Monday 31 March 2014

Zom-B Mission, Darren Shan

Pages: 219
Publisher: S&S
Release Date: 27th March 2014
Edition: UK hardback, review copy

Leading a group of humans through London and out into zombie-infested suburbs sounds like suicide – but not for the undead! Even so, the horrors of the journey will be beyond anything B has yet seen...

‘Do not underestimate the dangers of this mission. Other zombies will not ignore you when they catch the scent of fresh brains. You will almost surely be called upon to fight.

The city and countryside are full of angry, bitter people who are trying to execute as many of the undead as they can. They will not distinguish between a revitalised and a revived. Most do not know the difference. And most would not care.

You’d think that by book seven this series would be getting a bit stale, but nope. I loved Zom-B Mission just as much as I did the previous six books!

We pick up with a B a few months after her rescue and decision to be a part of the County Hall family. The Angels have been training hard and are eager for a mission. The first part of their mission takes them from Westminster to Hammersmith. I love the way Shan writes about London. He is clearly very fond of the city and knows it well, and that really comes across. It makes me eager to jump on a train and go and wander around the capital for a few hours!

In Hammersmith, B meets someone she couldn’t even fathom was alive: her best friend, Vinyl, from before the zombies arrived. This brought back the reoccurring theme of racism the series as Vinyl is black. B had to hide her friendship with Vinyl from her dad for fear of a beating. It seems obvious now that with starving zombies eager for brains roaming the streets that race would be as irrelevant as it always should have been. Not quite. When B, Vinyl and the other Angels reach the safe suburban compound, that isn’t quite the case. It seems that racism has a tendency to appear whenever a large group of people amass in the same place, even when there’s been a zombie apocalypse. It’s horrifying and makes you wonder if it’s the humans rather than the zombies that are the true monsters. Then a group of people arrive and everything launches into chaos. And I’m not going to say who those people are, but you won’t be able to guess.

Bring on July and Zom-B Clans!

Thanks to S&S for the review copy.


Sunday 30 March 2014

Letterbox Love #41

Letterbox Love all of the lovely, lovely books I’ve gotten in the post, bought and everything else. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. Hosted by Narratively Speaking.

For review:

Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks (e-proof)

Twenty-one years after it was first published this is a special anniversary edition of the bestselling and much-loved classic published for the centenary of the First World War.

A novel of overwhelming emotional power, Birdsong is a story of love, death, sex and survival. Stephen Wrayford, a young Englishman, arrives in Amiens in northern France in 1910 to stay with the Azaire family, and falls in love with unhappily married Isabelle. But, with the world on the brink of war, the relationship falters, and Stephen volunteers to fight on the Western front. His love for Isabelle forever engraved on his heart, he experiences the unprecedented horrors of that conflict - from which neither he nor any reader of this book can emerge unchanged.

I’ve been meaning to read this for years and the centenary is the perfect excuse to settle down with it. Thanks Vintage and NetGalley!

Written in the Stars, Ali Harris (e-proof)

Have you ever wondered ‘What if...?’ What if you’d taken that other job, gone on a date with that other guy, moved to a different city. Would an alternative life path have led to a happier ending?

Now imagine if you could have taken both paths...

When Bea Bishop slips while walking down the aisle on her wedding day, she is momentarily knocked unconscious. Her world splits and her parallel lives take her on two very different journeys. In one existence, Bea flees back down the aisle and out of the church. In the other she glides blissfully towards Adam, her intended.

But which story will lead to her happy ever after? And will she end up in the same place?

One decision + two different paths = how many happy endings?

I’ve heard such wonderful things about Ali Harris’ books so I’m really excited about this.

Zom-B Mission, Darren Shan (hardback)

Leading a group of humans through London and out into zombie-infested suburbs sounds like suicide – but not for the undead! Even so, the horrors of the journey will be beyond anything B has yet seen...

‘Do not underestimate the dangers of this mission. Other zombies will not ignore you when they catch the scent of fresh brains. You will almost surely be called upon to fight.

The city and countryside are full of angry, bitter people who are trying to execute as many of the undead as they can. They will not distinguish between a revitalised and a revived. Most do not know the difference. And most would not care.

Yay! I love this series. Thanks S&S!

Alienated, Melissa Landers (hardback)

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realises that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of this exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life – not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

I think this sounds like so much fun, even if the cover is a little OTT for my liking! Thanks Turnaround!


Road to Somewhere, Kelley Lynn and Jenny S Morris

A road trip.  A singing competition. And super-hot cowboys.

What could be better?

For Charlie, a post-high school road trip isn’t just a vacation, it’s life changing. While her parents think she’s helping a friend move, a chance at fame is the real reason to grab her best friends and drive to LA. But when her super-responsible, uber-responsible, younger sister, Lucy, has to tag along, it isn’t quite the summer of fun she imagined.

Add in a detour to her grandparents’ ranch in Texas, and between mucking the stalls, down-home cooking, and drool-worthy ranch hands, this could just turn into the best, and most complicated, summer of their lives.

I’ve really enjoyed the Bloomsbury Spark novels I’ve read so far and Jenny of Wondrous reads told me I’d like this one so, ta-da!

The Sky Always Hears Me, And the Hills Don’t Mind, Kirstin Cronn-Mills (e-book)

Sixteen-year-old Morgan lives in a hick town in the middle of Nebraska. College is two years away. Her mum was killed in a car accident when she was three, her dad drinks, and her stepmom is a non-entity. Her boyfriend Derek is boring and her coworked Rob has a very cute butt she can’t stop staring at. Then there’s the kiss she shared with her classmate Tessa...

But when Morgan discovers that the one person in the world she trusted most has kept a devastating secret from her, Morgan must redefine her life and herself.

