Friday, 30 November 2012

Review: Undone - Cat Clarke

Published: 31/01/2013 (paperback) or 20/12/2012 (ebook), Quercus
Pages: 502 pages, ARC
Series/standalone? Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she's learning to live with it. 

Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online ... and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down. 

A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal from a bestselling author.

My review: Having devoured Entangled and Torn the moment I got my grubby little mitts on them I was counting down the days to December 27th, when I could snap up a copy of Undone on my iPad. However, the lovely folks at Quercus surprised me and on one gloomy afternoon at the beginning of the month a proof copy clattered through my letter box. I was very excited, to say the least. I started Undone there and then and finished it a couple of days later, completely blown away by the mash up of an incredible plot and Clarke's signature style of prose.

Simply put, Undone is astounding.

What's interesting is that we're aware of one of the biggest events in the book, Kai's suicide, before we even crack the spine. The events in Undone take place before and after Kai's death and there's also a nifty change in tense, with one section of the book taking place before a key scene, in the past tense and the events of 'after' unravelling in the present tense. This is something that could have gone horribly wrong but the way Clarke handles it just makes the story even stronger, especially as we approach the ending, where the sense of immediacy is particularly compelling.

Kai and Jem's relationship is the driving force behind the entire story and, although he's alive for only a tiny portion of the book, I really felt as though I got to know Kai as a person. Getting to know Kai so well, knowing that he'd committed suicide, really made me get on board with Jem's actions and made it a lot easier to understand why she did the things she did. I realise those last couple of sentences are terrible vague and I am sorry for that but I don't want to give away a single one of Undone's many, many twists and turns. I knew relatively little about Undone before I started reading and raced my way through, heart in mouth, so do avoid spoilers at all costs; it makes for a much more exciting experience that way.

About two thirds of the way through the book I thought I had the story all figured out. I was sure I could guess what the denouement would be and I was convinced I'd guessed everything down to the final scene. If I'm honest, I was a little disappointed with the ending I'd prematurely decided Clarke had gone for - which is why it was particularly awesome when she THREW THE RULE BOOK OUT OF THE METAPHORICAL WINDOW and delivered one of the most amazing, shocking endings I've read in YA for a long old time. As far as I'm concerned, the ending is what makes Undone trip across from awesome to perfection. It's just brilliant.

As always, the narrative and dialogue in Undone is sharp, snappy and painfully funny. Clarke creates realistic teenage voices like no other writer and her books are so subtly visual I can always picture every single scene in my head as I'm reading. She's an extremely clever writer, too, holding back information until it absolutely needs to be revealed and creating cliffhangers in such a way that they urge you to read on, rather than being frustrating.

Building on the strengths she already displayed in Entangled and Torn, Clarke takes everything one step further in Undone. It's tighter, funnier and more extreme in every sense and is, without question, the most exciting book I've read in 2012. It's impossible to finish one of Cat's books and not have an urgent need to talk about it to everybody who crosses your path for the next month and Undone is absolutely no exception to that rule, which I shall now dub the Cat Clarke Effect.

First line(s): 'The boy next door. It's a terrible cliche, isn't it?'

Read if you liked…: Beautiful Malice - Rebecca James


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Books on my Birthday Wishlist

So, my birthday is fast approaching, which also means Christmas is just around the corner! My birthday is December 17th and I blimmin' love being born so close to Christmas, before you ask. Everything's festive, everybody's happy and it's like the precursor to Christmas; I know some people born this time of year that really hate it but I have no complaints!

I don't actually have too many books on my wishlist for my birthday this year as I've bought so many myself throughout the year (oops). Of course, there are a few though, so I'd picked those I'm most desperate for you show you in this handy dandy little collage:

In case you're not familiar with any of these, or can't make out the titles, we've got:

  • The Disenchantments - Nina LaCour
  • Fallout - Ellen Hopkins
  • 52 Reasons to Hate My Father - Jessica Brody
  • The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life - Tara Altabrando
  • Ditched: A Love Story - Robin Mellom
  • The List - Siobhan Vivian
  • Freshmen Year and Other Natural Disasters - Meredith Zeitlin
  • A Midsummer's Nightmare - Kody Keplinger
  • From What I Remember... - Stacy Kramer
Have you guys read any of these yet? If so, what did you think? What's on your birthday/Christmas book wishlist this year?

