Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Infinite Days - Rebecca Maizel

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!

The book I'm reading right now is 'Infinite Days' by Rebecca Maizel and here are my sentences!

Teaser sentences (from page 61): 'The last time I'd felt the raindrops was the night I'd left my mother's earring in our apple orchard. The night I met Rhode and fell in love at first sight.'


So, what's your teaser this week?

Review: The Alchemyst - Michael Scott

Published: May 22nd 2007, Random House

Pages: 369 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Random House

Summary (from Goodreads): He holds the secret that can end the world. The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty. The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries.

The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects; the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

My review: Well I’m going to be honest and say the only time I’d heard of Nicholas Flamel before reading this book was in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and I thought he was a really intriguing character so it was great to read more about him and his wife in The Alchemyst.

While my favourite genre of YA may be preppy contemporary young adult, I do like to change things up every so often so this series is perfect for me to try something a little outside of my comfort zone.

Our two protagonists, Sophie and Josh, are both really likeable and I felt as though I knew them within the first couple of chapters which was a great advantage as the plot does quickly pick up speed and it would have been easy for their personalities to be overshadowed by the storyline.

I thought it was really interesting to learn more about Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenelle as people, rather than just legendary characters from the past who pop up in literature every now and then. I really liked that Perenelle is her own person and so much more than just Nicholas’ wife – I’m excited about learning more about her as the series progresses.

While the Alchemyst is a great book, I think it’s clearly the first in a series and does set a lot up for the books that come after it – though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing I do quite like it when part of a series can also work as a standalone. That said, I was completely drawn into the fantastic world that Michael Scott has created for this series of books and my review of the second instalment will be coming very soon as I had to dive straight into it after finishing The Alchemyst.

First line: ‘“OK – answer me this: why would anyone want to wear an overcoat in San Francisco in the middle of the summer?”’

Read if you liked...: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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

Monday, 29 November 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 7

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:

Outside In - Chrissie Keighery
The Heroic Life of Al Capsella - Judith Clarke
Emma and the Vampires - Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson
Time Riders: Day of the Predator - Alex Scarrow
Beautiful Dead: Arizona - Eden Maguire
Vegan, Virgin, Valentine - Carolyn Mackler
The Dark Divine - Bree Despain
Move - Conor Kostick
The Other Girl - Sarah Miller
Love You to Death/High Stakes - Meg Cabot


Currently reading:

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie - E. Van Lowe


To read this week:

That's Life, Samara Brooks - Daniel Ehrenhaft
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin - Josh Berk
Dear Dylan - Siobhan Curham
Numbers 2 - Rachel Ward
Girl, 16: Five Star Fiasco - Sue Limb
My Worst Best Friend - Dyan Sheldon
Vibes - Amy Kathleen Ryan
Zen and Xander Undone - Amy Kathleen Ryan


Review: Time Riders: Day of the Predator - Alex Scarrow

Published: August 5th 2010, Puffin Books

Pages: 433 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Puffin

Summary (from Goodreads): Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2029. But all three have been given a second chance - to work for an agency that no-one knows exists. Its purpose - to prevent time travel destroying history.

When Maddy mistakenly opens a time window where and when she shouldn’t have, Liam is marooned sixty-five million years in the past in the hunting ground of a deadly – and until now – undiscovered species of predator.

Can Liam make contact with Maddy and Sal before he’s torn to pieces by dinosaurs – and without endangering history so much that the world is taken over by a terrifying new reality?

My review: So I’ll preface this review by saying that I haven’t read the first instalment in the Time Riders series so I’m reviewing Day of the Predator as a standalone novel.

I’ve always been interested by time travel so I was really excited to read Day of the Predator. Of course we all know that the most important element of time travel is making sure that nothing is changed in the past, as even the tiniest change can have a profound effect on the future. So, when Liam is sent back in time to the era of the dinosaurs, it became apparent that we were going to be in for some exciting action.

Time travel and dinosaurs and certainly enough to make me happy but, aside from that, we also see great characterisation here. I feel as though I knew Liam, Maddy and Sal much better by the end of the novel and I feel like Scarrow worked hard to create three really vivid characters with distinct personalities.

The storyline in Day of the Predator is fast paced, to say the least. Time is running out for Liam and he has to make contact with Maddy and Sal before it’s too late, all the while trying to avoid being mauled by dinosaurs or touching anything that may create a new reality.

I loved the idea that Liam making a small change in the past could mean the world is taken over by a new reality and Scarrow explores this point really well in Day of the Predator. I found myself literally holding my breath towards the end of the story and it roared to a truly exciting denouement that has stuck with me long after finishing the book.

Although the Time Riders series isn’t something I would necessarily have immediately chosen to read, I’m really glad I gave Day of the Predator a chance and I’ll definitely be looking out for the third instalment, which is due out early 2011.

First line: ‘They’d heard the rumbling coming towards them down the echoing stairwell like a locomotive train.’

Read if you liked...: Tanglewreck – Jeanette Winterson

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

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Review: Emma and the Vampires - Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson

Published: August 1st 2010, Sourcebooks

Pages: 289 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Sourcebooks

Summary (from Goodreads): What better place than pale England to hide a secret society of gentlemen vampires?

In this hilarious retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, screenwriter Wayne Josephson casts Mr. Knightley as one of the most handsome and noble of the gentlemen village vampires. Blithely unaware of their presence, Emma, who imagines she has a special gift for matchmaking, attempts to arrange the affairs of her social circle with delightfully disastrous results.

But when her dear friend Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightley, Emma realizes she's the one who wants to stay up all night with him. Fortunately, Mr. Knightley has been hiding a secret deep within his unbeating heart-his (literal) undying love for her... A brilliant mash-up of Jane Austen and the undead.

My review: There have been quite a few of these Jane Austen horror mash-up novels in the last couple of years but I have been avoiding them up until now. I like Jane Austen and I’m a huge horror fan but I just didn’t think it was going to end well. Unfortunately, I think I was right.

