Thursday 29 November 2012

Noughts and Crosses - Malorie Blackman

Pages: 443
Publisher: Corgi (Random House)
Release Date: 30th August 2012
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles in this Series: Knife Edge, Checkmate, Double Cross

Callum is a nought – an inferior white citizen in a society controlled by the black Crosses.

Sephy is a Cross – and the daughter of one of the most powerful, ruthless men in the country.

In their hostile, violent world, noughts and Crosses simply don't mix. But when Sephy and Callum’s childhood friendship grows into passionate love, they’re determined to find a way to be together.

And then the bomb explodes...

There are very few people left in the world of YA that haven’t heard of Noughts and Crosses and I think I’m probably one of the last to read it.

With a single mention of Malorie Blackman’s most-popular series comes a slew of praise that is almost akin to reverence. Needless to say, my expectations were sky-high, but unfortunately, they weren’t quite met. I think that the reputation of this book had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had expected I would. I also knew what were probably the two biggest plot twists in the novel, although one of them still made me cry surprisingly.

I did get more in to the novel about two thirds of the way through, and I think I know why. Sephy. She annoyed the hell out of me. She was so self-involved, whiny and so, so young. Her problems and worries seemed so insignificant in comparison to Callum’s, who I fell in love with by the way. Thankfully, Sephy grew up a lot throughout Noughts and Crosses and I ended up sympathising with her and really feeling for her when she struggled.

While I was still struggling with Noughts and Crosses there was something that kept me turning the pages: the shock factor. Malorie Blackman made me think of things that I’d never even considered before, mostly the scene with the plaster where they only had brown ones, no lighter ones to match the noughts’ skin. I realised that the reverse of that is true here and I couldn’t quite believe it. It was a shocking and extreme reality that would have been experienced in the past and I couldn’t quite believe it.

Racism isn’t the only issue tackled in Noughts and Crosses though. There was terrorism, prejudice, bullying, alcoholism and the ever present struggles of growing up. Every problem in Sephy and Callum’s society is tackled or at the very least, talked about. And most of them stemmed from the racism and the corrupt government. It’s a terrifying world that makes happy endings very difficult to come by. The short story included in this edition, Callum, made this point very nicely. It was really interesting to read an alternative version of what is probably the most pivotal scene in the novel.

I ended up enjoying Noughts and Crosses and I’ll be interesting in reading the rest of the series, though I’m not overly eager to get round to them. Hopefully I’ll become more involved in later books.

Thank you to Random House for providing me with a copy for review.


Monday 26 November 2012

2013 Debut Author Reading Challenge

Next year, Tara at Hobbitsies will be hosting this challenge that has been hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren in the last few years. It’s a fantastic challenge and one that I always manage to complete so I’m definitely taking part next year! Here are this year’s rules:

“Just a few simple rules/guidelines to help things run smoothly!

1) You must have a blog, a Goodreads account, a YouTube account, an Amazon account – any where you can post your reviews and share them with others.

2) There is no deadline to join the 2013 Debut Author Challenge, but make sure you give yourself enough time to achieve the goal!

3) ARCs of 2013 debuts read before January 01, 2013 do not count towards your challenge goal.

4) The 2013 debuts must be read between January 01, 2013 – January 31, 2014 to count for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge. The extra month is to allow participants more time to read the December releases.

4) 2013 debuts must be young adult or middle grade in order to count towards the challenge.

5) The title must be the author’s young adult or middle grade debut. If they have previously published an adult title, and this is their first young adult/middle grade title, that counts towards the challenge. If this is their second young adult/middle grade title, it does not count towards the challenge.

6) If you’re a blogger in the US, all debuts must be US debuts to count towards your challenge goal. Likewise, if you’re a UK blogger, all debuts must be UK debuts to count towards to your challenge goal, and same goes for other countries.

Note: I’m removing this rule. I was under the impression that it was easier to buy debuts in your own country, but based on feedback I’ve received in comments and e-mails, it sounds like it’s not! So if you live in Australia or India or wherever, and it’s easier for you to buy a US/UK debut on your kindle or purchase a book through the Book Depository or whatever, go for it – that will count.

