Monday, 30 June 2014

Messenger of Fear Cover Reveal!

Hiii everyone! How are you all feeling on this delightful morning? YALC Readathon hangovers? Yeah, I thought so.

Today I'm lucky enough to be able to share the amazing cover for Michael Grant's upcoming Messenger of Fear with you all - it's been exclusively revealed RIGHT THIS SECOND and I've been desperate to share it since it arrived in my inbox because it's incredible! Michael Grant always has the most awesome covers but I think Messenger of Fear is the best yet.

Hot damn, I cannot blinking wait for this book - it's going to be awesome!

So, here's the cover itself and underneath is a brilliant video of Michael Grant revealing the cover to the world...




I also had my burning question answered by Michael, which you can read all about below:

I asked: 'Some writers relate take great inspiration from music while they’re writing. Do you listen to music while you’re writing? If so, what artists/bands do you like to listen to while you write?'
“Listen to music often while writing first drafts. Mostly I use music as a tool to occupy part of my brain and to provide energy, a sort of kinetic boost. So, I just looked on my iPhone for my Top 10 most-played:  
1) Into Action by Tim Armstrong
2) Israelites, by Desmond Dekker
3) I don’t Wanna Grow Up, Ramones.
4) For You, Lars Frederiksen
5) East Bay Nights, Rancid.
6) Gimme Shelter, Rolling Stones
7) Blitzkrieg Bop, Ramones
8) Come Join U, Bad Religion.
9) Roots Radicals, Rancid
10) Pressure Drop, Toots and the Maytalls
Of course that list changes, but it tends to be punk and reggae with some blues.”
The Ramones, Bad Religion and Rancid? Pretty incredible line-up right there!
I just want to say a huge thank you to Michael Grant and the lovely folk over at Electric Monkey for letting me take part in this cover reveal. Now, how to pass the time until the book comes out...

Friday, 27 June 2014

YALC Readathon Guest Post - Natasha Ngan

It's Friday already and there's only a couple of days left of the YALC Readathon. I hope you're all really enjoying taking part and have found some new UKYA favourites!

For today's guest post I've got the gorgeous Natasha Ngan here to share the character profiles of two characters from her upcoming book, The Memory Keepers. I'm always fascinated to learn about different writing processes and character development, so I hope you guys enjoy this post as much as I did!


The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan | Character Profiles: Seven and Alba

Seven is a thief with a difference - he steals downloadable memories from banks and memoriums to sell onto London's black market, trading secrets and hidden pasts for a chance at a future of his own. But one night, as Seven is breaking into a private memorium in a wealthy part of London, he is caught in the act by one of its residents: Alba, the teenage daughter of London's most famous criminal prosecutor. Instead of giving him away, Alba promises to keep Seven's secret - as long as he allows her to go memory-surfing herself. In doing so, they discover a hidden memory about Seven's past, revealing a shocking secret about his childhood, the government and a mysterious experiment known as The Memory Keepers ...

Now Seven and Alba will have to race against time to unlock the maze of The Memory Keepers - but can they keep themselves out of harm's way before the London Guard - and Alba's father - catches up with them?


Character Profile: Alba



First name/s: Alba, Philippa, Darcy

Last Name: White

Parents: Oxana and Alastair White

Age: 16

Location: Hyde Park Estate (London, North)

Appearance: Short, long red hair, green eyes 

Doppelgänger: Lana Del-Ray 

Job: Student

Best Friend: Dolly (hand-maid)

Favourite Food: Hot Chocolate

Favouite Place: The Serpentine (lake in Hyde Park Estate)

Favourite Animal: Birds

Ideal Date: Long walk followed by book shopping and a picnic

Ambition: To study English Literature at a university abroad


Character Profile: Seven




First Name/s: Seven

Last Name: ???

Parents: ???