I know a few people who love books like Emma and the Vampires but, for me, it just didn’t work. I would have enjoyed the book if the vampire element had been cleverly worked into the plot but it was clumsy and very unsubtle. It seemed as though every single man in the village was a vampire so subtlety is not this novel’s strong point.

There was obvious room for gags in this story as Emma tried to play matchmaker and set her friends up with various vampires but they were small smiles rather than big laughs. The writing was sloppy and felt rushed, as if this was an early draft as opposed to a finished novel.

As I said, I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or any of the others so I’m not sure how good they are in the hands of other writers but, for me, Emma and the Vampires was a disappointment.

First line: ‘Emma Woodhouse – handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition – had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress her.’

Read if you liked...: Pride and Prejudice and Vampires – Seth Grahame-Smith

Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 2/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 12/20 (D)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Review: The Heroic Life of Al Capsella - Judith Clarke

Published: November 1997, Henry Holt and Co.

Pages: 144 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Henry Holt and Co.

Summary (from Goodreads): Having parents at all is embarrassing enough, but what if your parents are the weirdest people on the planet? Poor Al Capsella! His efforts to appear "normal" to the outside world are thwarted at every turn by his eccentric parents. Why can't they trim the lawn like all of the other families in the neighborhood? Why must his mother always wear that biker outfit? Why does his bookish father harass Al's teachers for their teaching plans?

If you liked The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, Al Capsella's razor-sharp wit is sure to tickle your funny bone. Author J. Clarke takes a common teenage angst ("oh my god, my parents are so strange!") and exaggerates it ever so slightly to create a delightful romp inside the mind of a stressed-out 14-year-old.


My review: While the summary of Al Capsella may liken it to the Adrian Mole books I think this is a bit of a bolt statement. I loved the Adrian Mole books in my younger years and, while I wouldn’t quite say that Al Capsella lives up to Mr. Mole, this is a funny book that I enjoyed reading.

At a weeny 144 pages, Al Capsella is a quick read that will leave you smiling and feeling happy with the world around you. Al is a loveable protagonist who will have you laughing out loud as he attempts to appear ‘normal’ in front of his peers and tame his haphazard parents to stop them embarrassing him at every available opportunity.

However, when Al and his family go on a trip to visit his grandparents, he begins to realise that maybe being ‘normal’ is not quite all it’s cracked up to be. As a Brit through and through I embrace eccentricity with open arms so this was a great book for me. Al’s parents are both brilliant characters and I only wish I’d read this book when I was younger and I know it would have become one of my firm favourites.

First line: ‘Last night at 2:00am the phone rang.’

Read if you liked...: The Death (and Further Adventures) of Silas Winterbottom – Stephen Giles

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

Friday, 26 November 2010

News: Angry Robot Announces Digital Short Story Store

ANGRY ROBOT ANNOUNCES DIGITAL SHORT STORY STORE

Any sci-fi/fantasy readers out there - this one's for you!


On December 1st 2010, Angry Robot will be launching “Nano Editions”. Exclusive to the publisher’s own webstore at angryrobotstore.com, Nanos are digital short stories by Angry Robot novelists, sold at sensible prices in ePub format, ready to load onto the world’s most popular eBook readers.

Most Nanos will be in the 5,000 – 15,000 word range. Shorter works than that will be automatically bundled with another story to ensure value for money.

Talking of which – stories will cost just 59p each (approximately US $0.95). Readers can bundle a collection of any 10 by any combination of authors, for only £3.49 (US$5.59). The files will be DRM-free and available worldwide. If demand for the stories takes off, AR plan to also sell them via eBook retailers.

Angry Robot Editor Lee Harris said, “Publishing is changing, but our role as publishers remains the same – to find cool stories and bring them to readers. This is another step in Angry Robot’s ongoing plan to embrace the new opportunities digital formats provide – and an excellent way for readers to sample unfamiliar authors, without breaking the bank.”

Authors included in the Nanos series include multi-million-selling novelist Dan Abnett and award-winning short fiction authors Kaaron Warren and Aliette de Bodard, along with many others. We will have at least 30 Nanos available for the December 1st launch, with more added at regular intervals.

*Note: Information provided by Angry Robot*

Review: Outside In - Chrissie Keighery

Published: August 2009, Hardie Grant Egmont

Pages: 183 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Hardie Grant Egmont

Summary (from Goodreads): The cool group at school is not as luminous as it seems. Sure they appear to have it all, but there are problems lurking just below the surface. Beautiful Jordan is struggling to cope because of her newly divorced parents, Meredith covers her past by playing the clown, Cecilia hides her feelings and a shameful secret, Sam is growing up, and Jack is caught off-guard when he falls in love for the first time.

And then there’s someone else. She’s not part of the group. The others have no idea she’s there. But she knows that there are cracks. She watches them from the inside, out. From the outside, in.

My review: I’m a big fan of multiple viewpoints, if done well I think this method can make a book truly brilliant. I’m happy to report that this is done really well in Outside In, a story about a girl who watches her high school’s ‘popular group’ and makes observations about their lives.

At first, I thought the whole premise was a little creepy – a nameless teenage girl observing the lives of her high school peers from the shadows, it just seemed a little unsettling. However, when I got past the first few chapters and began to get to know the characters a little better I really began to enjoy the story.

There are a lot of characters in Outside In so it’s not the easiest read as there are so many different personalities to get to know, though I don’t think they’re all distinguishable from each other as well as they could be. There are many relevant teenage issues dealt with in Outside In, including sex, dating, eating disorders and the like, so it is quite an intense read that may not be wholly suitable for younger teens.

While Outside In may appear to be a standard high school novel on first glance it does have a lot to offer. I didn’t notice this one when it was first released, perhaps because it’s an Australian book but I’m really glad I received a copy for review and it’s one that I’d definitely consider rereading at a later date. If you like your YA fiction with a little bite then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Outside In.

