considered. And now she must choos ebetween her lifelong dream or what could be the love of her life...

I wasn’t that exicted about this, but then it arrived... Thanks, Atom!

The Witch of Turlingham Academy – Ellie Boswell

It’s not easy being the only day girl at Turlingham Academy: Sophie misses out on all the midnight feasts and late-night gossip. And when new girl Katy turns up, it feels like she’s bewitching all of Sophie’s friends!

Katy’s no witch, but there is a witch at Turlingham. Katy comes from a long line of witch hunters whose job is to stop evil magic. Sophie is going to help her – anything to get Katy out of her life and get things back to normal.

But what she discovers means nothing will ever be normal again!

Thanks, Atom!

Bloodrose – Andrea Cremer

Do you think being the Scion matters to me if I lose you? Because it doesn’t. None of this matters.

Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting.

There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping her brother safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha and ridding the world of the Keppers’ magic once and for all.

And, when the battle finally ends, there’s deciding what to do and who to love. That is, if Calla can make it out alive.

I wasn’t too fond of book two, but I loved Nightshade, so I;m hoping this will pull me back in. Thanks, Atom!

I’ll Be There – Holly Goldberg Sloan

Where there is love, I’ll be there

Raised by an unstable father who keeps the family constantly on the move, Sam Border hasn’t been in a classroom since he was eight. He’s always been the rock for his younger brother Riddle, who stopped speaking long ago and instead makes sense of the world through his drawings. Then, Sam meets Emily Bell, and everything changes. The two share an immediate and intense attraction, and soon Sam and Riddle find themselves welcomed into the Bell’s home. But Sam knows his happiness is too good to last...

Told from multiple perspectives, Holly Goldberg Sloan’s debut novel offers readers romance and a gripping story. I’ll Be There is a story about connections both big and small, and deftly explores the many ways that lives are woven together.

SO excited for this. Thanks, Piccadilly!

Heart-Shaped Bruise – Tanya Byrne

From Amazon UK: I think of all the things I could have been...a music student, in love, happy.

But then Juliet stabbed my father and shattered everything I thought I knew about myself.

She turned me into someone else, into this hard, angry, miserable girl who did the most terrible things. Things that make people take a step back when I walk into a room.

Thats what hurts...that you think you know who I am. But the one thing Google will never tell you is who I used to be...who I might have become.

But I can tell you. Here we go – I’ll be me and you be the stranger on the bus.

I’ve heard brilliant things about this already. Thanks, Headline!

Forbidden – Ted Dekker with Tosca Lee

The world as we know it is unrecognisable

Almost 500 years have passed since civilisation’s brush with extinction. Perfect order reigns and humanity’s greatest threats have been silenced by the ruling totalitarian government.

There is no disease. No passion. No hate. No war.

There is only peace.

Until one man discovers the truth hidden in a secret journal: the human hert has been stripped of all emotion and exists onyl in a kind of living death. But when Rom became exposed to the vial of blood contained in the journal he was filled with uncontrollable passion. Only Rom is now truly alive, and only he has the knowledge that can reawaken humanity.

But the way is dangerous and the cost staggering...the way is


I’d never ehard of this before, but it looks really interesting. Thanks, Hodder!

Struck – Jennifer Bosworth

LA has been devastated by a massive earthquake. Mia Price has a connection to the storm that caused the earthquake but doesn’t know why. Two warring cults rise to power and both claim to have the answers that Mia is seeking. The alluring Jerey warns her away from them, but what is he hiding?

Soon, Mia disocvers that she is part of a devastating power, one that could save...or destroy the world.

Really looking forward to this. Thanks, Doubleday!

The Alchemy of Forever – Avery Williams

Seraphina is an immortal, and she wants to die.

She’s been alive for centuries, after her boyfriend Cyrus shared his formula for immortality with her – moving from one body to the next for eternity, ending the life of the body’s original soul in the process. But Sera can’t bear the blood of one more innocent on her hands and has resolved to let herself leave this earth, and Cyrus, forever. Until she comes across Kailey – young, innocent and dying...

