31 December 2011


As 2011 has been my first full year of book blogging, I thought I should do a quick review of the challenge I completed (unfortunately I didn't complete the Anne McCaffrey challenge, but I'm really glad that I finished this one)...

2011 Debut Author Challenge
Hosted by Story Siren
Goal: 12 debut books read (exceeded)

Die for Me, Amy Plum
Divergent, Veronica Roth
Neversuch House, Elliot Skell
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Paranormalcy, Kiersten White
Forgotten, Cat Patrick
A Beautiful Lie, Irfan Master
The Iron Witch, Karen Mahoney
Starcrossed, Josephine Angelini
Bumped, Megan McCafferty
Entangled, Cat Clarke
Blood Magic, Tessa Gratton
The Dig, Audrey Hart
Carrier of the Mark, Leigh Fallon
The Sweetest Thing, Christina Mandelski
This Girl is Different, JJ Johnson
Dark Inside, Jeyn Roberts

I also wanted to pick out the top books that have been published and I've read this year. These are the books and characters that have really stood out to me. Quite frankly I'm surprised how many of these are contemporary YA without a whiff of paranormal.

Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Contemporary YA

I love books that have quirky, twisting plot lines, and Forgotten is really one of these. They take a while to figure out, but once you've got it you really how simply ingenious they are.

Entangled by Cat Clarke
Contemporary YA

Entangled really managed to get under the skin of 17 year old Grace, and made me feel like I was right inside her head. With some deep issues about self harm, teenage sex and pregnancy, it was such a thoughtful, emotional yet captivating read.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The setting for Divergent was really unique and imaginative. On top of this, the main characters were just fab. From Tris who was so strong despite her secret and living with some real crazy and dangerous people in Dauntless, as well as the mysterious Four. A scary but powerful read.

Debris by Jo Anderton
A mix of science fiction and fantasy

For a debut author, I was seriously impressed with the sci-fi fantasy world built up by Jo Anderton. I really enjoyed seeing Tanyana's ups and downs following her huge social demotion. But I also loved the rich secondary characters, Lad and Kichlan, who helped Tanyana and showed her what life could be like.

Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess
Contemporary YA

Not one of my normal reads, but I was completely taken by surprise by Kill All Enemies. Three teenagers who face harsh home lives, personal difficulties, and abuse face up to their own behaviours. So real, so human. It makes you realise why the troublemakers are the way they are. And it makes you like them.

What were your favourite books this year?

29 December 2011


Night School
Author: C.J. Daugherty
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Atom
UK Release date: 5th January 2012
Genre: YA, Mystery
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Sometimes school can be murder. . . Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested. Again. This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers. But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch. When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy.

Review: I have to admit I'm a sucker for old schools with a big library and rich history (only because I wanted to go to one myself). So when I started reading Night School with its old school buildings, vast grounds, secrets, incredibly smart yet mysterious boarding students and games of night croquet (yes seriously!) I was overjoyed. C.J. Daugherty really manages to make the school feel real with all its gossipmongers, snarky girls and flirty boys, but it adds in a big dollop of the unknown. I was so curious I just had to read on.

As we follow Allie, we see how she has become the troublemaker that schools don't want to deal with, following her brother's run away from home. Subsequently she ends up in Cimmeria Academy where nothing is at it seems. I really liked Allie, who has a perfect blend of confidence, kindness and uncertainty of her new situation. I do have to say that all of the secondary characters were very typical teenagers, well somewhat spoilt teenagers, that made the story come together and feel real and true to life. In particular the strange and aloof Carter is one of my faves, simply because I like the mysterious, sexy and yet honest guy.

Even though by the end of the book, the overarching plot hadn't moved on significantly and there were still huge questions unanswered, I didn't feel dissatisfied at all. There was so much mystery and intrigue, so many little twists and secrets, fast paced action thriller scenes, and encounters with the enigmatic but enchanting Carter, I was enthralled for all 450 pages.

Night School does an amazing job of tying in huge mysteries, a creepy old school, and a whole lot of mistrust. It feels like a paranormal story, without actually being one. Can't wait to read what happens next.

Rating: 4*

Check out C.J. Daugherty's website here.

27 December 2011


Blood Rights
Author: Kristen Painter
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Orbit
UK Release date: October 2011
Genre: Vampire
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Born into the life of a comarre Chrsyabelle was raised to serve noble vampires and provide her blood on demand. When her master is killed mysteriously she runs away to escape being accused of his death, but with another very dangerous vampire on her tail she is forced to find help in outcast vampire Mal who can barely keep his own demons at bay. Together the two will have to try to save the mortal and vampire worlds from merging with dire consequences.

