Saturday, 30 April 2011

News: Trash film and Warm Bodies cast announced!


So it seems as though there's an announcement every other day that a YA novel is going to be adapted into a film! The Hunger Games, 13 Reasons Why, If I stay etc etc, there are tonnes of them. Well today I've got news about two more novels that are set to hit the big screen and I'm really excited about both, I just hope they do them justice!

Firstly - Trash (by the lovely Andy Mulligan) is going to be a film! Awesome news, I think this could be absolutely brilliant! Richard Curtis (director of... well, everything!) and Stephen Daldry (director of Billy Elliot) are set to work on the film and I'm sure they'll do a good job. There's a load of info on the project here so do have a read and let me know what you think about a film version of Trash.


Finally - I've got some more details about the upcoming Warm Bodies film, which I know so many people can't wait for. I haven't actually read Warm Bodies yet but there's a copy on my shelf so I'm very tempted to pick it up soon.

Nicholas Hault and Teresa Palmer are rumoured to have been cast for the film - I really like Nicholas Hault and I'm sure he'll be great and, although I haven't seen Teresa Palmer in anything, I'd heard good things about her. Jonathan Levine is set to direct and write the film (co-writing with the author, Isaac Marion) and it seems as though the project's ticking along nicely!


Exciting stuff - I think it's great so many YA titles are being picked up to be adapted into films. We're going to be spoilt for choice in 2012, that's for sure!

Mini Reviews: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Bad Karma Diaries and Montacute House

So I like to try and stay up to date with the books I’m sent for review so I’ve decided to write a collection of mini reviews to be posted each week to help me keep up to date. This week I’m featuring mini reviews of The Two Who Leapt Through Time, The Bad Karma Diaries and Montacute House.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - Yasutaka Tsutsui

Published: May 25th 2011, Alma Books Ltd
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): One of Tsutsui's best-known and most popular works in his native Japan, The Girl Who Leapt through Time is the story of fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Kazuko, who accidentally discovers that she can leap back and forth in time.

In her quest to uncover the identity of the mysterious figure that she believes to be responsible for her paranormal abilities, she'll constantly have to push the boundaries of space and time, and challenge the notions of dream and reality.


My review: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is certainly not the sort of book I'd usually accept for review. However, I've heard such wonderful things about Yasutaka Tsutsui that I thought I'd give it a go. I'm still not sure whether I enjoyed the book or not - though it did entertain me. I think it's one that you probably need to read more than once to pick up the subtle details that are so easy to miss first time around.

My main issue with this book is that it felt very, very short and didn't seem fully developed - that could be to do with the translation but I didn't feel like I got to know any of the characters very well. Everything seemed quite rushed and, at 170 pages, there was definitely room to expand the story and spend a bit more time developing the characters to their full potential.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is certainly an interesting story but it's not something I'd leap at the chance to read again straight away. I do imagine this one would work well on the big screen as it is quite visual so I'll be interested to see the film when I get a chance.

Rating: 3/5

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The Bad Karma Diaries - Bridget Hourican

Published: March 7th 2011, O'Brien Press
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from back cover of book): Best friends Anna and Denise need some cash, so they go into business running birthday parties for younger kids in the area. They earn a bit of money AND have lots of funny stories for their blog...

But then the girls come up with an even madder money-making scheme and the Instruments of Karma are born, taking revenge on bullies - for a fee! They even blog about it (anonymously of course). But Karma is a funny old thing, and the girls learn the hard way that revenge isn't always sweet...

My review: The Bad Karma Diaries is pure fun and I dare anyone to read it without cracking a smile. This one will have you creasing up - perfect to read in the garden when the sun is shining.

The plot of The Bad Karma Diaries is what makes is an enjoyable read and I loved that the book featured a blog (go bloggers go!). However, I did feel that Anna and Denise let the story down a bit as I just didn't bond with them. They were likable girls but I don't think they stood out - I certainly won't be able to remember their names for very long and that's a shame.

The Bad Karma Diaries is a good read, not a great one (in my opinion). It's worth a go but I wouldn't recommend it to those of who like your books with a bit of edge - this one's pure sugar-coated but entertaining nonetheless.

Rating: 3/5

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Montacute House - Lucy Jago

Published: May 3rd 2011, Bloomsbury
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): At first a boy’s body is discovered, then John, Cess’s best friend, disappears . . . What is the mystery behind these sinister events?

Cess works caring for the chickens at Montacute House but on her thirteenth birthday everything changes. She finds a precious locket hidden in the chicken coop and is convinced someone has placed it there for her to find. But the day is overshadowed by fear as a boy’s body is found by the river, and then John disappears. Cess is determined to find him but is soon embroiled in a plot that threatens her world and forces her to draw on powers she never knew she possessed, powers that will place her life in danger if they are discovered by the villagers.

Witchcraft, politics and religious ambition combine in this gripping and wonderfully realised novel set in the Somerset of the 1500s.

