Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Review: The Devouring - Simon Holt

Published: September 1st 2008, Puffin

Pages: 217 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Puffin

Summary (from Goodreads): When Reggie finds an old journal and reads about the Vours, supernatural creatures who feast on fear and attack on the eve of the winter solstice, she assumes they are just the musings of some lunatic author. But soon, they become a terrifying reality when she begins to suspect that her timid younger brother might be one of their victims. Risking her life and her sanity, Reggie enters a living nightmare to save the people she loves. Can she devour her own fears before they devour her?
Bone-chilling, terrifying, thrilling...what are you waiting for?

What I liked: When I received my review copy of The Devouring it came with a sticker on the front cover stating that I could get my money back if it wasn’t scarier than Darren Shan. Although I didn’t actually pay for this book, if I had I would definitely not be making use of this offer - I am a Darren Shan fan but The Devouring is much, much scarier.

I’m an absolute sucker for horror. I love it. Films, books, anything. Stephen King is my idol and I do wish there was more young adult horror. I find it’s either adult (which is fine by me but it’s not what I review) or a little too young for teens. Slight grumble aside, The Devouring is exactly what I’d been looking for. Perfect for teens, absolutely terrifying and brilliantly written. Definitely check it out - if you can stomach it.

The cover generated a lot of buzz on the blogs over the last few months and if you look at the picture I’ve included at the top of this review I’m sure you can see why. It’s bold, in your face and extremely graphic - lovely stuff. The cover does set the tone for the rest of the book, though, so if that freaks you out you may be best to avoid this one. It really is scary.

The Vours are horrible, horrible villains. Ruthless, hell bent on nothing but terrifying their victims and scarily intelligent, they’re fantastic to read about. Holt’s description is second to none and I almost had to put the book down a couple of times to calm myself before I carried on - all the signs of a brilliant horror novel.

I think this one would work brilliantly in film. The Vours are so visual and there are so many scenes that I really saw playing out in my head as I was reading them - lots of drowning and nightmares and that excellent scene at the funfair. Funfairs have always creeped me out - and clowns. Yes, both of there feature in The Devouring. Awesome.

If you’re not a horror fan and you’re easily scared then I would exercise a little caution before reading The Devouring. I loved it but then again I love being scared. If you’re prone to freaking yourself out then you probably will have nightmares to be honest - but a little scare isn’t going to hurt anyone. Be brave and pick up a copy of this brilliant book.

First line: ‘On Sorry Night, just a few days before Christmas, you have to snuff the lamps, douse the flames in the fireplace and spend the night in the cold and dark.’

Read if you liked…: Any of the old Point Horror books - fab

Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 15/20 (B)

Monday, 27 September 2010

Ivy4Evr Preview and Sign-Up

IVY4EVR

REGISTER NOW TO TAKE PART IN AN EXLUSIVE ONE-EPISODE TRIAL OF CHANNEL 4’S NEW SMS DRAMA AND WIN AN IPAD

Ivy has left home because Lilsis has done the dirty on her and she's no longer sure who her friends are.

For a week she'll tell you **everything** but can she trust you and what will you tell her?
Ivy4Evr is an SMS drama for teenagers created by the BAFTA-nominated interactive artists’ group Blast Theory, written by Tony White author of novels including Foxy-T (Faber and Faber) and commissioned by Channel 4 Education.

Ivy4Evr uses SMS to go places that other dramas can’t go - onto your phone and into your pocket. Ivy becomes part of your life over seven days, getting ever more intimate with you. Ivy wriggles into your life, sending you messages on the way to school, college or last thing at night.

Ivy’s life is parallel to yours: she sends boozy updates late on Saturday night and sarcastic chat on a boring Sunday afternoon. And if you send her messages she will chat with you about sex, music and everything else that really matters to a teenager growing up in Britain today.

For seven days starting on 10th OCTOBER you will receive SMS messages from Ivy, you can send messages back and give her advice on the burning issues in her life.

Ivy4Evr is entirely SMS based. To sign up to participate is free, messages you receive from Ivy are free, SMS messages that you send to Ivy are sent to a standard mobile phone number and will be charged at your normal rate.

To register for the pilot episode please go to www.ivy4evr.co.uk. Everyone who registers and
verifies by midnight on 9th OCTOBER goes into the running to win an iPad.

You can also search for Ivy4Evr on Facebook and Twitter.

*Note from Carly: I took part in the test of Ivy4Evr and definitely sign up for this one - it's great fun and a really interesting experience*

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Trash Blog Tour - Final Days

So I'm not quite sure why my blog had a bit of a break down over the last few days but all is well and truly fixed now, so I bring you the last few posts of the Trash blog tour. It's been wonderful to host Andy's interesting, charming and, at times, laugh out loud funny blog and I'm so grateful that I got to be a (small) part of the launch of such a brilliant book.

I'll be back tomorrow with a write up of the Trash dinner on Thursday and the winners of the Trash competition but, until then, enjoy the last few days of Andy's publicity tour.

Tuesday:

A foggy start to a glorious day! We looked up and we were in Oxford.... The dreaming spires of St Edwards School and an audience pf students in the North Wall Theatre who queued and queued to have their books signed. We rattled on to meet the Blackwell's team (first prize for astonishing Trash display) signed stock before meeting the super dedicated manager of Waterstone's, Colin. More stock signing - how exciting that so many people are getting behind this book.

We shot to Woodstock via tea in the sunshine in the
Dinosaur Park with Rachel from the Woodstock Bookshop and her daughters and met a dedicated crowd of readers at Malborough Comprehensive School. On to the Midlands to be picked up by Mike - Random House's sales rep for the Midlands - in the Mike Mobil.

Mike's energy revived us and we found ourselves
at 7pm talking to an audience of 150 at the Earls High School in Halesowen. Ros Bartlett was our host, and I felt a surge of passion for reading that lifted my spirits. This is how books come to life - through the passion of such people. It was a long queue of children who stayed up way past their bedtimes for a copy of TRASH and for me, a very moving experience. Back to Birmingham and a bedtime Balti and beer.

(No 'tour' type photos for Tues/Weds but please enjoy this picture of a Basset hound. FLOPPY ears)

Wednesday:

Kidderminster nestles between Birmingham and Worcester and we were guests of Stourport High School. We were greeted by images of dumpsites and dumpsite children - this was a school dedicated to research. A hundred and 60 children threw questions at me, keen to know everything about the characters and the genesis of TRASH.

I have realised that news of TRASH is spreading as a
direct result of hard working teachers and librarians like the trip I met at Stourport Julie, Dawn and Joan. It was with a tear in the eye that we left the Midlands.
Thursday:


It was a 'Trash' party last night at a very fine restaurant in Notting Hill - around the table individuals that have either made the book happen, or are currently spreading the word about it. Exquisite Pacific Rim food and great company, and a real sense that David Fickling Books is determined to push 'Trash' all over the world.


