Tuesday 31 December 2013

A Year in Review

2013 has been a year with amazing highs and awful, awful lows; it’s definitely one I won’t forget for a long time. So here you go, my year in review, bookish and personal.


I graduated from uni in Bath Abbey with an upper-2:1.

I lost my mum, my nan and my cousin.

I turned 21.

I got my first, and second, job.

I went to 7 gigs: McFly, Sleeping With Sirens, Funeral for a Friend, The Summer Set, Deaf Havana, Bring Me the Horizon and Warped Tour UK.

I had two weeks of work experience at S&S (my dream position).

I did work experience at Chicken House.

I went to see Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens in London and went for drinks afterwards with some cast members and the director.


I read 159 books.

I met JK Rowling with Carly from Writing from the Tub and nearly lost my cool.

I began 22 new series.

I met Stephenie Meyer and my 13-year-old self cried with joy.

I read 17 debuts.

I had afternoon tea with Maggie Stiefvater.

I read 59 contemporary YA novels.

I interviewed Sarah Dessen.

Sarah Dessen replied to my tweet.

I read 58 UKYA novels/novellas.

I interviewed Meg Rosoff.

I read 4 classic novels.

I read 11 dystopian novels.

I read 11 historical novels.

I read 8 adult novels.

I posted my 1000th blog post (this one!).


2013 Releases:
Undone, Cat Clarke
The Indigo Spell, Richelle Mead
The Bunker Diary, Kevin Brooks
Drowning Instinct, Isla J Bick
ACID, Emma Pass
Dangerous Girls, Abigail Haas
Have a Little Faith, Candy Harper
Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan
How to Love, Katie Cotugno
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell

Non-2013 Releases:
Such a Rush, Jennifer Echols
My Life Next Door, Huntley Fitzpatrick
Graceling/Fire/Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
Is It Just Me?, Miranda Hart
Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell

How was our 2013?


Monday 30 December 2013

The Dance of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin

Pages: 327
Publisher: Indigo
Release Date: 4th April 2013 
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: The Masque of the Red Death

Everything is in ruins.

Betrayal, death and disease surround Araby Worth.

Her brother is dead. Her best friend could be soon. And the two boys who have stolen her heart have both betrayed her.

She can trust nobody, and as the city crumbles around her, it’s time for Araby to fight back. What she decides to do ma decide the fate of humanity.

The stunning, dramatic conclusion to The Masque of the Red Death.

I unexpectedly fell in love with The Masque of the Red Death last year so it’s ridiculous how long it took me to get around to reading the conclusion!

The Dance of the Red Death picked up mere seconds after the first book ended, with Will’s betrayal of Araby still fresh and burning and them, Kent, April and Elliott having escaped by the skin of their teeth. The tension between Araby and the two boys was delicious all the way through. The mistrust between Elliott and Will and Araby’s confusion over both of them was palpable. I loved seeing her feelings shift and change and generally muddle herself into knots over them!

Underneath the love triangle ran a tension that kept me furiously turning pages. Will Arab find her dad? How will April fare? Will they save the city? From beginning to end, The Dance of the Red Death is full of action and adventure and near death experiences, but the characters weren’t compromised at all. In fact, especially in Araby’s case, it helped show them to their full extent and test them to their limits. It also must it much harder for me to discern who to trust; I love the uncertainty that brings.

Bethany Griffin’s steampunk reimagining of Poe is set in an exquisitely drawn world with an electric love triangle and engaging characters. I’m definitely looking forward to what she writes next.

Thanks to Indigo for providing me with a review copy.


Sunday 29 December 2013

Letterbox Love #30

Letterbox Love came about after some drama with the American book haul memes, so the UKYA bloggers came together on Twitter to organise one of our own. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. Hosted by Narratively Speaking.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! I didn’t get any reviews copies this week, but I did get a few as presents as bought far too many!

Christmas Presents:

Ready, Set, Novel, Chris Baty, Lindsey Grant and Tavia Stewart-Streit (paperback)

Want to write a novel, but just can’t face that blank page?

Let the organisers of the literary marathon National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) guide you through planning and plotting your novel. These handy tips, battle-tested activities, and bits of creative mayhem have helped thousands of NaNoWriMo participants put pen to paper and are sure to get you geared up to start writing.

Prepare to take field trips, stalk some characters, block out scenes, create intriguing twists, and forge a majestic plot cannon that will launch you headlong into novel-land. Whether it’s your first book or your tenth, this workbook will help you turn that kernel of an idea into a true masterpiece.

Get ready. Get set. Novel!

I’ve flicked through this and it’s amazing. Thanks Jess!

UKYABB Secret Santa goodies:

Bittersweet, Sarah Ockler (paperback)

There’s a fine line between bitter and sweet.

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances...a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life...and starts serving up some serious mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last...

Please Ignore Vera Dietz, AS King (paperback)

Is it okay to hate a dead kid?
Even if I loved him once?
Even if he was my best friend?
Is it okay to hate him for being dead?