Age: 17

Location: Vauxhall (London, South)

Appearance: Tall, messy black hair, grey eyes

Doppelgänger: Andrew Garfield

Job: Skid-thief (steals memories)

Best Friend: Doesn’t have one (unless a memory-machine counts)

Favourite Food: Any (can’t afford to be picky)

Favourite Location: Lost in a memory

Favourite Animal: Birds

Ideal Date: Date?! Don’t be ridiculous

Ambition: Generally just to stay alive would be nice

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I want to say a big thank you to Natasha for stopping by Writing from the Tub, what a great post! Are you guys as intrigued by The Memory Keepers as I am?

If you want to meet Natasha she'll be at YALC, so make sure you swing by the 'Art of Blogging' panel at 15.30 on Saturday July 12th and Natasha's signing, which is at 16.15, also on the Saturday.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

YALC Readathon Guest Post - CJ Skuse

So we're onto day three of the YALC Readathon! How are you all getting on? Remember to let us know what books you're reading and loving by using the #yalcreadathon hashtag on Twitter!

Today I've got a great guest post from CJ Skuse, one of my favourite UKYA authors. She's here today to share her dream cast for her latest book, Dead Romantic. If anyone's in need of a pick me up in the form of shirtless hunks then you'll probably want to keep reading...


CJ Skuse’s Dream Cast for Dead Romantic

My third YA novel, Dead Romantic, is the first book which I had almost fully cast in my head before writing. With my first, Pretty Bad Things, I had my mother, father, grandfather and boy twin, Beau, all cast and ready to go but my main character, Paisley, was just a body and a personality – with blue eyes and blonde hair. No one really ever got the part. In Rockoholic, I had some characters out (Mac was a young Adam Lambert, Jackson was a young Seth Gabel, Hallie was Dakota Fanning etc) but some always remained hazy – including my main character, Jody. Dead Romantic’s cast looks something like this…

CAMILLE MABB: Camille is, basically, a ditz. She’s very much still a child and hasn’t had those important life experiences yet which force you to grow up and think about more sensible things. She’s also still very much a mummy’s/daddy’s girl and she kind of likes it that way. Meeting Zoe and later, Louis, is her spring board for growing up. I originally saw Camille as a 16-year-old version of the toddler, Cree, in Rockoholic. Physically, she is pretty much Pandora from Skins series 3&4.


ZOE LUTWYCHE: If Camille is Pandora in Skins, then Zoe is Effy. Or at least, she has the same kind of tone/bleak outlook as Effy, but the brain of Einstein. Facially, at least, she is Frances Bean Cobain; stunningly beautiful if a little scary to the untrained eye. She has the blackest hair, the bluest eyes and walks with an air of superiority. She is one of the few people I’ve written who kind of has the right to walk that way cos she’s an utter genius.


DAMIAN DE JAGER: Continuing the Skins theme, the sex-obsessed hot head Damian is Jack O’Connell with dark hair. (Jack played Cook in Series 3&4 of Skins). Yeah I know, I’m obsessed with Skins. His personality is at least one part Jay Cartwright from Inbetweeners and also a little bit Del Boy too. I wanted him to be a little bit three-dimensional, which is why you get the hint that meeting Zoe really is going to change him in more ways than he could have imagined and for this reason, I find him quite endearing. If I had done a sequel, it would have been about Damian’s ongoing quest for Zoe and his battle to win her affections as much as Sexy Dead Boy has. But he has his work cut out.




PROF. THOMAS LUTWYCHE (Zoe’s dad): The third appearance of Gerard Way in as many of my novels finds him as Zoe’s dearly-departed father Thomas. In both My Chemical Romance videos for I Don’t Love You and Helena, Gerard reminds me of a mad man and that’s really what Thomas is – a man driven mad by his work. I lent this image to Thomas and watched him grow from there.