I have to confess I took far too much wine, and the whisky at the end was totally unneccessary...it meant a thobbing head this morning as we headed to off to Suffolk, zipping through Cambridge to Bury St Edmunds where - yet again - we are greeted by teachers and children ready to hear the stories of Raphael, Gardo and Rat. One hundred and fifty children listened, avidly I think, to the tale of how the book was researched and written, and there were - as usual - torrents of questions.

On then to Norwich for a quick lunch before stock signing in the High Street bookstores, and the return trip to London...the end of the tour now getting horribly close.


Friday - the final day:

Last day of the tour! Last day of having my tickets bought and my hair combed by the Random House publicity team - and what a way to finish. We found ourselves in the pretty town of Bishop's Stortford, which takes its name from the eminent Bishop, Bishop Stortford - where we were greeted by the intimidating form of a READING CLUB - and the children (all 35 of them) had read 'Trash'.


Their leader told me that this was the children's opportunity to tell me exactly what they thought of the book, so I prepared myself for a critical mauling. 'The most boring piece of preposterous overblown loosely-plotted pretentious nonsense' is what they didn't say, thank goodness. Children are so polite, these days. One after another they mentioned things they'd liked, or narrative devices they found intriguing - it was only a teacher who dared offer criticism. 'Isn't Olivia a bit of an after-thought, to move the plot forwards?'

I was speechless.

The chip I was eating stuck in my throat.

After a reviviing glass of water it was on to the school's main hall, and there we met 200 more children, who all listened avidly - honestly, they really did look avid - to tales of the 'Trash' meanstreets, and the street-children of the developing world. Questions came thick and fast, but by 3pm a wintry rain storm had set in, and the teachers naturally decided to end the session in favour of rugby practice. I will not forget Bishop's Stortford School and Rosie, its fabulous librarian - nor its caring staff and bubbling children. A real treat of a 'gig' to end the tour.

More at Christmas we hope.

Thanks for letting me crete this, my first ever 'blog' - best wishes as my plane leaves for Manila... Andy

Friday, 24 September 2010

Bad Blog!

Hello everyone - I've just noticed the blog's behaving a bit badly and not displaying things I posted Wednesday/yesterday! I'll be sorting it out later today so the rest of the Trash tour will be reposted then - sorry!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Trash Blog Tour - Day Two

Hello everybody! It's day two of the Trash blog tour, hosted here at Writing from the Tub. So read on for the next stop on Andy's publicity tour and remember to enter the Trash giveaway, which is closing in two days!

(Hard at work signing at Dulwich College)

'It was a trip to the leafy village of Dulwich today, to visit Tales on Moon Lane, one of the most fabulous children’s bookshops I’ve ever stepped into – it really reminded me of stepping through some portal, or wardrobe and ducking into Narnia.

Now I don’t want to get too fanciful, and fantasy isn’t my genre or interest – but you step off the pavement and the owners have crammed their shelves with such an array of gorgeous looking books that it does feel like a wonderland.

Then it was on to Dulwich College, which is one of those very grand private schools where you expect to be sent round to the tradesmen’s entrance or flogged by prefects. Not a bit of it, of course – we could not have been made more welcome, and it was a joy to meet a bunch of boys genuinely excited by reading in a library dedicated to the 11-13 age-group. Interesting questions about the writing of the book, the creation of character.

I would have stayed for ever, but my afternoon meeting was with a film producer, and I didn’t want to miss that as it was an office in North London where the GODS OF FILM live (you should see the posters!) – serious people who want to make ‘Trash’ the movie, but I’m not allowed to say any more at present, so I will close the blog here. Early start tomorrow…'

(Cakes at Dulwich College - very jealous)

So that's it for today everyone. Check back tomorrow for another post and more info about Andy's publicity tour. I'll also be attending the Trash dinner tomorrow so I'll let you know how that goes!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Trash Blog Tour!

Hi everyone! It's here, it's here - the Trash blog tour commences today and I must say, today's post is a bit of a corker. That's 'very good indeed' for any of you non-Brits. Today you can read all about the first leg of Andy's publicity tour for Trash and I dare any of you not to laugh out loud at the imaginary headlines!

So now I hand you over to the writer of the fantastic Trash, Andy Mulligan.


BLOGGING ON THE UK TRASH TRAIL…

A fascinating range of encounters, all organized by Random House – the publishing house that seems determined to prize me out of my comfort zone. Disaster struck early when, having checked into the Novotel Paddington I discovered that I hadn’t packed my trunks, which meant either no swimming or nude swimming. I thought long and hard about this and decided that even a small entry in some local paper, ‘A children’s author was arrested yesterday for frightening small children…’ would be BAD publicity – so no, I stayed in my room and decided to start “the blog”.

Which is a word I hate.

And a word that seems to encourage me to write grammatically incorrect sentences too. Standards slipping. If I am not very careful I will be writing Gr8 lol and inserting those odious face-icons: so the decision has been taken to ‘blog’ in sentences, and use a full range of punctuation marks.


Anyway, on the road…or on the tracks. We picked up a 125 heading West, and it wasn’t long before I spied an unattended package on the luggage racks opposite. Pressing the emergency alarm button, I braced myself as the train screamed to a halt. A local fire crew tore the roof from the train as armed officers doused us all in foam. Lucky for me that I recalled those first aid training sessions from school, because my Random House publicity manager was hyperventilating and I had to open her airway with my pen…

Author of ‘Trash’ saves day in inter-city throat opening emergency’ surely would be GOOD publicity.

But, in fact, the journey was very quiet and as our tickets were in order we suffered no hardships or interruptions. We arrived at the pretty town of Chepstow nestling between the river Wye and the river Woo, visited a great little bookshop that was selling ‘Trash’ and had a big poster in the window, under which the unsmiling face of Andy McNab glowered at shoppers. Mr McNab is promoting his new book too, and I firmly believe that in a car-park situation, if I got the first punch I could have him – which I am going to suggest to the Random House publicity team as a special promotion you-tube video, ‘The Two Andys, round the back of Chepstow Sainsbury’s, slugging it out for Literature’.

(Note from Carly: Random House, please organise this. And throw Chris Ryan in there to referee. It'd be magic)


Anyway, then we went to the pretty comprehensive school of Chepstow, which nestles between the castle and the cement works and met year 9. They were missing maths, so seemed reasonably pleased to meet me – and I was certainly pleased to meet them as they were polite, funny and asked interesting questions. Then it was on again, because time waits for no man in the Random House publicity tour – and as if by magic we were in the historic town of Cardiff, which nestles between the Bristol Channel and M4, for a conference of librarians.

What do you imagine a library conference to be like? I imagined that it would be full of elderly people saying ‘Shhhh!’ to each other.

