Monday, 30 April 2012

Team Candor UK: Insurgent Release Week Schedule

Happy almost Insurgent release day everybody! It's finally here - Insurgent comes out TOMORROW!

To celebrate the release of Veronica Roth's awesome second book in the Divergent series HarperCollins have split a few of us UK (and US) bloggers into factions from the Divergent world. Myself and the lovely Sarah from Feeling Fictional are the leaders of the UK Candor faction and we've had an absolute blast putting this week today with our wonderful team mates.

We've got lots of treats in store for you - a whole bunch of reviews plus a tonne of extra content that ranges from recipes to giveaways and even a post focusing on one member of the team's Divergent inspired tattoos; that's dedication for you!

Reviews:

May 1st - Writing from the Tub and Painting with Words
May 2nd - K-Books and Feeling Fictional
May 3rd - Bart's Bookshelf and Booking in Heels
May 4th - Big Book, Little Book and Chick Litaholic
May 5th - Books4Teens
May 6th - Gothic Angel Book Reviews and Book Monkey Scribbles
May 7th - Once Upon a Bookcase and We Sat Down
May 8th - We Sat Down

Extra content:

May 1st:
We Sat Down: Faction Tea Party 

May 2nd:
Writing from the Tub: Insurgent Giveaway

May 3rd:

Big Book Little Book: Divergent review and giveaway
Once Upon a Bookcase: The Divergent Society
Feeling Fictional: Divergent/Insurgent Discussion Post

May 4th:
Feeling Fictional: Divergent/Insurgent Discussion Post 
Gothic Angel Book Reviews: Divergent Review
Writing from the Tub: My Divergent Journey

May 5th:
Gothic Angel Book Reviews: Divergent/Insurgent Covers
Feeling Fictional: Divergent/Insurgent Discussion Post 
Writing from the Tub: The Divergent Love Story

May 6th:
Feeling Fictional: Divergent/Insurgent Discussion Post 
Big Book Little Book: Novel Nibbles - Insurgent edition
Writing from the Tub: A Profile on Veronica Roth


May 7th:
K-Books: US vs. UK Cover Comparison 
Feeling Fictional: Divergent/Insurgent Discussion Post 
Gothic Angel Book Reviews: My Divergent Tattoos

May 8th:
Writing from the Tub: Wrap Up Post 
Feeling Fictional: Wrap Up Post


Make sure you stop by all of the wonderful blogs that are part of Team Candor UK throughout the week to check out the awesome guest posts we all have planned!

Happy reading :)

#CANDORUK

Saturday, 28 April 2012

My friend's book is out today, yo! Plus, baking!

A very good morning to all of you lovely guys and girls! It's the weekend - hooray. Although, it is horribly grey and absolutely pissing it down in the lovely SW of England but still. What do you all have planned for the next couple of days?

Me - I am baking! Me and Tom are looking after my mum's dog for the weekend while her and my nan are off on holiday (jealous), so we decided to stay in and BAKE. I'm an okay cook but I definitely don't do it enough so this will be a fun exercise. I have way too many recipes planned and I'm pretty sure it's going to be a disaster but I'm armed with my camera so I can report back at the end of the weekend to let you know how I got on. There will be much flour in my hair, I'm sure.

But more importantly that the epic baking weekend of calorific joy is the fact that my pal's first published short story is out today on Amazon for your Kindle! I only found out this week so I thought I'd blog about it on release day to let you guys know, in case you fancied a quick read that's something a little different.

I can vouch for Andrew and confirm that he is a top guy, as well as being a kick ass writer. We were on the same course at Bath Spa and, honestly, if it wasn't for him I definitely, DEFINITELY would never have passed the hellish film module I took in my first year. It was doomed from the start but somehow I managed to pass wtih Andrew's help. Actually, somehow I managed to get two marks off of a first, go figure. So a much delayed, big fat thank you, dude, for arriving at my flat armed with vodka and shit loads of awesome ideas. Or did I supply the vodka? Either way, I've just whisked a copy of Elsa's Reality off to my Kindle and you folks should too. What else could you buy with 77p? 3 and a bit Freddos (remember when they were 10p? I do)? A pint of milk?! I have no idea what milk costs. You know what else you can buy? A YA fantasy short story named Elsa's Reality. Bargain.

Summary (from Amazon): Elsa grew up listening to her father's tales of a witch who nearly destroyed her home town. As strange occurrences start happening again, Elsa, Mama and Father are moved to a new home. The Man in Red says Elsa is sick and as she tries to get better she can't help thinking that Mama's temper, Father's fear and their moving are somehow all her fault.

