Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: All These Things I've Done - Gabrielle Zevin


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.

My choice for this week is All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin.


Publication date: September 6th 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine.

It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.


*

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

Monday, 29 August 2011

Review: Midwinterblood - Marcus Sedgwick


Published: October 6th 2011, Indigo
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you've never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens.

In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumour has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they've lost.

In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon - the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter's moon, the blood moon - this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting. Beautifully imagined, intricately and cleverly structured, this is a heart-wrenching and breathtaking love story with the hallmark Sedgwick gothic touches of atmosphere, blood-spilling and sacrifice.

My review: If you take my advice on one book this year, in fact, if you take my advice on one book ever, please make it Midwinterblood. This book is absolutely flawless and I was completely blown away by it. This is one of those books that I know I'll be talking about for a long time. I actually finished reading it a few weeks ago and it's still often in my thoughts. It's a complete winner.

Is there anything that hasn't already been said about Marcus Sedgwick's incomparable way with words? Probably not but still. He has a way of saying so much in so few words and a turn of phrase that I absolutely adore. The whole time I was reading Midwinterblood I was in a daze and the story is addictive.

We see Eric and Merle in various incarnations throughout the seven stories and each time their relationship embodies a different sort of love - we see them as mother and son, lovers, artist and muse and so on. The way the stories tie in together becomes more apparent as the novel progresses and I loved the motifs that were effortlessly weaved throughout each of the chapters, binding Midwinterblood together as a whole.

This book made me laugh, this book made me cry, this book made me want to purchase Sedgwick's entire backlist and race through it all in a matter of hours. I want to tell people about this book and see their reaction when they turn the final page, I want to read it again and again and enjoy it like I did the first time I read it. Honestly, this is a breathtaking book about sacrifice, identity and, most of all, love. Please read this book, it will leave your jaw on the floor, I promise.

First line: 'The sun does not go down.'

Read if you liked…: My Swordhand is Singing - Marcus Sedgwick

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Total: 20/20 (Yes, I have FINALLY given a book 20/20)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

On My Wishlist (2)


On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City and runs each Saturday. It's a feature to list the books we want but haven't managed to purchase yet. I'm terrible for keeping ridiculously long wishlists so I thought this would be a great feature for me! Without further ado, here is what I'm wishing for this week:

Dirty Little Secrets - C.J. Omololu


Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame.

She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.

With details that are as fascinating as they are disturbing, C. J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy’s desperate attempt at normalcy. Her fear and isolation are palpable as readers are pulled down a path from which there is no return, and the impact of hoarding on one teen’s life will have readers completely hooked.

The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan


basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

The Education of Hailey Kendrick - Eileen Cook


Hailey Kendrick always does exactly what's expected of her. She has the right friends, dates the perfect boy, gets good grades, and follows all the rules. But one night, Hailey risks everything by breaking a very big rule in a very public way...and with a very unexpected partner in crime. Hailey gets caught, but her accomplice does not, and Hailey takes the fall for both of them.

Suddenly, Hailey's perfect life--and her reputation--are blowing up in her face. Her friends are all avoiding her. Her teachers don't trust her. Her boyfriend won't even speak to her for long enough to tell her that she's been dumped.

They say honesty is the best policy--but some secrets are worth keeping, no matter the cost. Or are they?

He's So Not Worth It - Kieran Scott


Ally Ryan, come on down to the Jersey Shore and forget your troubles!

Have you recently been humiliated in front of your friends and family at your former best friend's birthday party? Was your almost boyfriend partly responsible for that humiliation by withholding some vital information about where your estranged father is? Did you come home to find said estranged father sitting on your stoop?

If so, then it sounds like you could use a vacation! The Jersey Shore is the place to be. Your mother may be living with her boyfriend of only a few months, but at least the stunt Shannen pulled has put some of your friends back in your court. Even so, you're still angry and what better way to get over Jake than to blow off some steam with local guy, Cooper? People will hardly recognize your new attitude, but the old one wasn't getting you anywhere, so who cares!

Jake Graydon, an exciting opportunity is waiting for you in the service industry!