‘We’d like to introduce Andy Mulligan, who’s written a -’

‘Shhh!’

‘But he’s going to talk about -’

‘Do you want to borrow that book?’

‘No, actually, it’s mine -’

‘Then put it back! We’re closing!’

I was in a library the other day doing some photocopying, and needed to borrow a pair of scissors from the librarian. I had to use the scissors under her supervision, at her desk, because if I had been seen carrying scissors the public might have been alarmed.

Needless to say the library conference was, in fact, wonderful, and libraries have changed so much since I was a boy being shushed. This crowd were clearly dedicated to fiction and determined to keep their libraries accessible, modern and stimulating. The conference centre was full of remarkable looking books – you just wanted to curl up and read forever. Now it’s turning colder, wouldn’t it be nice to crawl under the shed into a nice bundle of leaves with fifty really good books, and emerge in the Spring?

But the river of time flows without ceasing, and it wasn’t long before I found myself at the Random House office in the leafy village of Ealing, where – as you will see from the photo – the entire staff had turned off their computers and put on their answerphones so as to bake the author of ‘Trash’ a cake! What a feast we had – or would have had, had I not noticed an unattended package on the bookshelves, forcing me to evacuate the building and fill all seven floors with ice-cold water. And this is just the beginning! There are five more days to come!


*

I must be honest, a book hibernation does sound like a lovely idea. Thank you so much, Andy. We'll be back tomorrow with more Trash goodies so I'll see you all then! And don't forget to enter the giveaway if you haven't yet - it's closing on Thursday night so don't miss out.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Review: Trash - Andy Mulligan

Hello everybody! Now, I've been talking about this book a lot over the last few months and with good reason because it's brilliant. Go and read it now. So from tomorrow until Friday (the 20th - 25th September) I'm hosting the blog tour for Trash so expect lots of exciting news and posts from Andy Mulligan and myself all about this wonderful book. I'll also be announcing the five winners of the giveaway on this week so keep an eye out for that - if you haven't entered yet then the link to the form is at the top of this page. Enjoy :)

Published: September 2nd 2010, David Fickling Books

Pages: 211 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Random House

Summary (from Goodreads): Raphael is a dumpsite boy. He spends his days wading through mountains of steaming trash, sifting it, sorting it, breathing it, sleeping next to it. Then one unlucky-lucky day, Raphael's world turns upside down. A small leather bag falls into his hands.

It's a bag of clues. It's a bag of hope. It's a bag that will change everything.

Soon Raphael and his friends Gardo and Rat are running for their lives. Wanted by the police, it takes all their quick-thinking, fast-talking to stay ahead. As the net tightens, they uncover a dead man's mission to put right a terrible wrong. And now it's three street-boys against the world...

My review: When Trash first landed on my doorstep at the beginning of the summer I hadn’t heard a thing about it. I was instantly intrigued though. Wrapped in a brown paper bag filled with shredded paper and a lovely letter from David Fickling, it was a unique way of marketing the book which really grabbed my attention.

Trash is, quite simply, one of the best books of the year. The buzz about it is incredible and it really does live up to the hype. It’s a truly unique novel and I can guarantee you won’t have read anything like it before. It will stay with you for weeks after reading – I still haven’t forgotten one detail and I can’t help but keep rereading it. The story is so complete and perfectly executed; you can’t get to the end of this one without being moved.

Yes, yes I did weep numerous times during Trash, as per usual and I expect you will too. Mulligan has such a beautiful way with words and a great turn of phrase, everything flows so perfectly and it’s so hard to put Trash down half way through the story. As soon as the pace slows enough for you to catch your breath you’re rocketing forward again. Brilliant. Truly exciting stuff I can assure you.

The characterisation is awesome, to put it eloquently. The three dumpsite boys are lovely, absolutely endearing and there’s a whole host of excellent supporting characters who I really loved getting to know. Mulligan makes it so easy to indentify with each character and gives each one a completely unique personality.

The story being told from the point of view of so many different characters is something I really enjoyed. I love multiple viewpoints but I find it’s rare that they’re written well. Luckily we’re in good hands with Trash and each viewpoint is as wonderfully written and personal as the next. Olivia was my personal favourite; I think she added a lovely dimension to the story.

If you can, I’d advise going into Trash blind, like I did. I loved all the surprises the first time I read the book so do try to avoid any spoilers and just dive right in. I promise you won’t be disappointed and I promise you’ll walk away from Trash feeling like you’ve been on an incredible journey, side by side with some simply unforgettable characters.

First line: My name is Raphael Fernandez and I am a dumpsite boy.

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 19/20 (A+)

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Review: Entangled - Cat Clarke

Published: January 6th 2011, Quercus Publishing

Pages: 372 pages, paperback

Acquired: Won via a contest on Cat’s blog (Thanks again Cat!)

Summary (from Goodreads):The same questions whirl round and round in my head: What does he want from me? How could I have let this happen? AM I GOING TO DIE?

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got here.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

A story of dark secrets, intense friendship and electrifying attraction.’

My review: I met Cat Clarke in a coffee shop in London earlier this year when a few of us UK bloggers met up. From our chit chat I remember that she loves cheese and Ellie Goulding. Upon discovering this I knew she must be a good person. But I’m not here to talk about whether Cat is a good person, based on her dietary and music preferences, I’m here to talk about whether she is a good writer or not.

In short, she is a bloody good one.

Entangled is, to put it bluntly, an absolutely cracking novel. If I’d received the ARC in the post and hadn’t ever heard of or met Cat, I still would have attacked it as excitedly as I did a couple of months ago when I first read it. The synopsis is spot on and doesn’t at all lead you in a direction that the book never goes in (pet peeve of mine) and, I know it’s completely shallow and superficial but the ARC cover is pink. Yay for pink, yay for girls.

I would go ahead and try and summarise the book for you now but, to be honest, I definitely can’t do any better than the summary on the back cover or on Goodreads so I won’t attempt it. It tells you everything you need to know. I first read Entangled the day I received it, maybe a month or two ago and I decided to leave the review for a few weeks, to see if I still loved it as much as I did when I first finished reading it. I think now I may love it even more.

Cat’s writing style is absolutely beautiful, tugging at my heart strings in one moment and making me laugh out loud (to the point where my boyfriend gave me strange looks and relocated me to the bedroom) the next moment. Grace’s voice is perfect, too. I said this before in my review of Della Says: OMG! but voice is really important to me, especially in young adult fiction. I want to feel as though the protagonist is my best friend, I want her to speak as though me and my friends would and Grace does just that.

‘...I think it’s too early for me to have that syndrome...what’s it called? Where a hostage starts to identify with her captor, falls in love with him, and then joins him on his evil kidnapping/killing/whatever spree. All I’m trying to say is that an impartial observer would think he’s hot as – and I would have to agree.’

