Friday, 30 September 2011

Review: Blood on My Hands - Todd Strasser

Published: April 4th 2011, Walker
Pages: 301 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Series, this is book two. Book one (Wish You Were Dead) is out now
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): A powerful and uncompromising thriller – not for the faint-hearted.

Some girls are glamorous, beautiful … and deadly. Found kneeling by a dead body, with a bloody knife in her hand can only mean Callie Carson is guilty of the brutal murder of Katherine Remington – can’t it? Joining the in-crowd is tough; leaving is a killer.

My review: Blood on My Hands is the first one of Todd Strasser's novels that I've ever read and I'm now a fully converted fan. I'll definitely be checking out more of his work in the future because I enjoyed Blood on My Hands so much. It's such a fast paced, exciting book and I read it in a single afternoon, feeling absolutely exhilirated from beginning to end.

I love that Strasser drops us in right in the middle of the action so there's no slow scene setting here. The pace doesn't dip at any point, it's go go go right from page one and I really enjoyed that. I really appreciated the fact that Strasser used tension to scare us and make the story so jumpy, rather than gratuitous gore, which was barely present at all.

The murder mystery element of Blood on My Hands was so much fun and I really loved trying to figure out who the murderer was - of course, I was wrong. Although with this book I think most readers would find it hard to work out who the murderer was and the reveal really was shocking. Do not be tempted to skip to the end - don't ruin things for yourself!

I actually had no idea that this was the second book in a trilogy until after I'd finished reading Blood on My Hands and I think it worked perfectly as a standalone - though now I really want to check out Wish You Were Dead, simply because I enjoyed this one so much. I'd be interested to see what those of you thought who'd already read book one, so do let me know in the comments.

First line: 'In the dark woods behind the baseball dugout, I'm kneeling next to Katherine's body, my heart racing, my breaths shallow and fast, my emotions reeling crazily at the sight on the ground before me.'

Read if you liked…: Rosebush - Michele Jaffe

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

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Favourite Covers: Cupcakes


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... Cupcakes! Now, who doesn't bloody love cupcakes?


Pinkalicious - Victoria and Elizabeth Kann

You Wish - Mandy Hubbard

Emma's Table - Philip Galanes

The Year I Turned Sixteen - Dianne Schwemm

The Cupcake Queen - Heather Hepler

Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty

Devilish - Maureen Johnson

*

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

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick - Joe Schreiber


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 Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber.


Publication date: October 25th 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): Ferris Bueller meets La Femme Nikita in this funny, action-packed young adult novel.

It’s prom night—and Perry just wants to stick to his own plan and finally play a muchanticipated
gig with his band in the Big Apple. But when his mother makes him take Gobija Zaksauskas—their quiet, geeky Lithuanian exchange student—to the prom, he never expects that his ordinary high school guy life will soon turn on its head. Perry finds that Gobi is on a mission, and Perry has no other choice but to go along for a reckless ride through Manhattan’s concrete grid with a trained assassin in Dad’s red Jag.

Infused with capers, car chases, heists, hits, henchmen, and even a bear fight, this story mixes romance, comedy, and tragedy in a true teen coming-of-age adventure—and it’s not over until it’s “au revoir.”

*

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

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Review: Divergent - Veronica Roth

Published: May 3rd 2011, HarperCollins
Pages: 487 pages, ARC
Series?: Yes, this is book one. Book two (Insurgent) is due out in April 2012
Acquired: Gifted by the lovely Jesse over at Books 4 Teens

Summary (from Goodreads): Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage.

Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.

My review: So I was a little late with reading Divergent, as I seem to be the last person in the blogosphere to read it. However, I raced through this one in a couple of hours and absolutely adored every single page of it. I've said before that I'm starting to get a little tired of dystopia but Divergent is such a fresh take on the genre and I feel my enthusiasm for all things dystopia completely renewed. Yay for Veronica Roth!

The narrative voice in Divergent is fantastic. I absolutely bonded with Tris from the outset and I love how human Roth made her. She's flawed and unsure of herself and completely whole. Brilliant. She goes on such a journey as the story progresses and it's wonderful to see how she changes from a shy, withdrawn girl to the witty, brave character we see at the end of the novel. She goes through so much to make her who she is at the close of Divergent and it's wonderful to see how every single one of those events has an impact on her personality.