7) Each review equals one entry in the monthly prize pack. If you post six review of debut titles in January, you have six entries to win the January prize pack.”

Sign up and link your goal post to become a part of the challenge.

As usual, I’m not going to make a list of titles I intend to read, but add them to the post as the year goes on.

1. The Disappeared by CJ Harper
2. Me, Suzy P. by Karen Saunders
3. Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce
4. Darcy Burdock by Laura Dockrill
5. Geek Girl by Holly Smale
6. Infinite Sky by CJ Flood


Sunday 25 November 2012

In My Mailbox 138

This meme was started by Kristi of The Story Siren who was inspired by Alea from Pop Culture Junkie. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets unless otherwise stated.

For review:

The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding – is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

Thank you to the self-proclaimed Christmas Elf at Headline for this! I’ve been after it for a while!

I popped in to my old house on my way home in the week and found I had three lovely books from S&S that had been sent to the wrong address!

Lovely, Dark and Deep – Amy McNamara

Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend, Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college with her friends as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s isolated studio in the far-north of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone.

Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. And when the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.

Lexiland – Suzi Moore

One year ago, Emma’s twin sister, Laura, died at their birthday party, and since then Emma’s life has not been the same. Without her louder and stronger sister, Emma starts to feel lonely and invisible, missing the one person that she could always rely on to be on her side. Then she meets Lexi and everything changes.

Lexi is wild, crazy and surrounded by mystery, and Emma quickly finds herself pulled into the orbit of ‘Lexiland’, a place where it seems like anything can happen. And, as their friendship grows, Emma starts to realise that letting someone new into your life can be the best way to mend a broken heart...

The Disappeared – CJ Harper

Jackson’s life is perfect, he’s top of his class, wants for nothing and is destined to be part of the leadership that runs the country. But when a violent incident leaves Jackson badly beaten and his best friend dead, everything changes. Suddenly, his teachers claim not to know him, his records are deleted...Jackson doesn’t exist anymore.

Dumped in an academy, where teachers are kept in cages and being a good fighter is all that matters, Jackson realises that to survive he needs to adapt, and fast. And, as he learns the academy’s terrible secrets, Jackson discovers his whole life has been based on lies; the leadership is corrupt to the core and they’re coming after him.

Time is running out, can Jackson destroy the man at the heart of it all before he makes Jackson disappear for good?

Geek Girl – Holly Smale

Harriet Manners knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second and the average person laughs 15 times per day. She knows that bats always turn left when exiting a cave and that peanuts are one of the ingredients in dynamite.

But she doesn’t know why nobody at school seems to like her.

So when she is spotted by a top model agency, she grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her best friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome model Nick.

Veering from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, Harriet begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did. can Harriet go from geek to chic before she ruins everything?

I’m really looking forward to this. It’s meant to be the teen release of next year... Thanks, HarperCollins!


Thursday 22 November 2012

Bitter Blood: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Pages: 538
Publisher: Alison and Busby
Release Date: 6th November 2012
Edition: UK paperback, purchased copy

Now that the threat t the vampires of Morganville has been defeated, the gravest danger to the human residents is the enemy within...

For years, the human and vampire residents of Morganville have managed to coexist in peace. But thanks to the eradication of the parasitic creatures known as the draug, the vampires of Morganville have now been freed of their usual constraints. With the vampires indulging their every whim, the town’s human population is determined to hold on to their lives by taking up arms. College student Claire Danvers, with ties to both humans and vampires, isn’t about to take sides.

To make matters worse, a television show comes to Morganville searching for ghosts, just as vampire and human politics collide. Now, Claire and her friends have to figure out how to keep the peace without ending up on the nightly news...or worse.

After thirteen books I should be sick of this series, or at least indifferent. Nope. I finished Bitter Blood with my heart racing and tears in my eyes, mentally calculating how long I have to wait for the next book.

After the dramatic showdown at the end of Black Dawn, we pick back up in a slightly altered Morganville. Amelie and Oliver are running the show a little differently. With no more threats to their kind, the vampires are free to do whatever they want. I do miss the old Amelie though... But the most horrifying change in Bitter Blood was how it affected the Glass House.