See? Funny! It was great to have a bit of humour in there, especially as the subject matter was so dark. It definitely stopped the novel becoming too caught up in its own seriousness. Though it is serious when it needs to be.

Ethan’s great too. Completely gorgeous, perfectly developed, I adored him. He’s cold and clinical one moment and the next, well, not quite so cold and clinical, as you’ll see. Grace’s stream of consciousness about him is such a joy to read – she goes from hating him to obsessing over him in a second and, although I’ve never been in that situation myself, it seemed completely realistic to me.

Oh, also, I definitely have to point out how well Cat writes about Grace’s self harming. When I compare the delicate and sensitive way those scenes come across, as opposed to the terrible, terrible writing in Scarred (but more on that absolute train wreck later), it was great. Well, maybe great’s not the right word as it’s self harm, not a plate of warm cookies but those scenes were really, really well written.

It’s just brilliant. It really is and I really can’t wait for some other reviews to go up so I can see what everyone else thought. I’ll definitely be getting a finished copy in January and you all should too! As much as I love the pink cover, I have got to have a closer look at the gorgeous girl’s hair – that is definitely the colour mine’s supposed to go when I dye it this weekend. Nervous? Yes, yes I am. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oh God, I almost forgot. The ending! Ridiculously amazing! Sorry, any spark of literacy I have has flown out of the window with this review. I’m just too excited about this one. Perhaps, finally, a book this year has surpassed The Sky is Everywhere?

First line: ‘I met Ethan the night I was planning to kill myself.’

Read if you liked...: The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson. Not because they’re similar books, just because it’s the only other book this year that I’ve loved this much.

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5 (because I wanted to punch Sal)
Cover: 5/5
Total: 19/20 (A+)

So you can find Cat's blog here and any Twitter fiends can follow her at @cat_clarke.

Also, I'm sorry I haven't been about much this week but since Tuesday I've been BEDRIDDEN with a cold. Yes, I know, a cold. It's practically man flu... but lady flu. Anyway, I'm fixed now. Yay.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Review: Uglies - Scott Westerfeld

Published: February 8th 2005, Simon and Schuster

Pages: 425 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Simon and Schuster

Summary (from Goodreads): Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license—for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world—and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

My review: I’m always up for a good dystopian novel and I’d heard from pretty much everybody in the blogosphere that Uglies is one of the best. Yes, yes it is.

Tally Youngblood is our heroine here. Desperate to become Pretty and join her best friend Peris in a life of partying, having fun and generally being beautiful, Tally is counting down the days until her sixteenth birthday, when she can turn her back on being Ugly forever. At last. She’s spent years perfecting what she wants her new face to look like and is determined that nothing will stop her becoming Pretty. That is, until she strikes up a friendship with Shay, a girl who is due to turn Pretty on the same day as she is.

Together Tally and Shay spend their last few weeks of being Ugly breaking all the rules but things take a serious turn when Tally takes Shay out of the city borders and away from everything she knows. Shay tells her that you don’t have to become Pretty. You can stay Ugly and stay true to yourself. She tells her about a group of people who never became Pretty and, instead, started a new settlement where people are free to think and be who they want to be. She’s made the decision to go with David, the enigmatic leader of these people and asks Tally to go with her.

When Tally is given an ultimatum – either find Shay or stay Ugly forever – she leaves in search of Shay and her new people. However, what she finds on her journey changes everything she ever thought she knew about her world.

Tally is a wonderful heroine. She’s so likeable and is definitely one of the most memorable characters I’ve come across in a long time. She’s sweet but not a pushover and she delivers some brilliant lines. She’s also very real. Her actions are 100% believable and I found it so easy to suspend by disbelief and get carried away by the story, despite the fantastical elements.

I haven’t read the rest of the series yet but Pretties is looking at me now from my bookshelf so I’m definitely going to dive into it soon. Surely an Uglies film must be on the horizon soon? If done well, I think it could be phenomenal.

First line: ‘The early summer sky was the colour of cat vomit.’

Read if you liked...: Unwind – Neil Shusterman

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 17/20 (A)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours - Nyxen's Adventure

So for day two of my Everybody Needs Good Neighbours feature I've got Nyxen from Nyxen's Sidewalk Journey Through Life, which is such a fun blog. I love reading her reviews and what she's been up to so you should definitely stop by and take a look.


1. What’s the story behind your blog name? Were you just looking for something standard that hadn’t already been taken or did you put a lot of thought into it?

-My blog name, Nyxen’s Adventure (Nyxen’s Sidewalk Journey Through Life), is very long but very unique. It all started with a story I was writing, a Harry Potter fanfiction. I wanted to create a very powerful witch and what not. I’m not going to bore you so after awhile I came up with Nyxen. I have no idea how but ever since then- 2007- I’ve been hooked on that name. And when I started my blog I knew I wanted to incorporate Nyxen because that’s sort of, I guess, my alter ego. And the adventure part came from the fact that the blog wasn’t going to be based exclusively on book but on my life as well. :D

2. Have you ever reviewed a book without actually reading it – be honest?

-No, but I have thought of it. I thought of going to other reviews and seeing their comments on whether they liked it or not or I would have just asked my friend to tell me what happened. But I have never not read a book and then review it.

3. What’s your favourite book of the year and the most disappointing book of the year so far and why?

-So far, my favourite books of this year would have to be either The Eternal Ones or Mockingjay because I don’t know why. :P Those books just left me wanting more and I just loved them so, so, so much! My least favourite book would probably have to be Dido. There was something about that book that irked me.

4. Are followers important to you? Are you always aware of how many you have and do you ever set goals of how many followers you’d like to have or are you more relaxed?

-They are important to me but they also don’t run my life. Sure, I would love to have a lot of followers and a lot more people reading my blog but that takes time. Just because I lose a follower or don’t gain any in a matter of weeks doesn’t mean I’m going to stop blogging. I will still post reviews and other stuff that may be important to me.

5. Do you write fiction yourself and, if so, what do you write and is it with the aim of being published or just for fun?

-I write. I think almost everyone who reads or blogs about books writes. I write fanfiction (mostly Harry Potter) because I want to see what could happen out of the actual storyline. Being published is something I dream of. When I’m older I want to write for a living and have people read what I wrote. I would also just love to have a bound copy of something I’ve written.

6. Are you one of these super organised people who writes their ahead of time and schedules them for the week or do you just post as and when you have time to write things?

-I’m in the middle of both. I write and schedule things but the day before. School has been hectic so sometimes I don’t have anything on my blog because I couldn’t write the post up the day before. I should start writing posts for next month. :P

7. What’s your day job? Why do you do what you do? What’s your dream job?

-Well, being 14 (15 maybe, by the time people read this) I don’t have a job expect for school. Which is totally boring. When I’m sixteen, I am going to beg my parents to let me get a job at Borders. I really want that sort of job. My dream job is to become an author. But sometimes that won’t work out so I hope to work for a publishing company. Either way, I’ll be working with books so it’s a win win.