First line: ‘Jordan was back at school.’

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

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Review: Mistress of the Storm - M. L. Welsh

Published: July 1st 2010, David Fickling Books

Pages: 319 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by the author

Summary (from Goodreads): The wind blew fast and clean straight into Verity's lungs. Even from the downs she could smell the salt spray - fresh and cold - and hear the crash as the Storm ploughed head-on into green and churning waves. Sea water washed over her prow and drained back in torrents of foam. Verity Hunter is just a normal, lonely little girl who has never quite fit in.

But suddenly it's down to her to solve the riddle of an ancient pledge and protect her family from the evil Mistress of the Storm. What hope does she have against a witch so powerful that she can control the wind and create storms at will? Luckily, Verity does not have to face her enemy alone. As events begin to spiral out of control, she finds two loyal and steadfast friends to stand by her side. The Storm is coming. And it will change Verity's life forever.

My review: Mistress of the Storm is definitely a book outside of my comfort zone but I was intrigued by the synopsis so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did as I discovered a sweet, nicely written story that’s wrapped up in a gorgeous cover.

Verity is our heroine in Mistress of the Storm and, like most of us did as younger teens, she’s going through a bit of an identity crisis. Her sister, Poppy, is the pretty and popular one and Verity is worried that she’s going to blossom like her sister has.

However, when Verity is given an old, red book everything changes for her and life becomes one big adventure. Her little town of Wellow will never be the same again as it’s up to Verity to protect her family and her town from the book’s villain, the Mistress of the Storm.

Mistress of the Storm is pure whimsy; honestly, there’s no other word for it. The cover perfectly reflects the story inside and if you’re looking for a harmless read that will leave you feeling satisfied once you’ve finished then look no further. This one is perfect for younger teens.

That said, I do like my stories with a little more edge so I was slightly let down by Mistress of the Storm. Everything about the book is nice but…a little too nice, in my opinion anyway. I would just have liked a little more action, a little more drama and it would have gone from being a good book to a great one.

First line: ‘Wellow library was quiet.’

Read if you liked...: The Thirteen Treasure – Michelle Harrison

Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 13/20 (C)

Review: Accomplice - Eireann Corrigan

Published: July 5th 2010, Chicken House

Pages: 259 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Chicken House

Summary (from Goodreads): They've gotten good grades - but that's not good enough. They've spent hours on community service - but that's not good enough. Finn and Chloe's advisor says that colleges have enough kids with good grades and perfect attendance, so Chloe decides they'll have to attract attention another way.

She and Finn will stage Chloe's disappearance, and then, when CNN is on their doorstep and the nation is riveted, Finn will find and save her. It seems like the perfect plan - until things start to go wrong. Very wrong.

My review: So, when I was applying to university I remember slaving over my personal statement and building up a solid list of extra-curriculars to help me get into the university of my choice. In Accomplice Finn and Chloe are in the process of applying to university but there are no personal statements or sports clubs here, instead they decide to stage Chloe’s kidnap to help them gain a place.

Now, although I really enjoyed Accomplice, this was my first problem with the book. I’m really not sure why either of the girls think surviving a kidnap/surviving a friend’s kidnap is going to help them get a place at university but if I push that gaping plot hole aside, this is a great story.

So, slight rant out of the way let me get onto the positives. Firstly, Finn is a great narrator. At first she does seem a little na├»ve, as if she’s shocked that Chloe’s friends and family are deeply affected by her kidnap. Though, as the story progresses we see that she’s sensitive to those around her and cares deeply for her family and friends. Although the situation she finds herself in is less than ideal, she does what she can to make the best out of the debacle.

On the other side of things, we have Chloe. Stuck in Finn’s grandmother’s basement she has to remain completely hidden. Chloe’s a complex personality – the whole kidnap thing was her idea and she intends to see it through to the end, whether Finn approves or not. She seems hard at first and initially I didn’t like her – it didn’t seem as though she cared about what her family were going through, it seemed as though all that mattered her was getting attention from a fake kidnap. However, as the story develops and Finn visits Chloe later on in the book, we do see another side of her that is softer than I first thought.

Accomplice isn’t a book that you can walk away from easily and it isn’t a particularly easy to read. It is real, though. While the storyline may be farfetched, the emotions portrayed are realistic and I did believe the characters as I was reading them. While I didn’t exactly like Finn or Chloe, I did enjoy reading about them and seeing how the story developed.

Another slight grumble I have is with the ending of the book. I’m happy with how it ended but the final pages seemed slightly rushed and it would have been nice to see what happened after the final line, though I did quite like making up my own mind about what may have happened to our heroines.

First line: ‘The picture they usually use is one from the Activities spread of the yearbook.’

Read if you liked...: Sara’s Face – Melvin Burgess (for tone rather than content)

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

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: So Shelly - Ty Roth

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and is a post detailing an upcoming book you can't wait to read.

This week I've chosen ‘So Shelly’ by Ty Roth. I must admit the main reason I was initially attracted to this book is the cover. Look at it! So pretty and I already feel like I know the tone of the book without even cracking the spine. I love it when a cover can tell you so much about the story. It reminds me a little bit of the covers for Fallen and Torment and that can only be a good thing.

I am a big poetry fan as well so the character names made me happy - I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this one and see if it lives up to my expectations. Fingers crossed!

Publication date: February 8th 2011

Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Summary (from Goodreads): Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think.


As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.


So what about you guys? What are your picks for this week?

Review: Numbers - Rachel Ward

Published: January 5th 2009, Chicken House

Pages: 285 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Chicken House

Summary (from Goodreads): Since her mother's death, fifteen-year-old Jem has kept a secret. When her eyes meet someone else's, a number pops into her head - the date on which they will die.

Knowing that nothing lasts forever, Jem avoids relationships, but when she meets a boy called Spider, and they plan a day out together, her life takes a new twist and turn. Waiting for the London Eye, she sees everyone in the queue has the same number - something terrible is going to happen.