I’m not even slightly exaggerating when I tell you that I was lying in bed reading and hyperventilating. I even started quietly chanting ‘no, no, no, NO’ at one point. I probably looked like a crazy woman and then I had to go upstairs and explain to my housemate the horror of that moment and run back downstairs in to the warm to finish the book. It would be safe to say that I didn’t get up until rather late that morning (ahem, afternoon). This is the type of drama that has kept this series going for so long and I do love it. I think it also demonstrated just how much Claire has grown up in her reaction to everything.

For probably the second or third time in the duration of this series, I’ve finished the book and wondered where on earth Rachel Caine is going to take the story of Claire, Shane, Eve and Michael in the next one. It was especially strong for Bitter Blood. I have to admit that I closed the book with the hint of a tear and the ever-present sadness that occurs when I realise I have to wait another six months for the next novel. It’s traumatic, but I know that Rachel Caine always more than pulls it out of the bag.

As you may have noticed, I loved Bitter Blood and I can’t wait until Fall of Night is released, even if that title terrifies me a little bit...

I purchased my copy from Amazon UK.


Tuesday 20 November 2012

BlogINK Entry: Two sides to every story

It may be the girl that studies English Literature and Creative Writing that has a favourite narrative form or it might just be the incredibly nosy girl that wants to know everything, but nonetheless, I have a particular fondness for dual narration.

I guess it fulfils some of the more secret desires a person has: to see the difference between how you see yourself and how others see you, finally finding out if you even cross the mind of someone you care about and, of course, getting to witness that moment when the protagonist realises they’re in love. Twice.

This year I’ve read some amazing novels with dual narratives. Partly because I’m writing one myself, but also because they’ve been everywhere! It’s a form that isn’t restricted to genre, style, publisher or country and it’s by far my favourite. To prove my point I counted up how many dual or multiple narratives I’ve read so far this year and I was surprised by the result: seventeen, including what I’m currently reading. Eight contemporaries, four paranormals, five dystopias and two are historical young adult novels. Now, you may notice that that doesn’t quite add up; one novel I read this year straddles two genres: Libba Bray’s The Diviners – a historical, paranormal mystery novel. Yeah, it's as amazing as it sounds.

I’ve just finished reading Rachel Caine’s Bitter Blood, the thirteenth book in the Morganville Vampires series. For the first nine novels, the entire story came through Claire, but as of book ten we’ve had glimpses in to other important characters in Morganville. To be given the chance to reside in the minds of characters I’ve fallen in love with was a gift from Rachel Caine. She uses it as a way to amp up the tension and accelerate the action, and boy does it work!

Some of my favourite books this year have been contemporary novels where dual narration has made difficult or quirky characters and situations become natural and so, so easy to love. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry blew me away when I read it in July. It’s an intense and steamy romance which the dual narration only intensified and I devoured each page, leaving me feeling like I’d lost two friends when I finished it! I had a very similar reaction to the final book in Simone Elkeles’ fantastic trilogy, Chain Reaction. There was just something about hearing from both Luis and Nikki that set fire to the pages.

It might be an unusual love, but read some of these books and you’ll understand completely. Maybe you’ll even have realised just how many books you’ve read and loved have been multiple narration and will run to join the fan club.

Sunday 18 November 2012

In My Mailbox 137

This meme was started by Kristi of The Story Siren who was inspired by Alea from Pop Culture Junkie. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets unless otherwise stated.

I'm so sorry for the lack of posts again this week - I'm drowning in uni work at the moment! I promise I'll try and get back on track in the next two weeks.

For review:

The Declaration – Gemma Malley

When you can live for ever by taking a tablet...
When no one needs to die...
Ann Covey should never have been born.

Sixteen-year-old Anna lives in a brutal, oppressive Surplus hall. She obeys all the rules and accepts her own fate – watching her masters achieve eternal life by the power of a pill called Longevity. But then a new inmate arrives. Mysterious, enigmatic and dangerous, he turns Anna’s solitary world upside down. Is she brave enough to believe that one Surplus girl and a boy who breaks the rules can change the world for ever?