8. Is blogging something you share with real life friends or is it something you keep private?

-I do not share my blogging life with my RL friends. The difference between me and my friends is that I’m an avid reader and I am in love with the internet. I love to make friends over the internet because we have a lot of things in common. Most of my friends are partiers, I guess. They wouldn’t understand my passion for books and writing and blogging.

9. What kind of covers appeal to you? Do you like subtle, unimposing covers or do you prefer them garish and glittery? What are a few of your favourite covers?

-I guess I’m in the middle of both. I love the subtle ones but sometimes I love the out there ones. Types like The Dark Devine and The Body Finder really appeal to me. But I also love the teen covers like Lock and Key and Amy and Rodger’s Epic Detour. I love all kinds of covers, pretty much.

10. Can you tell me a few of your favourite blogs and why you enjoy them so much?

-I love Harmony’s Radiant Reads because she’s one of my best friends and she just made of win. Her posts are so quirky and original. I also love The Story Siren because she’s like the guru of blogging. Her posts are always so informative. Reading Vacation is another because she’s an eleven year old girl and is really inspirational. There are so many other blogs I always visit and want to talk about but it would probably be best to keep this short.

11. What are your pet peeves about other book blogs? No naming names please (well, unless you want to!) but what are the little things over bloggers do that really grate on you?

-I don’t have many but one of them is that on most blogs there is this toolbar at the bottom of the screen that just irritates me. Nothing major and it’s all I can think about right now.

12. Do you ever vlog? If so, what made you start doing it and do you prefer it to regular blogging?

-I do vlog! And before I even started blogging I vlogged. I wanted to be the next Youtube sensation but I realized it was something I didn’t really want to pursue. Now, blogging, that’s something different. :D

13. What are a few of your blog aspirations for the next few months? Do you want to hit a certain amount of followers or post a certain amount of reviews?

-I want to hit at least 100 followers by the end of the year. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot for the time I’ve been blogging but it does make a difference. And I want more people to find out about my blog.

14. Have you met up with any other book review bloggers? If so, which blogs do they run and where/why did you meet up with them?

-I have not, sadly. But Harmony (Harmony’s Radiant Reads) and I keep making plans to meet. She might vacation in California, where I live, or we might meet at BEA. But that probably won’t happen.

15. Can you tell me about a book that you read because of all the hype but were really disappointed by?

-So far, not yet. I’ve read a lot of books that have exceeded my expectations or barely made it. But Fallen by Lauren Kate wasn’t all what I expected. I expected more but I am still excited for the sequel nonetheless.

16. Do you do your own graphics for you blog? If not, where do you get your backgrounds etc from? Are you good at HTML or do you find the whole thing a bit of a pain? (Me trying to configure the three column HTML is not a pretty sight)

-I do all my own graphics even if they aren’t that good. I think you don’t get the real experience until you try to make your own layout. It’s always fun to do something new to your blog anytime you feel like it. Oh, and don’t get me started on the three columns. It took me months to figure it out and perfect it for my blog!

17. Do you normally request books you want to review or do you wait to be approached? How long had you been blogging before you requested a book/were approached about reviewing a book?

-Until my stats are higher, I won’t be requesting a book. I guess I’m just really nervous to contact a publisher first. But I am also still waiting to be approached too, if that ever happens.

18. How do you organise your books? Alphabetically or by genre/TBR list? Or do you just throw them onto the shelves and hope for the best?

-I have OCD when it comes to my books. I used to always organize them by alphabetical order but now I have paperbacks on one side and hardcovers on the other so now I’m hoping for the best. :P I might just coordinate them by color.

19. What are your other passions besides books?

-I love writing, but I think that’s a given, lol. Doctor Who is also one of my television passions. I am obsessed with that show. I also like to play softball and I cheer but I wouldn’t say that’s a passion.

20. What’s the one fiction genre you just can’t get into and why doesn’t it appeal to you?

-I love to read all types of genres actually. But it’s historical that leaves me hesitant. It has to be a really well written historical novel for me to read. One of my favourites is Wildthorn.

21. Do you set time aside specifically for blogging or do you just blog when you get the chance?

-I try to set aside time for blogging but ever since school started it’s been very hard. So, lately whenever I get the chance I do post something or schedule some posts. But I keep a planner specifically for my blog so if I wrote something important that needed to be posted then it will get done. :P

22. What’s your opinion on Twitter and what changes do you think it’s made to blogging? (If you are a Twitter fan do leave your username here so I/others can follow you!)

-I absolutely love Twitter! I think having a twitter account or anything interactive really defines who you are as a blogger because people get to see you in non-professional ways. This gives you a chance to meet and communicate with your followers and just become friends.

My Twitter is NyxensAdventure.

23. What exciting things do you have coming up on your blog we can look out for?

-Well, I just started this new feature called Music Video Saturdays and it’s just where I find a song that represents a book or a fan made video featuring a certain book. There are also going to be many more reviews and possibly author interviews.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours - Black Fingernailed Reviews

Hello everybody! Today I've got a bit of an exciting post lined up - well I think so anyway :). I'm starting a new feature called Everybody Needs Good Neighbours where I interview some of my favourite bloggers about all things books!

I think we're such a big community it would be nice to get to know each other a little better so hopefully that's what this feature will achieve. I've really enjoyed the answers I've got back so far and if anyone else is interested in signing up just let me know in the comments or email me at carlybennett@hotmail.com

For the first post I have Khadija from Black Fingernailed Reviews. I've been a fan of Khadija's blog for a while now - her header is gorgeous so make sure you check it out. Also, I'm wearing black nail varnish today so the connection makes me happy :).

1. What’s the story behind your blog name? Were you just looking for something standard that hadn’t already been taken or did you put a lot of thought into it?

Well, names for me always seem to come naturally. I’m good with names because to me that’s the easy part. I think up a name and then the idea and execution always seem to follow. The idea to actually start a blog for me came after thinking up the name. But hey it’s a pretty awesome name right? :)

2. Have you ever reviewed a book without actually reading it – be honest?

No way NEVER!!!

3. What’s your favorite book of the year and the most disappointing book of the year so far and why?

I can’t pick one favorite there have been so many awesome books this year! Paranormalcy and The Thirteenth Chime have been two of my favorites though. As for my least favorite….i can’t say I have one of those either. I haven’t read a book this year that sucked.

4. Are followers important to you? Are you always aware of how many you have and do you ever set goals of how many followers you’d like to have or are you more relaxed?

Followers are important to me but not how many I have. Each of my followers is important to me because each of them are supporting me and almost all of them have helped me out at one time or another. I don’t have any goals with how many followers I want to have.

