Monday, 31 May 2010

In My Mailbox - 8

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kristi who's over at The Story Siren.

This week I received:

Tall Story - Candy Gourlay
Blue Bloods - Melissa de le Cruz
Forbidden - Tabitha Suzuma
The Summer of Skinny Dipping - Amanda Howells

Tall Story - Candy Gourlay
Acquired:
Sent to me by Random House
Published: June 3rd 2010
Summary: Andi desperately hopes her long lost half-brother Bernardo will be as mad about basketball as she is. But when he steps off the plane from the Philippines, she can't believe her eyes. She hasn't seen him for ten years, but even so, how did he get to be eight foot tall? An eight-foot tall boy who is aobut to crash into her life with his size 22 feet.

But Bernardo is not what he seems. Bernardo is a hero, Bernardo works miracles and Bernardo has an amazing story to tell.

Blue Bloods - Melissa de la Cruz
Acquired:
Sent to me by Hyperion
Published: May 1st 2006
Summary: Schuyler Van Alen has never fit in at Duchesne, her prestigious New York City private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapidated mansion. Schuyler is a loner—and happy that way.

But when she turns fifteen, Schuyler’s life changes dramatically. She has a mosaic of blue veins on her arms, and craves raw meat. The death of a popular girl from Duchesne is surrounded by a mystery that haunts her. And strangest off all, Jack Force, the most popular boy in school, is showing a sudden interest in her.

Schuyler wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?

Forbidden - Tabitha Suzuma
Acquired:
Sent to me by Random House
Published: May 27th 2010
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Maya and seventeen-year-old Lochan have never had the chance to be 'normal' teenagers. Having pulled together for years to take care of their younger siblings while their wayward, drunken mother leaves them to fend alone, they have become much more than brother and sister.

And now, they have fallen in love. But this is a love that can never be allowed, a love that will have devastating consequences... How can something so wrong feel so right?

The Summer of Skinny Dipping - Amanda Howells
Acquired: Sent to me by Sourcebooks Fire
Published: June 1st 2010
Summary: After getting dumped by her boyfriend, Mia is looking forward to spending a relaxing summer in the Hamptons with her glamorous cousins. But when she arrives she find her cousins distant, moody, and caught up with a fast crowd.

Mia finds herself lonelier than ever, until she meets her next-door-neighbor, Simon Ross. And from the very first time he encourages her to go skinny dipping, she's caught in a current impossible to resist.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Review: The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson


The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson


Published: March 2010, Walker Books Ltd


Acquired: Sent to me by Walker Books


Publisher’s summary: What’s wrong with me? What kind of girl wants to kiss every boy at a funeral, wants to maul a guy in a tree after making out with her (dead) sister’s boyfriend the previous night?


Speaking of which, what kind of girl makes out with her sister’s boyfriend, at all?


Lennie Walker – sisterless, lasagne maker, Heathcliff-obsessed and hopelessly in love...


What I liked: I’m going to have to keep this brief before this review turns into a complete gush-fest as I absolutely adored this book. I really did love it. For me, it’s the book of the year so far. Everything from the character names to the cover and every detail in between is breathtaking. I went on such a journey with Lennie as she discovered about grief, love and how to let go.


Lennie is a brilliant protagonist, gutsy enough that she doesn’t come across as a weak heroine who needs a strong male lead to full her through but she has a vulnerability that I couldn’t help but be touched by. There are so many dimensions to her character and each one is brought to life through Nelson’s exquisite way with words.


My Teaser Tuesday sentences received seventeen glowing comments within 24 hours of posting and I did genuinely pick two random sentences from the book – proof of how powerful Nelson’s writing is.


Lennie isn’t the only excellent character in The Sky is Everywhere. I was completely enchanted by Joe Fontaine (as I’m sure all readers were!) and Toby, Gram and Big are all memorable characters I won’t forget in a hurry.

There’s something so disarmingly honest about this book – I think it’s the fact Bailey is dead before the book even begins. There are no twists or turns here, everything’s laid out as it happens and we aren’t kept in the dark for a second. Nelson’s haunting prose and Lennie’s memories of Bailey reminded me of The Virgin Suicides, another book I count among my favourites.


The story and characters aside, I know it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover but the cover art of The Sky is Everywhere is so beautiful I have to mention it. Do pick up a copy of the hardback edition if you can – the design is stunning and the notebook marker was a brilliant little addition that shows just how much everybody involved cared about the book. An absolute gem.