My review: Numbers is the story of Jem, a teenage girl who sees the death date of anybody who she makes eye contact with. It’s a secret that she’s kept deep inside and it’s had her labelled as a ‘problem child’ since her mother died of a drug overdose when she was a young girl. She’s been moved from foster home to foster home and is careful never to form attachments to anybody.

However, one day she meets Spider and everything changes. Spider is carefree and positive, though his life hasn’t been straightforward either. The two fall into an unlikely friendship and plan a day out to London together. It’s here that Jem witnesses a group of people who all have the same numbers and realises something is really wrong – from this point on the story really picks up the pace and the action begins.

The first half of the book is quite slow; we get to know Jem and Spider, we get to know their pasts, about their families. The two characters are very well developed, especially Spider who I really grew to like. Jem is slightly hostile, for obvious reasons, but it was difficult to warm to her at first because of this. As the book moved forward though we did get to see a softer side to Jem which made me much more sympathetic towards her.

Once Jem and Spider really begin their journey the tone of the book changes somewhat. It becomes darker, grittier and this is something I really enjoyed. The pace is fast, the action doesn’t stop coming right until the last moment and there’s barely time to pause for breath before the next plot twist.

It’s not something that bothers me but there is some violence and mature language in Numbers, so younger readers should approach with caution if this is something that’s likely to offend.

Numbers is something completely different from anything I’ve read before and I really did enjoy it. Ward is a great writer and I’m really excited about reading the second book in the series – I won’t say too much about the second book as it does give away the ending of Numbers but it sounds brilliant. If you’re looking for a fast-paced read that will draw you into a whole new world then I’d suggest checking out Numbers.

First line: ‘There are places where kids like me go.’

Read if you liked...: iBoy – Kevin Brooks

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 16/20 (B+)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Sisters Red - Jackson Pearce

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!

The book I'm reading right now is 'Sisters Red' by Jackson Pearce and here are my sentences!

Teaser sentences (from page 171): 'The flickering streetlight catches the black teardrop tattoos on his face, and I can sense the shadows that my scars throw across my skin, as if they're tattooed on as well. I hit the steps slowly, feet heavy, and push open the door, trudging until I get to the top floor.'


So, what's your teaser this week?

Review: Spy Glass - Maria V. Snyder

Published: September 1st 2010, Mira

Pages: 535 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Mira

Summary (from Goodreads): An undercover mission leads to danger, adventure and an impossible choice...

After siphoning her own blood magic in the showdown at Hubal, Opal Cowan has lost her powers. She can no longer create glass magic. More, she's immune to the effects of magic. Opal is an outsider looking in, spying through the glass on those with the powers she once had, powers that make a difference in the world.

Suddenly, the beautiful pieces she makes flash in the presence of magic. And then she discovers that someone has stolen some of her blood - and that finding it might let her regain her powers. Or know it could be they are lost forever...

What I liked: My main criticism of Sea Glass is that it was a little too short to properly explore the storyline so I was pleased to see that Spy Glass was significantly longer, leaving a lot more room for Snyder to develop the final instalment in the Glass series.

It seems as though every element of Spy Glass was stepped up from the two books that came before it. The plot was far more complicated and there were so many twists and turns that I read Spy Glass in a couple of exhausting sittings. There were so many characters included in this book that I almost lost count – I had no idea who was genuinely fighting Opal’s corner and who was going to turn around and stab her in the back. Phew!

If you look back at who Opal was at the beginning of Storm Glass it’s fascinating to see how much she’s changed as her story has unfolded. I always love to see a real transformation in lead characters throughout a series and Opal definitely goes on quite a journey in the Glass series.

I know some people weren’t happy with how Opal’s love life turned out but, personally, I was pretty chuffed and think she made the best choice. Of course I won’t give anything away to those of you who haven’t yet read the series but if you have read the books, do you agree or did you want to see a different outcome?

What I didn’t like: I mentioned earlier in my review that there are so many characters included in Spy Glass that I almost couldn’t keep up. I did have a few problems with the characterisation in this book. I said in my review of Sea Glass that I really enjoyed getting to know the characters better but in Spy Glass there were quite a few characters who were included but barely given any attention so they never really found their own identities or had any lasting impression on me, which is a shame.

First line: ‘Crouching in the darkness of the closet, I stilled as footsteps approached.’

Read if you liked...: Masques – Patricia Briggs

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

Monday, 22 November 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 6

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:

Sea Glass - Maria V. Snyder
Spy Glass - Maria V. Snyder
Diary of a Chav - Grace Dent
Diry of a Chav: Slinging the Bling - Grace Dent
Numbers - Rachel Ward
Accomplice - Eireann Corrigan
Mistress of the Storm - M. L Welsh


Currently reading:

Outside In - Chrissie Keighery


To read this week:

The Heroic Life of Al Capsella - Judith Clarke
Emma and the Vampires - Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson
Time Riders: Day of the Predator - Alex Scarrow
Beautiful Dead: Arizona - Eden Maguire
Vegan, Virgin, Valentine - Carolyn Mackler
The Dark Divine - Bree Despain
Move - Conor Kostick


So, what are your reading plans for this week?

Review: Sea Glass - Maria V. Snyder

Published: September 1st 2009, Mira

Pages: 472 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Mira

Summary (from Goodreads): Like the colorful pieces of sea glass washed up on shore, Opal has weathered rough waters and twisting currents. But instead of finding a tranquil eddy, Opal is caught in a riptide. Her unique glass messengers which allow instant communication over vast distances have become a vital part of Sitian society. Once used solely by the Councilors and magicians, other powerful factions are now vying for control. Control of the messengers equals control of Sitia. Unfortunately that also means control of Opal.

If that isn’t enough of a problem, Opal’s determination to prove blood magic is still being used is met with strong resistance. The Council doubts her, her mentor doubts her, and even her family is concerned. When her world is turned upside down, she begins to doubt herself. In the end, Opal must decide who to believe, who to trust, and who has control—otherwise she will shatter into a million pieces and be swept out by the tide.