Monday, 26 November 2012

Book Trailer: Undone - Cat Clarke

Yessss the Undone trailer is finally here! As you all know I'm a huge, huge fan of the lovely Cat Clarke's books. I've read and loved Entangled, Torn and Undone and I'm just peeved Cat can't whack out a book a month to keep me satisfied - darn you, lady!

My review for Undone is coming soon so do look out for that - I won't give anything away at this stage but I will be so bold as to say it's my favourite one of Cat's books so far and that ending... Good lord, that ending. It completely blew me away so if this book isn't at the top of your Christmas wishlist you are a FOOL. Just saying.

Anyway, here's the trailer for Undone. What do you think? Are you planning on picking up Undone when it's released? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Beautiful Creatures Movie Tie-In Cover Reveal!

Hi guys,

A bit of an exciting one today! I want to share with you all the new cover for Beautiful Creatures, which ties in with the upcoming movie.

I'm not generally a fan of books being re-jacketed to fit in with film releases but, in the case of Beautiful Creatures, I really, really love the new cover. It still fits in so well with the original look of the series and it doesn't feel like it's just been knocked up in five minutes to coincide with the film - it's gorgeous, stays true to the first cover and I think it's perfect. That font is so synonymous with this series now, isn't it?

From the Penguin press release: Excitement is building for the Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros movie, which will hit cinemas worldwide just in time for Valentine’s Day on 13th February 2013. It is directed by Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You) and features an all star cast including Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davies and hot young Hollywood talent Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich and Emmy Rossum.

Anthea Townsend, Editor, Puffin Fiction, comments: 'When Penguin first published Beautiful Creatures in 2010 we knew that Kami and Margaret's novel was something special. We look forward to the upcoming movie release with great excitement and are delighted to announce two further titles to accompany our own film tie-in edition. With the final instalment in the Twilight saga hitting UK cinemas and teens having to wait until November 2013 for Hunger Games: Catching Fire, there is a space in the market for a new YA movie adaptation phenomenon - we believe that this is Beautiful Creatures.'

If any of you haven't seen the trailer for the film yet you can check it out below. I'm actually really excited about the film; it's been a loooong time since I've read Beautiful Creatures but I did enjoy it and I think the film looks great - what a cast!

Let me know what you think of the cover and the trailer in the comments, I'd love to hear what you all think and whether or not you'll be watching the movie in February 2013. I make no secret of the fact I'm not the biggest paranormal romance fan in the world but Beautiful Creatures is one of the most in the genre that I was, and still am, a big fan of.

(Extracts in italics are from the official press release from Penguin)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

This Week at Writing from the Tub

Hello chaps,

Posts have been a little thin on the ground lately so my apologies for that - I've got a deadline to get my book finished (this rewrite, at least) by the end of the year so I'm very aware there are only six weeks left! My writing group (the YAvengers) have been absolutely amazing and we're all trying to keep each other motivated to finish by the end of 2012, eek!

I've been doing lots of work to get Life from the Tub ready to go live (again, I know!) at the beginning of 2012. I'll be writing lots of posts about what I'm up to day to day, shopping, home made jewellery giveaways make up, music, TV and films - Yup, it is that deep, folks. I'm really, really excited for this, I feel like I need something that's just for me, with no deadlines or pressures so I can't wait for you all to have a read. If you feel like following now so you don't miss things when they start up in January the link is, my follower count is very feeble right now so I'd really appreciate it!

I've also been working on my BlogINK entry this morning - it's an amazing opportunity so I'm definitely going to take part. I've had a look at the entries that are already up; there are some brilliant ones! My entry is titled: The Literary Triforce - Reading, Writing and Blogging and I'm hoping to get it up early next week, once I've rewritten it a couple of times. I'm so excited to see who makes it through to the next stage, there's so much talent within the YA blogging community so it's great that Mira are offering a prize like this. Thanks, Mira!