CAMILLE’S MUM AND DAD: I was a bit lazy with casting here. I was watching a lot of repeats of Gavin & Stacey (as well as Skins) at the time of writing and I was looking to cast an older married couple as Camille’s parents. I saw Pam and Mick, Gavin’s mum and dad, as portrayed by Alison Steadman and Larry Lamb, and I loved their relationship so I just used them. Pam is like an older version of Camille with all her malapropisms and fussing/worrying over nothing so I think they work quite well.


LOUIS BURNETT: *sighs* Ah Louis, love of my life. Wherefore are thou? You just bring ALL the noms. Anyway, *ahem* Louis is basically a timid version of Clapton Davis, a character portrayed by Josh Hutcherson in Detention. Louis has brown hair, brown eyes, weird dress sense and an insane but quiet desire for Camille. I have an insane desire for Louis which continues to this day.


SEXY DEAD BOY: Even though *spoiler* we don’t get to properly meet Sexy Dead Boy, I always imagined him with blonde shaggy hair and perfect, well, everything else. A little bit Alex Pettyfer with a soupcon of River Viiperi. With the mind of a deranged genius Gerard Way. What a combo...


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So, there you have it, CJ's dream cast for Dead Romantic? What do you think? Those of you who have read this one, did you picture the characters in the same way as CJ?

CJ will be at YALC so if you want the chance to meet her make sure you head to her writing workshop at 11.30am on Saturday July 12th, and her signing, which is at 2.15pm, also on the Saturday.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

YALC Readathon Guest Post - Lucy Saxon

So we're onto day two of the YALC Readathon - how did you all find day one? I only had one book planned and that was Half Bad by Sally Green - I raced through it and absolutely loved it. Today I'm planning on reading two books...so keep your fingers crossed for me!

I've got a guest post today from Lucy Saxon, whose debut novel, Take Back the Skies, is one of the most-hyped books of 2014...and it's actually on my reading for this week! Without further ado, I'll hand you over to Lucy, who's here to talk about her top book, film, TV and Youtube picks:



So, I’ll be honest, with the amount of time I’ve spent working on cosplay recently I’m very behind on my TV and books. But I’m working to change that in the next month, and take some time to catch up on everything. So here’s a short list of some of the things I’m obsessed with that I’m going to be treating myself to in the next few weeks!

Books
City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare. I’ve been waiting for this book for SO LONG, and I grabbed a copy at the book launch that’s been sat on my bookshelf taunting me ever since. I don’t think I’m emotionally prepared for it, but I’m going to read the series right through from City of Bones and hope it doesn’t completely destroy me. Thank the Angel we have The Dark Artifices to look forward to!

Heir of Fire – Sarah J Maas. I was lucky enough to be sent over a proof copy by Bloomsbury, so that’s another one I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I’m so very, very excited about this; I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it from everyone at Bloomsbury, and it sounds like it’s going to be epic. Plus, it’s huge! That can only mean excellent things.

Other than that, I just have the large stack of books by YALC authors that I have yet to read; some I already own, some on my wishlist. I’m going to be reading a lot this month!

Film
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Anyone who follows my Tumblr will know how big a fan I am of Captain America. And not just because of Chris Evans’ face. Hooked right from The First Avenger, I spent a lot of time waiting for Winter Soldier and it didn’t disappoint. It’s probably my favourite MCU film so far! I need it to be out on DVD so I can watch it 30000 times in a row.

The Fault In Our Stars – This film comes out in the UK on the 20th and I can’t wait to see it! I loved the book so much, and everything has been so so positive about the movie that I know it’s going to be amazing. But first I need to find a friend to go with me so I don’t end up sat sobbing in a cinema on my own. Misery loves company!

TV
Teen Wolf – I got as far as S3 Ep7 before cosplay madness took over, and I am DESPERATE to finish series 3. Teen Wolf was one of those things that I was pretty late to the party with, but it was allll over my Tumblr dash and that got me curious. It’s a show that you think is going to be your typical trashy supernatural teen romance series thing and be really lame and cheesy, but it’s actually ridiculously awesome. Plus, the cast are amazing.