The supporting characters in Divergent are just as great as Tris, from her best friends Christina and Will to her cruel enemies, Peter, Molly and Drew. Her two instructors, Eric and Four, were both great but for very different reasons. I try not to go for the whole 'ohhh isn't he dreamy?' thing but Four was pretty hot, mostly because of his flaws. Nothing more attractive than a troubled, tattooed bad boy, is there? No, siree. Eric is so much more than your run of the mill psychopath and he reminded me a little of Drake from the Gone series.

Divergent is such an exciting novel. It made me heart race as I flicked through the pages, especially towards the end of the novel. I really thought we'd reached the end of the story at a relatively calm point - only to be plunged back into another fifty pages of drama. Brutal stuff. Plus, the story ends quite abruptly so I found myself seriously frustrated when I realised I'd hit the end and have over six months to wait until book two. Not impressed!

I really am a huge fan of this book and I urge any of you who haven't picked it up yet to give it a go - it's such an infectious story and I'm already counting down the days until Insurgent is released!

First line: 'There is one mirror in my house.'

Read if you liked…: Delirium - Lauren Oliver

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

Monday, 26 September 2011

Review: Starcrossed - Josephine Angelini

Published: June 3rd 2011, Macmillan
Pages: 514 pages, ARC
Series?: Yes, this is book one
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Set on the island of Nantucket, STARCROSSED tells the tale of Helen Hamilton, a young woman whose destiny is forever altered when she meets Lucas Delos and tries to kill him in front of her entire high school. Which is terribly inconvenient, not only because Lucas is the most beautiful boy on the island, but also because Helen is so achingly shy she suffers physical pain whenever she is given too much attention.

Making matters worse, Helen is beginning to suspect she’s going crazy. Whenever she’s near Lucas or any member of his family she sees the ghostly apparitions of three women weeping bloody tears, and suffers the burden of an intense and irrational hate. She soon learns that she and Lucas are destined to play the leading roles in a Greek tragedy that the Three Fates insist on repeating over and over again throughout history.

Like her namesake, Helen of Troy, she’s destined to start a war by falling in love. But even though Lucas and Helen can see their own star-crossed destiny, they’re still powerfully attracted to each other. Will they give up their personal happiness for the greater good, or risk it all to be together?

My review: Hmm. What to say about Starcrossed...? Well, it certainly wasn't a bad book. Then again, I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and am literally having to force myself to write this review, which probably isn't the best sign in the world.

Nothing about Starcrossed is bad exactly but nothing about it memorable. I finished it, exhaled a big ole sigh of 'mehhhh' and haven't thought about it since. Harsh? Perhaps, but I'm really getting tired of reading the same old story rehashed over and over again, just with a slightly different paranormal being taking the lead role.

So. Over. It.

The writing in Starcrossed is pretty in places and I'd really like to see Angelini write in a different genre, as her style is really nice. However, it's hard to get excited about any love story when it's pretty clear within the first couple of chapters who the heroine is going to end up with.

You know the drill - girl meets boy, girl and boy hate each other, lots of tension, big epic kiss and boom, it's the tried and tested formula for the vast majority of paranormal romances. Is a little something out of the ordinary too much to ask for? Oh, and if you are looking for a paranormal novel that isn't completely predictable then I'd suggest you check out Unearthly, I loved it.

Huge fans of the genre will love this one, I'm sure. It's bold and epic and filled with swoonworthy scenes. Plus, it perfectly sets things up for the rest of the series so we have much more to look forward to... yay. No, I probably won't be reading the rest of the books in this series but I have to give credit where credit's due, I did really enjoy the writing in Starcrossed so kudos for Angelini for that.

First line: "'But if you bought me a car now, it would be yours when I go away to school in two years.'"

Read if you liked…: Fallen - Lauren Kate

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

Saturday, 24 September 2011

On My Wishlist (6)


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:

Lessons from a Dead Girl - Jo Knowles


Leah Greene is dead. For Laine, knowing what really happened and the awful feeling that she is, in some way, responsible set her on a journey of painful self-discovery.