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the ears she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone – the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox, Eoin Colfer (paperback)

Artemis Fowl is no stranger to trouble. In fact he’s a magnet for it.

Man-eating trolls, armed and dangerous (not to mention high-tech) fairies, flame-throwing goblins – he’s seen the lot. He had decided to forgo criminal activity of the more magical kind. However...

Now his mother is gravely ill. He must travel back through time to steal the cure from the clutches of the devious mastermind...Artemis Fowl.

That’s right. With fairy ally Captain Holly Short by his side, Artemis is going back in time to do battle with his deadliest enemy yet.


Seraphina, Rachel Hartman (hardback)

A fragile peace has been achieved in the realm of the Goredd, and dragons and humans live together in harmony.

But the truce is shattered when a royal prince is brutally murdered – could dragons be to blame?

Seraphina, a talented court musician harbouring secrets of her own, is drawn into the investigation and uncovers a darker plot, one that threatens the very existence of the kingdom. And soon her own life is in terrible danger as she fights to hide the secret behind her amazing gift...

Don’t these all sound amazing?! A huge thank you to Lucy of Choose YA for my presents and to Lynsey from Narratively Speaking who organised the UKYABB Secret Santa. You’re both awesome!


Positively Mine, Christine Duval (e-book)

It is four weeks into her freshman year of college, and Laurel’s first test is unexpected.  Discovering she’s pregnant isn’t exactly what she had planned for her first semester, and while she intends to tell her emotionally-distant father, being away at school makes it all too easy to hide.

An imperfect heroine plagued by bad choices and isolated during what should be the best time of her life, readers are sure to identify with Laurel as she confronts teen pregnancy, in secret.

I really enjoyed the other two Bloomsbury Spark books I’ve read so I’m looking forward to this.

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman (e-book)

Under the streets of London there’s a world most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet. Richard Mayhew is a young business man who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre. There’s a girl named Door, an Angel called Islington, an Earl who holds Court on the carriage of a Tube train, a Beast in a labyrinth, and dangers and delights beyond imagining... And Richard, who only wants to go home, is to find a strange destiny waiting for him below the streets of his native city.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman (e-book)

After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the time until his release ticks away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But the storm is about to break... Disturbing, gripping and profoundly strange, Gaiman’s epic novel sees him on the road to the heart of America.

Both of these, along with a few more Gaiman novels were on a Kindle deal and I’ve been being nagged for years to read these, so I had to get them really.

Where the Stars Still Shine – Trish Doller (e-book)

Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from Laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love – even with someone who seems an improbable choice – is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want the stories gritty and utterly true.

I read Something Like Normal last week and fell in love so this was my first purchase with my Amazon gift card from my big sis!

Working Stiff, Rachel Caine (paperback)

It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it – dead or alive.

Bryn Davis knows at Fairview Mortuary isn’t the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment – until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele. Now Bryn faces being terminated...literally.

Bryn is given the chance to take down the bigger problem, pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She’d better do it fast before she becomes a zombie slave. A real working stiff.

I love Rachel Caine and now that Morganville is over, I figured I needed to soothe the ache somehow!

The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde (paperback)

Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend.

There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the tail of the new crime wave’s Mr Big.

Acheron Hades has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them to ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Missing.

Thursday sets out to find a way into the book to repair the damage. But solving crimes against literature isn’t easy when you also have to find time to halt the Crimean War, persuade the man you love to marry you, and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

Perhaps today just isn’t going to be Thursday’s day. Join her on a truly breathtaking adventure, and find out for yourself. Fiction will never be the same again...

I’ve heard amazing things about this author, and this series in particular, so when I saw it in The Works, I couldn’t help myself. They have a great selection in there at the moment!

Jessica Rules the Dark Side, Beth Fantaskey (hardcover)

When Jessica Packwood found out she was a Romanian vampire princess, she had the shock of her teenage life. Turns out that was the easy part.

Now, married to Prince Lucius Vladescu, she has to claim her throne and convince a vampire nation she’s fit to be their queen. But Jess can’t even order a decent meal from her Romanian staff, let alone deal with devious undead subjects who would love to see her fail.

And when Lucius is accused of murdering a vampire Elder and imprisoned without the blood he needs, Jessica finds herself alone, fighting for both their survivals.

Desperate to clear her husband’s name and win his release, Jess enlists the help of her best friend, Mind Stankowicz, and Lucius’s mysterious Italian cousin, Raniero Lovatu. But both of them are keeping some dark secrets. Can Jess figure out who to trust – and how to rise to power – before she loses everything, including the vampire she loves?

Full of romance, mystery, and danger, the highly anticipated sequel to Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side shows that sometimes a princess has to earn her “happily ever after” – with a sharpened stake in hand.

I read and loved Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side when it first came out and never got around to reading the sequel. I was flicking through my Amazon wishlist the other day and this came up, with a hardback available for £3.01. Who could turn that down?