Adventure Time – I’m about 20 episodes behind on Adventure Time and that physically pains me to admit. I probably don’t need to gush about the awesomeness of Adventure Time; everyone already knows, right? Basically, if you haven’t started watching yet, do that now. And if you’re sat watching the first season thinking ‘this makes no sense whatsoever’ keep watching, eventually you forget to care.

Music
All Time Low – I am ridiculously in love with All Time Low’s ‘Dirty Work’ at the moment. I love all of their albums, but Dirty Work has just hit all the right buttons for me, so I’ll probably listen to it about 300 times in the next month.

Keith Urban – Fun fact about me; I have a deep, deep love for country music. Born from many long car journeys between Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas when on holiday visiting friends, my iTunes is approximately 60% country music at this point. It’s not just Keith that I’m listening to right now, but the sunnier it gets the more often I find myself blasting ‘Long Hot Summer’ at highest possible volume while making cosplays.

Youtube
Sci-Show – One of the many Vlogbrothers-related channels I need to catch up on. I think the only thing on Youtube I’ve been keeping up with recently is Hank Green Plays Pikmin 3, and that’s because it’s hilarious. So I have a lot of science to watch!

Geek And Sundry – Again, something with a lot of different shows I need to catch up on all on the same channel. I don’t watch all of the stuff on G&S, but there’s enough for it to be on this list!

That’s about it on the main things I love and need to get up to date on! There are of course plenty more things on the list, but I’d be here all month if I listed them all. And yet I still predict most of my free time over the next 6 months will be spent making cosplays and on Tumblr instead of actually working to make this list shorter. Such is life!

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Thanks so much for stopping by, Lucy! And that's really reminded me that I definitely need to start watching Adventure Time to see what all the fuss is about...

Lucy will be at YALC at the Superfans Unite! panel, which is on Saturday 12th at 13.30. You can also catch her at her signing, also on Saturday, which is at 14.15.

Monday, 23 June 2014

YALC Readathon Guest Post - Beth Reekles

So the YALC Readathon kicks off today and I hope to see as many of you taking part as possible! As you're reading this I'm hopefully squirreled away somewhere reading as many books on my list as possible, but for those of you who fancy a break from reading I've got a great guest post for you from the lovely Beth Reekles, discussing film and TV shows that have influenced her writing: 

 
 
Film and TV that’s influenced my writing – Beth Reekles

I get asked a lot why my books are set in America (it’s actually a really simple answer: when I got the idea for The Kissing Booth, I realised we don’t have kissing booths here in the UK; it’s an American concept. So, that story was set in America, and then I decided to set my others there too, because I had a big American fan-base by then). And setting my books in the USA, TV and film have had a substantial influence on my writing.

When you think about films starring sixteen-year-olds, it’s usually set in America, in high school environment. Or it’s dystopian, they’re fighting demons in NYC, or they’re British and in Hogwarts. There really aren’t a lot of teen movies set in British comprehensive schools, when you think about it.

As a British teenage girl, I grew up watching films like Clueless, Easy A, and Mean Girls, and TV shows like Gossip Girl, 90210, and Teen Wolf (I’m a compete sucker for that show) – I was surrounded by this kind of American high school culture. It’s kind of inescapable.

And growing up with those movies and TV shows gave me an insight into American high school culture – the different slang they use, the way they say ‘semester’ instead of ‘term’, or ‘pants’ instead of ‘trousers’. People ask me a lot if it was hard for me to write my books in an American setting, when I live in Wales, but it wasn’t that difficult – sure, maybe things like The Princess Diaries and 90210 give a slightly warped view of how high school really is for average American teens. But when you have so many of them to compare each other to, it’s easy to spot the similarities – even something as simple as when the main characters hang out between classes by their lockers.