Yes, she wished for this. She hated Leah that much. Hated her for all the times in the closet, when Leah made her do those things. They were just practicing, Leah said. But why did Leah choose her? Was she special, or just easy to control? And why didn’t Laine make it stop sooner?

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laine is left to explore the devastating lessons Leah taught her, find some meaning in them, and decide whether she can forgive Leah and, ultimately, herself.


Far from You - Lisa Schroeder


Lost and alone...Down the rabbit hole.

Alice thought she knew
what solitude was:
Her mother—gone.
Her father—remarried with a newborn
daughter.

Now...
Trapped
in the icy embrace
of a deadly snowstorm,
Alice faces the true meaning of loneliness.

But hope
may not be as far away
as she thinks...

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead - Julie Anne Peters


Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she’s determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for “completers”— www. through-the-light.com.

While she’s on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she’s not on the Web, Daelyn’s at her private school, where she’s known as the freak who doesn’t talk.

Then, a boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school while she’s waiting to for her parents to pick her up. Even though she’s made it clear that she wants to be left alone, Santana won’t give up. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life…isn’t it?

Salvaged - Stefne Miller


'My body was being torn apart, and my stomach felt as if it exploded. The pain was excruciating, and I was aware that I was dying... 'Mom?'

My vision was murky, but I could see her face. It was bloody, and her eyes were large and full of fear. Her voice calmed. 'Get out of the car, Attie.'

Her words sounded crisp and clear. I looked into the backseat in search of Melody and found her lying covered in blood in a twisted heap on the floor. I turned my attention back to my mother and out of the corner of my eye saw fire. 'Get out, Attie!'

'Mom?'

Everything went dark.'

Attie Reed should have died in the wreck that stole the lives of her mother and best friend. But her life was spared. Why? When Attie moves to Oklahoma to stay with the Bennetts for the summer, she hopes she has left her nightmares behind. But her battle is far from over, and Riley Bennett steps forward to help her fight the nighttime monsters. As the battle wears on, Riley begins fighting monsters of his own: his feelings for Attie. And Attie realizes she must begin to face the monsters of the night herself if she wants to conquer them for good. Can Attie's life be Salvaged?


*

So that's it from me, what's on your wishlist this week?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Review: Pretty Twisted - Gina Blaxill

Published: May 6th 2011, Macmillan
Pages: 275 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Ros has a secret crush on Jonathan. Jonathan is massively hung up on Freya (even after she dumps him). And Freya? Well, Freya is a beautiful enigma. Even more so when she goes missing without a trace...

"Pretty Twisted" is narrated in alternating chapters by Jonathan (16) and Ros (14) who meet online at a time when things are going sour for Jonathan. His stunning girlfriend, Freya, is away at college and they are growing apart - consequently, he is struggling with his own sense of identity.

Ros is also experiencing some problems - one of her friends is dating an older man whose strange behaviour gives Ros cause for concern. Meanwhile, the local news has been reporting some kidnappings of teenage girls.

So when Freya dumps Jonathan, then seems to disappear off the face of the earth, he enlists Ros' (somewhat reluctant) help in tracking down the girl he still loves. With danger lurking around every corner, their stories become inextricably linked in a way nobody could have predicted...

My review: I've read a number of reviews of Pretty Twisted, some positive and some negative, however, my opinion on the book lays somewhere in the middle. Overall I did enjoy the story and thought it certainly had an interesting plot; unfortunately I'm not sure it was executed quite as well as it could have been.

The subject matter in Pretty Twisted feels very current and I think the story will definitely grab the attention of teen readers because of that. I only wish Jonathan and Ros hadn't met in a chat room as that made the whole thing feel outdated. Maybe if they'd met on a social networking site it would have been a little more realistic.

The mystery side of the story was really great and had me gripped from the outset. I really enjoy a good mystery and this one was very well written. I think this is the strongest element of the book for sure and is what kept me reading, more so than the characters or the writing itself, which was okay but nothing special. I had no real problems with the writing but there were no beautiful passages of description, no funny one liners, nothing that stuck in my head.