Thank you Bloomsbury! I’ve been dying to get my hands on this series for a long time and now I have the whole trilogy with their gorgeous new covers!

I don’t want to write up the summaries of the next two books in case of spoilers, but here’s what they look like!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne M Valente

September is a twelve-year-old girl from Omaha. Her dad is fighting in a faraway war, her mum is always out at work, and September in stuck in a lonely, adventureless rut. So when the Green Wind arrives at her window and invites her to Fairyland, she accepts in a flash. (Mightn’t you?)

But Fairyland is in crisis and confusion, crushed by the iron rule of the villainous Marquess – and September alone holds the key to restoring order. Well! She knows what a girl with a quest must do: she sets out to Fix Things.

With a book-loving dragon and a mysterious boy named Saturday by her side, September faces peril and pandemonium; loses her shadow, her shoe and her way – and finds a great deal more besides. But time is short, and time is ticking, and every story must have an ending. Can September save Fairyland? Cab she even save herself?

I’ve been dying to read this for ages! Thanks, Corsair!


Sunday 11 November 2012

In My Mailbox 135

This meme was started by Kristi of The Story Siren who was inspired by Alea from Pop Culture Junkie. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets unless otherwise stated.

My lovely housemate discovered a tucked-away book stall in the Guildhall Market here in Bath with her parents and decided to show me. There were so many pretties! Then we went on a charity shop mooch and I found a book I’ve been dying to read for ages! The  two pre-orders I've been dying for arrived!

For review:

Undone – Cat Clarke

How far would you fall for the truth?

Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she’s learning to live with it.

Then the unspeakable happens.
Kai is outed online...and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back.
But she wants to know who was responsible.
And she wants to take them down...

A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal.

YESYESYES. Rather excited for this one!! Thanks, Quercus.

I also got a shiny hardback of The Wolf Princess and proofs of How to Fall by Jane Casey and Silent Saturday by Helen Grant.


Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

A story of impossible love and a way of life lost forever.

Orphaned, penniless, Jacob Jankowski jumps a freight train in the dark, and in that instant, transforms his future.

By morning, he’s landed a job with the Flying Squadron of the Benzi Brothers Most Spectacluar Show on Earth. By nightfall, he’s in love.

In an America made colourless by prohibition and the Depression, the circus is a refuge of sequins and sensuality. But behind the glamour lies a darker world, where both animals and men are dispensible. Where falling in love is the most dangerous act of all...

I adored the film so I can’t wait to get stuck in to this!

How to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

“It’s a good time to be a woman; we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain...

Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyoen ask when you’re going to have a baby?”

Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin Moran answers the questions that every woman is asking.

I’ve been told to read this so many times, that I squeaked when I spotted it in a charity shop. I can’t wait.

Bitter Blood: The Morganville Vampires – Rachel Caine

Now that the threat the the vampires of Morganville has been defeated, the gravest danger to the human residents is the enemy within...

For years, the human and vampire residents of Morganville have managed to coexist in peace. But thanks to the eradication of the parasitic creatures known as the draug, the vampires of Morganville have now been freed of their usual constraints. With the vampires indulging their every whim, the town’s human population is determined to hold on to their lives by taking up arms. College student Claire Danvers, with ties to both humans and vampires, isn’t about to take sides.

To make matters worse, a television show comes to Morganville searching for ghosts, just as vampire and human politics collide. Now, Claire and her friends have to figure out how to keep the peace without ending up on the nightly news...or worse.

YAY! I’m such a Morganville fangirl.

The Lost Prince – Julie Kagawa

Done look at Them.
Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs – including his reputation – begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. to save a girl he never thought he’d  dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s  world – the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

My name is Ethan Chase.
And I may not live to see my eighteenth birthday.

I adore Julie Kagawa’s books and the world of Faery so I can’t wait to get stuck in to this.


Thursday 8 November 2012

Zom-B - Darren Shan

Zom-B – Darren Shan

Pages: 271
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 27th September 2012
Edition: UK proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Saga of Darren Shan series, Demonata trilogy, Saga of Larten Crepsley series

Can you love a bullying, racist thug if he’s your father?