I'm trying to finish my TEFL qualification by the end of the year. I've still got two assignments and an exam to take so I'm a little bit worried I won't be able to get it finished by Christmas. I'm thinking about extending my deadline by three months, though, as I'd rather take a little bit more time and do it properly than rush through just for the sake of trying to finish it this year. Right now I feel like I'd be a *terrible* teacher and it is something I'd like to do while travelling (when I get round to it) so I definitely want to make sure I finish the course feeling confident, so the extra three months might be a good idea.

In other writing-related news, last week I finished a massive freelance project that I've been working on since the summer so that was a huge relief. It was a really fun project, writing about infinity pools all over the world. I really enjoyed it but it's nice to have that signed off before Christmas. My birthday's the week before Christmas so I pretty much get nothing done in December...except this year, when I will write a book, apparently :S.

One last spot of news: I had a huge clear out of my bookshelves last week, I think I culled about 100 unsolicited/read and read-but-didn't-enjoy books that I donated to my local library (which has just been revamped and looks AMAZING). I always feel jolly after donating books to my library; I try to do it twice a year as I think it's far better for the books to be out there being read and enjoyed by people rather than sitting on my shelves collecting dust, just so I can brag about how many books I have. Anyway, if I do feel like reading one of the books I've donated I can always check it back out from the library! What do you guys do with books you've read and reviewed but weren't a huge fan of?

I hope you're all well and having a lovely November; congratulations to everybody who's doing an amazing job with NaNoWriMo, your status updates are making me GREEN with envy that I'm failing with my book at the moment, gahhh!

And to finish, here's a picture of Ryan Gosling looking phenomenally handsome. YOU'RE WELCOME:

Thursday, 8 November 2012

From the Review Pile: Second Chance Summer - Morgan Maston

Click the lovely graphic above to visit the brill Stepping Out of the Page

From Stepping Out of the Page: From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday. The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

2012 has been a busy year at Writing from the Tub in terms of review copies and a combination of focusing on my own writing and a lot of real life busy-ness has meant I haven’t been getting through new releases as quickly as I’d like. There are so many wonderful books on my shelves that I’ve been sent by publishers that are waiting to be read, so I’m looking forward to using From the Review Pile as a way to give them a bit of coverage and publicity while I’m working my way to them.

This week I want to highlight Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. As a lover of all things contemporary I can't believe I haven't read anything by Morgan Matson yet! I love summery stories and I've read such great reviews of this one, so I can't wait to read Second Chance Summer.

Summary (from Goodreads): From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak. 

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Mini Review Madness: Professor Gargoyle, Legend and Muddle and Win

Hi everybody, I've been working my way through a huge stack of books lately, in an attempt to catch up and get my TBR pile under control so I can start 2013 afresh. for today's installment of Mini Review Madness I'm going to be taking a look at the following books: Professor Gargoyle, Legend and Muddle and Win

Professor Gargoyle - Charles Gilman

Summary (from Goodreads): Every volume in the Lovecraft Middle School series is fully illustrated and features an original lenticular portrait on the cover. Display them on bookshelves—and then watch the cover characters morph into monsters as you pass by!

In Professor Gargoyle, we’re introduced to 11-year-old Robert Arthur and the strange world of Lovecraft Middle School. It’s a brand-new state-of-the-art facility—so why do so many creepy things keep happening? Why is the science teacher acting so strangely? And where are all the rats coming from?

As Robert explores with his new friends Glenn and Carina, he discovers that the school may be a portal to another world.

My 50 word review: Following on from Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Quirk books are back with a slightly younger read, Professor Gargoyle. Beautifully designed, I really love the quality of Quirk's books. Professor Gargoyle is a lot of fun, perfect for younger teens but will also make Lovecraft fans very happy indeed.

Legend - Marie Lu

Summary (from Goodreads): What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

My 50 word review: Big fans of YA dystopia will love this one. Unfortunately, I found it a massive slog. For me, the market is so saturated with dystopia that a novel really has to be amazing to stand out. I finished reading this one a couple of months ago and, honestly, there aren't many details I can even recall. I had to flick back through my copy to even remember Day's name; take from that what you will!

