Monday 30 July 2012

Nominate Your Favourite UKYA Novels!

With the recent announcement of the top 235 teen and YA books compiled by NPR to be narrowed down to the top 100, the lovely Keris Stainton noticed the lack of UKYA books making the list.

With this in mind she wrote a blog post where nominations are being received to find the top 100 UKYA books and we need your votes!

To make sure that your favourite UKYA novels make it on to the list, head over to the UKYA blog and nominate away!


Sunday 29 July 2012

In My Mailbox 125

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.

I got back to Bath to move into my (awesome) new house on Friday night and had some packages waiting for me!

For review:

The Forsaken – Lisa M Strasse

Every teenager must take the tests.

If you pass, you live.

If you fail, you’re forsaken.

Sixteen-year-old Alenna wakes up in the worst place on Earth: alone on an island infested with warring tribes of feral teenagers.

If she wants to escape, she must make impossible choices. Join or battle the evil Monk? Fight or fall for Liam, the boy she’s drawn to?

Abandoned. Exiled. Forsaken.
Alenna’s fight for survival starts now.

I really, really love the sound of this one. Thanks, Orchard!

The Blessed – Tonya Hurley

Three lost girls.
One mysterious guy.
Their battle for his heart.
His struggle for their souls.

Lucy, Celia and Agnes find themselves in the emergency room of a Brooklyn hospital at their lowest point. All rebels running from their lives and plagued by broken hearts and broken dreams.

Enter Sebastian.
Mysterious, compelling, seductive.

He brings each of them what they long for... But in the battle for his heart, will they lose their souls?

I’m rather intrigued by this one. Thanks, Hodder!

God Save the Queen – Kate Locke

London, present day – and Queen Victoria still rules with an immortal fist.

She’s the undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is  made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where technology lives side by side with magic, where being nobility means being infected with the plague (side effects include undeath) and hysteria is a popular affliction of the day.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it’s her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But things get complicated when her sister goes missing. Xandra will not only realise she’s the prize in a dangerous power struggle – but she’ll also uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire itself.

This was a surprise package and I think it sounds amazing. Thanks, Orbit!

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell – Chris Colfer

Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change.

When the twins’ grandmother goves them a treasured fairy-tale book, they’re about to enter a land beyond all imagining: the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are real.

But as Alex and Conner soon discover, the stories they know so well haven’t ended in this magical land – Goldilocks is now a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother!

The twins know they must get back home somehow. But with the legendary Evil Queen on their trail, will they ever find the way?

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spel brings readers on a thrilling quest filled with magic spells, laugh-out-loud humour, and page0turning adventure.

I was so jealous when everyone got a copy of this a few weeks back and I didn’t so I was very excited to find one waiting for me in Bath. Thansk, Atom!

Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler

This is the box, Ed.

Inside is everything.

Two bottle caps,
a movie ticket from Greta in the Wild,
a note from you,
a box of matches,
your protractor,
Joan’s book,
the stolen sugar,
a toy truck,
those ugly earrings,
a comb from the motel,
and the rest of it.

This is it, Ed.

The whole story of why we broke up.

I actually already have a US proof of this but haven’t gotten around to it yet, but with all the mixed reviews I’m looking forward to seeing what I think of it. Thanks, Electtric Monkey!

Heaven – Alexandra Adornetto

Is love a great enough power against evil?

Bethany, am angel sent to Earth, and her mortal boyfriend Xavier have been to Hell and back. When they defy angelic laws and marry their love will be put to its highest test yet. Their punishment comes in a terrifying form: the Sevens, rogue angels bent on keeping Beth and Xavier apart and darkening angelic power in the heavens.

The only way Bethany and Xavier can elude the Sevens is to hide in the open, blending in with other mortals their own age. But there is still danger around each corner. Will Bethany be called back to Heaven – for ever – and face leaving the love of her life?

I actually haven’t read any of this trilogy, though I have all three books. Thanks, Atom.