Where do you hide when killer babies invade your dreams?

How do you react when confronted with your inner darkest demons?

What do you do when zombies attack?

B Smith is about to find out!

I went in to Zom-B not really having any idea what I was in for. You see, I’ve never read anything by Darren Shan before. But it still managed t completely surprise me.

My first impressions of Zom-B was rather blah. The writing seemed nothing special and hated B. I’ve rarely read such an unlikable protagonist. B is a racist bully and didn’t even become vaguely amiable until the last fifty or so pages of the novel. Characters are usual the be all and end all for me. If I don’t like the main character, or at least care about them, I don’t like the book. That wasn’t quite the case with Zom-B.

The pace was relentless and the action was constant and I flew through the novel in about two hours. It was just so easy to read! The gore was fantastic and as the story settled in, there were some extremely intriguing moments and fascinating characters that lead to some pretty dramatic plot twists later in the novel. Even B’s digusting excuse for a dad came to play a part, and I had to respect what a brilliantly crafted character he is.

But the real point of this whole novel, for me anyway, was THAT PLOT TWIST. I was seriously not expecting it and those you’ve read it know exactly what I mean. It changed my feelings for Zom-B and before that and the cliffhanger ending, I wasn’t too mfussed about reading any more of the series. Now, I definitely am.

Zom-B thoroughly surprised me and I’m looking forward to seeing how much more Darren Shan will shock and surprise me in Zom-B: Underground.

Thank you to S&S for sending me a copy to review.


Tuesday 6 November 2012

Breathe - Sarah Crossan

Breathe – Sarah Crossan

Pages: 371
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: 11th October 2012
Edition: UK proof, review copy

When oxygen levels plunge 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 Premiums can afford enough oxygen to live a normal life. Dissenters to the regime are ejected from the Pod.

Alina 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?

Breathe is the first book in Sarah Crossan’s dystopian trilogy and in a saturated market, it held its own.

The mythology behind this dystopia of Breathe is an interesting and entirely plausible one. The idea behind The Pod was only explained once and rather briefly so if you weren’t reading quickly or got distracted it would have been easy to miss as it wasn’t repeated or referred to again. I did think that the conspiracy around The Pod and their ‘perfect’ community was revealed too soon. There was no real shock or surprise when it was made known and I thought this took something out of the story.

Breathe is written in a three-way narrative, the chapters split between Alina, Bea and Quinn. All three characters are very different and their voices were clear and easily distinguishable. I loved kick-ass Alina who learnt to trust her friends and lovable Bea whose world was turned upside down, but I didn’t click with Quinn at first. He was just rather wet to begin with. Thankfully, he grew and changed in to the guy willing to risk his life for the cause and I admit that it’s entirely possible that I’ll fall for him as the series progresses.

Breathe was a quick and easy read that I flew through. I’ll be interested to read the sequel.

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


Sunday 4 November 2012

In My Mailbox 134

This meme was started by Kristi of The Story Siren who was inspired by Alea from Pop Culture Junkie. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets unless otherwise stated.

I actually received these two lovelies last week but internet issues got in the way of posting an IMM, so here they are!

For review:

Darcy Burdock – Laura Dockrill

My name is Darcy. I see the extraordinary in the everyday and the wonder in the world around me. This is my first book. One day, it wll be read by people like you.

Make way for a new, cool, all-conquering girl character for tweens.

And fall for Laura Dockrill – the bravest, freshest, funniest new voice in children’s books.

I’ve been dying to get my hands on this ever since Laura read us a snippet at the RHCB Blogger Brunch in the same. So excited!!

Through to You - Emily Hainsworth

Viv is the love of Camden’s life.
Viv is the only person who’s ever truly cared for him.
Viv makes Camden’s life better.
Viv is dead.

But what if, in another world, Viv’s death never happened?
What if Camden had a choice about letting Viv go, or being with a different version of her forever?
What if finding the love you thought you’d lost, meant giving up everything you’ve ever known? Would it be worth the risk?

I’m really looking forward to this. It’s a 2013 debut from the awesome S&S! Thanks, lovelies!