I’ve had this on my wishlist for an age, but after talking about it to Caroline (Portrait of a Woman/Queer YA), I knew I had to have it. It’ll also be perfect for LGBT April!

The Guard, Kiera Cass (e-novella)

The second novella set in the world of Kiera Cass’ No. 1 New York Times bestselling Selection series – Aspen’s story!

Raised as a Six, Aspen Leger never dreamed he would find himself living in the palace as a member of the royal guard.

In The Guard, readers get an inside look at Aspen’s life within the palace walls – and the truth about a guard’s word that the world will never know.

A captivating view into the heart of Aspen, one of the men fighting to win America Singer’s love.

I really love this series – such a guilty pleasure!

A Room with a View, EM Forster (paperback)

A sunny tale of love and liberation, A Room with a View is the story of Lucy, on holiday in Italy with her conservative cousin when she meets George Emerson, an unusual young man not of her class. Although drawn to him, on her return home she becomes engaged instead to Cecil, a comically dull gentleman from her own background.

Sundrenched and optimistic, and including many issues which trouble the Edwardian public – radical thinking, women’s suffrage, the constrictions of English social rules – this is a brilliantly witty love story.

I’m in love with the idea of this book, and isn’t this edition gorgeous?! It’s the Penguin English Library edition – I want them ALL.

I also bought myself a lovely finished copy of Two Boys Kissing to add to my David Levithan collection. I really need to stop this whole book-buying thing...


Saturday 29 March 2014

The Spectacular Now, Tim Tharp

Pages: 294
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 6th February 2014
Edition: UK movie edition paperback, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: Falling Dark, Knights of the Hill Country, Badd, Mojo

Sutter’s the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. He has no plans for university and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But right now life’s pretty fabuloso.

Until he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help. It’s up to Sutter to show her a splendiferous time and then let her go.

But Aimee’s not like other girls and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life – or ruin it forever.

The Spectacular Now included every element that I wanted and expected from it: snark, quirkiness, depth and a heart-achey ending.

There isn’t a huge amount of plot in The Spectacular Now, but there honestly doesn’t really need to be. It’s a novel driven by its characters. Characters that are so vivid, so alive and so real that it’s impossible not to get sucked into their lives. Sutter is an incredibly strong protagonist with his tendency towards constant day drinking, ignore the future and consequences and believe that eventually everybody will leave him. Aimee is Sutter’s opposite. I hate this expression, but there’s no other way to capture Aimee at the beginning of the novel: she’s a wet blanket. Her passionate love of sci-fi, reading and space makes for a wonderful character, but it’s hard to get there underneath her lack of self-worth, shyness and tendency to just follow the leader. I loved watching her grow and blossom under Sutter’s attention, even if it perhaps wasn’t the healthiest way to gain confidence...

I really enjoyed reading about their relationship. They brought something different, something buried, in each other and made them face the things that were holding them back: Aimee’s mum and Sutter’s dad. The way their relationship reflected on Sutter’s previous relationship and the interactions with their girlfriends were really interesting and demonstrated both how right and how wrong Aimee and Sutter are together. It’s such a different relationship to ones you usually see in YA and it was a breath of fresh air. That is especially the case with the ending: bittersweet, tender and completely perfect for the characters and the novel. I loved it.

The Spectacular Now is a sad, strong and heartfelt story, with characters that single-handedly carry the novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This is what contemporary YA should be.


Friday 28 March 2014

Blog Tour: Darren Shan Q&A

I’m really excited to kick off the blog tour for Darren Shan and the seventh book in the Zom-B series, Zom-B Mission, today. I’m lucky enough to have had the chance to ask Darren a few questions. Enjoy!

1. Why did you want to serialise Zom-B?
It’s just the way it presented itself to me. I never think of the market when I write – I always do what seems best for the story. With Zom-B it always existed in my mind as a series of short, sharp-placed books, almost every one of which would end on a cliffhanger. Because of that, I hoped anticipation levels for each book in the series would be high, so I wanted to deliver them quicker than normal. It was an experiment, as just about all of my work is.

2. You must have a lot going on with each book in the Zom-B coming out at three-month intervals. How did you plan out the writing of the series to make sure you could fit everything in?
I started writing the books three or four years before the first one was due to be published. I knew that bringing a book out every three months was going to be extremely testing, both for myself and my publishers, and I couldn’t have done that without having first drafts of all the books in the bag before the first one hit the shelves. By doing that, I had at least two or three years to work on every book, and I was able to go back and re-write and edit the earlier books in light of things that happened in the later entries, thus tying everything together nice and tightly, without too many glaring errors!

3. I’m a fan of the big cliffhangers in the series. What’s the best cliffhanger you’ve ever read?
I used to read lots of comics, where cliffhangers are much more commonplace, so I read lots of great examples in the likes of 2000AD and The Eagle when I was a kid. In terms of books, I think Dickens came up with some of the best cliffhangers – it’s easy to forget now that the books are presented as complete novels, but they were serialised when they were first released, and readers had to wait between chunks. There was one near the end of A Tale of Two Cities that I think left everyone at the time waiting for the next instalment with baited breath!

Quick-fire round!

4. Literary idol?
Stephen King, for both the quality of his work and pushing himself so hard to create such an extensive and varied cannon of work.

5. Favourite word?

6. Current read?
Dead of Night, by John Maberry

Make sure to follow the rest of the tour and pick up a copy of Zom-B Mission which came out yesterday!

Darren Shan is appearing at Cambridge Literary Festival on Saturday 5th April at 4pm. The Festival runs 1st-6th April, for the full programme visit
Tickets:, 01223 300085, or in person at ADC Theatre, Park Street, Cambridge CB5 8AS