Breathe – Sarah Crossan

When oxygen levels plunger in a treeless world, a state lottery decides which lucky few will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate.

Years after the Switch, society is divided into Premiums and Auxilaries. Only Premiumscan afford enough oxygen to live a normal life. Dissenters to the regime are ejected from the pod.

Alima belongs to a rebel group. On the verge of capture, she is rescued by a Premium boy and together they escape from the pod – with just two days worth of air. Outside, they unearth conspiracy on a breathtaking level. But can they survive long enough to tell anyone?

I am so excited about this – it sounds so good! Thank you, Bloomsbury!


Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas

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

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

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

I’ve already read, reviewed and completely loved a proof of this, but I had to have a finished copy to go on my shelves!


Friday 27 July 2012

Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits – Katie McGarry

Pages: 404
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Release Date: 3rd August 2012
Edition: UK proof, review copy

They say be a good girl, get good grades, be popular.

They know nothing about me.

I can’t remember the night that changed my life. The night I went from the top of the pyramid to loner freak. And my family are determined to keep it that way.

They said therapy was supposed to help.

They didn’t expect Noah.

Noah is the dangerous boy my parents warned me about. But the only one who’ll listen. The only one who’ll help me find the truth.

I know every promise, every kiss, every touch, is forbidden.

Pushing the Limits is another of the debuts that has had a lot of pre-publication buzz so far this year, and I adored it.

Katie McGarry’s debuts reminded me of one of my favourite series’: the Perfect Chemistry trilogy. It had all of the delicious ingredients that made me reluctant to do anything but devour Echo and Noah’s story. There were steamy, sensual kisses bursting with chemistry, a damaged boy, a broken and formerly perfect heroine and some heart-rending drama.

Echo and Noah’s stories are both dark and traumatic, but for me, Echo’s was the most captivating, probably because Echo herself didn’t quite know what had happened to her! The way that the half-remembered events of that night and its repercussions haunted her broke my heart. As did the way that every treated her in the aftermath, especially in regards to her scars. That particular reaction was sickening, really. And that only made Noah even more lovable.

Through the split narrative (yay!) Katie McGarry demonstrated how both Echo and Noah ended up in therapy and what messes their family lives are. Echo has a distant, hard and control-freak dad, an absent mum, a bitchy step-mum and a new half-sibling on the way and feels stranded in the middle, unwanted and alone. Noah is struggling to handle the death of his parents and fight for his younger brothers, which actually made me cry at one point. There was so much going on in the background that I’m surprised it didn't overwhelm the story, but it really, really didn't. The pacing and plotting of Pushing the Limits was handled brilliantly and I honestly couldn’t get enough.

Pushing the Limits is one of my favourite books of the year so far and I’m already excited to read Katie McGarry’s sophomore novel, Dare You To, which doesn’t even have a UK release date yet!

Thanks to MIRA Ink/Midas for providing me with a review copy.


Wednesday 25 July 2012

Rebel Heart - Moira Young

Rebel Heart – Moira Young

Pages: 393
Publisher: Marion Lloyd Books (Scholastic)
Release Date: 2nd August 2012
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles in the Series: Blood Red Road

There’s a price on Saba’s head.

They call her the Angel of Death. She defeated a tyrant, but victory has come at a cost. Haunted by the ghosts of her past, she needs Jack. His moonlit eyes, his reckless courage, his wild heart. But Jack has left, and a ruthless new enemy searches for Saba across the Dustlands...

Blood Red Road was not just one of my reading highlights of last year, but also one of the best books I’ve read in years so I was incredibly nervous and excited to have a copy of Rebel Heart in my hands.

I was quite hesitant when I started Rebel Heart; it had a lot to live up to and I really, really wanted to love it, and I did, just not quite on the same level that I did Blood Red Road. That began with the initial shock of a brief narration from Jack, but as the novel progressed, I realised why it was essential – and it caused me some serious internal debate.