Sera can’t resist taking one more life, especially when that life is almost gone. But when she falls in love with Kailey’s world, as well as her neighbour Noah, Sera realises that for the first time in years, she may have something to live for.

But being ready to leave Cyrus doesn;t mean  he’s ready to let her go...

Love the sound of this. Thanks, S&S!

Skin Deep – Laura Jarratt

‘I wanted to say this morning, only you ran off...Sorry if I was rude.’ The boy from the boat grinned, looking straight at me. ‘You surprised, that’s all. The scar.’ – he touched his face – ‘took me by surprise. I didn't mean to be rude.’ I gaped at him. Nobody ever, ever mentioned the scars.

After the car crash that leaves her best friend dead, Jenna struggles to rebuild her life. But every stare in the street, every glance in the mirror, makes her want to hide away. And then Ryan turns up – a tall, good-looking traveller unlike anyone Jenna’s ever met before.

Can he help to put her world back together, or will he just break her heart?

Look out for a blog tour for this book coming up next month. Thanks, Egmont!


Thursday 16 February 2012

A Midsummer Tights Dream - Louise Rennison

A Midsummer Tights Dream – Louise Rennison

Pages: 334
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Release date: 2nd February 2012

Other Titles by this Author: Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging; It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers; Knocked Out by my Nunga-Nungas; Dancing in my Nuddy Pants: ‘...andthat’s when it fell off in my hand.’; ‘...and then he ate my boy entrancers.’; ‘...startled by my furry shorts!’; ‘Luuurve is a many trousered thing...’; ‘Stop in the name of pants!’; ‘Are these my basoomas I see before me?’; Withering Tights

In my squirrel room, looking over the moors to Gribottom, thinking about Alex. When he next sees me, I will be up there on the wild moors, lost to the world, unaware that I am being observed. It’s only when I glance up, that I notice Alex in his breeches and fancy shirt. He runs to me and takes me in his arms. I close my eyes and hear...
“We is her, wiv our bumbums out.”
And open them to see the toddler twins at my bedroom door, naked from the waist down.

You know when something feels really bad, worse than a bat trapped in your mouth? Or kissing the boy who just wants to be your friend? Tallulah Casey does. She’s your kind of mate.

I always look forward to Louise Rennison’s books purely because I’m guaranteed a good couple of hours of laughter. A Midsummer Tights Dream didn’t let me down there.

Although I enjoyed A Midsummer Tights Dream, I kept comparing it to The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson and this series just doesn’t have the same spark. Lots of the same elements are there: an out of control physical feature, a particularly crazy friend, a nasty teacher with an agenda, a gang name and the dilemma of the ‘see you later’, but it’s missing something. I think it’s Georgia.

The mentions of Georgia throughout the novel were lovely; I genuinely miss reading about her. Seeing how much the Ace Gang’s boy advice baffled a rather inexperienced Tallulah was so funny.; she really did not know how to handle all of her boy drama. First you have Charlie who is proving to be a little like Robbie and then Cain who isn’t like other boys: scary, dangerous, and completely compelling. I love the interactions between Tallulah and Cain; they’re brilliant.

Having written lots of the characters with their regional dialects adds more and more humour as Tallulah finds humour in it and sometimes completely misunderstands them. It really does help to cement a feel about each character and it’s a device that I really love.

A Midsummer Tights Dream is a light, funny read that will cheer up a rainy afternoon.

Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with a review copy.


Tuesday 14 February 2012

Beauty Queens - Libba Bray

Beauty Queens – Libba Bray

Publisher: Scholastic (US)
Release Date: 24th May 2011

Other Titles by this Author: A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing, Going Bovine

Survival of the fittest.

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Wecome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz-Award winningauthor of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

I’d been wanting to read Beauty Queens since I first heard of it, and I knew that I’d love it. I wasn’t prepared for just how much I did love it, though.