Are your grades so low your parents have grounded you for the summer? Did you the girl you really like unceremoniously leave you behind? Would you rather eat dirt than see your friends again? Then a job at the local coffee shop is just the ticket! Surprisingly, Ally's father is the new manager so you get to be reminded of her nearly every day. Maybe it's time to start flirting with your best friend's ex or even taking school a bit more seriously. Especially when you finally see Ally and she's hanging around with some loser and it's couldn't be more clear that she is over you.

Have a great summer!

*

So what are you wishing for this week?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Review: Fury - Elizabeth Miles

Published: September 1st 2011, Simon & Schuster
Pages: 330 pages, ARC
Series?: Yes, this is book one in the trilogy
Acquired: Kindly send for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen.

My review: Fury is probably the most surprising book of 2011 that I've read so far. Within the first few chapters I have to admit I'd really taken a dislike to pretty much all of the characters and was really dragging my heels with this one. However, when I got about a third of the way through everything completely changed and I was totally engrossed for the rest of the story. I'm not sure what it was that changed my mind but once I managed to get into the story I absolutely loved Fury.

It's not often that I'll commit myself to reading a series, especially not when it's anything paranormal - as you all know I'm not a fan, to say the least. However, I do think I'll definitely look out for the next two books in the trilogy. Fury is a fresh idea that I haven't seen explored before. I'm a fan of Greek mythology but I like how nothing in the story felt shoe horned in and the paranormal elements were deftly weaved into the characters' lives.

I'm really not sure why I took such an instant dislike to Em - at first she did seem a bit drippy and I hate me some drippy heroines. However, she becomes so much stronger as the book develops and by the end of the story I was really rooting for her. Gabby is harmless but pretty here nor there, Zac is a douche bag and Chase is really great, probably my favourite character in Fury. Actually, scratch that, how could I forget about JD? For me, he was a complete Duckie a la Pretty in Pink and that is always a good thing.

My main criticism of Fury is that it really did feel like a lot was being set up for the next book in the series. I know there is always an element of this in the first book but I noticed it a lot in Fury and it did detract from the story slightly. That said, it's definitely a great start to what promises to be a really exciting (and I'm sure, popular) YA series. One final thing, I love that Ty, Ali and Meg are bitches, pure and simple, no bones about it. Awesome.

First line: 'High above a freeway, a girl gripped the overpass railing.'

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

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Favourite Covers: Blue



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... The colour blue!

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

Raised by Wolves - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Fallen - Lauren Kate

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J. K. Rowling

The Iron Knight - Julie Kagawa

Divergent - Veronica Roth

The Lost Saint - Bree Despain

*

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

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Perfect - Ellen Hopkins


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.

My choice for this week is Perfect by Ellen Hopkins.


Publication date: September 13th 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.

Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood.

Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?

A riveting and startling companion to the bestselling Impulse, Ellen Hopkins's Perfect exposes the harsh truths about what it takes to grow up and grow into our own skins, our own selves.

*

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

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Review: Soul Beach - Kate Harrison


Published: September 1st 2011, Indigo
Pages: 266 pages, ARC
Series?: Yes, this is the first in the trilogy
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . .

But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next? The first book in an intriguing and compelling trilogy centred around the mystery of Megan Forster's death.

My review: Soul Beach is the first book in a really exciting new YA series from British author, Kate Harrison - yay for homegrown talent! I heard Harrison read from Soul Beach at the Indigo launch a couple of months ago and immediately knew I had to read this novel. I whizzed through it in a matter of hours and was completely gripped by this unique, original story.

Soul Beach has such an intriguing premise and the story does require you to suspend your disbelief somewhat, however, the great world building and Harrison's instantly likeable protagonist makes this one easy to get into and enjoy. As I said, Alice is a great character and you can feel her grief at her sister's death radiating off of the page. I felt for her from the outset and am really looking forward to learning more about her as the series unfolds.

I do like a good murder mystery every now and then, although I'm always terrible at pin pointing the murderer. As I do with every mystery I found myself suspecting every single character as I was reading Soul Beach. It was only when I was a few pages from the end of the book and realised I had no idea who the murderer was that I remembered this one isn't a standalone, cue extreme frustration at having to wait for book two!

Soul Beach reminds me a little of the Beautiful Dead series by US author Eden Maguire. Have any of you read them? I do quite like the series but I enjoyed Soul Beach a little more, the characters are a little more real and the storyline much more engaging. I'm really excited about this series and I urge all of you to snap up a copy of Soul Beach when it's released on September 1st. Plus, the cover is pretty!