The characters themselves were a little lacklustre and I wish we got to know Freya a little bit more. She doesn't get a lot of page time in the story but she's such an important part of the book it would have been nice if Blaxill had shown us more of her personality; if readers really had a chance to bond with her it would make the stakes feel a lot higher and make for a more exciting read.

Moving my few grumbles aside Pretty Twisted is definitely worth picking up. I did enjoy it and I liked that it was unique; I've read quite a few Internet-oriented books this year but nothing quite like this one. It's a quick, entertaining read that will certainly grab a lot of younger fans.

First line: 'We were shown into the police-station waiting room.'

Read if you liked…: Blood on My Hands - Todd Strasser

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

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Favourite Covers: Swimming

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... Swimming! Or anything water related; if they're in water, we're good.

Haunting Violet - Alyxandra Harvey

Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin

The Dead-Tossed Waves - Carrie Ryan

Breathless - Jessica Warman

Possessions - Nancy Holder

Deeper - Megan Hart

Diving In - Kate Cann

*

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

Guest Post: Kate Harrison - Life's a Beach!

Hello everybody! I've got a fab guest post today from the very lovely Kate Harrison, author of Soul Beach. I reviewed Soul Beach a couple of weeks ago and loved it - click here to read my review.

Kate's here today to talk about her top five beaches and I must admit it's really made me desperate for a sun soaked holiday - lucky I get to go to Florida in two weeks, isn't it? Ha! Anyway, over to Kate...


I don’t actually remember when I decided Soul Beach should actually be set ... well, on a beach.

At first my idea was simple: a mysterious social network where all the members were dead. But I didn’t know where that was, how it looked, or why it existed.

Then we moved to Barcelona... a city with some of the most glamorous beaches in Europe.

The rest, for me, is history. I immediately realised that my strange online paradise should be set on a stunning shoreline: if you have to face eternal life, then it might seem better with a sea view.

Now that the first book in the trilogy is coming out, lots of people have asked me whether it’s based on a real place.

Well, if I admitted that, I might be giving the game away about the next books... so instead of a spoiler, I thought I’d let you know about my top five favourite beaches.

1. Barceloneta – well, as I was living fifteen minutes’ walk from this one while I was writing the first Soul Beach, it has to feature. Barcelona has more than 4 km of beaches, but this is the liveliest. Locals gather around the Cubes – a strange but funky monument of four rusty cubes which is also the perfect meeting point. You’ll find skateboarders, surfers, pensioners playing board games, and some of Spain’s funkiest four-legged friends. Oh, and the chiringuitos – beach bars – are definitely the inspiration for the Soul Beach bar...


2. Brighton – when we moved back to the UK, I knew I needed my beach fix, and where better than Brighton? OK, it’s pebbly but apart from that I adore everything about it – the people-watching, the ghost of the old pier and the OTT one that remains. And the fact that it always feels like a bank holiday here!


3. Scheveningen – this is one from my childhood in Holland, and it was a tough decision between this, Blackpool and Southport. But I thought fewer people might know about this amazing long, sandy stretch on the Dutch coast. I must admit I haven’t visited it for years but I remember it was the perfect place for kids, with a crazy Diorama (may have crumbled by now), a wrecked boat, a pier and cafes selling ‘poffertjes’ – mini pancakes coated with butter and icing sugar. Just the thing to take the edge of the North sea wind...


4. Paxos – I’m afraid this is a bit vague as I can’t remember which of the beaches on the Greek island of Paxos was my favourite. But I discovered them on my first trip to Greece, about twenty years ago. We were on a last minute, dirt cheap trip to Corfu, and ended up in Kavos, where the Club 18-30s hung out. But it was October, and the crowds had gone, and I loved the island. Then we took a ferry to Paxos and I was in heaven. The quiet pebbly coves with cute as a button tavernas and turquoise seas were so stunning that I wanted to hide when the boat came to ferry us to Corfu again. One day I’ll head back and then I’ll remember which of the beaches it was I loved the most.