My review: I am SO happy that somebody has finally written a novel about the beautiful Montacute House. I grew up maybe five minutes away from it and it's still close to the top of my list for prospective wedding venues! I've always loved Montacute House and it's the perfect place to set a novel so I'm really happy Lucy Jago decided to set her story there.

Montacute House is a great book and, as someone who knows the place extremely well, Jago does a really brilliant job of getting the tone of the estate and the surrounding area spot on. Cess was a really sweet girl and I loved her personality - she had a bit of bite to her wasn't afraid to get stuck in and stand up for herself, what a great heroine.

Hooray for Somerset, my homeland! This one's a cracker. Read it tucked up in bed on a windy, miserable day and you'll be sucked into the fantastic world Jago creates for you and her characters.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, 29 April 2011

Favourite Covers: Tattoos

So I know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers but I just can't help myself! My laptop is full of folders of pretty covers so I've decided to post a few of my favourites up - the theme for this post is tattoos. Now, it's no secret I'm a huge tattoo fan - I have five myself and will definitely be getting more soon, so I thought I'd dedicate this week's feature to covers that feature tattoos.

Elle Jasper - Afterlight

Various authors - Inked

Melissa Marr - Radiant Shadows

Karen Olson - The Missing Ink

Rachel Vincent - Stray

Gena Showalter - Heart of the Dragon

Patricia Briggs - Moon Called

Scott Westerfeld - Specials

Sarah Hall - The Electric Michelangelo

Andrew Davidson - The Gargoyle

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So, that's it for this week - what do you think? Which is your favourite?

Review: Rage - Jackie Morse Kessler

Published: April 8th 2011, Harcourt
Pages: Kindle copy
Series?: Yes, this is the second installment. Loss (book three) is due out in 2012
Acquired: Obtained via Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads): Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different. That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War.

Now Missy wields a new kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control.
A unique approach to the topic of self-mutilation, Rage is the story of a young woman who discovers her own power and refuses to be defeated by the world.

My review: Wow. Rage is certainly an upfront novel. Whether you love it or hate it, I guarantee you'll finish with a strong opinion either way. Personally, I loved Rage. It's a relatively short novel but it definitely packs a punch. The story opens with our protagonist killing her cat so that sets the tone for what's to come... Dark!

Melissa is a troubled girl in a horrible situation but I think Kessler does a good job at not trying to force the reader into pitying her - I like that readers are allowed to make up their own mind. I felt awful for Melissa after the 'party' incident but, generally, I really didn't feel too much empathy for her. There was just a little something about her personality that grated on me - I get that she's not supposed to be the most likable character but I didn't bond with her at all and that did make it hard to care about the outcome of the novel.

I did feel that it's the plot of Rage that makes it a great book as the plot itself is so, so strong and well researched. The writing was a little repetitive, especially when it came to Melissa thinking about self-harming. Okay, how many references are there to kissing in this book? A lot. Melissa thinks about the blade kissing her skin, the blood kissing her skin, her face kissing the grass, Death's finger kissing her face etc etc. It just became a little less effective after reading the same metaphor so many times so I wish there had been a bit more originality in the language used.

Death is a great character - he reminded me a little of the Doctor in Doctor Who. Towards the end of the book he almost became too quirky for me but he did come out with some brilliant one liners. I definitely want to read Hunger soon to learn more about Famine and I can't wait to see Pestilence's back story when Loss comes out next year.

First line: 'The day Melissa Miller killed her cat, she met the Angel of Death.'

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

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Trailer Thursday: The Glass Demon, The Thirteen Secrets, The Emerald Atlas, Cycler

Hi everyone! So, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love book trailers. I think they’re absolutely fascinating and I love to see the different wants books are promoted through their trailers. Every Thursday I'll be running 'Trailer Thursday', where I’ll be bringing you a few trailers that I’ve found on my travels of new and old books. Enjoy!

The Glass Demon - Helen Grant:




The Thirteen Secrets - Michelle Harrison:




The Emerald Atlas - John Stephens:



Cycler - Lauren McLaughlin:



So what do you guys think about book trailers - do they ever influence your decision to read (or not read) a book?

Review: The Treasure Map of Boys - E. Lockhart

Published: July 27th 2010, Delacorte Press
Pages: 241 pages, paperback
Series?: Yes, this is book three. Book four (Real Live Boyfriends) is out now
Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): Ruby is back at Tate Prep, and it’s her thirty-seventh week in the state of Noboyfriend. Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what’s more:

· Noel is writing her notes,
· Jackson is giving her frogs,
· Gideon is helping her cook,
· and Finn is making her brownies.
· Rumors are flying, and Ruby’s already sucky reputation is heading downhill.

Not only that, she’s also:

· running a bake sale,
· learning the secrets of heavy metal therapy,
· encountering some seriously smelly feet,
· defending the rights of pygmy goats,
· and bodyguarding Noel from unwanted advances.

Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and—if such a thing exists—to find true love.

My review: Yay for Ruby Oliver! I am such a massive fan of this series. E. Lockhart is a genius when it comes to contemporary YA and I've just finished ordering the rest of her backlist to complete my collection. I've fallen in love with every one of her novels that I've read so far and The Treasure Map of Boys is absolutely no exception. This is another fantastic installment in the Ruby Oliver series.