I can’t say that there’s a specific movie or TV show that’s directly inspired my books. I probably picked up the idea of a kissing booth from the movie She’s The Man (that one never gets old!), but other than that, I’d say that I’ve been generally inspired to write by a lot of American-based teen movies and shows to help me get the right settings and characters for my books.

I do have a little list of movies I like to watch for inspiration – it’s short, but these movies are so much fun I could watch them a billion times over:

Easy A (seriously, who doesn’t love this movie?!)
For the First Time (Dylan O’Brien is a fantastic actor)
10 Things I Hate About You (two words: Heath Leger.)
Wild Child (a movie actually set in a British school! Admittedly a boarding school, but still – it counts)
The Art of Getting By (Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts are just incredible)
John Tucker Must Die (soooo much fun to watch!)
Mean Girls (it is so fetch)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post, Beth! I totally agree with her list of movies to watch a billion times over - I could never, ever get bored of 10 Things I Hate About You or Mean Girls.

Beth will be at YALC so if you want to tell her in person how much you love her books check out the 'I'm too sexy for this book!' panel at 12.30pm on Sunday 13th July or at her signing at 1.15pm,also on the Sunday.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

YALC Readathon TBR!

So it's almost time for the YALC Readathon - I can't wait!!! Will you be joining us in our quest to read as many books as possible from authors who will be at YALC? The readathon starts on Monday (23rd) and runs until Sunday (29th) and I'm really hoping to read ten books during that time!

Ten might sound like a crazy high number but I don't have too many plans next week so I'm hoping I'll be able to do it. Just in case, by some miracle, I manage *more* than ten I've got a final four books ready to go. Anyway, here's my final line up:




What do you reckon? Think I can read ten books in seven days? We'll see... And, more importantly, what's on your YALC Readathon TBR?

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Blogging Stationery Saviours!

So I think most book lovers are also stationery lovers, am I right? I don't know about you guys but I can't resist the lure of a shiny new notebook, even when I have a whole shelf of the empty blighters languishing at home.

Anyway, today I wanted to talk to you about three of my stationery saviours that really help me to stay organised when it comes to blogging - especially book reviewing. 


Organisation is key when it comes to running a blog so I'm never without a pen and notebook, wherever I am! You never know inspiration is going to strike and I've got ideas for posts in the weirdest places so I always like to have something on hand to jot down a few notes if the mood takes place. 

My notebook of choice at the moment is this lovely pink and white beauty, which my best friend gave me for Christmas last year - she always gets me the nicest notebooks! To go with it I've got a neon pink fountain pen...because nice handwriting doesn't have to be boring. And yes, the ink cartridge inside is also pink. I actually signed my resignation letter with this pen when I left my previous job to start up my copywriting business so it's been a bit of a good luck charm ever since!

The notebook and pen are obvious choices, but I'm guessing you're wondering what the sardine tin is for. Nope, it's not an omega 3-filled snack on the go, it's actually the last part of my blogging stationery holy trinity! Meet the 'Tin of Sardines - Clip On Page Markers'* by the lovely That Company Called IF.


Each handy little tinned is filled to the brim with fifty gorgeously designed, brightly coloured fish-shaped page markers. How's that for jazzing up the humble paperclip?


And look how pretty they look marking all the different sections in my notebook - these are also a massive lifesaver if you're writing a book review and need to mark out pages with relevant quotes etc. I know most of you don't like to dog ear your books, so these are the perfect alternative - I think they might even convince me to stop folding down the corners of pages...and you know how dedicated I am to that ;).


So let me know, what are your top three blogging stationery saviours? And what do you think of the Tin of Sardines Page Markers? To have a proper look at them hop on over to their page on the That Company Called IF website. You can also follow them on Twitter at @IFgifts.