5. Koh Samed – this is your classic paradise beach, and I visited it on a writing holiday. I know, how lucky was I? I was inspired by the wonderful Irish writer Claire Boylan, who died far too young in 2006. She was one of many generous authors who encouraged me along the way. In fact, later that same year I started writing my first novel. I remember a stunning midnight thunderstorm, the largest mosquito bites I’ve ever had, a staggeringly bad case of sunstroke after singing songs from the shows in the surf, and a nightly sundowner cocktail to celebrate a good day’s writing. Memorable for all the right reasons. Except the mozzies, obviously.


Naming my favourites has been almost as hard as listing my favourite books, there are so many. And it makes me think that perhaps I should be booking a holiday to one I haven’t yet discovered... all in the name of research for the next books, obviously!


Brilliant, what a great guest post! Looking at all those gorgeous beaches definitely helps to combat the dark mornings we've been having lately... Summer is most definitely over. WHAT SUMMER? Yes, I am super British and like to complain about our lack of sun. Yay. See you all soon lovelies!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Beautiful Chaos - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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 Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.


Publication date: October 18th 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

*

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

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Review: White Time - Margo Lanagan

Published: 2010, David Fickling Books (originally published 2000)
Pages: 250 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Yes
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Margo Lanagan's North American debut, Black Juice, won a 2005 Printz Honor award. Now the Sydney, Australia-based author returns with a new collection of stories about the slippery space between reality and other dimensions.

My review: I've been a huge fan of Margo Lanagan ever since I first read Tender Morsels, which was one of the first review copies I ever received. I fell in love with her beautiful writing style within the first few pages and have since enjoyed Red Spikes and Black Juice, two of her short story collections.

White Time is another short story collection (published before Red Spikes and Black Juice), this time focusing more on sci-fi and dystopia than the more fantastical elements that we saw in Red Spikes. Although it was slightly outside the genres I usually read I thought I'd give it a go as I'm such a fan of Lanagan. I'm glad I took a chance on White Time as there are some real gems in the collection.

The Boy Who Didn't Yearn is a fantastic story and definitely stood out for me as the winner; I reread it a couple of times and enjoyed it just as much on the second and third read. Every story is full of Lanagan's wonderful use of imagery and turn of phrase, which I really do love. I think I'll always try and keep up with her releases as she always delivers such unique and interesting ideas. Also, she's one of my favourite writers on Twitter so do check her out on there.

I think Lanagan's writing may not suit everybody's tastes; I'm lucky that I really love her work but her writing can be a little abrupt so I'm not sure how well that would sit with all readers. Especially the endings! I find she loves to plunge readers in mid-way through the action (no pointless scene setting here - hooray) but can also pull us out of the story a little sooner than some of us might want to leave. I do like her abrupt endings but in certain stories I did find it a little frustrating.

If you've never read anything by Margo Lanagan before I'd probably point you in the direction of Red Spikes first, which is my favourite of her short story collections. White Time is another great collection from one of my top writers but I don't think it quite tops the brilliance of Tender Morsels.

First line: '"Bugga." Sheneel crumpled the hard copy, tossed it bin-wards and banged her head a few times on the desk.'

Read if you liked…: Red Spikes - Margo Lanagan

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

Monday, 19 September 2011

Review: Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery - Keren David

Published: August 4th 2011, Frances Lincoln
Pages: 339 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Money can't buy you love. But it can buy many other very nice things. Lia's mum is a nag, her sister's a pain and she's getting nowhere in pursuit of the potentially paranormal Raf. Then she wins GBP8 million in the lottery, and suddenly everything is different. But will Lia's fortune create more problems than it solves?

Everyone dreams of winning the lottery - but what's it really like? Find out in this hilarious story by Keren David, whose acclaimed debut novel, When I Was Joe, was Highly Commended for the Booktrust Teenage Prize.

My review: Me and my boyfriend spend quite a lot of time discussing what we would do if we won the lottery. It's something that regularly springs to my mind and I already have my plan of action tucked away in my mind, just in case. So, it was a fairly safe bet that I'd love Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery.