Ah, Ruby. She's pretty close to the top of my list of my favourite YA characters of all time. I love this girl - I want to be her friend, damn it. Lockhart brings her to life through so many little details that come together to make Ruby whole. I love the lists that she writes throughout the novel and her voice is perfect - completely realistic for a teenage but still managing to be unique.

I've written quite a lot lately about how frustrated I get with writers who go out of their way to make their characters 'quirky' and 'edgy' (and fail, more often than not) - to any writers who are looking to create one of a kind characters who are still likable, take a lesson from E. Lockhart. Ruby and co are just brilliant, definitely my favourite ensemble cast in any YA series. Noel - don't even get me started. All I have to say is that if Ruby doesn't end up with him at the end of the series I'm going to throw things.

The book, as with all of the series, is just a joy to read. I got through this one in a single sitting but wished it had gone on a little longer - it's not that the story wasn't great, because I think Lockhart ended the book at just the right time, I just didn't want to have to wait until Real Live Boyfriends gets delivered!

I geuinely have nothing bad to say about The Treasure Map of Boys. If you enjoyed The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book then you already know you'll love it. Each book in the series is better than the last so give The Treasure Map of Boys a look, I absolutely guarantee you will fall in love!

First line: 'The first day back from winter break, junior year, I walked into Chem to find a head of red cabbage on every lab table.'

Read if you liked…: The Boy Book - E. Lockhart, The Boyfriend List - E. Lockhart

Rating:
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 18/20 (A)

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Hourglass - Myra McEntire

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 Hourglass by Myra McEntire. Not only is the cover completely beautiful but the story sounds fantastic - really, really excited about this.

Published: June 14th 2011, Egmont
Summary (from Goodreads): One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.

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So, what books can't you wait for? What's your pick this week?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Cover Reveals: The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove, Guardian of the Dead, Hades

So as you may (or may not) have seen the covers of The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove (by Lauren Kate - new cover), Guardian of the Dead (by Karen Healey - new cover) and Hades (by Alexandra Adornetto) have recently been released.

What do you think? I LOVE the new cover for Guardian of the Dead, the new Natalie Hargrove cover is pretty... and, seriously, what on EARTH is up with the trainwreck that is the cover of Hades? Horrendous. Really, really bad!

So without further ado, feast your eyes!

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove - Lauren Kate

Guardian of the Dead - Karen Healey


Hades - Alexandra Adornetto

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Let me know your thoughts - especially about Hades, as I'm sure this is going to be a love/hate cover!

Review: Come Closer - Sara Gran

Published: May 2nd 2006, Atlantic Books
Pages: 168 pages, paperback
Series?: No, standalone
Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): Amanda is happily married, likes her job, likes her life...so those odd dreams she's been having must have been caused by nothing more than stress. Those strange noises around the house? Probably a mouse. Blackouts? Caused by low blood pressure, of course. And that blood on her shirt? Well, everything has a rational explanation.

Instead of a book she had ordered, she is mailed a copy of Demon Possession Past and Present. Soon after, she burns her husband with a cigarette. Accidentally. Something seems to take her over. She begins to study the book on possession.

But, as everyone knows, there are no such things as demons. And, if there were, why should they visit Amanda? She has done everything right.
Still, as she watches in horror, Amanda is becoming less and less herself. And more and more someone - or something - known to students of the Kabbalah as Naarmah, a beautiful female evil spirit with a lust for life and a taste for violence. Someone very unlike Amanda.

My review: As many readers of this blog will know, I'm an absolutely huge horror fan. I love all types of horror but my favourites are those that linger in my mind long after finishing the book - I love those that slowly seep into my subconcious and terrify me when I least expect it. Come Closer is definitely one of those books.

In novels and films we generally see demonic possession from the point of view of the victim's boyfriend or best friend - very rarely from the point of view of the character who is becoming possessed. What helps to make Come Closer so absorbing and terrifying is that it's written in the first person, so as the demon slowly takes hold of Amanda we see her personality and voice change from a vibrant young woman who lives life to the full to a vindictive, sly demon who destroys everybody around her. Truly creepy.

One of the things I loved about Come Closer is how subtly and slowly the story develops. At first Amanda's out of character acts barely register on the demon possession scale and initially I did begin to wonder if the novel was going to take off but boy did it! After the first few chapters things really kick off and Amanda's downward spiral into Naarmah's clutches is absolutely haunting - and so realistic, by the end of the novel I really was on the look out for signs of demons everywhere!

Come Closer would work so well on the big screen and I would love to see a really well crafted film adaptation, definitely with Natalie Portman playing Amanda/Naarmah. It's a very visual film and Gran's writing is top notch - I found it so easy to visualise Amanda and Ed's world and I would love to see this in the hands of a careful director who loves the genre. It could be awesome.

