Monday 30 September 2013

Zom-B Baby - Darren Shan

Pages: 215
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 26th September 2013
Edition: UK hardback, review copy

Other Titles in this Series: Zom-B, Zom-B Underground, Zom-B City, Zom-B Angels

When B Smith turns her back on Dr Oystein and strikes out alone, she is shocked to meet the baby from her nightmares – a strange, sexless, zombie baby...

I come within sight of the baby and I freeze. I feel the walls of reality crumbling around me, the world tilting on its axis, the fingers of a nightmare reaching out to grab me.

The baby is dressed in a long, white christening gown. Its face is a stiff mask, like a cross between a human’s and a doll’s, but there’s nothing human about its mouth and eyes. The small mouth is open, fully of tiny, sharp teeth. Its eyes are pure white balls, no pupils...

‘It’s not real,’ I croak.

Book five in the Zom-B series is already here! I really love that we get a book every three months; it’s long enough to get to delicious wait for a next instalment but not so long you forget everything!

These are also beautiful books, physically. Simon and Schuster really stepped it up with Zom-B Baby as well. The illustrations are peppered with blocks of red, the chapter titles are coloured red and there are bright blood splatters covering the page number. They must have been incredibly expensive to produce, but definitely worth it.

Darren Shan took on another controversial topic in this book: religion. Many issues have already been tackled so far, but I think that this is the one that could have caused the most offense. At the end of Zom-B Angels, Dr Oynstein reveals that he’s been ordered by God to lead the revitaliseds against Mr Dowling and his mutants. B’s history with being led by other people’s ideas isn’t very positive so she freaks out and leaves. Her reasoning behind her actions were very thought-provoking. I love that Shan was planting the idea that you don't have to blindly follow the beliefs and ideas that you’ve been taught; you are free to make up your own mind. He delivers another subtle and important message in a high-octane and addictive story. Bravo.

Though Zom-B Baby isn’t the most action-packed of the series so far, or is it the one with the biggest plot twists or cliffhangers, but it is up there with the creepiest. The baby made me shudder in horror. The sexless, zombie/human monstrosity just got more and more unnerving as B discovered more about it.

I’m already looking forward to book six, Zom-B Gladiators, to see what trouble B gets involved with next.

Thanks to S&S for sending me a copy for review.


Sunday 29 September 2013

Blog Tour: Lucy Christopher's Top Five YA Authors

It feels like forever since I fell in love with Stolen and then waited for the beautiful Flyaway so I’m thrilled that Lucy Christopher has a new book, The Killing Woods, out next month. I’m just as excited to have the lovely lady herself here on the blog to tell us her top five teen authors! Over to Lucy!

John Marsden
I can't write this list without a big fat mention to this man. John is a huge influence on my writing. When I was a teenager, John visited our school: he talked about the importance of books for letting young people find a voice and establish their place in the world, he talked to us teenagers as equals...the whole event was more ‘discussion’ than ‘author talk’. Afterwards I became one of his many pen pals. As a published writer, we keep in touch via email now. He even provides some of the endorsements on the cover of my first novel, Stolen (something which I’m extremely proud of). John’s work is gutsy, original and full of great characters. His magnificent Tomorrow series influenced me profoundly, helping me to be a writer with a strong love for the narrative use of wild spaces.

Robert Cormier
What author for teenagers couldn’t include this great man on this list? Without Cormier, perhaps modern YA would not be as gutsy or profound as it is. Let’s face it: this man took risks. Writing most of his YA novels at a time when YA was not even recognised as a form, Cormier tackled such issues as violence, betrayal, mental illness and abuse. What’s more, his novels often do not end on that ‘element of hope’ most of us see as synonymous with the form of YA. I take my hat off to the guy.

Margo Lanagan
This writer is extraordinary, and another one who takes big risks in the YA form. Her novel Tender Morsels blew my mind away and scattered it into tiny fragments. Lanagan absolutely challenges the conventions of YA fiction: this novel frequently swaps in character perspective and narrative style, as well as containing explicit and challenging dark themes. Don't just take my word for it – Margo Lanagan has been recognised worldwide for her splendid work, picking up the Printz Award as well as being a Printz honouree and being twice winner of the World Fantasy Awards.

Julia Green
This writer does something very important in her writing for teenagers: she writes about matters of the heart. Predominately with girl narrators, Green’s novels are tender and touching. She does not have big action-led plots, rather her novels are quiet and thoughtful containing characters you would love to sit down with for a cup of tea (or a cuddle). Green’s novels are not heart-stopping thrillers, but are full to the brim of heart and love. In my opinion these types of novels are so valuable for developing teens, it saddens me that the quieter, more emotionally led books do not get the media attention that their plot or high concept led counterparts do.

Suzanne Collins/Maggie Stiefvater
I can’t decide between these two, so they are both sharing the spot. I love both these writers for their gutsy, thoughtful heroines. I love them, also, for their strong commitment to putting story at the forefront of their work. No wonder these authors’ words have been optioned for film – their work is consistently powered by wonderful, gripping stories and full up with strong, admirable and intelligent characters. Both of these writers have written novels that I wish I had written, and that is probably the greatest praise of all from one writer to another.