What I liked: The main thing I love about the Glass series is Snyder’s beautiful way with words. I fell in love with her prose in Storm Glass and she just gets better and better with each book that I read. The writing in Sea Glass is gorgeous and I found myself getting swept away on Opal’s exciting journey.

Opal’s such a great character, so full of life and she really develops brilliantly as the story unfolds. I loved getting to know her in Storm Glass and she’s even more whole and likeable in Sea Glass. I enjoyed Opal’s self-doubt in this instalment as it’s something we can all relate to, even though Opal is trying to get to grips with new-found magical powers I was completely wrapped up in Snyder’s spell and found it easy to suspend my disbelief. I am a fan of strong heroines who aren’t too ‘sassy’ and Opal is a perfect heroine, in my opinion.

I’m definitely a fan of both Lief and Kade and am glad they received more attention in Sea Glass. I loved how the love triangle (square?) panned out and Opal’s confusion was great – another testament to how Snyder can create real characters in unreal situations and still make everything completely believable.

What I didn’t like: My main criticism is that Sea Glass felt a little too short in the action for the story to really be developed to its full potential. It seemed as though the first couple of hundred pages were a little slow and drawn out, then when the action really began the book ended a little abruptly. Of course, there is a third instalment in the series so I’m just glad I had Spy Glass on hand ready to start right away!

First line: ‘Worry and dread clawed at my stomach.’

Read if you liked...: Fire – Kristin Cashore

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

Sunday, 21 November 2010

In My Mailbox - 19

So I realised I hadn't done an IMM post in almost a month again - naughty me! I had a good week this week and receives some really exciting books that I can't wait to get cracking on.

In case you haven't taken part before, In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kristi who's over at the awesome The Story Siren.

This week I received:

Black Swan Rising - Lee Carroll
Half Brother (finished copy) - Kenneth Oppel
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth - Jeff Kinney
Fairytale Ending - Gigi Levangie
Coming Home - Patricia Scanlan
Inside Out - Maria V. Snyder
Bright Young Things - Anna Godbersen
My Soul to Take - Rachel Vincent
Low Red Moon - Ivy Devlin
Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
Diary of a Snob - Grace Dent
Diary of a Chav: Too Cool for School - Grace Dent



Black Swan Rising - Lee Carroll

Published: July 22nd 2010, Bantam Press

Acquired: Sent for review

Summary (from Goodreads): When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is about to be turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, commissions her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money.

Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to her by her deceased mother. Garet can’t believe her luck and this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening. . .

Half Brother - Kenneth Oppel

Published: January 6th 2011, David Fickling Books

Acquired: Sent for review by David Fickling Books

Summary (from Goodreads):
For thirteen years, Ben Tomlin was an only child. But all that changes when his mother brings home his new “baby brother” Zan - an eight-day-old chimpanzee. Ben’s father, a renowned behavioral scientist, has uprooted the family to pursue his latest research project: a high-profile experiment to determine whether chimpanzees can acquire advanced language skills. Ben's parents tell him to treat Zan like a little brother. Ben reluctantly agrees. At least now he’s not the only one his father’s going to scrutinize.

It isn't long before Ben is Zan's favorite, and Ben starts to see Zan as more than just an experiment. His father disagrees. To him, Zan is only a specimen, no more, no less. And this is going to have consequences. Soon Ben is forced to make a critical choice between what he is told to believe and what he knows to be true -- between obeying his father or protecting his brother from an unimaginable fate.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth - Jeff Kinney

Published: November 9th 2010, Abrams Books for Young Readers

Acquired: Sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):
Greg Heffley has always been in a hurry to grow up. But is getting older really all it’s cracked up to be? Greg suddenly finds himself dealing with the pressures of boy-girl parties, increased responsibilities, and even the awkward changes that come with getting older—all without his best friend, Rowley, at his side. Can Greg make it through on his own? Or will he have to face the “ugly truth"?

Fairytale Ending - Gigi Levangie

Published: November 25th 2010

Acquired: Sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful woman called Cynthia, queen of glittering Manhattan, who had everything she could ever want. Including a handsome king, otherwise known as her husband, sexy Jack Powers, wealthiest man in New York, and apparently devoted to wife and family.

But wait a minute, isn’t that a wicked witch in the distance? Cynthia’s just discovered her husband’s playing away with beautiful TV anchor Lara Sizemore, who’s head over heels in love with Jack. Now she has to decide whether her fairytale is worth trying to save…

Will they all live happily ever after – or can only one person have a true Fairytale Ending?


Coming Home - Patricia Scanlan

Published: November 11th 2010, Transworld

Acquired: Sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):
Two sisters...two very different lives. Alison's American dream is in tatters. Her highflying career is on the skids in the financial meltdown. Her Upper East Side apartment is now way beyond her means. But pride prevents her from telling her family back home just how bad things are. Olivia is fraught trying to juggle family, career, preparations for Christmas and organize a surprise party for their mother's seventieth birthday.

How she envies, and sometimes resents, her sister Alison and her life of excitement and affluence in New York. Coming home is the last thing Alison wants to do, especially now that she's met a rather attractive, sexy, down to earth neighbour who doesn't believe in 'non exclusive dating' unlike her wealthy boyfriend, Jonathan.

But family ties are strong. Alison and Olivia sort their differences, the party throws up a few surprises and Christmas brings changes for Alison that she could never have imagined before coming home.


Inside Out - Maria V. Snyder

Published: January 1st 2011, Mira Books

Acquired: Sent for review by Mira Books

Summary (from Goodreads):
Keep your head down. Don't get noticed. Or else. I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops.

So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous - the only neck at risk is my own. Until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution...


Bright Young Things - Anna Godbersen

Published: October 12th 2010, HarperCollins
Acquired: Sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):
The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties. Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis.