Come Closer really is a gem - I only found it through hours of searching through Amazon but it definitely deserves more hype. It's a brilliantly written book with realistic characters and a truly unsettling story. I read it in a single sitting and would absolutely recommend it to anybody who likes to scary themselves silly - fans of Long Lankin, ahoy!

First line: 'In January I had a proposal due to my boss, Leon Fields, on a new project.'

Read if you liked…: Paranormal Activity (film), Now You're One of Us - Asa Nonami

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

Alternative covers:





Monday, 25 April 2011

Interview: Lauren Bjorkman (My Invented Life)

So today I have Lauren Bjorkman here at Writing from the Tub, talking about her life as a writer and her newest novel, My Invented Life. Without further ado, on with the interview!


In case any readers haven’t read the book yet, can you tell me a little bit about My Invented Life?

My Invented Life is a comedy of errors with mistaken identities, ambiguous sexuality, skate Gods, stage geeks and true love. It’s about two sisters who simultaneously adore and sabotage each other in ways that only sisters can. It’s also a romp through the theater geek crowd and a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

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?

Most importantly, the reader must care about the character. Care about what happens to her. Since I prefer writing about complex characters that are seriously flawed, this can pose a challenge! The best ways is to show my character's beautiful traits to balance out the less lovely ones. We are all a mixed bag of good and bad in real life. If my readers like my character despite her shortcomings, and root for her to succeed, then I've done my job.

Do you own a Kindle or other e-reader? What’s your opinion on them?

I don't own an e-reader. My main reason is simple. Though I absolutely adore my computer, I spend too much time in front of the screen writing, blogging, emailing, Facebooking, etc. Besides, I love to read a book while curled up in bed with my cat on my stomach. The idea of saving trees appeals to me, though.

What reading for pleasure do you prefer to read standalones or series? Why?

I read stand alones more often. My face genre, contemporary fiction, rarely comes in series form. I don't know why, exactly. I do read fantasy and dystopian, too. In middle school, I so went crazy over The Wizard of Earthsea, that I named my hermit crabs Ursula and LeGuin. Most recently I consumed The Hunger Games series in a single bite. Paranormal romances, which are incredibly popular right now, don't grab me as much.

The YA book market is a competitive place, what do you think sets My Invented Life apart from the pack?

It's funny! And fast-paced compared to a lot of contemporary fiction, but it still has depth. At least, that's what the reviewers say. There are other YA novels set among the theater geek crowd, but not many. Also, very few YA LGBT novels address bisexuality.

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 love music. The feelings expressed in certain songs inspire me to write. In fact, I want to structure a book around a certain Tom Petty album some day. But I don't listen while writing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you always been this way?

A pantser all the way. If I plot in great of detail, I lose interest in my story. The problem with pantsing, though? I end up spending twice as long revising as I do writing in the first place. I've tried some rough plotting methods that work for me. Like creating an outline of heart clutching moments, then connecting these together with the rest of the story.

How important do you think social media (i.e. Twitter/Facebook/blogging) is in today’s market for a writer?

Important but not crucial. I hope! I have a website and blog, but don't blog often, and tweet rarely. I have done a lot of interviews and guest posts, though. In a world where most new books get about three months inside a bookstore, it's great way to keep your book in the public eye. Also, I enjoy meeting bloggers, librarians, and other writers online. Some of these exchanges are amazing!

Do you think your teenage years have influenced you as a writer? If so, how?

Absolutely. The intensity of that time stayed with me--the pain, the excitement, the hopefulness, and the playfulness. I hope to never lose it.

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?

No one censors real life for teens. They get exposed to all kinds of difficult situations--an abusive parent, friends and parents that use drugs, mental illness, homelessness, war. Stories give teens a safe place from which to view their own lives. I believe novels help teens cope with difficult situations, and make them feel less alone. Not to mention develop empathy for others.
Still, it's goof for readers to filter their choices based on their own sensitivities. For instance, I don't watch horror movies because they give me nightmares. Pick your books carefully.

What books do you think we should be looking out for in 2011?

So many! For simplicity, I will limit my list to stand alones. I'm especially looking forward to Allen Zadoff's My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies. His first novel was absolutely hilarious. Other contemporary novels I'm dying to read include I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler, Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley, and The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin. In fantasy/paranormal, I can't wait for The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell, Huntress by Malinda Lo, and Misfit by John Skovron.

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

Right now I'm in the throes of revising my next YA, Miss Fortune Cookie--a story about girl living in SF Chinatown with her single mother, and her complicated friendships. She starts an advice blog called Miss Fortune Cookie, which is fun, until someone actually takes her advice. It will come out in 2012.

I'm also writing a humorous YA dystopian with a hopeful ending.

Thank you for asking me these most excellent questions!

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So, have any of you guys read My Invented Life, what did you think? It was great to speak to Lauren and I'd like to say a big thanks to her for stopping by :).

Review: Beautiful Malice - Rebecca James

Published: July 1st 2010, Faber and Faber
Pages: 353 pages, paperback
Series?: Standalone
Acquired: Purchased myself (and read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge)

Summary (from Goodreads): ''So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?'