So if you do fancy purchasing a copy right now here are the links:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007V0D0IQ/
US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007V0D0IQ/

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Favourite Covers: Necklaces


As you all know I'm a massive fan of book covers and I regularly post up lists of my favourites that fit into certain themes. I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover but, pshhh, we all do. It's impossible not to notice a gorgeous cover when browsing the shelves of a book store and a great cover design can definitely do wonders for a book.

This week the theme is necklaces! I did a post featuring jewellery a few weeks ago and I noticed how many beautiful necklaces are on YA covers, so I thought I'd give them their own week.


Blood Feud - Alyxandra Harvey

Vampiric Kisses - Ellen Schreiber

Chosen - P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast

Blue Bloods - Melissa de la Cruz (Lotsss of YA vampire books have necklaces on the covers, I noticed!)

She's So Dead to Us - Kieran Scott

Bleeding Hearts - Alyxandra Harvey

Prized - Caragh M. O'Brien

The Hollow - Jessica Verday

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Review: The Seeing - Diana Hendry

Published: July 5th 2012, Bodley Head
Pages: 176 pages, ARC
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): "What gave me a sudden shiver was the notion that there were two of me. The little sister me, who was good and mostly kind; the girl Alice and Dottie knew. And then there was this other me, the one lurking inside me, eager for danger and risk, for something that could be as wild as the sea in winter. For Natalie."

Nothing ever seems to happen in the quiet, respectable seaside town of Norton. The war is over, and everyone's thrilled to be living peacefully - everyone but thirteen-year-old Lizzie, who's so bored she feels like she could scream. Until wild, dangerous, break-all-the-rules Natalie arrives. Lizzie is drawn irresistibly to the exciting new girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and as the girls grow closer over the summer, Lizzie discovers a new side to the town - and to herself - that she had never imagined before.

Natalie and her young brother, Philip, let Lizzie in on a secret. Despite what everyone thinks, the danger of war is still hanging over them. Philip has a 'second sight', and all around him he sees evil: apparently innocent people, hiding in this quiet town until the time is right for revenge. Natalie and Philip call them 'Left-Over Nazis'. It's up to them to root these people out and force them out of Norton. Lizzie is swept up in what begins as an exciting game, but as the children begin to target their neighbours, the consequences of Philip's 'gift' spiral quickly out of control.

A chilling, powerful tale that will linger with you long after the final page, from Whitbread Award-winner Diana Hendry.

My review: It was like Long Lankin all over again, seriously. Those Random House girls really know how to build excitement about a book. Two RHCB blogger brunches ago I first heard about The Seeing. I knew I would love it from the moment I first heard about the story. I'm a massive fan of anything creepy and I love stories that can get inside my head and stay in my memory long after I've finished reading. After pretty much an entire year of waiting to finally get my hands on this book a review copy arrived and I read it there and then, the day it clattered through my letter box. Honestly, I was blown again. It absolutely made me stop in my tracks and pay attention to it and I really can't recommend this one enough.

Hendry has such a way with words and she managed to truly creep me out throughout The Seeing's relatively short page count of 170. It's easy to read this one in a single sitting and the story is so much darker than I initially thought it was going to be - particularly that ending, wow! I love that the reader goes on the journey right alongside Lizzie. When Lizzie is seduce by Natalie's rebellious personality, so are we. When Lizzie begins to realise something about Natalie and Philip is a little bit...off, so do we. When Lizzie finally realises, with horror, exactly what is going on, so do we. I loved that I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end and with every chapter we learn something new. The pacing is perfect here as well, with highly dramatic moments broken up by some gorgeous prose and description of the seaside town Lizzie calls home.

The setting in The Seeing is great, too. Set just after the war in a little seaside town, Hendry creates such a visual world for her story. I could see Lizzie's house, the beach, Natalie's house and Hugo's caravan so clearly in my mind. The Seeing is set in such an interesting time in history and one that we don't see explored too often in YA. The fear and uncertainty that lingered after the war is subtly present in the story, particularly in the actions of Lizzie's mother, who was a great character.

Natalie and Philip are two of the most interesting characters I've come across in a long while. I read The Seeing well over a month ago and both of them are still so clear in my mind. Natalie is truly creepy but also damaged and vulnerable, too. She has a cruel streak that has undoubtedly arisen from her difficult upbringing and it was only as the story developed I began to realise exactly how traumatic her childhood probably was. Hendry did a great job with the scenes centred around Natalie's family and they definitely help the reader understand why Natalie is the way she is. Philip, of course, is a true enigma but I found him absolutely fascinating, if a little unsettling.

I can't possibly finish this review without mentioning the ending of The Seeing in a little more detail. Obviously I'm not going to give away a single detail but, seriously, I think this is one of the most dramatic and shocking endings I've ever read in a novel, particularly a YA novel. It came completely out of the blue and I definitely didn't see it coming but it was perfect, absolutely the right way to end the story, even if it was a little difficult to read.