And then Saba was back, but she was different. Her trademark stream of consciousness narration was as stark and beautiful as when I’d fallen in love with it in the first book and the dialect really transports me to another world; Saba’s world. But Saba was broken and tormented by the events of Blood Red Road and the ache of the absent Jack was only making it worse. My heart broke for her. All I wanted was for her to be reunited with Jack and to be rid of her demons, and there were moments when I doubted that either of those things could possibly happen with the way that things were going.

There were some incidents surrounding Jack, when he wasn’t even present, that made me gasp aloud. I was shocked and didn’t quite know what to do with myself, as was Saba. In her confusion she made some decisions that I couldn’t quite comprehend and that I think are going to have serious repercussions in the final book in the Dustlands trilogy and, honestly, I’m worried. I have a feeling that some serious action and drama is going to go down as Saba’s story winds to a close...

Even though Rebel Heart didn’t quite live up to Blood Red Road, it still completely delivered in style, drama and action and I loved it. Bring on book three is all I can say really.

For my 2012 YA Dystopia Challenge

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


Monday 23 July 2012

Throne of Glass - Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas

Pages: 404
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: 2nd August 2012
Edition: UK proof, review copy

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

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

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

Throne of Glass is one of those novels that has had so much pre-publication buzz that I was slightly hesitant about starting it but it just sounded so good that I gave in. I’m so glad I did!

My immediate reaction to Throne of Glass was that it felt quite similar to Maria V Snyder’s Poison Study with the deal being made to get the protagonist out of prison and the outlawing of magic. Although I enjoyed Poison Study I found reading it an effort so I had a few more moments of doubt as I began reading Sara J Maas’s debut. I really have no idea why as I absolutely adored Throne of Glass and it surpassed Poison Study with ease.

One of the first things that surprised me about this book was that I couldn’t easily identify which of the two main male characters would end up as the chief love interest or who she would ultimately end up with. I think I have a better grasp on it now though and I really, really hope it’s who I think it is...

With Prince Dorian and Choal, the Captain of the Royal Guard, being the complete opposite of each other, but each with some serious appeal, it was very hard to determine which Calaena would respond to. With this not-quite love triangle came a languorous, slow-burning romance that was a breath of fresh air and I loved every burning glance, flirtatious comment and electric touch. I also really enjoyed how the romance aspect of the story allowed Calaena to be a realistic and well-rounded girl. As well as being a fast, strong (mentally and physically) and quick assassin, she also loves flirting, beautiful dresses and dances. She’s a real girl and I loved it! It’s rare to get a character who’s so well-balanced but also not portrayed at perfect. Sarah J Maas did a really fantastic job with Calaena.

Throne of Glass has a healthy dose of mystery that I really wasn’t at all expecting. As soon as Calaena spotted the Wyrdmarks in the castle grounds I knew they’d have an important role in the novel but it took until they appeared in Calaena’s room for me to put together what exactly they were and what they were being used for and it took me far too long to figure out who was committing the murders. There was also the question of what the evil in the castle was and how Calaena’s presence tied in with saving the situation, and that we never concretely discovered. 

There was one theme in Throne of Glass that quite strongly captured my burgeoning interest in feminism and the treatment and freedom of women. That was how the traditional treatment of women in fantasy that was represented in Throne of Glass contrasted with the female characters that were shining examples of bravery, intelligence, strength and resilience. It was very obvious to me and it made me so angry that the simple reason of sex can encourage such thoughts and reactions and made me glad that while our world today is nowhere near perfect, we’ve come a long way.

All in all, I absolutely adored Throne of Glass and I’m already anxiously awaiting the next instalment in the trilogy.

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


Sunday 22 July 2012

In My Mailbox 124

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:

The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket – John Boyne

There’s nothing unusual about the Brockets. Boring, respectable and proud of it, they turn up their noses at anything strange or different. But from the moment Barnaby brocket comes into the world, he defies the laws of gravity - and floats. Desperate to please his parents, Barnaby does his best to keep both feet on the ground – but he just can’t do it!