First line: 'The girl is dead, no doubt about it.'

Read if you liked…: The Beautiful Dead series - Eden Maguire

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

Monday, 22 August 2011

Review: There is No Dog - Meg Rosoff


Published: August 4th 2011, Puffin
Pages: 243 pages, hardback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Meet your unforgettable protagonist: God, who, as it turns out, is a 19-year-old boy living in the present-day and sharing an apartment with his long-suffering fifty-something personal assistant.

Unfortunately for the planet, God is lazy and, frankly, hopeless. He created all of the world's species in six days because he couldn't summon the energy to work for longer. He gets Africa and America mixed up. And his beleagured assistant has his work cut out for him when God creates a near-apolcalyptic flood, having fallen asleep without turning the bath off.

There is No Dog is a darkly funny novel from one of our most delightfully unpredictable writers.

My review: There is No Dog is definitely one of my most anticipated books of 2011. I first heard about it at the Penguin Media Presentation back in January and have been counting down the days ever since. I received a copy from Penguin a few weeks ago (thank you - I was getting desperate!) and devoured it instantly.

The first thing that hits you about There is No Dog (aside from the fact it's by Meg Rosoff and will therefore be fantastic, whatever is contained inside) is the stunning cover art. It's absolutely beautiful and is truly one of my favourite covers of the year. So shiny. I love it.

And now onto the most important part, what's inside the cover. It's clear from the summary that There is No Dog is one unique novel and is does contain a whole host of weird and wonderful things, though at its core is a love story. A love story between Bob and the human girl he obsesses over, the love between Mr B and Earth, between Estelle and Eck. And so it goes on. In There is No Dog we see so many different kinds of love explored and, honestly, I think love is what Meg Rosoff does best.

The characters in There is No Dog are just great. Bob is so hateful - a lazy, spoiled boy with a real sense of entitlement. However, I couldn't bring myself to dislike him. While he wasn't my favourite character in the book I was certainly fond of him by the end of the story. In terms of my favourite character it's got to be a toss up between Mr B and Eck, both sweet, long-suffering and hilarious in equal measure. I would love to see Eck brought to life in a Pixar movie!

I don't want to give away too much about the story - I went in pretty much blind and I think that's the best way to enjoy this novel. I'm sure a lot of you reading this are Meg Rosoff fans already so won't need any persuading but if you haven't managed to read one of her books yet - dooo it. Although I'd suggest starting with How I Live Now; it will change your life, I promise.

I'm actually seeing Meg at the Bath Festival of Children's Literature in a few weeks (David Almond and Melvin Burgess are on the same panel - I KNOW) and I'm ridiculous excited to meet her if there's a signing after. Actually, maybe there isn't a signing! Maybe I'm getting my hopes up over nothing. Either way, even if there is a signing I know I'll very meekly push my books across the table and stand there red-faced and silent... Inside I will be screaming 'HOW I LIVE NOW CHANGED MY LIFE, YOU ARE A GENIUS.'

First line: 'Oh glorious, most glorious glorious!'

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

Saturday, 20 August 2011

On My Wishlist (1)



Is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City and runs each Saturday. It's a feature to list the books we want but haven't managed to purchase yet. Without further ado, here is what I'm wishing for this week:

Love Story - Jennifer Echols


For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true

Clean - Amy Reed


Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They’re addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves and one another if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, down.

Never Have I Ever - Sara Shepard


My perfect life was a lie.

Now I’d do anything to uncover the truth.

Not long ago, I had everything a girl could wish for: amazing friends, an adorable boyfriend, a loving family. But none of them know that I’m gone—that I’m dead. To solve my murder, my long-lost twin sister, Emma, has taken my place. She sleeps in my room, wears my clothes, and calls my parents Mom and Dad.

And my killer is watching her every move.

I remember little from my life, just flashes and flickers, so all I can do is follow along as Emma tries to solve the mystery of my disappearance. But the deeper she digs, the more suspects she uncovers. It turns out my friends and I played a lot of games—games that ruined people’s lives. Anyone could want revenge . . . anyone could want me—and now Emma—dead.

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) - Sarah Mlynowski


2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.

*

So what are you wishing for this week?

Friday, 19 August 2011

News: BIRTHDAYS and Brand New Michael Grant Series!