All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star…


My Soul to Take - Rachel Vincent

Published: October 15th 2010, Mira Books
Acquired: Sent for review by Mira Books

Summary (from Goodreads):
She doesn't see dead people, but…

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next…

Low Red Moon - Ivy Devlin

Published: September 14th 2010, Bloomsbury

Acquired: Sent as part of a book tour via Good Golly Miss Holly

Summary (from Goodreads):
The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver—deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school—Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced.

When Ben reveals he's a werewolf, Avery still trusts him—at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died.


Nightshade - Andrea Cremer

Published: October 19th 2010

Acquired: Sent as part of UK Book Tours

Summary (from Goodreads):
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known.

By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?


Diary of a Snob - Grace Dent

Published: July 16th 2009, Hodder Children's Books

Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads):
You've been bowled over by Shiraz Bailey Wood, now make way for Miss Poppet Montague-Jones - a posh teenage heroine to die for!

Diary of a Chav: Too Cool for School - Grace Dent

Published: January 20th 2008, Hodder Children's Books

Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads):
Shiraz Bailey Wood has made up her mind. She's leaving Goodmayes, waving goodbye to Mayflower Academy Sixth Form and her part time job at Mr Yolk and moving to London with Carrie Draper. Carrie's got herself a place at Tabitha Tennant's beauty school, so she's sorted.

Now all Shiraz has to focus on is getting herself a job. She has a bit of trouble finding the most suitable job mind, nothing seems quite right for a girl of Shiraz's originality and wit...And she has to admit, she's missing her family - even Murphy - something rotten.

But Shiraz BW will not give up - she's going to finish what she started, even if she does keep looking out of the crappy flat window to see if there's a Banana Yellow Golf parked up front...

Review: Diary of a Chav: Slinging the Bling - Grace Dent

Published: August 16th 2007, Hodder Children’s Books

Pages: 215 pages, paperback

Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): The divine Shiraz Bailey Wood is back to enlighten us on the multi-layered, rich tapestry that is her life in Goodmayes Essex. Shiraz is astonished to discover that she has passed eight GCSE's and is actually clever! Emboldened, she decides she can't waste her brain power on a job at 'Mr Yolk', the local greasy spoon. No, she'll stay on at the Mayflower Sixth Form 'Centre of Excellence' and get even brainier.

Best friend Carrie is of a like-mind and so, armed with text books and pencil cases, the intrepid pair set forth into the heady world of academia. Soon Shiraz is hanging out with other boffin types, amongst them the gorgeous Joshua, with the sharp cheekbones and the whopping allowance. But will Shiraz really dump the devoted Wesley Barrington Bains II for a smooth-talking lad with an Oxbridge future? Read SBW's hilarious, heart-rending, irresistible diary to find out...

My review: So I reviewed the first instalment in the Diary of a Chav series yesterday and if you checked it out you would have seen how much I loved the first book. I’ve read a few reviews criticising the book for ‘taking the piss out of chavs’ but I have to say I really do disagree and I honestly think that’s only an opinion you’d have before actually delving into the book. Sure, Shiraz and her friends do conform to the ‘chav’ stereotype but Dent writes them as real people with real problems, rather than one dimensional hoodies.

Slinging the Bling is number two in the series and I really enjoyed this one too. Shiraz and co are back and better than ever. After receiving their GCSE results more students than expected return to the Mayflower Sixth Form ‘Centre of Excellence’ to study for their A-levels.
Slinging the Bling picks up from where Diary of a Chav left off – Shiraz is still with Wesley Barrington Bains II, Carrie is still a dreamer and Uma still has a fridge in her front garden. However, after Shiraz meets the enigmatic and ‘proper posh’ Joshua Fallow at Sixth Form she begins to question her relationship with Wesley – will things ever been the same for Shiraz Bailey Wood?

I love that Dent explores the secondary characters more in Slinging the Bling than she did in Diary of a Chav. I did mention in my earlier review that I wanted to see more of Kezia and Uma in particular and these are to characters who are really looked at in closer detail. I really liked Uma by the end of the book and there were some really touching scenes between her and Shiraz that made me feel bad about immediately assuming that she was the ‘token pikey’ character cast by Dent.

I’ve got the third instalment in the series, Too Cool for School, on my bookshelves so I’m pretty sure that review will be coming soon. I’ve also picked up Diary of a Snob, which I’ve read the first few chapters of and already love! Hooray for Grace Dent!

First line: ‘I am the master of my own destiny.’

Read if you liked...: Diary of a Chav – Grace Dent

Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 16/20 (B+)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

So I'm really excited about taking part in The Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge. I hadn't started blogging when sign ups for the 2010 challenge closed so I was always really jealous this year of those taking part but this year I can enter - yay!

There are already so many books that I'm hoping to read next year and I'm going to be going on a big pre-ordering spree tomorrow to make sure I'm all sorted. Pre-ordering doesn't break my book buying ban too badly, does it? Nah.

So, these are the books that I'm hoping to read as part of the challenge. Of course I'll update this as I'm sure things will change but here it is so far:

Bad Taste in Boys - Carrie Harris
Possession - Elana Johnson
Alissa Grosso - Popular
Being Billy - Phil Earle
Artichoke Hearts - Sita Brahmachari
Warped - Maurissa Guibord
XVI - Julia Karr
Choker - Elizabeth Woods
Head Games - Keri Mikulski
The Iron Witch - Karen Mahoney
The Latte Rebellion - Sarah Jamila Stevenson
Vesper - Jeff Sampson
Haven - Kristi Cook
Exposed - Kimberly Marcus
So Shelly - Ty Roth
Rival - Sara Bennett Wealer
Wake Unto Me - Lisa Cach
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Clarity - Kim Harrington
Like Mandarin - Kirsten Hubbard
The Liar Society - Lisa Roecker
The Lipstick Laws - Amy Holder

Good luck to everybody else entering - there are so many amazing books coming out next year, I'm sure we'll have a blast!