What I didn’t like: For me this book is perfection – I genuinely have nothing bad to say, which is definitely a first.

First line: ‘Gram is worried about me. It’s not just because my sister Bailey died four weeks ago, or because my mother hasn’t contacted me in sixteen years, or even because suddenly all I think about is sex. She is worried about me because one of her houseplants has spots.’


Final thoughts: If you read one book this year make it The Sky is Everywhere


Read if you liked...: The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky, The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides


Rating:

Plot: 4/5

Writing: 5/5

Characters: 4/5

Cover: 5/5

Total: 18/20 *my highest rating to date*

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - The Sky is Everywhere

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
This week's Teaser Tuesday is The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. I absolutely adore this book already and I'm only half way through. I heard so many good things about it from other people I had to check it out and I'm so glad I did.

Teaser sentences: 'He shakes his head like it doesn't matter and then to my surprise he doesn't kiss me but wraps his arms around me instead. For a moment, in his arms, with my mind so close to his heart, I listen to the wind pick up and think it just might lift us off our feet and take us with it.'

Sunday, 23 May 2010

In My Mailbox - 7

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kristi who's over at The Story Siren.

This week I received:

And Baby Makes Two - Dyan Sheldon
The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson
The Moonstone Legacy - Diana de Gunzberg and Tony Wild
When I was Joe - Keren David
The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary E. Pearson
Flyaway - Lucy Christopher
The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens - Ashley Juergens

And Baby Makes Two - Dyan Sheldon Acquired: Sent to me by Walker Books
Published: May 2010
Summary: A sharply observed, bittersweet tale of the trials of teenage pregnancy. Lana Spiggs is fed up with everyone telling her what to do. If it isn't her mother nagging and shouting, it's her teachers nagging and shouting. What Lana wants is to be grownup. She wants her own flat, her own husband and her own children - and then no one will be able to boss her around any more.

When Lana meets Les on her fifteenth birthday, she knows he is the one. And when she gets pregnant without even trying, she knows it's her ticket to freedom - even though everyone else calls it a prison sentence. But can her dream of Happy Families stand up to reality?

The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson
Acquired: Sent to me by Walker Books
Published: June 7th 2010
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two.

Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

The Moonstone Legacy - Diana de Gunzberg and Tony Wild
Acquired: Sent to me by Pushkin Press
Published: May 31st 2010
Summary: In a sacred cave high in the mountains of northern India, a white-haired hermit sits cross-legged, and signs his final testament: "George Abercrombie, 1874...".

In present-day England, fourteen years old Lizzy Abercrombie's mother dies in a tragic accident on the full moon. But was it really an accident? Lizzy discovers that her death may be linked to a mysterious family curse. Determined to solve the mystery, her quest takes her from a doomed Anglo-Indian mansion on the Yorkshire moors to India where she uncovers the terrible truth about her ancestor and a stolen inheritance. But her discoveries put her in mortal danger from a ruthless enemy...

When I was Joe - Keren David
Acquired: Sent to me by Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Published: January 2010
Summary: When Ty witnesses a stabbing, his own life is in danger from the criminals he's named, and he and his mum have to go into police protection. Ty has a new name, a new look and a cool new image -- life as Joe is good, especially when he gets talent spotted as a potential athletics star, special training from an attractive local celebrity and a lot of female attention.

But his mum can't cope with her new life, and the gangsters will stop at nothing to flush them from hiding. Joe's cracking under extreme pressure, and then he meets a girl with dark secrets of her own.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary E. Pearson
Acquired: Sent to me by Henry Holt and Co.
Published: April 2008
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a year-long coma, and she's still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. Her parents show her home movies of her life, her memories, but she has no recollection. Is she really the same girl she sees on the screen?

Little by little, Jenna begins to remember. Along with the memories come questions—questions no one wants to answer for her. What really happened after the accident?

Flyaway - Lucy Christopher
Acquired: Sent to me by Chicken House
Published: January 4th 2010
Summary: In this touching novel for ages 10+, Lucy Christopher explores the remarkable bond between a young girl, a boy and a damaged wild bird - a relationship that will touch everyone who reads it.

While visiting her father in hospital, thirteen-year-old Isla meets Harry, the first boy to understand her and her love of the outdoors. But Harry is ill, and as his health fails, Isla is determined to help him in the only way she knows how. Together they watch a lone swan struggling to fly on the lake outside Harry's window.