(Disclaimer: The Tin of Sardines Page Markers were sent to me in exchange for an honest review)

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Messenger of Fear Cover Reveal Countdown

Happy hump day everyone - just a quickie from me today!
I'm really excited to share my first post about Michael Grant's upcoming book, Messenger of Fear. I've read the first chapter and it's creepy and intriguing in equal measure - I can't wait to read the whole thing!

The cover reveal for the book will be taking place on June 30th so do keep your eyes peeled for that, but in the meantime I wanted to share this awesome countdown graphic:


Monday, 16 June 2014

The Merciless - Danielle Vega

Published: June 12th 2014, Razorbill
Pages: 336 pages, ebook
Standalone/Series: Standalone

Summary (from Goodreads)Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
 
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
 
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
 
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

My review: Seriously, you guys, I cannot explain the love I have for this book! The second I saw the cover on Goodreads I was intrigued, then when I read the summary it shot straight to the top of my wishlist and I've been counting down the days!

Sofia is the new girl at school and keen to make a few friends, so jumps at the chance to sit with popular good-girls, Riley, Grace and Alexis. It's clear from the outset that the girls are strong Catholics but it's not until the novel takes a mad descent into darkness that we realise quite how dedicated they are to what they believe in...

As a Catholic school survivor I thought I knew what I was in for, a bit of guilt and judging and the like. Yeah, I was just a little bit wide of the mark. This isn't a story for the light-hearted, by any stretch of the imagination. I like to think of myself as a well-seasoned horror fan but nothing makes me happier than something that can genuinely unsettle me - boy oh boy, did The Merciless unsettle me!

I read it in a single sitting and haven't stopped thinking about it since. I forced my boyfriend to sit and listen to all of my 'omggg so good' squealing, which is always a sign that I loved a book. I could picture every single horrific scene so vividly and I have to highlight that this is a debut novel, which makes it feel even more accomplished. Danielle Vega is right at the top of my 'ones to watch' list, for sure.

The Merciless just reinforced my fear of mob mentality, as it's the girls who fuel the fire, spurring each other on and making everything descend into madness. I feel like if it had just been one on one, the novel never ever would have panned out in the same way. It's scary what a crowd can do when they start to lose their grip on reality.

It's difficult to review this without giving too much away, so I'm not going to talk too much about the plot. Everything you need to know is in the summary, so don't go digging for more information before you read it - just pick up a copy and enjoy the ride. Oh, and isn't that one of the most gorgeous covers of 2014? Pretty and evil all in one - I love it.

I know a lot of you who read this blog aren't horror fans but if you're going to give one creepy novel a chance this year, please make it The Merciless. I read a lot of horror and there aren't many that have got to me the way this has, especially not YA.

The Merciless is a deliciously dark story that you won't be able to resist, or stop thinking about.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Wicked Games - Sean Olin

Published: June 5th 2014, HarperCollins (Goodreads advised a release date of June 10th but this became available on Amazon on the 5th!)
Pages: 352 pages, ebook
Standalone/Series: This is actually book one of a series but it could easily be read as a standalone

Summary (from Goodreads): Wicked Games is the first book in a sexy thriller series where passion, lies, and revenge collide-perfect for fans of Simone Elkeles and Sara Shepard.

To all the locals in the small beach town of Dream Point, Carter and Lilah seem like the perfect It Couple-but their relationship is about to brutally unravel before everyone's eyes.

Carter has always been a good guy, and while Lilah has a troubled past, she's been a loyal girlfriend for the last four years. When smart, sexy Jules enters the picture at a senior-year bash, Carter succumbs to temptation. And when Lilah catches wind of his betrayal, she decides that Jules needs to pay.

By the end of the summer, the line between right and wrong will be blurred beyond recognition. Blood will be shed. Nothing in Dream Point will ever be the same.

This juicy summer read will keep readers turning pages until the shocking, nail-biting finale.

My review: Since I read Brother/Sister a few years ago I've been really excited to read more from Sean Olin, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on Wicked Games. I did initially think this one was a standalone but apparently it's the first in a series - though if you're not a series fan this definitely works just fine as a standalone and it is a self-contained story.