Review: Diary of a Chav: Trainers V. Tiaras - Grace Dent

Published: June 21st 2007, Hodder Children’s Books

Pages: 233 pages, paperback

Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): Chav: (n.) A British insult for white working-class people fixated on street fashions derived from American hip-hop such as imitation gold and fake designer clothing, e.g., "It's a bruv who wears crap clothing and manky gold jewelry, innit?"

16-year-old Shiraz Bailey Wood's days are filled with hoodies, hip-hop, and hanging around outside Claire's accessories. Her parents work crap jobs and her school is pretty much chav central. There's not much goin' on in the world of this lovable dreamer, and having a brain and a heart of gold only makes it worse.

Shiraz loathes being called a chav because she may be poor but she's not trashy, but she can't do much about it--yet. Shiraz is beginning to feel there's a lot more to life than minimum wage and the bling of a souped-up Vauxhall Nova.
Told in diary entries over the course of a year attending the unfortunately named "SuperChav Academy" (where she'll do anything to prove she's NOT a chav), Shiraz's insanely funny voice and spirited narrative s how there is always a way to rise above any obstacle.

My review: Honestly, Diary of a Chav is probably the funniest book you will read this year. Admittedly, it was published back in 2007 so you may well have already read it but still – this book is absolutely hilarious.

I’m a big fan of Grace Dent but it wasn’t until this week that I actually read any of her fiction writing. I really wanted to love her work and I’m so glad I enjoyed Diary of a Chav. Dent creates such a brilliant community for her characters and everything was so visual – I could see Uma’s house with the fridge in the front garden, I know exactly what Shiraz’s overweight staffy looks like when she’s begging for Pringles and I could hear the latest ‘choon’ by the G-Mayes Detonators in my head (note: it wasn’t good).

Though there are a lot of stereotypes in Diary of a Chav and yes, stereotypes are bad and we shouldn’t judge but, I’m sorry, this book is too hilarious for me to get caught up in political correctness. Dent gets the dialogue absolutely spot on and there are definite hints of Vicky Pollard in Shiraz and Carrie’s speech, though with a touch more eloquence. My case in point:

‘…I’m not sure how we even has a job himself let alone a job telling everyone else how to get a job, but I didn’t say that to his face ‘cos I did what Mrs Radowitz said and thought through quietly in my head how that sounded and I reckon it probably was ‘prejudicial’ and ‘stigmatizing’ towards folk who just happen to look a bit like paedos but who aren’t.

'Everyone else in 10W had something worked out to tell Mr Brightwell, aside from me. Carrie reckons she wants to be a nail technician and tanning supervisor like Collette Brown at Cheeky’s and Luther Dinsdale wants to start his own grime collection ‘cos he’s got some pretty good rhymes and his dad knows people who have a recording studio in Stratford and run a pirate called RUDE FM so he reckons he can get a slot. Kezia wants to be a singer ‘cos she always does karaoke at Goodmayes Social Club and once won fifty quid of Iceland vouchers and everyone said she should go on X-Factor.’’


Utterly brilliant.

There are no frills in Diary of a Chav, no extensive subplots, no twists or turns, just a great story that’s entertaining from beginning to end. If you’re in a bad mood then this is the perfect antidote, you simply can’t read one of Shiraz’s rants without breaking into a smile. I promise.

That said, this is a story with heart and there were some really sweet touches in the novel. When Shiraz realises that she ‘isn’t so thick’ and may actually be good at something it’s a really nice moment. And I really wanted to get to know more about Uma and Kezia’s situations as there seemed to be a lot more going on with those two than it first seemed. I’ve now read the second book in the series and can reveal that you do learn more about Uma and Kezia in that instalment – good stuff.

I'd be really interested to see what international readers think of Diary of a Chav so if there are any readers outside of the UK who have read it - do let me know your thoughts!

First line: ‘So much for ramming the word iPod into every sentence since last June.’

Read if you liked...: Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging – Louise Rennison

Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 16/20 (A)

Friday, 19 November 2010

News: Random House to publish Mortal Kiss

*Information for this post provided by Random House*

Random House Children’s Books is to publish Mortal Kiss, the interactive virtual story it created with Stardoll, the world’s largest virtual entertainment and social gaming site for teenagers. The move to create a physical book was prompted by the phenomenally positive response to the story from Stardoll users.

The Mortal Kiss pages on Stardoll have received over 13.9 million page views, with the campaign page receiving over 3.8 million. The Mortal Kiss Stardoll fan club has 51,788 members, against 33,347 for the Harry Potter club. Each of the main characters in the story has character Stardolls; the most popular of these, Faye, received over 600,000 views.

Mortal Kiss is the first interactive story Random House has published on a social networking platform. A paranormal mystery, created in collaboration between writers and editors at RHCB and artists and programmers at Stardoll, Mortal Kiss was serialised globally via the Stardoll website over the 8-week period leading up to Hallowe’en. The book will be published on 6th January 2011 by Bantam Books, price £6.99.

Philippa Dickinson, MD of RHCB, comments, ‘We are absolutely delighted to be publishing Mortal Kiss. The extraordinary enthusiasm shown by the Stardoll community for this, our first web-based serial, shows the power a good story has to connect with readers both online and offline.’

Mattias Miksche, CEO of Stardoll Network, comments, ‘We are thrilled to be reaching new heights with RHCB, as the virtual story Mortal Kiss is published as a book early next year. The response from the Stardoll community around Mortal Kiss has exceeded expectations and they have been asking for more. RCHB are making it a reality for our members and teens around the world.’

*

More about Random House

The Random House Group is one of the largest general book publishing companies in the UK. The Group is based in London and has subsidiary companies in Australia, New Zealand and India, with a joint venture in South Africa called Random House Struik. The Group comprises five publishing companies: Cornerstone Publishing, CCV, Ebury Publishing, Random House Children's Books and Transworld Publishers, boasting more than 40 diverse and highly respected imprints.