Following a terrible tragedy that leaves her once-perfect family shattered, Katherine Patterson moves to a new city, starts at a new school, and looks forward to a new life of quiet anonymity.

But when Katherine meets the gregarious and beautiful Alice Parrie her resolution to live a solitary life becomes difficult. Katherine is unable resist the flattering attention that Alice pays her and is so charmed by Alice’s contagious enthusiasm that the two girls soon become firm friends. Alice’s joie de vivre is transformative; it helps Katherine forget her painful past and slowly, tentatively, Katherine allows herself to start enjoying life again.

But being friends with Alice is complicated – and as Katherine gets to know her better she discovers that although Alice can be charming and generous she can also be selfish and egocentric. Sometimes, even, Alice is cruel.

And when Katherine starts to wonder if Alice is really the kind of person she wants as a friend, she discovers something else about Alice - she doesn’t like being cast off


My review: Seriously - Beautiful Malice is an absolutely brilliant book. It's been sitting on my shelf for a little while but it never jumped out and grabbed my attention when I was choosing what to read next. However, I finally decided to give it a go and I'm so, so glad I did. I soared through it in a matter of hours and stayed up far too late on a Sunday night to finish it - cue very dark circles under my eyes the next day.

I raved and raved about Choker earlier in the year and Beautiful Malice definitely reminded me a little of it. Not in content or plot but the tones were quite similar. Very dark, extremely creepy and fantastically written. Rebecca James is a complete genius and I'm just angry it took me so long to read this book.

Alice will scare the shit out of you. She is crazy. Really. Completely unhinged but I loved her for that. When you (as the reader) finally realise just what she's capable of, just how cruel she is - well, I still haven't stopped thinking about Beautiful Malice and I'm desperate to reread it again. I don't want to give much away about the plot as I loved all the twists and turns that I was completely clueless about.

On a technical level, this is a brilliantly structured book. It leaps from the past, even deeper into the past and then on to the present day and each chapter, whichever time period it's set in, reveals a little more about Katherine's life and how she ended up in her present situation. When I finally found out exactly what happened to her little sister, Rachel, I had to take a moment to steady myself. Just... awful - but not at all gratuitous, so well written.

Katherine is a fantastically layered character with so much to her personality, Philippa is another stand out (love her) but Alice completely dominates Beautiful Malice. She's brutal but brilliant and she's definitely rocketing up to the list of my top villains.

Do not make the mistake I did and wait to read Beautiful Malice. If it wasn't on your radar until now then listen to me - you need this book in your life! Perfection.

First line: 'I didn't go to Alice's funeral.'

Read if you liked…: Choker - Elizabeth Woods

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 18/20 (A)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

In My Mailbox - 27


Hi everybody, happy Easter! Here’s my In My Mailbox for this week – I hope you all had a good book week and enjoyed the gorgeous sun. I had a bit of a crazy book week this week so I got a fair few, can't wait to get started on them!

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





Received for review:

Gamerunner - B. R. Collins
Wolf Blood - N. M. Browne
Plague - Michael Grant
Killing Honour - Bali Rai
Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion
It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd


Purchased myself:

The Long Weekend - Savita Kalkan
I Am Not a Serial Killer - Dan Wells
Dead Boy Talking - Linda Strachan
Elsewhere - Gabrielle Zevin
Audrey, Wait! - Robin Benway
Sweet Valley Confidential - Francine Pascal
In the Miso Soup - Ryu Murakami
Running in Heels - Helen Bailey
Artichoke Hearts - Sita Brahmachari
Room - Emma Donoghue
What Would Emma Do? - Eileen Cook
Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Paper Towns - John Green
Looking for Alaska - John Green
Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
An Abundance of Katherines - John Green



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So how about you guys, what did you get in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

News: Die For Me 2 and American Gods coming to HBO!



So there is such a buzz on the blogs about Die for Me by Amy Plum, the first installment in the Revenants series. I'm really excited to get started on my copy as the reviews have been brilliant so fingers crossed I'll love it too!

Amy Plum has recently released some details about the second book in the series and it's going to be titled... Until I Die! I love it! Amy wrote a really interesting post about the process of coming up with the title so do click here to have a read.


Any Neil Gaiman fans reading this? Yes, thought so - there are TONNES of us, after all! Well, exciting news... HBO have announced they'll be adapting Neil Gaiman's American Gods for the silver screen. Robert Richardson has signed on as co-writer (along with Gaiman himself) and Tom Hanks will be overseeing the project. Exciting stuff! Can't wait to find out more!


So what do you think about the title of the second novel in the Revenants series? And who's excited about American Gods coming to HBO? ME!

Mini reviews: Crash Test Love, Prisoner of the Inquisition and Shadows on the Moon

So I like to try and stay up to date with the books I’m sent for review so I’ve decided to write a collection of mini reviews to be posted each week to help me keep up to date. This week I’m featuring mini reviews of Crash Test Love, Prisoner of the Inquisition and Shadows on the Moon.