So, what did I think? Well, it's a tricky one. I really did enjoy Wicked Games, I read it in a single sitting and I've found myself thinking about it a lot since. However, there are some glaring errors that I can't deny, so I think your enjoyment of this one will depend whether you're looking for gorgeous writing or a story you can't look away from. If it's the former, you'll probably be disappointed, if it's the latter you'll probably be hooked in, just like I was.

Lilah is described as 'troubled' and there's certainly a lot going on underneath the perfect exterior she likes to portray, we have a couple of references to her 'meds' but apart from that we don't get to find out much about Lilah's issues. However, after her long-term boyfriend, Carter, betrays her in the worst way possible, all bets are off and Lilah sees red.

Lilah will stop at nothing to get revenge on Carter and the girl he cheated on her with, Jules. To be fair, I know Lilah's a bit...shall we say unstable? But I sure as hell preferred her to Jules. Jeez, I'm not sure if we were supposed to like this girl or find her awful, but I couldn't stand her. She's the dullest type of manic pixie dreamgirl you can imagine - Lilah might be psychotic but at least she was entertaining!

Look, I could go into the confusing viewpoint in Wicked Games, or the fact none of the characters were particularly likeable, but a story like this is for pure entertainment, and it did entertain me. I was gripped throughout the book and I couldn't wait to see what unhinged thing Lilah was going to do next. The epilogue was really great and had the same 'NO WAY' effect that Brother/Sister's twisty turny ending did.

There are a lot of negative reviews out there for Wicked Games, but I'm going to fly my flag as a fan and say I was thoroughly entertained. Go crazy Lilah, you do your thing!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Panic - Lauren Oliver

Published: March 4th 2014, HarperCollins
Pages: 416 pages, paperback
Series/Standalone: Standalone

Acquired: Kindly sent from the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads)
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.


Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.


For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.


My review: I think one of the things that impresses me most about Lauren Oliver is how diverse she is as a writer. Everything she lends her hand to is completely different and everything she writes absolutely shines, whether it's young adult or middle grade, series or standalone. Being a good writer is difficult enough but being a good writer across numerous genres and age ranges is staggering. So, a moment of appreciate for Lauren Oliver, please!

The teenagers in Carp are bored, bored, bored. It's a tiny town with nothing going on and summers stretch out endlessly, with no entertainment in sight. Apart from Panic, that is. A dangerous, exhilarating game that is open to all graduating seniors each year, Panic pays out a huge prize to the winner, and this year is the most competitive yet.

Panic is a dual narrative, shared between Heather and Dodge, two competitors who are brought together because of the game but live very different lives. As the story progresses we learn more and more about both Heather and Dodge, their personalities, dreams and motivation. Heather is in it for the money, so she can escape Carp and make a better life for herself and her little sister, and Dodge is in it for revenge, pure and simple.

Panic has a lot going on under the bonnet, so to speak. It's not only about the games and the pressure it puts the competitors under, it's about the competitors themselves, and how all of their lives change over the course of this one summer. We get to know Heather's best friends, Nat and Bishop, who are both important characters, though they don't have their own narrative voice.

The only place where I think Panic suffered ever so slightly is that the scope of the novel is pretty hefty, as it's set over an entire summer, so there are a lot of subplots woven throughout the story. There were so many interesting little stories simmering beneath the surface and I feel a couple of these were skimmed over because of time constraints - particularly Nat's brush with modelling, which was hinted at having a darker side more than once, but unfortunately we didn't really get to find out more, which I was a little disappointed by.