The Random House Group distribution business services its own imprints as well as 60 other UK publishers. The Random House Group is an independently managed subsidiary of Random House Inc in the US, the trade book publishing division of Bertelsmann AG, one of the world's largest and most diversified integrated media companies.

More about Stardoll

The Stardoll Network is the world’s leading group of websites devoted to young women and teens. Launched in early 2009, the network includes: Stardoll.com – the entertainment destination for young women focused on fame, fashion and friends; Piczo.com – the original platform devoted to social self expression and visual blogging; and PaperDollHeaven.com – a simpler game-play environment for the younger, female demographic.

The Stardoll Network now works with the world’s biggest brands as they look to engage with an increasingly elusive teen audience. The network is the number one publisher in ComScore’s teen category, both in Europe and globally. The business is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden with offices in the US, UK and Germany, and is backed by two of the world’s top venture capital firms: Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures.


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Cover Announcement: Chain Reaction - Simone Elkeles

So it's finally here - the cover for Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles! Well feast your eyes people, this one's a scorcher. The third book in the Perfect Chemistry series is due out on May 24th 2011 and is to be published by Walker Books for Young Readers.

Even though I've read the series in completely the wrong order (Rules of Attraction first, then Perfect Chemistry) I love both books and cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Chain Reaction. Awesome!


Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Luis Fuentes is a good boy who doesn't live with the angst that his big brothers, Alex and Carlos, have always lived with. Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams of becoming an astronaut. But when he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he's never known, and just when he thinks he's got life all figured out, learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life. Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father?


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Fall for Anything - Courtney Summers

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and is a post detailing an upcoming book you can't wait to read.


This week I've chosen ‘Fall for Anything’ by Courtney Summers. I’m a massive fan of Summers and I loved ‘Some Girls Are’, which was released earlier this year. Her writing style is so honest and easy to read, I’m always find myself completely drawn in to the world she creates for her characters. Brilliant stuff.


‘Fall for Anything’ sounds like it’s going to be a fantastic story and if the ratings are anything to go by then it’s going to be a winner – 100% 5* ratings on Goodreads. Not bad!


Publication date: December 21st 2010


Published by: St Martin’s Griffin


Summary (from Goodreads): When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world?


When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. He seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death.


But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on… but some questions should be left unanswered.


So what about you guys? What are your picks for this week?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Mistress of the Storm - M. L. Welsh

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!

The book I'm reading right now is 'Mistress of the Storm' by M. L. Welsh and here are my sentences!

Teaser sentences (from page 44): 'As Mother sighted the fabled ship at last, her face took on an unaccustomed look of genuine happiness. Her greasy chins wobbled with emotion.'


So, what's your teaser this week?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Exposed - Kimberly Marcus

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and is a post detailing an upcoming book you can't wait to read.

This week I've chosen ‘Exposed’ by Kimberly Marcus. It’s a 2011 debut (bonus points) and I’m literally counting down the days. I love verse novels and I really don’t think there are enough of them out there. Plus, anything that’s meant to appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson is definitely something you can count me in for. I would really, really like this one to be released NOW, please?

Publication date: February 22nd, 2011

Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers

Summary (from Goodreads): In the dim light of the darkroom, I'm alone, but not for long.
As white turns to gray,
Kate is with me.

The background of the dance studio blurred,
so the focus is all on her
legs extended in a perfect soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle,

my forever-best friend.


Sixteen-year-old Liz Grayson is photogirl—sharp, focused and ready to take the world by storm with her camera. But Liz's entire life is called into question when her brother is accused of a crime—and the accuser is Liz's own best friend.
As the aftershocks from that accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself, shifts out of focus.

And for the first time in her life, Liz finds herself unable to trust her own point of view. Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse, Exposed is Kimberly Marcus's gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.


So what about you guys? What are your picks for this week?

Review: Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots - Abby McDonald

Published: April 13th 2010, Candlewick Press

Pages: 293 pages, paperback

Acquired: ARC sent for review by Candlewick Press

Summary (from Goodreads): Can a boy-hungry Jersey girl survive the wilds of Canada with her eco-identity intact? A witty new YA novel from the author of SOPHOMORE SWITCH. Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life.

So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there.


But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?


My review
: So I was really excited about Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots. The synopsis sounded great, I loved the cover and the promise of a run in with a moose was the cherry on the cake – I had to read it. Unfortunately, it fell a little flat for me and I was really disappointed.

Firstly, I probably should have gathered this from the synopsis, so maybe it’s my own fault, but I felt like the environmental issues in the book overpowered everything else. I knew there would be some inclusion of Jenna’s activism but it seems to dominate to entire storyline and barely left room for any other plot development.

I couldn’t find anything in Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots that excited me. It was a fun read and it did chug along at a nice pace but while I found things funny, sad and entertaining in the book I didn’t cry, I didn’t laugh out loud and I didn’t feel like I had to tell people about it once I’d finished. It was just a little ‘blah’.

The characters aren’t particularly likeable; especially Jenna and I do find it hard to enjoy a story when I don’t relate to the main character. She was just a bit too much a martyr and that’s something that grates on me. A lot. The male characters were pretty bland; to be honest I can’t even remember any of their names and Fiona was too bitchy for me to ever warm up to her. Not a great combination.

Okay, so I think this proves I definitely need to stop choosing books to read based on reasons such as the following: ‘The word ‘bear’ is in the title and it says the main character has a run in with a moose. Ergo, this must be a genius book.’ I did enjoy Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots but I wouldn’t go so far as the agree with the bold statement on the book’s back cover that it is ‘Sure to delight fans of Sarah Dessen, Meg Cabot and E. Lockhart’.

First line: ‘Re-use! Re-duce! Re-cycle!’

Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 13/20 (C)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Swapped by a Kiss - Luisa Plaja

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!

The book I'm reading right now is 'Swapped by a Kiss' by Luisa Plaja and here are my sentences!

Teaser sentences (from page 49): 'Where's my body? If I'm Jo, then is Jo me?'


So, what's your teaser this week?