Hi guys! I've got some exciting news for any Michael Grant fans out there - I'm sure there are lots of you. I'm a massive fan of the Gone series so this is really exciting for me.

Coming this year, Michael has a new series coming out that was conceived not only as a book, but also as a “transmedia” experience. Essentially a transmedia story is an interactive narrative told through the written word, video, puzzles, and more. But most importantly, it encourages fans to become part of the action. (Awesome)

The tale has just gotten underway at
societytwins.com and nexushumanus.com so head over to those two websites now to find out more and become part of the action.

Any of you who haven't yet read Grant's fantastic Gone series - I highly recommend it!

(Note: Info taken from a Shadow Gang press release)

*

In other news - it's my mummy's 50th birthday today! Hooray! I want to give her a big shout out and say a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY. She really is the best mum out there and I'm so grateful every single for everything that she does for me.

We're having a massive family party over the weekend and I can't wait to celebrate and catch up with all my lovely cousins, aunts and uncles who I don't get to see often enough. Yay!

Happy birthday, Mumsy. Lots of love xxx



Thursday, 18 August 2011

Favourite Covers: The Night Sky

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: The night sky!

Wintertown - Stephen Emond (out December 2011)

There is No Dog - Meg Rosoff

Across the Universe - Beth Revis

Wolfsbane - Andrea Cremer

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer

The Call of the Wild - Jack London

Marcelo in the Real World - Francisco X. Stork

*

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

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Shut Out - Kody Keplinger


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.

My choice for this week is Shut Out by Kody Keplinger.


Publication date: September 5th 2011
Published by: Poppy

Summary (from Goodreads): Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

*

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

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Review: The Celeb Next Door - Hilary Freeman


Published: October 1st 2010, Picadilly
Pages: 181 pages, paperback
Series?: Yes, this is book one
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from the back cover): Rosie has lived in Paradise Avenue, Camden Town all her life. As well as the market to hang out at and gigs to go to, there are celebrities to spot, and TV studios, where she and her best friends Sky and Vix might get noticed.

When Rosie finds out that the drummer from a chart-topping group is moving into the house next door, she makes it her mission to befriend him. But things don't turn out quite the way she expects...

My review: The first installment in the Camden Town Tales series is sure to please teenage girl readers who are fans of Luisa Plaja, Cathy Cassidy and the like. This book was harmless fun and a joy to read, perfect for the long summer break.

The characters in The Celeb Next Door are brilliant, especially Rosie, who I really grew to like. They form a great team and I'm looking forward to seeing what they get up to in the next book in the series, Stuck on Me. Sky and Vix are great supporting characters and I definitely think readers will see a bit of themselves in at least one of the girls.

The Celeb Next Door manages to discuss some difficult issues, like body image, without ever sounding preachy and that's something I really liked about Freeman's writing. I wish this series had been around when I was a teen as I know I would have adored it.

The cover design is really pretty as well, containing all the cute motifs and sparkles you'd expect from a book aimed towards this age range. I'm pleased to see they've continued the cover theme for the next installment in the series, which looks equally gorgeous.

Sadly Stuck on You isn't due out until 2012 so we do still have a few more months to read but I'd definitely recommend reading The Celeb Next Door to get in the mood, especially if you're a Camden fan!

First line: 'I can't believe I'm here.'

Read if you liked…: Cherry Crush - Cathy Cassidy

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

Monday, 15 August 2011

Review: Here Lies Bridget - Paige Harbison


Published: June 17th 2011, Mira Ink
Pages: 315 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): What do you do when the five people you meet in limbo all want you to go to hell?

Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don’t worship as attentively, teachers don’t fall for her wide-eyed “who me?” look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she’s always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore.

When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she’s wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she’s inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.

And Bridget’s about to learn that, sometimes, saying you’re sorry just isn’t enough...

My review: You know how sometimes you just know a book is completely up your street and that you're going to love it before you even crack the spine? Yeah, I had that with Here Lies Bridget. I received it for review a couple of months back but it was only a couple of weeks ago that I picked it up from my shelf and began reading. Instantly, I was hooked.

I read it in the gym. I read it into the early hours of the morning. I even read it on the train home after a night out - you may have seen the drunken tweets. Oh, and being under the influence of alcohol just makes this book even better. I definitely laughed out loud more than once. I loved it. It's one of my favourite books I've read over the last few months. It was a complete emotional rollercoaster as well - as I said, I laughed out loud numerous times but I also shed a tear in a few scenes.