Review: Even though the main crux of the story revolves around vampires and their comarres, Blood Rights has a very grown up and complex feel to it. Partly because of the way its written, but also because it's not just about vampires and shifters; there is a whole world of 'comarres' (a bit like highly prized, live-in blood donors for vampires) as well as the rules and traditions that they follow.

The story is told from various perspectives, mostly outcast vampire Mal, rogue comarre Chrysabelle, and the evil vampire Tatiana. I really liked the stark differences between Chrysabelle and Mal, with Chrysabelle being confident and ready to kick butt despite being what is considered a servant to vampires, whilst Mal was certainly more uncertain and lacking in self-confidence. The contrast between them made for really great interaction and chemistry, and the sexual tension was certainly well written. I have to say that I think I preferred Mal's narrative, as he was such a self-punishing guy, thinking Chrysabelle wouldn't be interested in him, trying to refuse all human blood and basically holding himself back a lot. The shifts between the different characters did get a little confusing, as it would happen more by scene rather than chapter, but I did like seeing the world from different viewpoints.

The secondary characters Doc and Fi were really interesting and added a lot of humour. Doc, a varkolai or shape shifter, and Fi, a ghost haunting Mal, are such a sweet but odd little couple. There are also unusual creatures and different types of Fae and ghosts, that make the story different and add in a lot of interesting elements to the plot.

The plot was really clever and engaging, with twists and surprises and lots of little leads tying in together. I was never bored and always guessing what might happen. The complexities of the world Painter has built means you can't predict where the story might go, and even though I know a little of where the story will go in book 2, Flesh & Blood, I really have no idea what will happen. But its intriguing and exciting and different and I really do want to carry on reading this series!

Rating: 4*

25 December 2011


To all my lovely readers,

As we draw close to the end of 2011, I wanted to say a big thank you for sharing this wonderful year with me! This year has been my first full year blogging, and I've really enjoyed it. There have been so many wonderful books and so many lovely comments from you all!

So that I can spend so time with my family, watch some Christmas TV, relax, and eat far too much, My Book Journey will be quiet for the next few days! I will be back after boxing day, but until then I hope you all have a wonderfully festive Christmas!

21 December 2011


One thing I love about Christmas is Christmas TV. Some programmes have a yearly Christmas special, and some just have that wintery, magical Christmassy feel. Here are a few programmes and films that I can't wait to see!

Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe
Sunday 25th Dec, BBC One, 7-8pm
For sci-fi fans, this is a must see. As I understand it, this year's episode is based very loosely on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis, but featuring a Wood King. Click the link above for some spoiler pics and trailers.

Great Expectations
Tuesday 27th Dec, BBC One, 9pm

This one is a lavish new screen adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic story, in which the orphan Pip becomes a gentleman when his life is transformed by a mystery benefactor. Starring Gillian Anderson and David Suchet, it looks visually stunning - I can't wait!

The Borrowers
Monday 26th Dec, BBC One, 7.30-9pm
Children (or big children like me) will love this family adventure based on the classic children's books by Mary Norton. Unfortunately its not the 90s version which I'm familiar with, but there are lots of big names starring in this one like Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood, and Christopher Eccleston.

The Snowman
Sunday 25th Dec, Channel 4, 2.30-3pm
This is the charmingly sweet animated classic of Raymond Briggs' story about a young boy that is whisked off to the North Pole by a snowman come to life.

As always, there are some films that I love to watch even if they're not scheduled to be on, such as Elf, and A Nightmare Before Christmas. What do you like to watch at Christmas?

17 December 2011


I do love reading children's books, I think because of the fantasy element they encapsulate, although I don't get to read enough. But next year some amazing books are coming out. Here are my top 5 choices for children's and middle-grade releases in 2012...

Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
TBP January 2012

The first book in the epic middle-grade fantasy series full of magic, wonder, and danger—nothing less than an American Narnia—from Colin Meloy, lead singer of the highly celebrated band the Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, the acclaimed illustrator of the New York Times bestselling The Mysterious Benedict Society. 


Storybound by Marissa Burt
TBP April 2012

In the land of Story, children go to school to learn to be characters: a perfect Hero, a trusty Sidekick, even the most dastardly Villain. They take classes on Outdoor Experiential Questing and Backstory, while adults search for full-time character work in stories written just for them. 

In our world, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild has always felt invisible. But all that changes when she stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, opens the cover, and suddenly finds herself transported to the magical land of Story. 

But Story is not a perfect fairy tale. Una’s new friend Peter warns her about the grave danger she could face if anyone discovers her true identity. The devious Tale Keeper watches her every move. And there are whispers of a deadly secret that seems to revolve around Una herself....