I honestly can't heap enough praise on this book. It's definitely my favourite read of 2012 so far and I'm so happy that I loved it as much as I thought I would. I haven't read any of Diana Hendry's books before but I'm certainly going to work my way through her backlist now. Please, please hop over to Amazon as quickly as you can and pre-order a copy of this absolute gem - I promise it will blow you away!

First line: 'The pills don't help.'

Read if you liked…: Long Lankin - Lindsey Barraclough

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

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Trailer and Animated Cover Reveal: The Immortal Rules -

So who's excited about Julie Kagawa's upcoming series, The Immortal Rules? There's been such a buzz about this one so I wanted to share the awesome trailer and animated cover to see what you all think.





Let me know what you think! Personally I'm actually really excited about The Immortal Rules, even though it's not usually my kind of thing.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Review: Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

Published: August 14th 2011, Speak
Pages: 372 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Standalone (but companion novel Lola and the Boy Next Door is out now)
Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): Anna can't wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?

My review: Really, there isn't anything I can say about Anna and the French Kiss that hasn't already been said. Is there any contemporary YA out there that has had more positive reviews? I don't think so. Everybody, contemporary fans and those who aren't so keen, all seem to agree that this is one of the best releases in a long while. Even more exciting is that this is Perkins' debut novel. Awesome.

Anna has found herself at school in Paris, pretty much against her will. She has very little interest in anything French and is convinced her move to Paris is going to pretty much ruin her life. Of course, Anna quickly realises that moving to Paris might just be the best thing that ever happened to her, especially when St Clair comes onto the scene. Yes, he is as gorgeous and all around dreamy as everybody has been saying. It's so nice to discover a YA hero who isn't a borderline abusive control freak, that's for sure.

Anna is a wonderful character, impossible to dislike and you'll find yourself rooting for her from page one, just like I did. She's a little awkward and clumsy but not in the ridiculously annoying Bella Swan fashion, she's just a regular girl who makes the same stupid mistakes as the rest of us, which makes it so easy to like her. St Clair, too, is flawed enough to make him feel like a real person, rather than a two dimensional heart throb who has very little going for him, besides good hair. He has his ups and downs and I loved witnessing the struggle between St Clair, Anna and St Clair's girlfriend, Ellie.

The main strength in Anna and the French Kiss is the love story, without a shadow of a doubt. It was great to read about a relationship that doesn't develop within the first couple of pages of a book. It felt real, based on friendship and trust and a genuine foundation. The love story Perkins creates just shows why her and her characters are great role models for younger teens who may pick up her books. We need more Annas in YA and less Bellas, okay?

Although I did absolutely adore Anna and the French Kiss, there were a couple of niggley little things that did grate on me, although they didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story. Good lord, why did St Clair keep saying 'me mum'? Why? We know what his accent is, we know he wouldn't say that, we know he would say 'my mum'. Or just 'Mum', I thought. 'Me mum' just sounds like he's one of Fagin's Boys from Oliver. Not sexy.

If, for some reason, you haven't yet picked up Anna and the French Kiss go and order yourself a copy right now. You'll fall under Perkins' spell within a couple of pages and nothing will get you ready for summer more than the gorgeous story she creates against the beautiful Parisian backdrop.

First line: 'Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge.'

Read if you liked…: Diary of a Crush: French Kiss - Sarra Manning, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith

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

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Review: Popular - Gareth Russell

Published: July 7th 2011, Razorbill
Pages: 307 pages, paperback
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): AND HOW ARE WE?'

'BETTER.'

'THAN?'

'EVERYONE.'

MEREDITH HARPER is rich, popular, manipulative and almost unnaturally beautiful. At the age of sixteen, she's already a social legend.

IMOGEN DAWSON, beautiful and sexy-chic, she's Meredith's best friend and a total bombshell. And doesn't she just know it. Then there's . . .

KERRY DAVISON, daddy's little princess with a passion for pink and a penchant for Fabulous Induced Breakdowns. Now meet

CAMERON MATTHEWS, six-feet tall, blue-eyed and the most popular guy in school.

Together they're unfathomably gorgeous and like, totally beau. But under the glamorous surface of parties and spa-days is a wealth of comforting lies and convenient silences, bitching, break-ups and scandal. Let the games begin . . .


My review: We don't live in happiest of times at the moment, do we? We're in the middle of a recession, the news is all doom and gloom and, as I'm writing this review, it's pissing it down with rain. Sometimes we all need a book to dive into that takes us away from the stresses and strains of every day life. If you're looking for that book then look no further because Popular is the perfect antidote to all of your worries.

Popular will have you laughing from page one and keep you thoroughly entertained until the end of the story. I devoured this book in a few sittings while me and my boyfriend were in the middle of redecorating - I'd had to pack all of my books away while we painted but I grabbed Popular at the last minute, knowing I'd want to read something that would help me chill out after a horrendous day filled with masking tape and matte magnolia.