Harbison is a really talented writer. She has that wonderful ability to have you rolling around in fits of laughter one moment and wiping away tears the next with some truly touching writing. I can easily see this translating perfectly onto the big screen and I know this one's going to be hugely popular.

I'm sure there are a few bloggers who are going to say it's a little superficial, that the characters drink and party and swear too much, that Bridget's just a bitch with no redeeming features. To you I say - psssh. I ran a guest post with Harbison a few weeks ago and I'd like to quote what she said about creating realistic characters in YA:

'I think if you want to make a mean girl, you have to make her the saddest girl on the inside. If you want to write about the perfect guy, he has to have flaws. You have to think about actual people, and have faith that the things you think privately to yourself are things we’ve all thought before.'

What a brilliant answer and this is absolutely what she does in Here Lies Bridget. Sure, on the surface Bridget may seem like a mean girl but, as we all know, things aren't always as clear cut as they first appear. Be honest, did anyone else see a little of themselves in Bridget? I'm happy to put my hands up and say I definitely did.

Also - right here I'd like to say a MASSIVE apology for spelling Paige's name wrong the ENTIRE way through the interview I did with her. I'm sorry!

Here Lies Bridget showed me some of the most realistic and fully developed characters I've come across in YA in a very long time. Aside from Bridget I adored Michelle and, of course, Mr Ezhno. Look out for the Mr Ezhno scene if you decide to read this one - it's the one that really made me bawl.

Please do have a read of Here Lies Bridget if it takes your fancy. It did take me a little while to pick this one up and I just wish I had sooner. It's brilliant.

First line: 'I pressed down on the accelerator.'

Read if you liked…: The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove - Lauren Kate

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

Friday, 12 August 2011

Blog Tour: Mark Walden - Aftershock

So today I've got a guest post from Mark Walden, who you'll all know as the author behind the brilliant HIVE series. Mark's been hopping from blog to blog in the last few days for a blog tour to promote his latest release, Aftershock, and I'm lucky enough to be hosting today's spot!

Mark's here today to tell us all a little bit about what it takes to be a true villain. Check out the sage advice below and make sure you enter the contest at the bottom of the post to be in with a chance of winning some amazing HIVE goodies!


So you think you have what it takes to be a student of HIVE? Dr Maximilian Nero, the school's infamous headmaster, has been kind enough to provide us with what he believes are some of the key ingredients for any self-respecting villain.

- Costume is essential. A good villain is always immaculately dressed. You cannot conquer worlds in jeans and a t-shirt. Having said that, resist the urge to go too far over the top. Think Blofeld rather than Ming the Merciless.

- Good hair. Or no hair. There's really no middle ground here.

- Scarring is optional but, please try to make sure that any disfigurement is striking in some way. Acne scars are not acceptable.

- Secret Lair. Remember it's all about location, location, location. You cannot reasonably expect to run an international criminal cartel from a bungalow. This is despite the fact that bungalows are, clearly, inherently evil.

- Have a plan. You can't just wing it, there's really nothing more embarrassing than capturing a hero and when they ask you exactly what your plan is you reply “well, we're still ironing out a few details to be honest with you.....”

- An impressive evil laugh is important. Avoid high pitched giggling and do try not to snort.

- Avoid elaborate executions. If someone says “my name's Bond...” just shoot them in the head immediately. Piranha tanks are, of course, amusing but, frankly, there are easier ways to dispose of do-gooders.

- Good henchmen. Make sure that they have passed a simple IQ test and have been trained in basic marksmanship. If they can't hit a man-sized target twenty feet away with their firearm use them as the man-sized target instead.

- If you must have a self-destruct device built into your lair make sure that the activations switch is NOT clearly labelled. Trust me, you're just asking for trouble otherwise.

These are just some examples of the basic lessons that Dr Nero gives as part of his Villainy Studies course at HIVE but hopefully they will give any aspiring malefactor a few worthwhile pointers. Further advice can be found in his excellent book “I've Been Expecting You : The Art Of Trans-Global Super Villainy.”


Brilliant! Now, if you fancy winning yourself one of three HIVE prize packs then listen up. Bloomsbury are kindly going to provide my winners with sets of the HIVE books, T-shirts, rucksacks and wrist bands - this is not a prize you want to miss out on, I promise!