Crash Test Love - Ted Michael

Published: June 8th 2010, Delacorte Press
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): The last thing Henry Arlington wants is a girlfriend. He's just very, very good with girls—reading their body language, knowing what they want to hear, and more importantly: getting them into the backseat of his car. But all that changes when he meets Garrett Lennox at one of the many Sweet Sixteen parties he crashes.

Garrett thinks she's done with guys. She was dumped by her ex when she moved from Chicago to Long Island, and now she realizes that she needs to find out who she is by herself, instead of with a boyfriend. What she really needs is some good friends.


Fortunately for Garrett, the J Squad—the "it" girls of East Shore High School—want her in their clique. All she has to do is pass one little test: get East Shore god Henry Arlington to take her to one of the biggest Sweet Sixteens of the year, then dump him in front of everyone.

Garrett has promised herself not to fall for another guy, so playing with Henry's heart shouldn't be hard. Right? And Henry doesn't fall for girls, so when he and Garrett start to click, it doesn't matter. Does it?

My review: Crash Test Love is an interesting novel. It attempts a lot and, while I felt it fell a little short of the mark, I do appreciate what Michaels set out to do and the fact he tried something a little different from most contemporary YA novels.

We see your traditional high school novel played out from both sides of the coin - we get the point of view of both the lead girl and the popular, charming guy and it was interesting to hear from both characters. However, I have to say that I don't think Michaels quite got Garrett's voice right - the fact that Michaels is male did come through quite strongly in her chapters, which was a shame.

Crash Test Love isn't ground breaking but don't disregard it completely - I enjoyed it but I wouldn't rave about it. One to bear in mind.

First line: 'I am not the girlfriend type of guy.'

Rating: C

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Prisoner of the Inquisition - Theresa Breslin

Published: June 2nd 2011, Random House
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Zarita is used to basking in the pampered lifestyle being the only daughter of the town magistrate affords; she is free to roam the town as she likes, consort with the son of a nobleman and spend her days studying the arts.

Saulo's family have fallen on hard times, and when his father is hanged for an assault on Zarita he did not commit and Saulo is hauled off to be a slave at sea, Saulo swears revenge. But when Zarita's mother dies in childbirth, and the formidable and frightening Inquisition arrives in the area, a curtain of suspicion and brutality comes down on her old life for good.

Saulo may believe that Zarita is his sworn enemy, but in a time when the whole of Spain is in turmoil, are him and Zarita each other's only hope of survival?

My review: Now I am not generally a fan of historical fiction and I have to admit that Prisoner of the Inquisition is probably the first historical novel I've read in over a year. Thus, I was a little wary of it and wasn't sure that I would enjoy it at all. I'm pleased to say, my initial thoughts were wrong.

I did enjoy this one - the writing is absolutely beautiful and this is sure to delight fans of the genre. Breslin really does have a talent with words and I'd love to read more of her books in the future.

Saulo is a brilliant character and I felt for him so much - Breslin did such a great job of bringing him to life. He had so much more to him than your run of the mill YA male lead and I loved the journey we saw him go on as the story moved forward.

While I'm not truly converted to historical novels Prisoner of the Inquisition has definitely made me much more open to reading them in the future. Good stuff!

First line: 'She begged for a cross to hold.'

Rating: B-

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Shadows on the Moon - Zoe Marriott

Published: July 4th 2011, Walker
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): A powerful tale of magic, love and revenge with a strong female lead set in fairy-tale Japan; this is "Cinderella" meets "Memoirs of a Geisha".

Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama, or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens, or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?

Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince - and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love.


My review: Shadows on the Moon is a gorgeous, gorgeous story. Marriott is a sterling writer and I fell head of heels in love with the story she crafted of Suzume's world. Suzume herself was such a memorable character and I'm convinced it won't be long until we hear plans for Shadows on the Moon to be adapted into a film.

This novel will leave you with a lot to think about. It isn't one you can read in one sitting and then pop back on your shelf without a care - you'll catch yourself thinking about it weeks later and, for me, that's certainly the mark of a brilliant novel. Plus, just look at the cover art - beautiful!

First line: 'On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us.'

Rating: B

Friday, 22 April 2011

Favourite Covers: Kissing

So I know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers but I just can't help myself! My laptop is full of folders of pretty covers so I've decided to post a few of my favourites up - the theme for this post is kissing. Ah, the kiss! Here are some of my favourite covers that feature some lip locking action.

Suzanne Weyn - Reincarnation

Lauren Henderson - Kiss Me, Kill Me

Sarra Manning - Diary of a Crush: Kiss and Make Up

Sonya Sones - What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know (anyone else excited by the 'Winning' Charlie Sheen premonition on the cover?)

Simone Elkeles - Rules of Attraction

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So, that's it for this week - what do you think? Which is your favourite?

Review: Chime - Franny Billingsley

Published: April 4th 2011, Bloomsbury
Pages: 361 pages, paperback
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by Bloomsbury

Summary (from Goodreads): In the early twentieth century in Swansea, Wales, seventeen-year-old Briony, who can see the spirits that haunt the marshes around their town, feels responsible for her twin sister’s horrible injury until a young man enters their lives and exposes secrets that even Briony does not know about.