As you might have guessed from the title and blurb, Popular resolves around Meredith Harper and her friends - the most popular group in their school. They're all rich, gorgeous and completely self-centered but in the most entertaining possible way. Sure, you'll want to hate Meredith for being a bitch or Imogen for having no morals but then you'll stumble across one of their hilarious one liners and you won't be able to resist their charms, I promise. Plus, every single one of the popular crowd goes through a journey throughout Popular that means they're a little more rounded and maybe even a little bit nicer than when their story started. As for me, well, l I have a huge soft spot for a lovable bitch so I fell in love with Meredith et al within the first few pages.

Although Popular is a light hearted story it does deal with some teen issues, mostly centered about relationships. I don't want to post any spoilers but I was so impressed with how Russell wrote the situation Cameron found himself in. I find a lot of YA books that deal with similar themes can be a little intense and super serious at all times, which I don't think makes them as accessible as their writers think. Russell struck the perfect balance, mixing sensitivity with humour and I loved it.

The dialogue and humour between the characters is definitely Popular's strength. There is quite a large cast involved but I got to know everybody very quickly and never found myself getting confused with who's who. Each character is so memorable that you won't have any problem forgetting them between reading sessions. Russell really delivers some golden one liners; I have a system where I fold down the corner of a page if there's a quote I want to remember - I don't think I've ever folded down so many pages in my life!

If I haven't already convinced you to pick up a copy of Popular then I just want to share a few of my favourite lines with you, which I'm sure will make up your mind:

- (Meredith Harper, on blowjobs): 'Look! I'm not going to do that for the very same reason I don't baby-sit - if it spits up, it's not coming anywhere near my face.' (Page 194)

- 'Just look at him. He's run so far back into the closet that he's practically having tea in Narnia with Mr Tumnus.' (Page 200)

- 'Never have I ever, um, shoplifted,' said Blake. Catherine, Kerry and Stewart drank. Kerry, who was already quite drunk by this stage, threw her head melodramaitcally into her hands.
'It was a pick 'n' mix,' she confessed. 'I was seven. I wanted a Milk Dud. I've never told anyone that before.' (Page 216)

- 'What a fascinating story,' said Meredith sarcastically. 'Can I please record it and use it as my ring-tone?' (Page 218)

- 'Oh my God,' muttered Meredith, 'what's that smell? Ah yes, the cloying stench of desperation...'
'Really? said Imogen. 'Is that what that is? I always get it so confused with bullshit.'
'I know, they're very similar, aren't they?' (Page 274)

I could go on, really. I love the style of writing in Popular. It's sharp, hilarious and always right on the money. The guys are gorgeous, the girls are beautiful and the drama is top notch. You really couldn't ask for more from a contemporary YA. Absolutely spot on.

First line: 'On the first Monday of September, Meredith Elisabeth Anne Harper stood staring at her own reflection in the huge mirror of her private closet on the first floor of her seven-bedroom, three-storey home in Malone Park, Belfast.'

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

Monday, 16 April 2012

*Finally* going to see...

So later on today I am FINALLY going to see The Hunger Games! It's been out for three weeks and I still haven't seen it; it's shameful, I know.

I've heard nothing but good things about the movie so I'm excited. I'm sure I'll love it. I don't have particularly high standards when it comes to movies, I'm easily pleased. Plus, Wes Bentley is a hottie so his beard will get me through if the film disappoints.

Anyway, I'll be back later to let you all know what I thought. May the odds be ever in your favour etc etc...

Book Trailer: Changeling - Philippa Gregory

As you all know I'm a big fan of book trailers. I've been posting about them for a long time now and think they can do wonders for a book's publicity...or completely put potential readers off, depending on how well they are executed!

I've just been sent a link to the trailer for Changeling, Philippa Gregory's latest offering and I adore it. The tone is absolutely perfect and I'm even more excited for the book than I was before I watched it.

Have a watch below and let me know what you think.


Monday, 9 April 2012

Favourite Covers: Trees (Part Two)

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 trees. This is actually part two, as I found so many different covers when I was researching this theme. There's definitely a trend of sad girls in pretty dresses standing by trees!

Ash - Malinda Lo

Fallen - Lauren Kate

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

When It Happens - Susane Colasanti

Stardust - Neil Gaiman

Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

*

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

Monday, 2 April 2012

Favourite Covers: Trees (Part One)

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... Trees!

The Wood Queen - Karen Mahoney

Dark Companion - Marta Acosta

My Name is Memory - Ann Brashares

The Repalcement - Brenna Yovanoff

Tyger Tyger - Kersten Hamilton

Unearthly - Cynthia Hand

Born at Midnight - C. C. Hunter

*

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