Have a read of the rules below and click here to enter.

- UK only - I'm sorry international readers, I'll be hosting a contest for you soon!

- It's not an absolute requirement but I would like it if the winner will review the HIVE books on their blog (or Goodreads/Amazon if you don't have a blog), as this awesome series deserves all the reviews it can get - and it IS awesome, I promise!

- The giveaway will run for two weeks, ending on August 26th 2011 at midnight (London time). The winner will be announced here at Writing from the Tub on Saturday August 27th 2011.

- Please make sure you leave the correct email address as I will use this to contact you if you're the lucky winner. If I don't receive a response within 48 hours I will choose another winner.




Before I leave you for today make you head over to Mark's Facebook page for more information about the series and the writer himself. Enjoy!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Cover Reveal: Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor


Hi everyone! I've just been sent (literally just been sent, like two hours ago) a picture of the UK cover for Daughter of Smoke and Bone and I couldn't wait to show you all because it is STUNNING. Honestly, this is one of the most beautiful covers I've seen for a long and I know I'm going to have to pick up a finished copy as soon as it's out. Although, I did actually think the cover of the ARC could have been releasedn as that was pretty awesome as well.

Feast your eyes, people, feast your eyes:



What do you think? I absolutely love it!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Writing: On Armageddon Rain


Is there anything cosier than being wrapped up in bed when it’s pouring down with rain outside?

Right now we’re having some biblical rain in my little village. I can see people looking out of their windows and taking photos. There’s thunder and black clouds and the rain is coming down crazy fast. Considering it was sunny five minutes ago it’s all a bit dramatic.

My boyfriend’s dedicating his day to whipping up a big batch of chilli jam, which means I have four whole hours of uninterrupted writing time. Bliss.

I’ve been getting on so well with Reckless over the last week (YA summer camp/gap year novel). My word count was 13,000 on Thursday and now it’s just under 25,000. Progress! I don’t know, something seems to have clicked into place and the words are flowing. It’s a great feeling, especially after I nearly shelved this one to force myself into getting The Seven Gates of Hell (YA horror) ready to pitch. I think I was putting too much pressure on myself to get something out to agents. I didn’t feel ready but I’d given myself this deadline that I tried to make myself stick to. Now I’ve given myself a bit more freedom I’m doing so much better.

I’d really love to fully finish the first draft of Reckless before I go to Florida at the beginning of October. I think it’s doable, as long as I work hard and it would be a great thing to celebrate on holiday.


It’s funny, isn’t it, how all of a sudden you just can’t get the words out fast enough. Every time I have to dedicate my attention to something else I’m itching to get back to my notebooks.

That’s the main thing I’ve done differently this time around and I’ve noticed a huge difference. Instead of typing everything out I’ve been writing by hand and it’s been a bit of a revelation if I’m honest. I’m not concerned with word counts and the number of pages, it’s only the characters and scenes that matter and I really don’t think I’ll go back to typing a first draft. It’s nice to flick through a notebook and see it filled with my words. I’ve almost got through a 200 page notebook this week, which is a nice achievement.

So, yes, it’s tipping it down outside but I’m curled up in bed with Ed Sheeran on repeat (he is definitely a big part of the soundtrack to Reckless) and I couldn’t be feel more inspired.

I’ll keep you guys updated with my Reckless progress as it develops. I think I’m definitely going to start blogging a lot more about my writing. I keep saying I will but it’s only now I feel comfortable to talk about it. Maybe it’s because I feel so much happier with Reckless than I did with TSGOH, which I am going to spend time working on later in the year, I promise. I know it has the capacity to be a great story but it needs a hell of a lot of polishing and I think I need to develop more as a writer before I can really do it justice.

Anyway – I hope you all have a lovely day and enjoy the rest of the weekend.

x

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Writing: On Inspiration

I go to great lengths to procrastinate when I’m supposed to be writing.

Ironic, isn’t it? I complain that I just want time to write but when I get it it’s so tempting to curl up in bed and browse Memebase instead (if you haven’t been on Memebase before I urge you, don’t Google it, you will lose years of your life).

Anyway, after reaching 20k in my latest work in progress (the summer camp YA, I love it, love it, love it) I treated myself so I bit of browsing time. I ended up, as I so often do, on Youtube and began to wade my way through the videos that had been recommended for me. All of you should definitely go and watch ‘static dog’, for it is awesome.