My review: Okay, Chime had me gripped from the first sentence - wow. It's probably one of my favourite opening lines ever. I'd casually flipped through the first couple of pages to see if I fancied Chime and after reading that line, I knew I had to read it there and then. From the fantastic opening line onwards, Billingsley's writing just gets better and better. The imagery she uses is beautiful and there are quotable passages on every single page which made Chime an absolute joy to read.

Briony feels constant guilt for her sister's accident and continually rejects her witch side - she's a pastor's daughter and tries to maintain a good, kind front at all times. However, as her 'wickedness' grows she finds it more and more difficult to hide who she really is and when gorgeous, wild Eldric shows up that's when everything kicks up a notch.

Paranormal fans will just eat this one up. I'm usually one to recoil from anything labelled 'paranormal romance' but I couldn't help but be completely absorbed by Briony's world and Billingsley's beautiful way with words. It's definitely the writing that drives this novel forward and it is gorgeous. I do think it sometimes overshadows the plot from time to time, especially as the novel draws towards a close but if you're big on beautiful language then this one's for you.

I haven't read any of Billingsley's work before but after reading Chime I'll definitely be looking out for more of her books and if you want to read Chime yourself, scroll down for a chance to win a copy!

First line: 'I've confessed to everything and I'd like to be hanged.'

Read if you liked…: Reckless - Cornelia Funke

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

Bloomsbury have kindly provided me with a copy of Chime to give away to one of my readers so if you're interested in reading this fab book for yourself enter below!

Click here to enter but do have a read of the rules first :).

Rules:

- This one is a UK only giveaway so I'm sorry to my international readers but I'll you another international giveaway soon, promise!

- The contest will run from today (22/4/11) until next Friday (29/4/11) and will close at midnight (London time)

- I'll email the winner to notify them so please make sure the email address you leave is correct

- If I don't receive a response from the winner in 72 hours I'll choose another winner

- Please check out the privacy policy at the top of the page if you have any concerns about Internet safety and data protection.

- Following is appreciated but not essential by any means

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Trailer Thursday: Revolution, The Dark and Hollow Places, Wither, Flip

Hi everyone! So, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love book trailers. I think they’re absolutely fascinating and I love to see the different wants books are promoted through their trailers. Every Thursday I'll be running 'Trailer Thursday', where I’ll be bringing you a few trailers that I’ve found on my travels of new and old books. Enjoy!

Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly:



The Dark and Hollow Places - Carrie Ryan (this is book three in the series so watch out for possible spoilers if you haven't read these books yet):



Wither - Lauren DeStefano:



Flip - Martyn Bedford:



So what do you guys think about book trailers - do they ever influence your decision to read (or not read) a book?

Review: Now You're One of Us - Asa Nonami

Published: December 18th 2007, Vertical
Pages: 239 pages, paperback
Series?: Nope, standalone - though a sequel would be awesome just for the ick factor
Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): In the tradition of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby, here is a new classic about the bridge who's no longer sure what to think. All families have their own rituals, secrets and credos, like a miniature religious cult; these quirks may elicit the mirth or mild alarm of guests, but the matter is rather more serious if you're marrying into a household. If it's a Japanese one with a history, then brace yourself: some surprising truths lurk around the corner.

The Shitos: eight people, four generations, one household, with young newlywed Noriko joining the clan to make nine. Her husand Kazuhito adores her to disctraction and her in-laws seem to be the most good-natured people imaginable. The family owns a thriving business and lives on a sprawling estate in the suburbs of Tokyo where they've created a floral paradise. Once a series of strange events and inconsistencies trigger Noriko's suspicions, however, reality becomes inseparable from her own darkest imaginings.


My review: Let me start by saying that everything you need to know about Now You're One of Us is perfectly conveyed on the cover. Really, this has to be my favourite cover of all time. I bought the book knowing absolutely nothing about the story but I knew it was going to be great with that cover. Just...so...icky. Pube in the soap!

I suppose I should also preface this review by saying that if you're uptight about, well, pretty much anything then Now You're One of Us probably isn't for you. I'm about as relaxed as they come and it had me raising my eyebrows. A quick flick through the reviews on Goodreads shows this one wasn't a hit with a lot of readers and it's clear a lot of people found it shocking. Yes, there are some shocking moments but they're not the biggest part of this book. It's a fantastic, gothic family saga-cum-horror and I loved it.

Noriko is such a brilliant lead. I felt everything she felt - when she was beginning to feel a little creeped out by her new family, I was too, when she felt guilty for insulting them after they were so sweet and treated her so well, I completely got it. She's great. She isn't one of those delicate heroines who is too scared to say her piece - while she tries to be polite at all times, Noriko isn't afraid to have a little tiff now and then and her wild outbursts at various family members were so well written.

From page one there's an unsettling tone and it doesn't dip as the novel progresses. In fact, it grows and grows until the last quarter of the story - where everything goes straight to crazy town. Seriously, bat shit crazy. I did finish reading with a certain feeling of 'wtaf?' (the 'a' is for actual, by the way - which means things got seriously weird) but I loved it. It was awesome - something I read purely for enjoyment (for a while I wasn't going to review it).