One fateful day, the Brockets decide enough is enough. They never asked for a weird, abnormal floating child. Barnaby has to go.

Betrayed, frightened  and alone, Barnaby floats into the path of a very special hot-air balloon – and so begins a magical journey around the world.

This sounds so, so good! I think it’ll be a great introduction to John Boyne! Thanks, RHCP!

Witch Grag – Kate Cann

In a tribe where basic survival is the only priority, Kita must make a choice: to accept arranged marriages and being treated with less value than sheep, or escape and journey to the place that even the strongest men fear with their lvies – Witch Crag.

But a commmon threat is facing the witches and sheepmen alike. The tribes must somehow overcome their prejudices and join together if they are to win a war that threatens to destroy everything they hold as good.

A surprise from Scholastic. I’ve never read anything by Kate Cann, but I’m very intrigued by this.

Ocean of Secrets – Aimee Friedman

Many are drawn to Selkie Island. Few know why.

When Miranda Merchant escapes her lonely, hot summer in New York City, little does she know what awits her. She steps off the ferry on to an island rife with legend and lore.

She isn’t expecting to feel a connection to this unusual place. And when she meets Leo, a mysterious local boy, she finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship, reality...and love.

But is Leo hiding something she never could have imagined?

I believe this was released in the US as Sea Change in 2009 and I was very surprised when it turned up from Scholastic! Thank you!

The Masque of the Red Death – Bethany Griffin

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decmated the population. And those who survived live in in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up...and so many tantalizing ways to escape from it all.

But in the depths of the Debauchery Club – in the depths of her own despair – Araby is going to find more than oblivion. He’s called Will, the handsome, secretive proprietor of the club. And Elliot, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is quite what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for – no matter what it costs her.

Thanks, Orion/Indigo! I really love the sound of this – so excited!

My Brother Simple – Marie-Aude Murail

‘It’s OK, you can talk – he’s a retard.’
‘I-di-ot,’ Simple corrected.

Kleber is trying to juggle sixth form and two girls. Then he decides to take on his brother, Simple. His brother has learning difficulties, but Kleber can’t bear to see him in an institution. He finds a flatshare in the city, and takes Simple to live with him there.

The flatmates react in a different ways, but one thing becomes clear – Simple is not an i-di-ot. He changes the dynamic between them completely; ultimately he changes their lives.

This funny, moving, award-winning novel is captivating readers across the world.

I’ve never heard of this before, but I think it should do pretty well off the back of Wonder. Thanks, Bloomsbury!

Maze Cheat – BR Collins

Rick and Pir are Gamerunners.

They run, choose their weapons and fight in The Maze.

The Maze is much more than an ordinary computer game.   

True gamers play as if it were life or death.

Now the game has become life or death.

Except the gamers don't know that yet...

Enter The Maze to begin.

Thanks again to Bloomsbury. I think I actually gave away the first book in this series, Gamerunners...


Friday 20 July 2012

Losing Lila - Sarah Alderson

Losing Lila - Sarah Alderson

Pages: 322
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon and Schuster)
Release Date: 5th August 2012
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Hunting Lila, Fated

Alex and Lila are on the run, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the Unit. Alex is determined to keep Lila safe at any cost, but Lila’s only thought is of finding a way back to California so she can rescue her family from the military base where they’re being held.

Lila plans not only to save her brother and her mum, but also to completely destroy the Unit and everything it stands for. But that means Lila returning to California alone, and making friends with the enemy – putting herself at risk of losing everything: Alex, her family...even her life.

After leaving Hunting Lila languishing in my room for months before finally taking a chance on it, I began Losing Lila the morning after finishing Hunting Lila and didn’t put it down until I’d devoured the whole book.