Still, I was gripped by Panic the entire way through and I couldn't wait to find out who the eventual winner would be. I was really pleased by the ending of the story, sure the epilogue was a little cheerful but sometimes it's nice to feel like (most) loose ends have been neatly tied up. Though, in true Lauren Oliver fashion, not everything ended 100% happily, which did give the ending a nice realistic feel.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Roomies - Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Published: January 2nd 2014, Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 235 pages, ebook
Series/Standalone: Standalone

Summary (from Goodreads): An engaging and heart-warming 'two voice' story of an East Coast/West Coast digital friendship that begins when Elizabeth emails her soon-to-be college roommate, Lauren. On the cusp of freedom during their last summer before starting a new independent life away from home, they discover the catharsis that an anonymous email friendship can bring as they chronicle the tension, excitement and anxiety of leaving their homes, falling in love, and finding the right mini-fridge.


My review: I was really excited to read Roomies, after having it on my Goodreads wishlist for quite a while. I'm generally a fan of 'two voice' stories and the format of the novel being told through emails really appealed to me, as did the 'getting ready to go to college' element. So, did Roomies stand up to my excitement? Um...yes and no.

Elizabeth and Lauren are two very, very different people and they've just discovered they're going to be roommates at college. They're both excited to get away from their families for different reasons and we learn more about each girl and her backstory as the novel progresses. After a little hiccup at the beginning, Elizabeth and Lauren aren't too sure they're going to get on as their personalities are pretty different, though after a few email exchanges they begin to warm to each other and share more and more about their lives, until they're sharing secrets they haven't even told their closest friends.

So far, so good, right? Right. The premise is great, the characters are interesting and the story draws you in as it develops, especially Lauren's budding relationship and Elizabeth's dynamic with her divorced parents. However, my problem with Roomies is that I devoured the sections where the girls were emailing each other but my attention drifted every time it switched to a standard narrative. When I picked up Roomies I thought the whole thing would be told through emails, which I loved the idea of, but in reality it's probably a third emails, two thirds narrative. This isn't really an issue as the prose is well-written, it's just that I was expecting something different...which could well be my fault!

A further issue I had with the email/standard narrative split is that it started to feel a bit repetitive towards the end, as we'd see Lauren and Elizabeth's days pan out in the narrative, and then have the whole thing rehashed through an email, so towards the end I did find myself skimming over certain sections to avoid the repetition.

That said, I would recommend picking up Roomies if you're looking for a fun story of friendship, love and family that has a different spin on it, just don't do what I did and assume it's going to be told 100% through emails as you may be a little disappointed.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Cover Reveals: Starring Kitty (Keris Stainton)/Rooms (Lauren Oliver)

I know a couple of posts ago I mentioned that I don't do cover reveals any more...and then these two were released a few days ago. Oops! Looks like I do still do cover reveals, but how can I resist when such gorgeous covers are being released into the wild?

First up we have Starring Kitty by the lovely Keris Stainton. I've been watching Keris' journey with this book through her Twitter account and it's so exciting to see it finally has a cover! I can't wait to read this one; it sounds like an absolutely brilliant UKYA read.


And next is Rooms by Lauren Oliver. I added this to my Goodreads To-Read list months ago, partly because the premise sounds incredible and partly because it's Lauren Oliver so, duh, it's obviously going to be great. I noticed a couple of covers go up on Goodreads a few days ago for the different editions but this is my favourite.


Both gorgeous covers, wouldn't you agree? Do you have either of these books on your wishlist?

Monday, 2 June 2014

June Reading List

So, May's out the door and now we're into June. Golly gee, do you think we'll get some sun soon? Next month is YALC and I cannot wait, who else is going to be there? I can't wait to catch up with my favourite bloggers and authors and I *may* even attempt to vlog.

Anyway, now we're into a new month I wanted to share the books I'm hoping to read before the YALC readathon starts (June 23rd, y'all):

Look at that lovely lot! A few of these I've had ready to read for a little while, and a few aren't even out until this month but I'm so excited for all of them - I think this might be my favourite reading list so far in 2014!

What do you think of my picks? Have you read any of these? And what are you all planning to read this month?