5. Do you write fiction yourself and, if so, what do you write and is it with the aim of being published or just for fun?

Sometimes I think I’ll publish but most of the time it’s just eh. I truly love to write but at the moment I’m not sure if it’s just for my eyes alone. I write YA mostly and a little horror, the one thing all my writing has in common is the paranormal tendency and edgy characters that always seem to find their way in.

6. Are you one of these super organized people who writes their ahead of time and schedules them for the week or do you just post as and when you have time to write things?

Ha! Me? Organized? That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever considered. I’m really more the fly by type of person, I go with the flow and…yeah sometimes that gets me in trouble but usually it works out :)

7. What’s your day job? Why do you do what you do? What’s your dream job?

My day job is being a high school student. My dream is to write music. Actually I already write music, but someday I’d like to have a job having to do with music. I don’t think I could live without writing lyrics, my head would explode. It’s my only outlet for emotion. So if I could one day have a job where I could just write and be around music, I’d be high on happiness :P

8. What kind of covers appeal to you? Do you like subtle, unimposing covers or do you prefer them garish and glittery? What are a few of your favorite covers?

I like mysterious and dark covers. Fallen and Torment are some of my favorite YA covers. I like when a cover picture holds a lot of emotion and draws you in, I’m not a huge fan of glitter.

9. How do you organize your books? Alphabetically or by genre/TBR list? Or do you just throw them onto the shelves and hope for the best?

Mine are organized a bit weirdly. I have them organized by what the book is about. Realistic Fiction, then it gets crazy…werewolves, vampires, fairies, banshees, etc. They all have a designated section on my bookshelves.

10. What are your other passions besides books?

Music.

11. What’s the one fiction genre you just can’t get into and why doesn’t it appeal to you?

Chick Lit. I can just never relate to the characters.

12. What’s your opinion on Twitter and what changes do you think it’s made to blogging? (If you are a Twitter fan do leave your username here so I/others can follow you!)

I’m not a obsessed twitter person but I do have an account and do like how easy it is to talk to other bloggers and authors. @BlckFingernailD

13. What exciting things do you have coming up on your blog we can look out for?

I have a new meme coming up called ‘Upcoming Must Reads’ which will be a monthly meme where I feature a group of ten bloggers a month. And throughout the month I’ll interview each author.

So go go go and visit Black Fingernailed Reviews and check out Khaidija's brand new meme, Upcoming Must Reads!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Review: The Lonely Hearts Club - Elizabeth Eulberg

Published: December 29th 2009, Point

Pages: Hardback, 289 pages

Acquired: Sent for review by UK Book Tours

Summary (from Goodreads): Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like. . .

My review: Well first I have to say how much I enjoyed the Beatles references in this one – Penny Lane Bloom, Lonely Hearts Club, the Abbey Road inspired cover and many more. Awesome. Who doesn’t love the Beatles? Anyone?

The Lonely Hearts Clubs sees our protagonist, the frustrated Penny Lane Bloom swear off boys and relationships forever. And she means business. As her decision begins to pick up a bit of a buzz other girls join her and suddenly it becomes a movement. Which is great at first but then when Penny finds herself irresistibly attracted to a certain dashing young man, she finds herself in a bit of a situation.

This one is a fun, summery read that will leave you feeling smiley and, unfortunately a little non-plussed upon the story’s conclusion. It’s a great book and really enjoyable but there’s nothing about The Lonely Hearts Club to push it over the edge and make it an unforgettable read. When I compare it to other books I’ve read this year like The Sky is Everywhere and Entangled it just falls a little flat.

That said, though, it is worth a read so I would recommend it but it’s not something that’s going to rock your world and stay with you for days after finishing. Though, if you just want to escape into somebody else’s world for a little while then do pick up a copy – and stick on a Beatles album while you’re reading it for the full effect!

First line: ‘I, Penny Lane Bloom, do solemnly swear that I will never date another boy for as long as I shall live.’

Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 5/5
Total: 15/20 (B)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Review: Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver

Published: March 2nd 2010, HarperCollins

Pages: Paperback, 241 pages

Acquired: Sent for review by UK Book Tours

Summary (from Goodreads): What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

My review: To be honest, I knew before I started reading Before I Fall that I would love it and I absolutely did. I haven’t read a bad review of this one so if you haven’t read it yet, do try and get hold of a copy because I promise you won’t be at all disappointed.

Sam is a fantastic protagonist and she’s completely realistic, which made it so easy to bond with her. She was a bitch and she’s honest about it which made me love her even more. She’s not perfect, she’s not one of these so sweet it hurts girls that I’m getting a bit sick of seeing in YA fiction. She has edge and that’s always a good thing. She’s interesting to read about.

Sam’s situation is a horrific one but this is the type of book I adore. Anything where a character goes back in time and makes a change that affects the future is always going to make me happy – think The Butterfly Effect. Any fans of the film should definitely check this one out – you’ll love it. The book also reminded me a little of If I Stay by Gayle Forman (such a beautiful story) in that both stories handle teenage death, tragedy and are both stunningly written.

The story is beautiful and touching, laugh out loud funny in places and absolutely heartbreaking in others. I shed more than a few tears (as per usual) and I’ll definitely be looking for more of Lauren Oliver’s work in the future because this one is a gem.

First line: ‘They say before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s now how it happened for me.’

Read if you liked...: If I Stay – Gayle Forman

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 17/20 (A)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Review: Troubadour - Mary Hoffman

Published: August 19th 2010, Bloomsbury

Pages: 287 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Bloomsbury

Summary (from Goodreads): A story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in 13th century Southern France. As crusaders sweep through the country, destroying all those who do not follow their religion, Bertrand risks his life to warn others of the invasion. As a troubadour, Bertrand can travel without suspicion from castle to castle, passing word about the coming danger.

In the meantime Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertrand, leaves her comfortable home and family and becomes a troubadour herself. Danger encircles them both, as the rising tide of bloodshed threatens the fabric of the society in which they live.

My review: The thing that impressed me most about Troubadour is the sheer amount of research that the writer obviously put into the book. Hoffman is clearly passionate about her subject matter and it really does show. There are references to so many historical characters and each one is woven seamlessly into the plot and didn’t feel forced at any time.

The romance in the book is great as well and I really felt the connection and passion between Elinor and Bertrand. I found myself rooting for them and really wanted things to end happily for both characters – whether they do or not is something you’re going to have to find out when you read the book!

Troubadour is an interesting read as well. I felt like I learned a lot while reading the book but without feeling like I was being educated – I just picked up facts and bites of information through the story, which was great.

Troubadour is a well-written, historical love story that I can really imagine seeing on the big screen – I’m expecting Keira Knightley to play Elinor by the way. Oh and Benjamin Barnes to play Bertrand. Ha, good casting there, I think.