I was watching ’50 Internet Memes in 100 seconds’ when it happened. A brief glimpse of a scene from Brokeback Mountain with a song playing over it. A haunting, beautiful song that I had many times before but never actually paid much attention to. It grabbed me instantly and I knew I had to have it on one of my many writing playlists, probably the one entitled ‘Writing – Emo’, which is definitely my favourite.

After a frantic scroll through pages and pages of Brokeback Mountain fan videos I found it. Phew. The song is ‘This Love’ by Sarah Brightman and it is stunning. I do like a bit of Brokeback Mountain so decided to stay tuned for the whole video. Of course, I was in tears by the end. There’s just something about the story I love so much and it always brings out a ridiculous amount of emotion in me, which was perfect for the scene I was planning on writing next.

I suppose I’m a bit of a method writer, if you can call it that. If I get in from a night out I’ll frequently slam my laptop onto my desk, crank up the Ke$ha and write a party scene. Those scenes usually require a fair amount of editing the next day but the voice is usually pretty accurate.

If I’m writing an emotional scene I absolutely need to be in the right frame of mind, have the right music playing, have watched the right ‘Top 10 Romantic Moments’ video on Youtube.
Though the subject matter in my work in progress is much lighter than Brokeback Mountain (there aren’t many ways to make a contemporary YA about two girls working in a summer camp very dark) the forbidden love aspect definitely reminded me of what I wanted to do with two of my characters.

So I watched the aforementioned fan video twice through, had a little cry about Heath Ledger and promptly purchased ‘This Love’ from iTunes. I’m sitting here now with my notebook next to me, itching to write the scene that, until I heard a snippet of that song, I had no idea I was going to write.

Perfect.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Review: Love You, Hate You, Miss You - Elizabeth Scott

Published: June 1st 2009, HarperTeen
Pages: 276 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): Get this, I'm supposed to be starting a journal about "my journey." Please. I can see it now: Dear Diary, As I'm set adrift on this crazy sea called "life" . . . I don't think so.

It's been seventy-five days. Amy's sick of her parents suddenly taking an interest in her.

And she's really sick of people asking her about Julia. Julia's gone now, and she doesn't want to talk about it. They wouldn't get it, anyway. They wouldn't understand what it feels like to have your best friend ripped away from you.

They wouldn't understand what it feels like to know it's your fault.

Amy's shrink thinks it would help to start a diary. Instead, Amy starts writing letters to Julia.

But as she writes letter after letter, she begins to realize that the past wasn't as perfect as she thought it was—and the present deserves a chance too.

My review: Love You, Hate You, Miss You was my first foray into the world of Elizabeth Scott! It took me a while but, as we all know, I tend you behind the times when it comes to YA trends. I have a bunch of Elizabeth Scott's books on my shelves and after reading this one I'm really keen to try more - Perfect You is next up on my list.

Love You, Hate You, Miss You is a great book, really readable and accessible to a huge range of YA readers, I'm sure. It does get a little gritty in places but nothing too shocking so I would recommend this one to younger teens as well, though do exercise caution because, as I said, things do get a little gritty in places. It is relatively short and I soared through it in one sitting; this one isn't going to blow your mind but it's definitely a solid YA book and is certainly worth a read.

Love You, Hate You, Miss You reminded me a lot of Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers, a book I read earlier this year and absolutely adored. Amy had definitely echoes of Parker, she was just a lot less bitchy. However, I do happen to like a bitch so Amy was a bit too soft for me. If I was in her situation I'm sure I'd be a lot more angsty and angry but she wasn't wholly unlikable, I just wish Scott had taken her character a little further.

Julia is a great character - though we never officially meet her as she died before the book was set we do see her in flashbacks and her presence is felt throughout the present story. I mentioned that Amy was a bit too soft for me - Julia completely makes up for this and then some, especially when you learn more about her as the story develops.

The supporting characters in Love You, Hate You, Miss You definitely make this book so enjoyable. Mel is great, I only wish he'd been given a little more page time. Patrick, although swoonworthy, did remain a little too much of a mystery for me and I would have liked to have seen a bit more of his personality - I get that he was supposed to be aloof and mysterious, it was just hard to bond with somebody I knew so, so little about.