Libba Bray writes a fantastic message into a book that is already wonderfully funny and completely engaging. Her main issue presented in Beauty Queens is that of the treatment of girls and women in society. The way she uses satire and clued-up and sarcastic characters to put these ideas across is incredibly effective and I even became angry with some of the situations she highlighted. There was a particular quote on women apologising for having thoughts that really stuck with me:

“‘Why do girls always feel like they have to apologise for giving an opinion or taking up space in the world? Have you ever noticed that?’ Nicole asked. ‘You go on websites and some girl leaves a post and if it’s longer than three sentences or she’s expressing her thoughts about some topic, she usually ends with ‘Sorry for the rant’ or ‘That may be dumb, but that’s what I think’.”

It’s worrying accurate: I do it all the time. But I shouldn’t feel like I have to, and that’s what Libba Bray is trying to tell us. Beauty Queens also talks about notions of beauty, race, gender, disability and a woman’s right to sexuality, the latter one I hadn’t even considered before. Once again, Bray put it so beautifully that I’m not going to even attempt to recreate her words and just give you the quote:

“The Corporation would like to apologize for the proceeding pages. Of course it’s not alright for girls to behave this way. Sexuality is not meant to be this way – an honest, consensual expression in which a girl might take an active role when she feels good and ready and not a second before. No. Sexual desire is meant to sell soap. And cars. And beer. And religion.”

Bray hits the nail on the head. I loved how most of the girls came into their own – by the end of Beauty Queens they weren’t just thoughtless, pretty machines, they had thoughts and feelings and incredible talents that they’d never been able to explore before. However, some of the beauty queens did remain close-minded and unspeakably stupid and my brain nearly exploded with some of the things that were said by them.

Don't go thinking that beauty Queens is in any way a serious, ramming-a-message-down-your-throat kind of book at all. It’s not. It’s clever, unique and funny. How? Well, there are footnotes for a start. You don’t often come across them in fiction and I love it when they’re included. There was also a fact file on each girl spread through the novel so it was easier to get a grasp on each of the characters and there were scripts from adverts about the products that The Corporation was selling – genius. Then there are the mysterious (at first) chapters from a secret location about a very suspicious project and glimpses of the incredible MoMo ChaCha and General Good Times. I won’t ruin the surprise of them, but they really are brilliant.

This is one of those books that should be prescribed reading for teen and pre-teen girls. In fact, every female. Bray hammers home an important idea that is often lost in our very Americanised society. I know that I’ll be doing everything I can to get my little sister to read it in hopes that she’ll take on board some of the ideas expressed in this truly fantastic novel.

Just read it, girls. And guys. Everybody: read it.

I won this copy from Sally at Always Lost in Stories during her blogoversary contest.


Sunday 12 February 2012

In My Mailbox 106

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

For Review:

A Midsummer Tights Dream – Louise Rennison

In my squirrel room, looking over the moors to Gribottom, thinking about Alex. When he next sees me, I will be up there on the wild moors, lost to the world, unaware that I am being observed. It’s only when I glance up, that I notice Alex in his breeches and fancy shirt. He runs to me and takes me in his arms. I close my eyes and hear...
    “We is her, wiv our bumbums out.”
    And open them to see the toddler twins at my bedroom door, naked from the waist down.

You know when something feels really bad, worse than a bat trapped in your mouth? Or kissing the boy who ust wants to be your friend? Tallulah Casey does. She’s your kind of mate.

Yayyayyay! So excited! Thanks, HarperCollins!


The Lover’s Dictionary – David Levithan

I don't usually do this kind of thing,” you said. “Neither do I,” I assured you.

Later it turned out we had both met people online before, and we had both slept with people on first dates before, and we had both found ourselves falling too fast before. But we comforted ourselves with what we really meant to say, which was: “I don't normally feel this good about what I’m doing.”

In 185 snapshot  moments The Lover’s Dictionary tells the story of a love affair between two people in New York. Moving, funny, heart-breaking and life-affirming, it is a story that anyone who has ever fallen in love will recognise.