I would absolutely love to see a well-made movie version but equally, I think a badly made version would probably made me throw up - I can see it now. Ew.

As I said earlier on, if you have any sort of inhibitions then this book probably isn't for you but if creepy is your thing and the thought of pubes on soap piques your interest then definitely check out Now You're One of Us. It's evil and brilliant in equal measure.

First line: 'The rain, which had been battering the roof all night, seemed to have let up at dawn.'

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

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend - Gary Ghislain

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 How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain. I have to admit I was drawn to this one because of the Johnny Depp reference (yum) but it sounds hilarious!

Published: May 4th 2011, Chronicle Books

Summary (from Goodreads): David Gershwin's summer is about to take a turn for the weird. When his dad's new patient Zelda tells him she s from outer space and on a quest to take Johnny Depp back to her planet, he knows he should run away screaming.

But with one look from her mean, green eyes, David's hooked, and soon he's leaping across rooftops, running from police, and stealing cars just to stay by her side. He might not be a typical hero, but David's going to get the girl even if it takes him to the ends of the earth—or beyond.


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So, what books can't you wait for? What's your pick this week?

Review: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood - Eileen Cook

Published: January 5th 2010, Simon Pulse
Pages: 261 pages, paperback
Series?: Nope, standalone (though I'd love a sequel!)
Acquired: Purchased myself (after pining for it for months and months)

Summary (from Goodreads): Popularity is the best revenge.

In the final weeks of eighth grade, Lauren Wood made a choice. She betrayed her best friend, Helen, in a manner so publicly humiliating that Helen had to move to a new town just to save face. Ditching Helen was worth it, though, because Lauren started high school as one of the It Girls--and now, at the start of her senior year, she's the cheerleading captain, the quarterback's girlfriend, and the undisputed queen bee. Lauren has everything she's ever wanted, and she has forgotten all about her ex-best friend.


But Helen could never forget Lauren. After three years of obsessing, she's moving back to her old town. She has a new name and a new look, but she hasn’t dropped her old grudges. She has a detailed plan to bring down her former BFF by taking away everything that's ever been important to Lauren—starting with her boyfriend.


Watch out, Lauren Wood. Things are about to get bitchy.


My review: I don't think I've ever read a book that I've hyped up as much as Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood. When I started blogging this was one of the first books that I saw reviewed and I became absolutely obsessed. However, as it hadn't been released in the UK it was too expensive for me to ship over from the US but I was desperate for it. I asked for it for my birthday, I asked for it for Christmas but to no avail. In the end I snapped - I had to have it. I ordered it from The Book Depository (yay for free delivery) and didn't even care about the cost by that stage. So it's fair to say I would have been more than disappointed if I didn't love this book. Luckily, I adored it.

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood is an absolute joy to read. It's perfectly crafted - the ultimate contemporary YA and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you enjoy fun, light hearted reads then you will love this book, I guarantee it. If you've ever wanted revenge on anybody I know you'll find a kindred spirit in Helen, who I immediately began rooting for. Sure, sometimes you can see a twinge of cruelty in her personality that rivals her nemesis but she's good at her core and that shines through.

Helen, Christopher and Brenda were all great - especially Brenda, who was the voice of reason at all times. I'd love to see what happened to her after the story finished. In fact, I'd love to see what happened to all of the characters are the story finished but I have to say, I think Cook finished the novel just in the right place. I was gagging for a few more chapters but I love that I got to make my own mind up about what happened - just brilliant.

Lauren is a piece of work but she's the ultimate mean girl, move aside Regina George! I loved her band of minions, especially when they began to rebel but for Kyla and Bailey the Mean Girls saying really rings true - it's better to be in the Plastics, hating life, than to not be in at all.

I can rave and rave as much as I want but I definitely won't be able to do this book justice. I read the entire thing in a couple of hours with a huge smile on my face and it's definitely leaped straight to the top of my contemporary favourites (maybe joint with The Sky is Everywhere...).

Cook is an absolute genius and I can't wait to read the rest of her books - now go and buy a copy of Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, do it! You need to read this one (as I did) laying out in the sunshine with your shades on a cocktail within reach. Perfect.

First line: 'Last night I dreamed I discussed Lauren Wood in Earth Sciences class.'

Read if you like…: Genuinely, if you enjoy any contemporary YA you will love Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 5/5 (genius)
Total: 18/20 (A)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Cover Reveals: Past Perfect and Lola and the Boy Next Door


So as you may (or may not) have seen the covers of Lola and the Boy Next Door (Stephanie Perkins) and Past Perfect (by Leila Sales) have recently been released.

What do you think? I actually really like them both. I have quite a specific taste in covers and I think Past Perfect and Lola and the Boy Next Door were really lucky, their cover art is super eye catching and I'm definitely really excited for these two!

So without further ado, here they are:

Past Perfect - Leila Sales

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins

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Let me know your thoughts!