So my first taste of Elizabeth Scott's writing has definitely left me wanting more. I can't wait to get started on more of her books and, based on how much I enjoyed this one, I think I can now be counted as an Elizabeth Scott convert. Hooray!

First line: 'Dear Julia, get this, I'm supposed to be starting a journal about "my journey".'

Read if you liked…: Cracked Up to Be - Courtney Summers

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

Monday, 1 August 2011

Review: Beautiful - Amy Reed

Published: October 6th 2009, Simon Pulse
Pages: 232 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): When Cassie moves from the tiny town where she has always lived to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. This is Cassie’s chance to stop being invisible and become the kind of girl who’s worth noticing.

Stepping into her new identity turns out to be easier than Cassie could have ever imagined…one moment, one choice, changes everything.

Cassie’s new existence both thrills and terrifies her. Swept into a world of illicit parties and social landmines, she sheds her virginity, embraces the numbness she feels from the drugs, and floats through it all, knowing that she is now called beautiful. She ignores the dangers of her fast-paced life…but she can’t sidestep the secrets and the cruelty.

Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral tinged with violence and abuse, and no one—not even the one person she thought she could trust—can help her now.

My review: Okay. I read Beautiful over a month ago and am only just reviewing it now. I'm still not really sure what I want to say about it as I found the whole experience of reading it very confusing. I'm also sorry that this isn't really a review, just kind of a rant (that isn't actually a huge rant, as I did sort of enjoy the book).

Have any of you seen the movie Thirteen? It was great. If you've watched Thirteen then you don't need to read Beautiful, you already know pretty much exactly what happens. So, I did have an issue with Beautiful the entire way through - it just read like a novel adaptation of Thirteen and I found that really, really hard to get over. To be honest I'm absolutely mystified that more people haven't mentioned this in any of the other reviews I've read. I mean, I found it uncomfortable how similar the two stories were.

Anyone who's seen Thirteen (if you haven't then I recommend it) will know the opening scene, where the two girls, completely high, sit on a bed and punch each other over and over again, getting more and more hysterical because they're so wasted it seems hilarious. Okay, when I read this quote in Beautiful, I made up my mind, the plots were just far too similar:

'I want to grab that skateboard and hit her with it. But she would probably just laugh. Even if her jaw were broken and she was covered in blood, she'd just smile at me with her big crazy eyes and make me feel like there is nothing I can do to hurt her.'

Before I really go off into a rant and start spouting 'J'ACCUSE!!!' all over the place I should point out that the similarities between this book and Thirteen are probably just coincidental. It just really threw me off to read something so close to a movie I love. I did actually watch Thirteen again just after I finished Beautiful and noted down all the similarities - it was a long list.

And one last thing before I stop with the Thirteen comparisons. This is a plot summary for the movie:

'Tracy is a normal 13-year-old girl trying to make it in school. After befriending a new girl at school, Evie; Tracy's world is turned upside down when Evie introduces Tracy to a world of sex, drugs and cash. But it isn't long before Tracy's new world and attitude finally takes a toll on her, her family, and old friends.'

EXACTLY THE SAME.

I'll stop now.

Regardless of everything I've written above, I did actually quite enjoy Beautiful. It's an interesting story and I like a bit of grit so I certainly didn't take offense to any of the sex/swearing/drinking/drugs etc. I know some people were bothered by this, judging by some Goodreads reviews but, honestly, if you're reading a book about a 'swift downward spiral tinged with violence and abuse' then you know what you've signed up for - don't start bitching when the protagonist starts drinking, for God's sake.

One thing I loved about Beautiful was the subplot with Sarah - which, interestingly, is the only part that I found to be very original. I really liked watching the friendship between Cassie and Sarah develop and, more than any of the other characters, I was so desperate for Sarah to pull through and overcome the difficulties in her life.

So, yes, apologies again that this isn't really a review but I'm still not sure what to make of this one. Basically, if you've watched Thirteen then I'd probably give this one a miss if you don't want to end up hurling it across the room, while screaming 'IT'S EXACTLY THE SAME'. That said, if you haven't watched Thirteen then you'll probably really enjoy Beautiful. Swings and roundabouts.

First line: 'I don't see her coming.'

Read if you liked…: Thirteen (the movie) - because the story is pretty much exactly the same.

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