So excited for this! All I’ve read by David Levithan is Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Cleopatra: A Life – Stacy Schiff

The Pulitzer-prize winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.

Cleopatra’s palace shimmered with onyx and gold but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.

Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Stacy Schiff boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue th magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order, a generation before the birth of Christ. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff’s is a luminous reconstruction of a dazzling life.

I’ve had my eye on this for ages so when I found it in Toppings, I snapped it up. It'll be nice to read something different. 


Thursday 9 February 2012

The Other Life - Susanne Winnacker

The Other Life – Susanne Winnacker

Pages: 315 (ARC)
Publisher: Usborne
Release Date: 1st February 2012

From Goodreads: 3 years, 1 month, I week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98, 409, 602 seconds had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world.

Sherry has lived with her family in a sealed bunker since things went wrong up above. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find a world of devastation, desolation...and the Weepers: savage, mutant killers.

When Sherry’s dad is snatched, she joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua – and Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers.

But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

I flew through The Other Life. I do love a good dystopia and Susanne Winnacker’s debut definitely is one.

 One the elements of The Otehr Life that I enjoyed the most was the brief glimpses of Sherry’s life from before the rabies epidemic. The stark differences in her life before, during and after living in the bunker were rather shocking actually and it easily cemented the novel in the very near future; it made Sherry’s life a scarily possible future. The Weepers were an unusual threat compared to those I’ve come across previously as they have evolved into something dangerous from something fatal to humans.

I did think there were a few moments that were a little too convenient in popping up in the right moment to drop an info-bomb. There was the early appearance of Geoffrey and then another unexpected character delivers a crushing blow to the rest of the characters near to the end that perfectly sets up the second book in the series. Though I noticed these things and I saw them as devices, they really didn’t bother me all that much. The pace of the story and the involvement I had with the characters was more than enough to allow me to ignore it.

Susanne Winnacker delivered a solid debut that I really enjoyed and I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out for the sequel, The Life Beyond, when it’s published next February.

Thank you to Usborne for providing me with a review copy.


Tuesday 7 February 2012

Smoulder - Brenna Yovanoff

Smoulder – Brenna Yovanoff

Pages: 363
Publisher: Simone Pulse (S&S UK)
Release Date: 5th January 2012

Other Titles by this Author: The Replacement

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time – until her brother Obie is kidnapped, and Daphne realises she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying.

With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues into Obie’s whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world human is hardest to be...

I was so excited to read Smoulder; it promised to be fantastic. While I ended up enjoying it, my expectations weren’t at all met.

Brenna Yovanoff’s mythology was my favourite part of Smoulder. It’s pretty much what kept me reading past the first hundred pages or so. Her take on the story of Creation, her vision of Pandemonium (Hell) and Heaven and especially the idea of the Lost Ones are captivating. The Lost Ones are the half-human children of Fallen Angels who more often than not spend their lives in prison, institutions and self-destructing. I loved the idea that there was a myth behind damaged people. Not all of the religious references had the significance to me as it may do with other readers more familiar with the Bible stories so I feel I probably missed some more amazing things.

The things about Smoulder that jolted me out of the story were my disconnect with Daphne and the switching between first and third person narratives for Daphne and Truman’s chapters. It was a very clever idea and clearly distinguished the two characters, I just don't think the changing narrative style was necessary or really added anything that couldn’t have been achieved through ordinary dual narrative. Though I do guess that it could be the demonstration of the idea of pre-destiny ruling Truman’s life (can you see my English student coming out there?).

I’m glad that Daphne’s chapters were told through first person, however. I loved how alien Earth was to her; people’s motives, actions and the accepted way that our world work was completely new to her and she didn’t fit in at all. It was fascinating to see. The way she beautifully describes some of the things that we take for granted took me aback and made me think about how odd our lives really are. Daphne’s inexperience and vulnerability felt very authentic and helped me to coonect to her a little more.

Smoulder was a dark, interesting read and I’m curious to see how her debut, The Replacement, differs in my opinions.  

Thank you to S&S for providing me with a review copy.