First line: ‘A small group of monks was making its way down to the river crossing.’

Read if you liked...: The Candidates – Inara Scott

Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 14/20 (B)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Boys Don't Cry - Malorie Blackman

Hi all, I'm here today to talk to you about the exciting new release from Malorie Blackman called Boys Don't Cry. It's out October 28th 2010 and is being published by Random House. At the Book Blogger Brunch Random House invited me to earlier in the year we had a look at all of the cover choices for this one so it's nice to see it coming out soon - I can't wait to receive my copy!

So, without further ado, please see below for the press release for Boys Don't Cry. It sounds brilliant and I'll be posting up my review soon so do look out for that.


'Boys Don't Cry is the hard-hitting new teenage novel from Malorie Blackman, the acclaimed author of the bestselling Noughts and Crosses sequence. In Boys Don’t Cry, Malorie explores the unchartered territory of teenage fatherhood. You're waiting for the postman - he's bringing your A level results. University, a career as a journalist - a glittering future lies ahead. But when the doorbell rings it's your old girlfriend; and she's carrying a baby. You're fine to look after it, for an hour or two, while she does some shopping. Then she doesn't come back and your future suddenly looks very different. Seventeen year old Dante is left holding the baby. His baby. Not only does he have to come to terms with the fact he is now a father but he is also faced with the realisation that his life is about to dramatically change. He needs to learn how to raise his daughter when he still feels like a child himself. The reader follows Dante as he stumbles against the obstructions and prejudices in society, but also experiences some of the joys that only parenthood can bring. Not one to shy away from controversial subjects, Blackman handles the issue of teenage fatherhood with sensitivity giving a voice to a group largely ignored by society. This subject is highly relevant in today’s society as Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe. A recent survey from The Department for Education* found that almost one in five girls who are sexually active at the age of 18 have been pregnant at least once. Of all those who had been pregnant, just under half (46%) had given birth. No statistics were released about teenage fathers. Running alongside the main thread of the story, Blackman tackles the subjects of homosexuality and homophobia. Woven into Dante’s story are insights from his brother Adam who is affected by these issues. Blackman is renowned for exploring minorities in society in her fiction and Boys Don’t Cry is no exception. She highlights themes that can be uncomfortable at times but offers hope and acknowledgement of these subjects.'

(Press release provided by Random House)

So, what do you think?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Interview: Mindi Scott

Hello, hello! Happy Monday everybody - hope you're having a nice beginning to your week :). I'm here today with an interview with the lovely, lovely Mindi Scott. Her debut novel, Freefall, is being published by Simon and Schuster and is out next month.

It sounds like a fantastic story and I seriously can't wait to get my hands on a copy. If you want to read a bit more about Freefall whizz over to the Goodreads page here or click here to visit Mindi's awesome website - make sure you check out the list of bands she's seen live, it's pretty cool.

Freefall synopsis (from Goodreads): 'How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.

Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he's ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . . .
'

1. In case any readers haven’t read the book yet, can you tell me a little bit about Freefall?

The simplest description is that it’s a dark contemporary Young Adult novel about what comes next for a teenage boy who was the last person to see his best friend alive and the first to find him dead. For me, it’s also a story about music, guilt, grief, communication, anxiety, phobias, and most of all, falling in love.

2. Talk me through an average day when you’re working on a novel. Do you have a set number of words you have to write per day or do you set yourself different targets?

I don’t have a goal for output per se. Mostly, I’m just trying to all of my allotted writing hours for actual writing. That said, I do aim to complete one to two polished scenes every week.

3. Can you describe how you felt in the moment when you first heard that Freefall had been accepted for publication?

It seemed like it had taken me so long to get there, and that maybe it would never happen, so when it finally did, I was relieved.

4. In young adult fiction in particular, it’s important that readers bond with the characters - what do you think is the most important thing to get right when you're creating a character?

Voice. If you can nail that, you can do anything!

5. Can you tell me a bit about your journey with Freefall? When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?

I first came up with the idea in late-July 2006. The first draft was completed about six months later and the “final” draft was reading in February 2008. I finally got an agent in January 2009 and the book sold in May 2009. With a release date of October 5, 2010, the whole project from idea to on the shelves will work out to be about four years and two months. In other words, almost 1/8 of my life!

6. Some writers relate take great inspiration from music while they’re writing. Do you listen to music while you’re writing? If so, what artists/bands do you like to listen to while you write?

I do listen to music. What I listen to is less about my tastes or even my character’s tastes and more about the essence of the character. If that makes any sense. While working on Freefall, I mostly listened to Social Distortion, The Killers (Sam’s Town album), Ash, and that one song by Staind “It’s Been Awhile.”

7. On a completely un-writing related note but continuing with the music theme – I noticed on your website you’ve seen a pretty impressive list of bands live. Who would you say gave the best performance and why?

I’ve seen a number of incredible performances. Two of my favorites were Muse and The Killers (both at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle). And yet, the performance that will always stick with me was Nightmare of You at the Music Hall in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York.

It was St. Patrick’s Day 2008, and my husband, Dwayne, and I had flown into NYC specifically to see Ash perform. We were impatient for the main event, but about three songs into the set by an opening band, Nightmare of You played the song “I Was Never a Normal Boy.” I can’t even describe how it felt, but the sincerity and raw emotion caught me off guard and I was mesmerized for the remainder of their songs. After they finished, Dwayne and I turned to one another and were like, “We need their CD!” As it turned out, we’d both had the same feeling at the exact same moment. It was a-maz-ing.

8. I mentioned before on my blog how much I love the simplicity of the cover art for Freefall – how much of an input did you have with it?

I had zero imput! I’d told my editor upfront that I was hopeful that the characters would NOT be depicted. She agreed and said that they were going for more of a “mood piece.” I was surprised and very, very pleased with what they came up with!

9. Did Freefall always have this title or was that something that came later on?

The original title was The Fake McCoy, which I chose before I’d even written one word of the story. At the tail end of my agent search, I changed it to Scratching at the 8-Ball, which is what it sold as. My editor and I brainstormed over 100 titles and a few months later, agreed upon Freefall. Now I can’t imagine it being anything else!

10. What advice would you give to writers who want to make the leap from writing as a hobby to actively pursuing a career in writing?

Getting published requires tons upon tons of research. Read everything you can in your genre. Check out agent/editor/author/other publishing blogs. Go to writer’s conferences. Join critique groups. Do whatever you can to learn everything you can.

11. There is a lot of argument within the young adult market as to what is appropriate for teens to read. Where do you stand on this matter? Do you think teens should be protected from reading about taboo subjects or do you think they should have the freedom to choose their own reads?

I am definitely a fan of YA representing real life and teens to having access to these books.