In Losing Lila, Lila begins to further develop and understand her powers and use them as a weapon against The Unit to save her family. She’s starting to realise that she has a power and a responsibility and that she can protect herself and doesn’t need to hide anymore. I have to admit that her moments of doubt and uncertainty over her self-control and her actions only endeared me to her further. There were also the most adorable bits where Alex realised this too and got a little irked and thought that she didn’t need him anymore – he’s just too perfect for words; in a completely un-perfect way, of course.

As well as my undying love for Alex, I also came to appreciate Jack a little more in Losing Lila. He’s still a little too quick to anger and a tad overbearing for me, but I came to appreciate his loyalty and fierce love for his family. I also got rather worried for him several times during the novel and I wondered how he'd react to Alex and Lila’s relationship - it was hilarious and so, so sweet.

Even after the non-stop action, sweet romance and constant drama of Losing Lila, I still wasn’t quite ready to leave Lila, Jack and Alex behind when I finished the book. I was delighted to discover a short story from Alex’s point of view at the end of the novel. It’s from the day before and the day of Lila’s arrival in California and the beginning of Alex and Lila’s spark. I have to say that I could easily re-read both books through Alex’s eyes. It would actually be very, very interesting to see things like the break in to the base and what was really going on with Alex when he was being distant with Lila from his perspective.

I really fell in love with Lila and Alex’s story and I would now definitely call myself a fan of Sarah Alderson and I can't wait to read Fated and her next release, The Sound.

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


Wednesday 18 July 2012

Hunting Lila - Sarah Alderson

Hunting Lila – Sarah Alderson

Pages: 315
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon and Schuster)
Release Date: 5th August 2011
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Fated, Losing Lila

Lila has two secrets she’s prepared to take to the grave. The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she’s been in love with her brother’s best friend, Alex, since forever.

After a mugging exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only people she can trust – her brother and Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organisation called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they’ve found them. In a world where nothing and no one is quite as they seem, Lila quickly realises that she is not alone – there are others with special powers out there – and her mother’s killer is one of them...

I have to admit that I judged Hunting Lila solely on the cover and the synopsis, neither of which I found particularly enticing, and I was completely wrong. It’s one of my favourite reads of the year.

The only reason that I decided to give Hunting Lila a shot was because I was going to meet Sarah Alderson at the S&S Summer Blogger’s Presentation and I thought that the least I could do was start the book on the train down to London. One of my best decisions in a long time it turns out. I’m drifting away from the appeal of anything remotely supernatural and I rarely go for thrillers so the intense love I found myself feeling for this story shocked me.

Sadly, as I was late to the party with Lila’s story, Sarah’s reading of the first few pages of the sequel, Losing Lila, at the S&S event did spoil a few of the major plot twists. What was waiting for me at the end of the novel would otherwise have had me clamping a hand over my mouth in surprise. It’s a massive credit to Sarah that such big spoilers didn’t affect my thorough enjoyment of the novel.

Part of my strong feelings for Hunting Lila undoubtedly had something to do with Alex, of course. One of my favourite things about Alex is that he is twenty-two, a fair bit older than your average YA hero and, unlike nearly every other now I'm getting on a bit, he's actually older than me! Alex is also is strong, secretive, hard to read and completely gorgeous and I am a girl, after all. And so is Lila and her internal reactions to Alex are hilarious and I loved the hints at all of the dirty thoughts she was directing his way. That’s something that I, strangely, don't often come across in a YA narration so I thought it was fantastic and it really made Lila a real seventeen-year-old girl.

I quickly became addicted to the high octane, non-stop action and the heart-thumping romance and on finishing Hunting Lila in the early hours of the morning I seriously considered starting Losing Lila. I managed to wait until the next morning. Just about. But I had become so attached to Lila, Alex and Jack that I felt that I needed to stay enveloped in their world.

I would highly recommend overlooking the cover and diving into Hunting Lila. It’s brilliantly addictive and you won’t be disappointed.

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