Some really fantastic choices there! I love Julia Green, Suzanne Collins and Maggie Stiefvater as well – amazing authors. Thanks Lucy!


Saturday 28 September 2013

Letterbox Love #19

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.

A little early this week! I have a blog tour post tomorrow from the lovely Lucy Christopher and I had nothing prepared for today so I thought 'why not?!'! If anything happens ot arrive in the post today, I'll throw it in next week's. Happy weekend, guys!

For Review:

Zom-B Baby – Darren Shan (hardback)

When B Smith turns her back on Dr Oystein and strikes out alone, she is shocked to meet the baby from her nightmares – a strange, sexless, zombie baby...

I come within sight of the baby and I freeze. I feel the walls of reality crumbling around me, the world tilting on its axis, the fingers of a nightmare reaching out to grab me.

The baby is dressed in a long, white christening gown. Its face is a stiff mask, like a cross between a human’s and a doll’s, but there’s nothing human about its mouth and eyes. The small mouth is open, fully of tiny, sharp teeth. Its eyes are pure white balls, no pupils...

‘It’s not real,’ I croak.

I’ve already read this - review up on Monday! Thanks S&S!

Crash Into You – Katie McGarry (e-proof)

From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes the explosive new tale of a girl with a reckless streak, a street smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane.

The girl with straight A’s, designer clothes, and the perfect life – that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker – a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind. Isaiah has secrets too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel.

The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks – no matter how angelic she might look. But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

Man, I love Katie McGarry’s books! Thanks NetGalley and Mira!

Pawn – Aimee Carter (e-proof)

Are you more than a number on the back of your neck?

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked – surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered. The same one that got her killed...and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose – and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.

I love Aimee Carter’s Goddess series so I’m really looking forward to this. Thanks NetGalley and Mira Ink!


Austenland – Shannon Hale (e-book)

Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man – perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr Darcy of her own?

I couldn’t resist this at only 99p!

Attachments – Rainbow Rowell (e-book)

It’s 1999 and for the staff of one newspaper office, the internet is still a novelty. By day, two young women, Beth and Jennifer, spend their hours emailing each other, discussing in hilarious detail every aspect of their lives, from love troubles to family dramas. And by night, Lincoln, a shy, lonely IT guy spends his hours reading every exchange. At first their emails offer a welcome diversion, but as Lincoln unwittingly becomes drawn into their lives, the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realizes just how head-over-heels he really is, it’s way too late to introduce himself. What would he say to her? ‘Hi, I’m the guy who reads your email – and also, I think I love you.’ After a series of close encounters, Lincoln decides it’s time to muster the courage to follow his heart...and find out whether there is such a thing as love before first sight.

I can finally be one of the cool people! Another Kindle Daily Deal bargain for 99p.

Free Four – Veronica Roth (e-novella)

This brief story explores the world of the Divergent series through the eyes of the mysterious but charismatic Tobias Eaton, revealing previously unknown facets of his personality, backstory and relationships.

Getting me into the mood for Allegiant!


Friday 27 September 2013

Geek Girl: Model Misfit - Holly Smale

Pages: 387
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 26th September 2013
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles in this Series: Geek Girl

Harriet Manners knows a lot of facts.

- Humans have 700, 000 thoughts per day.

- Caterpillars have 4,000 muscles.

- The average person eats a ton of food per year.

- Being a Geek + Model = a whole new set of graffiti on your belongings.

But clearly she knows nothing about boys. And on a whirlwind modelling trip to Tokyo, Harriet would trade in everything she’s ever learnt for just the faintest idea of what she’s supposed to do next...

Oh, I do love this series. And Harriet. And the whole Manners family. And Toby. I just loved Model Misfit, okay!

I fell in love with Harriet’s geeky tendencies once again; they’re just what appeals to me in a person. Bullet-point lists, obscure facts, social anxiety, clumsiness and a magnet for trouble: Harriet has it all. I love her. There were a few moments early on in the novel where her childish-ness niggled me slightly, but I soon got over it because everything else about her is just so endearing and relatable. I completely understood her feelings of being pushed out and replaced by the impending arrival of the new baby, her crazy reactions to Nick and her struggle to make friends.

Model Misfit took Harriet to Tokyo and a flat with two other models. I immediately feel in love with Rin. Her mangled interpretation of English, her physical impersonation of a Manga character and her strange approach to friendship; she’s adorable. Her love for Australia is also a nice, unusual addition; England or America is usually the obsession!I think she’s someone that Harriet desperately needs in her life and I really, really hope she makes further appearances in future books in the series. Poppy, however, nope. The modelling world really doesn’t seem that great. Constantly being surrounded by achingly beautiful girls would be very bad for my health...

Holly Smale sent my emotions all over the place.  I lost count of the number of times I snorted with laughter and repeated particularly funny things to my cat (shh, you do it too). My heart ached for Harriet when things when wrong, I got angry on her behalf and then I finished Model Misfit with smiley heart.

Harriet and her madcap adventures have captured my heart and I’m already excited for book three. Holly Smale has a winner on her hands here.

Thanks to Harper Collins for the review copy!