12. Thank you so much for your time, Mindi. Before you go, could you tell me about any projects you have in the pipeline we can look out for?

I’m working on another dark contemporary YA—this one with a girl protagonist. At this point, I’m not sure what’s going to happen with it, but I have high hopes!


Well I for one can't wait to read Freefall - how about you? Also, I'm so happy Mindi mentioned Staind; I felt thirteen and angry again :) x

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Review: The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Published: October 1st 2008, Scholastic Press

Pages: 454 pages, paperback

Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

What I liked: Well I’ll be honest right about now – there are two reasons I decided to read The Hunger Games. Firstly, last week Mockingjay was released and I was sick of trying to dodge spoilers that *certain* people were posting all over Twitter. Don’t post spoilers, people. It’s RAGE-MAKING. I decided to try and combat the spoilers by starting to read the series – at least this way I’ll have finished Mockingjay soon so I won’t have to worry about stumbling across something I’d rather have discovered for myself.

Anyway, rant over. The second reason I read The Hunger Games is because I asked my ever helpful boyfriend to pick between The Knife of Never Letting Go (which I really wanted to read) and The Hunger Games (which I had been putting off reading for nearly a year, I’m still not sure why). He said The Hunger Games, I asked numerous times if he was sure. He said yes. I felt obliged.

Although it causes me actual pain to quote Stephanie Meyer as having said anything remotely useful to anybody, I will do so here: The Hunger Games is amazing. Thank you Miss Meyer for your wisdom and insight. Your words are deep and meaningful as always. Sorry – bitching aside, the Twilight authoress had it quite right because The Hunger Games really is amazing (a side note: I’m not sure why I’m bitching so much today, please excuse me).

It seems a little pointless to write a review of this book, seeing as I’m pretty much the last person in the world to read it. Like Shiver, Uglies, Blue Bloods and The Chaos Walking series – I am well and truly a step behind everybody else. But, once again, I’m leaping onto the bandwagon with both feet. So, yes, The Hunger Games is awesome. Instead of actually writing a review detailing the wonders of the sentence structure and pace, I shall proceed to write a list of six things I loved about The Hunger Games (I started off by writing ten but it was getting very long and rambly so I thought shrink it down a bit):

1. The names. I LOVED the names. Generally I bitch and moan if characters are given ‘quirky’ names. I hate ‘quirky’, if you couldn’t tell. But Peeta, Haymitch etc all made me really happy, especially when I realised they were kind of standard names...but kind of not. It was a while before I realised that Peeta is Peter and so forth. Clever. Very clever indeed.

2. Katniss is really great. She will kick your ass if you piss her off. My kind of girl.

3. I loved Rue. Loved, loved, loved her. Such a sweetheart.

4. I like the love rivalry I can tell is brewing between Gale and Peeta. Actually, I guessed this because of all the ‘Team Gale’ ‘Team Peeta’ malarkey that’s ALL over the Internet but, still, I do like a love triangle. For the record, at this moment in time I’m team Gale but that’s definitely subject to change.

5. Haymitch is wonderful. I always enjoy a drunken uncle character and he fits the role beautifully. Lots of alcohol induced vomiting here. Lovely.

6. The actual writing in The Hunger Games is excellent. I was gripped from start to finish and read almost the whole book in a single sitting. When I finished it I almost wept because I didn’t have Catching Fire and Mockingjay to dive right into so promptly relayed the entire storyline to everybody I came into contact with and ordered the next two books sharpish.

What I didn’t like: Well, this isn’t so much what I didn’t like. This is just an observation that bothered me and I didn’t want to keep to myself.

At the back of my edition of The Hunger Games there’s a little Q&A with Suzanne Collins where she says that she came up with the idea for the book while channel hopping between a reality TV show where people compete to win money and a war coverage on the news. Okay, that’s plausible I suppose.

However (and please don’t all go mental at me for saying this), has nobody else cottoned on to the fact that The Hunger Games is almost identical in every single way to Battle Royale? Literally, almost identical. From the landmines to the arena to the characters to the love story to the weapons and the games being run once a year in a future world where civilisation has collapsed/is collapsing.

There are so many details I could list here that are exactly the same. If it’s all by chance then it’s one hell of a coincidence. Now, I have absolutely no problem with The Hunger Games being so similar to Battle Royale because there are some differences and the book is fantastic, it's just something I wanted to mention.

Yes, I love The Hunger Games. It’s fab. Read it – if you’re just as behind the times as me and haven’t actually gotten around to it yet.

First line: ‘When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.’

Read if you liked...: Battle Royale (film – I haven’t read the graphic novel so I won’t recommend it but I’m sure it’s great)

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 17/20

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Awesome 'Trash' Giveaway!

Hi everyone - I'm sorry I haven't posted for a couple of days but I had a bit of virus hassle and had to do a big system restore on my laptop which has held me up a bit! All is well though and I'm here today to announce a very exciting giveaway for Trash by Andy Mulligan.

If you haven't heard about Trash yet then check out the synopsis below or click here to visit the Goodreads page for it. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this wonderful book earlier in the year and I absolutely fell in love with it and I hope you'll love it too so I'm teaming up with the lovely ladies at Random House to give away five copies - four to UK readers and one international copy.


I'm also super, SUPER excited to enough that I'll be hosting the blog tour for Trash from September 20th-24th. Each day I'll be putting up a post written by Andy dedicated to the book so please stop by and check it out - it's going to be fab!

Trash really isn't like any other book I've read before and even though I read it months ago the entire story is still so vivid in my mind. It's an absolute rollercoaster read and I promise you'll love it just as much as I do.

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Raphael is a dumpsite boy. He spends his days wading through mountains of steaming trash, sifting it, sorting it, breathing it, sleeping next to it. Then one unlucky-lucky day, Raphael's world turns upside down. A small leather bag falls into his hands.

It's a bag of clues. It's a bag of hope. It's a bag that will change everything.

Soon Raphael and his friends Gardo and Rat are running for their lives. Wanted by the police, it takes all their quick-thinking, fast-talking to stay ahead. As the net tightens, they uncover a dead man's mission to put right a terrible wrong. And now it's three street-boys against the world...

Rules and Regulations:

- Click here for the form

- Five winners will be chosen through randomizer.org once the contest has closed

- You don't have to be a follower to enter

- This contest is **international** so everybody can enter!

- Please spread the word through Twitter and your blog if you can - I'd be really, really grateful and please link back to me (@carlybennett on Twitter) if you post so I can see who's posting what and send good karma your way

- This contest closes at midnight (London time) on September 24th (well, September 25th I suppose, technically) and the winners will be informed via email

- This isn't a rule but please note that any details you provide on the form will be kept private and only passed on to Random House in order for them to send the prizes out

So you’ve seen the books and read the rules – click here to fill out the form and get entering! Good luck everybody!x