So I'll start with Lia herself. I've seen a lot of reviews where people have commented negatively on her personality at the beginning of the book. You know what? I loved her. I thought she was brilliant. There's just something about a bitchy character that I can't help but be charmed by. Bitchy Lia was awesome, Nicer Lia was...nice. I don't know, I think she might have lost a bit of her sparkle as the book went on but I am definitely the only person in the entire world who thinks so.

Raf was great, the 'paranormal' element of the book really made me laugh - I'm pretty sure this has been happening to pale boys who read ever since Twilight exploded onto the scene. I've been reading quite a few serious books over the last couple of weeks so something fun and fresh like Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery is excited what I needed. Keren David, you've done it again!

I'm really becoming a huge fan of Keren David's books. I adored When I Was Joe and Almost True and now I can add Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery to the list. I'm definitely going to be picking up her future releases and if you haven't read anything of hers yet then get to it straight away.

First line: 'My mother kicked me out one minute after I won eight million pounds.'

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

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Big Blog Story: Chapter Six

Hello everybody! I'm really excited about today's post as it's my turn to post up the next chapter of the Big Blog Story, run by the Bath Festival of Children's Literature. A different author or blogger is writing a chapter every couple of days to follow on with the story - if you haven't had a chance to read the first five chapters then have a read at the following links:

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

And now, without further ado, here is my chapter!

*

Mr Catch clapped a huge hand onto Scribble's shoulder and guided him away from Moby Doris' house. "Don't worry, Scribble, we'll get the moon back before you know it."

Scribble looked up at the empty sky and sighed. It was getting darker by the minute, he could hear the moon creaking deeper and deeper into the sea and knew before long it would be too late. They had to find out what was in the chest.

"This way." Mr Catch led Scribble back to the hillside where Scribble had first seen the moon tumble from the sky. They sat down side by side, legs swinging over the edge of the cliff and peered into the sea. Scribble could see the large bulk of the moon shimmering from underneath the surface, seaweed and shoals of fish dancing past her.

Next to him Mr Catch pulled the shining silver key out of his pocket and pressed it into the rusty lock of the chest. It made a low clunking sound as the lock sprang open. Scribble clapped his hands together, leaped to his feet and jumped from one foot to another in excitement. What was hidden inside the chest? Was it going to help them save the moon?

Mr Catch laughed. "Stop dancing, Scribble, we don't want you to end up in the sea as well, do we?"

Scribble sat back down and shook his head. He definitely did not want to end up in the sea. He liked to sit on the edge of the cliff and watch the waves and dolphins but he certainly wasn't a fan of swimming. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy swimming but he didn't like getting wet. Unfortunately for Scribble the two always seemed to go hand in hand.

“Well now I’m more puzzled than a shark in a paddling pool.” Mr Catch pursed his lips as he took in the contents of the chest. Scribble saw the confusion flash across his weathered features and took a look for himself.

Now it was Scribble's turn to look confused. Inside the chest lay a tangled rope, coiled up like a sleeping snake. Nestled next to it was a bright orange piece of coral, a single pearl and a folded piece of paper. Scribble grabbed the paper and opened it up. It was covered in a series of letters and symbols that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. It was all squiggles and dots and whirls and spots. Scribble had never seen anything like it in his life and he had read a lot of books. More than anybody else in his class, actually.

What does it mean? Scribble held his pad up to Mr Catch, who scratched his head and looked out across the sea.

"I don't know, Scribble." As Mr Catch spoke Scribble noticed a figure swim up to the surface for a second, then disappear back into the inky water with a flick of her turquoise tail. That was strange. He could have sworn she looked right at them. "I don't know. But I think I know someone who does."

*

So there you have it. What do you guys think? I really hope you all enjoyed it. I've absolutely loved taking part in the story so I'd like to say a huge thanks for the Bath Festival team for inviting me to take part - it's been a blast. Make sure you hop over to the lovely Lauren Kate's blog on Tuesday, when her chapter will be posted.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend lovelies!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

On My Wishlist (5)

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:

Fat Vampire - Adam Rex


Both fans and foes of the ever-expanding genre of vampire novels will get sucked into this hysterical send-up of those angst-filled, vampire-meets-girl high school dramas. Doug "Meatball" Lee is no Edward, he's just a 15-year-old dork trying to land a date with a real live girl, any girl. But when you're a weight-challenged, newbie vampire, finding a Bella to call your very own presents some real challenges.