Isla believes that if she can help the damaged swan, somehow she can help Harry. And in doing so, she embarks upon a breathtakingly magical journey of her own.

The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens - Ashley Juergens
Acquired: Sent to me by Hyperion
Published: June 15th 2010
Summary: I got called into Principal Miller's office again. She handed me a notebook. This notebook. She told me keeping a journal is an excellent way to express oneself. So I have to write in this stupid thing and turn it in at the end of each month.

Little does she know what she's in for. With everything that's been going on--Amy's band camp pregnancy, my parents' divorce, a secret wedding--it's practically one-stop shopping for all your Grant High gossip needs.

Property of Ashley Juergens. Read at your own risk (especially you, Amy).

Friday, 21 May 2010

Book Tour: The Moonstone Legacy - Diana de Gunzburg and Tony Wild


Hi everyone! Today I'm going to tell you about the fab book tour coming up for the amazing debut novel The Moonstone Legacy, by Diana de Gunzburg and Tony Wild. The tour kicks off on the 25th May and runs through until June 17th. Please do check out the blog posts because this is a great book and I'm sure the other stops on the tour will agree with me.

My stop's on June 3rd and I'll be posting an interview with Diana and Tony, which I'm really excited about because I had so many questions after reading the book. I loved the story and I hope you do too! So, please see below for a schedule of the tour and make sure you check the book out - you'll love it!


Alma Bloggerel http://www.bloggerel.com 25th May

Lizzy's Literary Life http://lizzysiddal.wordpress.com 27th May

Marjoleinbookblog http://marjoleinbookblog.blogspot.com 31st May

Pretty Little YA Books http://teen.chicklitreviews.com 1st June

Writing from the Tub http://carlybennett.blogspot.com 3rd June

J'adore www.jadorebooks.blogspot.com 5th June

The Truth About Lies http://jim-murdoch.blogspot.com 7th June

Once upon a Bookcase http://onceuponabookcase.blogspot.com 8th June

Narratively Speaking http://narrativelyspeaking.blogspot.com 10th June

So Many Books, So Little Time http://solittletimeforbooks.blogspot.com 11th June

Magic Bean Review http://magicbeanreview.wordpress.com 14th June

Nayu's Reading Corner http://nayusreadingcorner.blogspot.com 15th June

Bookbabblers http://bookbabblers.co.uk 16th June

Book Reviews by Sarah http://bookreviewsbysarah.blogspot.com 17th June

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Review: The Oracle of Dating - Allison van Diepen

Review: The Oracle of Dating – Allison van Diepen

Published: May 1st 2010, Harlequin Teen

Acquired: Sent to me for review by Harlequin

Publisher’s summary: For five bucks, the Oracle of Dating will tell you:

- How to flirt
- If that cute guy you’re crushing on likes you, too
- Whether your new romance will last through lunch period
- And much money

What she won’t tell you? Who she is.

No one at Kayla’s school know she’s the famous Oracle of Dating – the anonymous queen of dating advice. She doesn’t even have a boyfriend. Two relationship disasters were enough to make Kayla focus on everyone else’s love life.

But then her own advice backfires on her own best friend. And Kayla starts to seriously obsess about Jared Stewart – the very cute, very mysterious new girl in school. Suddenly, the teen queen of advice needs her own oracle of dating – and she knows just where to find one...

What I liked: From the outset Allison van Diepen won me over with her cute, informal style of writing. I’m a big fan of books written in the first person and voice is so important, lucky then that Kayla’s voice is big, bold and hilarious – the perfect protagonist.

What I love about the Oracle of Dating is the same thing I love about E. Lockhart’s books; it felt like reading about an old friend, who could make me laugh one moment and cry the next. This is the kind of book I force my friends to read and will find myself flicking through time after time.
The story’s great too, I love that Kayla’s blog posts and IM conversations are interspersed throughout the novel and the pace doesn’t slow for a second, keeping you entertained from beginning to end.

What I didn’t like: There are a lot of characters in this book and it’s something I often bring up in this section of my reviews. It’s difficult to remember who everybody is when five or six people with no real distinguishing features are introduced in one paragraph and that does happen once or twice during the novel.