Muddle and Win - John Dickinson

Summary (from Goodreads): Everyone has a Lifetime Deed Counter (LDC). It works like this:

You offer to help with the housework: Lifetime Good Deeds +1

You steal your little brother's sweets: Lifetime Bad Deeds +1

Looks straightforward, huh? But what if your every thought was disputed by opposing forces of good and evil - by an angel wearing ray bans (called Windleberry) and a demon in the form of a wart (called Muddlespot)? And within your mind they were fighting a fierce battle over your actions, a battle dictated by a game of poker?

When Muddlespot is promoted from a devil's janitor to special agent, the pressure is on for him to infiltrate Sally Jones and make her Bad. If he doesn't, it will be Very Bad for him. But as his mission leads him down Sally's ear and into the deepest recesses of her mind, all becomes unclear. Just what does it mean to be good? And can it be good to be bad?

My 50 word review: Oh, this was so much fun to read. Muddlespot, a demon who has been tasked with making Sally bad, was great but I also found Windleberry hilarious. There aren't many books out at the moment that have such wonderful characterisation and I'd definitely recommend this one for younger readers.


Note: All books were sent for review by the publisher

Monday, 5 November 2012

Mini Reviews: Hold On, Grymm and Shift

Hi everybody, I've been working my way through a huge stack of books lately, in an attempt to catch up and get my TBR pile under control so I can start 2013 afresh. for today's installment of Mini Review Madness I'm going to be taking a look at the following books: Hold On (Alan Gibbons), Grymm (Keith Austin) and Shift (Kim Curran). As I have 51 books to review before the end of the year I thought it would be fitting to write mini 50 word reviews of each book, just to give you a taste of my thoughts.

Hold On - Alan Gibbons

Summary (from Goodreads): When Annie returns from an extended stay in Canada, she discovers that her friend John has killed himself. Annie is devastated by his death and is determined to confront those she believes responsible—a group of boys from her school, who bullied John mercilessly in the months before he died. But Annie's parents and friends don't share her wish to bring the boys to justice. She finds herself treading a lonely path—and soon discovers that nothing is straightforward. She is helplessly attracted to one of the boys, and when she reads John's diary, it's clear they weren't the only ones to cause him so much unhappiness. The novel tells John's story as a tragic waste of a young life in an unsentimental and compassionate way, but also tells Annie's story about moving on and looking towards the future.

My 50 word review: Alan Gibbons can always be counted on to deliver a wonderful contemporary story that leaves the reader with a lot of thinking to do afterwards. He's done it again with Hold On - I definitely recommend this one to contemporary fans. And yay for the Florida references!

Grymm - Keith Austin

Summary (from Goodreads): Something stirred in the gravelly yard beneath their window . . . A soft slippery nuzzle, the sort of sounds you'd expect a pig to make with its snout in a trough . . . The small mining town of GRYMM perched on the very edge of the Great Desert is the kind of town you leave - but when Dad gets a three-month contract in the mine there, Mina and Jacob, unwilling stepbrother and sister, are reluctantly arriving. 

From a grotesque letting agent who seems to want to eat their baby brother, a cafe owner whose milkshakes contain actual maggots and the horribly creepy butcher, baker and candlestick-maker, Mina and Jacob soon realize that nothing in GRYMM is what is appears to be. And then things get seriously weird when their baby brother disappears - and no one seems to even notice! In Grymm, your worst nightmares really do come true . . . 

My 50 word review: Grymm started off so strong but unfortunately it did start to lose its way during the middle section - it's a good story but I think 50 or so pages could have been cut from the middle to speed things up a bit. I was a little disappointed as I had high hopes for this one. Worth a read, though.

Shift - Kim Curran

Summary (from Goodreads): When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he's not so average after all. He's a 'Shifter'. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he's ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

My 50 word review: The premise of this one reminded me a little of the movie 'Jumper' and it was just as much fun. A well-written sci-fi romp that is perfect for male and female readers. A solid debut!


Note: All books were sent for review by the publisher