The multi-talented author Adam Rex uses offbeat humor and outrageous scenarios to position this underdog for paranormal greatness


Lemonade Mouth - Mark Peter Hughes


Poets. Geniuses. Revolutionaries.

The members of the legendary band Lemonade Mouth have been called all of these things. But until now, nobody's known the inside story of how this powerhouse band came to be. How five outcasts in Opoquonsett High School's freshman class found each other, found the music, and went on to change both rock and roll and high school as we know it.

Wen, Stella, Charlie, Olivia, and Mo take us back to that fateful detention where a dentist's jingle, a teacher's coughing fit, and a beat-up ukelele gave birth to Rhode Island's most influential band. Told in each of their five voices and compiled by Opoquonsett's "scene queen," freshman Naomi Fishmeier, this anthology is their definitive history.


The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl - Barry Lyga


Fanboy has never had it good, but lately his sophomore year is turning out to be its own special hell. The bullies have made him their favorite target, his best (and only) friend seems headed for the dark side (sports and popularity), and his pregnant mother and the step-fascist are eagerly awaiting the birth of the alien life form known as Fanboy’s new little brother or sister.

Fanboy, though, has a secret: a graphic novel he’s been working on without telling anyone, a graphic novel that he is convinced will lead to publication, fame, and—most important of all—a way out of the crappy little town he lives in and all the people that make it hell for him.

When Fanboy meets Kyra, a.k.a. Goth Girl, he finds an outrageous, cynical girl who shares his love of comics as well as his hatred for jocks and bullies. Fanboy can’t resist someone who actually seems to understand him, and soon he finds himself willing to heed her advice—to ignore or crush anyone who stands in his way.

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho


PAULO COELHO'S enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids.

Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom points Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find wordly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.

Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transformation power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.


*

So that's it from me, what's on your wishlist this week?

Friday, 16 September 2011

Cover Reveal: Insurgent - Veronica Roth

Yay! The cover for Insurgent has just been revealed and it's AWESOME. I actually only read Divergent the other day and adored it - one of my faves of 2011 so I can't wait for Insurgent.


What do you think about the cover? I think it fits in perfectly with the Divergent cover, lovely!

Review: Halo - Alexandra Adornetto

Published: August 31st 2010, Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 484 pages, hardback
Series?: Yes. This is book one. Book two (Hades - with the most hideous cover art I have ever laid eyes on) is out now
Acquired: Purchased myself. Yes, I actually paid money for this

Summary (from Goodreads): Three angels – Gabriel, the warrior ; Ivy, the healer ; and Bethany, the youngest and most human – are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influence of darkness. They must work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerous of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.

Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong.
The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her?

My review: Oh God. Okay. I don't tend to write negative reviews a whole lot, mostly because I do enjoy the majority of books I read. However, sometimes I make bad, bad choices. Unfortunately, Halo was one of them. The worst part? I was taken in by the cover. God damn it. Never again. NEVER AGAIN.

***I will preface this review by saying that you may well want to take my words with a pinch of salt - if you are a hardcore fan of the genre maybe you'll enjoy this one. There are tonnes and tonnes of five star reviews over on Goodreads so do head over there before you make your mind up. I don't want to put anyone off of buying this book because, who knows, you may love it. However, I certainly did not.***

Where do I begin? With the done to death plot? The archetypal characters who have absolutely no shred of personality? The terrifying fact that this is actually going to be dragged out for three books? I could go on.

Right, so, Gabriel. Our main hottie. Of course he's gorgeous, of course he has a banging body, of course he has absolutely no personality. Bethany was a total dolt and Xaviar was a drip. Not a great combination of characters. Bethany is a terrible role model. It makes me sad to see so many younger readers reviewing this book and saying how great Bethany is and how the love story is so beautiful. I'm sorry but no.