While I’m talking about characters I should mention that I was not a fan of Kayla’s sappy sister at all – Kayla has such a great personality that I was expecting the same of her sister. Unfortunately not. If you’ve read this book you’ll (hopefully) know what I mean!

First line: “You might think that September is a weird time to be making New Year’s resolutions. Well, Mom never accused me of doing anything on time, especially tidying my room, loading the dishwasher or Swiffering the kitchen.” (Bonus points for use of the word Swiffer).

Final thoughts: The Oracle of Dating is a brilliant summer read that is guaranteed to make you smile – I’m already counting down the days until the next instalment!

Read if you liked...: The Boyfriend List/The Boy Book by E. Lockhart
Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Cover: 3/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Total: 15/20

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Review: Tenderness - Robert Cormier


Review: Tenderess – Robert Cormier


Published: 1997, Delacorte Press


Acquired: Bought in Waterstone’s, Picadilly Circus


Publisher’s summary: Eric has just been released from juvenile detention. Now he’s looking for some tenderness – tenderness he finds in caressing and killing innocent girls.

Lori has run away from home again. She is also looking for tenderness – tenderness that is about more than just sex, tenderness she finds in Eric.

Together, they begin a harrowing journey that will either save or destroy them.


My summary: Above all things, Eric is a charmer. He uses ‘The Charm’ (as he calls it) to get what he wants – especially girls. Girls he then kills after he’s through with them. Lori is a loner, ignored by her mother and abused by a string of men she runs away from home, not for the first time.

But when Lori sees Eric, shortly after his release from prison, she too falls for his charms and realises that she is powerless to do anything except follow whatever path Eric chooses to set for her, whether that be love or death.


What I liked: I have always been a huge fan of Robert Cormier’s work and didn’t have any doubt that I’d love Tenderness, however disturbing the premise may be. And disturbing is precisely the word to describe this book. Disturbing in a good way, though, if a good kind of disturbing exists.

However uncomfortable parts of Tenderness made me, I couldn’t stop flicking through the pages and devoured the book in two short sittings. It is one I’d recommend to fans of darker YA fiction but, be aware, it isn’t for the faint of heart and the subject matter isn’t pretty.

That said, the writing is exquisite and there were passages that I had to read out loud just to hear how brilliantly they flowed off the page. Cormier is nothing if not a beautiful master of words and he shows this off to the max in Tenderness.

So much of this book takes place inside Lori and Eric’s heads and the characterisation of both of them is wonderful. I must admit that Eric is a lot stronger than Lori and I did find myself rooting for him, despite the monster he appears to be on the outside. It takes a good writer to make the audience side with a serial killing rapist but if anyone can manage it, it’s Robert Cormier.


What I didn’t like: Honestly, there wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy about Tenderness but my main complaint is the pace of the book. The beginning is excruciatingly slow but by the time things pick up, the story is over, which is a shame as a little more action at the beginning of the novel would make this book truly brilliant.

In addition to the pace, I did find Lori quite a weak heroine and found it difficult to bond or care about her, which is always an issue as a reader. However, she does mature towards the end of the novel and comes into her own, though it does feel like too little, too late, where her personality is concerned.


First line: “Me, I get fixated on something and I can’t help myself.”


Final thoughts: A truly disturbing love story that shouldn’t be missed.


Read if you liked...: The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things – J.T Leroy


Rating:

Plot: 4/5

Writing: 4/5

Cover: 3/5

Characters: 3/5

Total: 14/20

Monday, 17 May 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? -1

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? This is a weekly meme to list the books completed last week, books currently being read and the books to be finished (hopefully!) this week.

This meme was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books.

Read last week:

Stop Pretending - Sonya Sones
I absolutely adored this one and it's so unique - all written in various forms of poetry but the narrative is great and the writing is beautiful.




A Reluctant Cinderella - Alison Bond
Despite initial reservations, I really enjoyed this one. It was funny enough to make me laugh out loud but touching too and the writing is great.





Reading now:

Torment - Lauren Kate
Unfortunately I can't say anything about this one yet but I'm flying through it and will post a review when I can.





Tenderness - Robert Cormier
I'm almost finished with this one now and it's extremely disturbing but in the best possibly way! If that makes sense :) - review for this one coming shortly.




To Read:

The Oracle of Dating - Allison Van Diepen







Looking for JJ - Anne Cassidy







The Moonstone Legacy - Diana de Gunzburg & Tony Wild







So! That's all from me - what are you reading this week?