Why oh why are so many of us of the mindset that the girls to aspire to are mindless idiots who fall in love with pretty boys the second they see them? Of course, that's true love right there. Seriously, everybody who hates on Twilight? Give Halo a go and then you'll really have something to complain about. I used to think Twilight was the worst thing to come out of the PR genre. Then I read Halo. Yeah. I said it.

After reading Halo I had to immediately bury my nose in some Courtney Summers to restore my faith in humanity. God. Although, one thing I am looking forward to is seeing the cover reveal for Heaven. After the monstrosity that is the Hades I do hope the cover designers continue the 'Meatloaf tribute album' theme - reading Halo has put me in such a grump I could do with a giggle.

Do feel free to link to your positive (or negative) reviews of Halo in the comments if you want to - I know I may well be in the minority with my thoughts.

First line: 'Our arrival didn't exactly go as planned.'

Read if you like…: I don't even know. I'm sorry. Cliches, maybe?

Rating:
Plot: 1/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 10/20 (D)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Blog Tour: Mary Hooper - Guest Post


Hi everyone! I'm here today as part of the blog tour for the fantastic Velvet by Mary Hooper. I read this one recently and loved it so I'm thrilled to be part of the tour. See below for a great guest post, where Mary talks all about her favourite Victorian celebrities!

Do make sure you drop by to visit Teenage Fiction for All Ages
tomorrow for the next stop of the tour and if you want to catch up with the earlier tour stops then you can start over at Wondrous Reads. For the full schedule check out the banner below.


Without further ado I'll hand you over to the brilliant Mary Hooper...


I should start with Dickens, I suppose, the most famous Victorian celebrity of them all. And although he is definitely my favourite Victorian writer, he is certainly not my favourite Victorian person, because he ousted his long-suffering wife, Catherine, who had borne him ten children, for an actress half his age. He also forbade his wife to contact any of the children. Of course, this doesn’t affect his fictional output, which is universally lauded, or the fact that some of his writings helped highlight – and change - the terrible conditions of the poor.

Oscar Wilde: generally thought to be the greatest wit of the age. He wore a blue carnation in his buttonhole, his clothes were audacious and his manner affected (he was the man who, when asked at Customs if he had anything to declare, replied, “Only my genius”). His clever and funny plays, including “The Importance of Being Ernest” are still performed all over the world.

Dante Gabriel Rosetti was the founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement, a loose collection of artists who tried to achieve a return to the simplicity and bright colours of medieval paintings. Talented and sensuous, he caused a sensation with his bohemian way of life and his “stunners”: the beautiful girls he took as his models. Notable for the fact that he had a miniature zoo in his home in Chelsea with small animals which ran along the dining table (okay, this was not very hygienic) and because, after burying an unpublished set of poems in his wife’s coffin, he later changed his mind, had the body exhumed and removed them.

If we’re having Rosetti, then we must have William Morris, who started as a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood but branched out to become craftsman, Socialist, designer, poet, architect and founder-member of the fine art workshop, Morris & Co. His life was ruled by a dislike of industrial ugliness; he coined the often-repeated phrase, “Have nothing in your homes which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Sadly, he lost his beautiful wife Janey Morris to the more obvious charms of Rosetti.

The Bronte Sisters. Three celebrities for the price of one here, Charlotte (Jane Eyre), Emily (Wuthering Heights) and Anne (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall), to name just one book from each sister. When I read the first two in my Eng Lit class, I remember there being long and heated discussions over which was the better book, Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? I’m in the Wuthering Heights camp myself; I love all that murky gothic/romantic passion.

Just to even up the male/female split a little more, my last Celebrity (and a true A-lister) is Lily Langtree, politely known as a “courtesan” (she was mistress to the heir to the throne). Stunningly beautiful, she embarked upon a stage career and had many wealthy and influential lovers. She made a name for herself in thoroughbred racing, managed a theatre and even sued a chop-house in New York for their gentlemen-only seating policy. Long after her death in 1929 she became the subject of The Who’s song, “Pictures of Lily”.


Brilliant, brilliant! For more information on Velvet and Mary Hooper herself head over to her Facebook page and website. Make sure you look out for Velvet, it's a real treat!