The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet
TBP January 2012

All Maya really wants is for her mother to be well again. But when her baby brother James goes missing, 12-year-old Maya has to take on the magical underworld of Paris, in which houses have bronze salamanders for door handles, the most beautiful people are all hooked on the sweet-smelling “anbar,” and a shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths has chosen Maya to be its next keeper. With the Cabinet’s help, Maya may be able to do for her mother what doctors cannot: save her from death, once and for all. But now that the clock is ticking for James, the price the Cabinet demands may be too high.


Candlewax by C. Bailey Sims
TBP April 2012

A medieval masterpiece of adventure, romance and horror, younger readers of Paolini and Cashore will gobble up this award-winning debut.

An Ancient Prophecy. A Powerful Relic. An Insatiable Evil. When all three converge, the fate of every living thing will be in peril.

All her life Catherine had hoped to see a fairrier cat. No book, no scroll provided to her by her tutors had ever mentioned this legend, much to her frustration, and now-at the worse possible time-she was getting her wish. Only, in her wish the cat wasn't about to kill her.

A 732-year-old fairrier cat the size of a horse has killed his fair share of hunters. Driven to the brink of extinction for the supernatural powers of his coat, is he indeed the last of his kind?

Sheltered, 16-year-old Catherine is about to find out. Unwitting heir to the Ancient Onyxes, she flees an arranged marriage only to stumble upon the cat's secrets, the force of the ancient relic she wears, and the dangerous mission they must undertake.

Hidden under a desert that was once a fertile land, millions of predators are waiting to feast again. Catherine must discover the secret of the Ancient Onyxes and stop the creatures known as trodliks before they consume everything in their path. A whispered prophecy becomes her only guide and a rejected suitor just might be the one warrior she desperately needs. 


Wonder by R.J. Palacio
TBP March 2012

Wonder is the funny, sweet and incredibly moving story of Auggie Pullman. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, this shy, bright ten-year-old has been home-schooled by his parents for his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the stares and cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, Auggie is being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. The thing is, Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

Through the voices of Auggie, his big sister Via, and his new friends Jack and Summer, Wonder follows Auggie's journey through his first year at Beecher Prep. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking, WONDER is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

12 December 2011


Ok, so this book is not my normal read but I'm really glad I read it. After a few drinks with some work people, two of us decided on a book swap. I got Voltaire, while my colleague got Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Not really sure who fared better in this swap! Anyway, as I wouldn't consider myself a big  intellect or philosopher, I'm going to keep my review on this one short...

Candide (or l'Optimisme)
Author: Voltaire
Series: No, standalone
Publisher: Dover Publications
Release date: 1759
Genre: Classics, Satire

Candide is a brilliant satire on the theory that 'the world is the best of all possible worlds.' The book traces the picaresque adventures of the guileless Candide, who is forced into the army, flogged, shipwrecked, betrayed, robbed, separated from his beloved Cunegonde, tortured by the Inquisition, etc., all without losing his resilience and will to live.

Review: For a short novella, a whole lot happens. Candide is whipped, robbed, enslaved, loses his love, finds her, loses her again, travels across the world and finds El Dorado. Despite the many misfortunes he suffers and struggling to maintain his optimism, Candide still refers back to Dr Pangloss and his entreaty that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Voltair is undoubtedly mocking Leibniz's philosophical principle that "all for is the best". Despite being written over two hundred years ago, the main points are still relevant to our own lives and the way we view them.

Candide is crammed full of political and religious references, which as a modern day reader would have completely slipped my notice had it not been for the footnotes. Back in Voltaire's time however the references would have been very poignant and certainly controversial, particularly as many were scathing comments of social figures, heads of states, and critics of his work. It's not surprising he ended up imprisoned in the Bastille on two occasions!

Candide is a quick read filled with misadventure and misfortune, humorous characters, satire and wit, and thought provoking depth.

Rating: 3.5*

11 December 2011


This week, I've got only got a few books to read but they're all very different and I can't wait to read them. I think the short stories from The Monster's Corner will have to be a night-time read...although maybe that's not very sensible at all!

Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey (kindly sent by Bloomsbury)
The Monster's Corner: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes by Christopher Golden and others (won from Book Chick City)
Samara by Andrea Pearson (won from the ABC kidZ)

What's in your mailbox this week?

10 December 2011


I really love reading fantasy books, and this year I really haven't read enough. So I've been doing a little research on what's coming out next year that sounds like a fab read. Here are my top 5 choices...

Winterling by Sarah Prineas
TBP January 2012

With her boundless curiosity and wild spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn’t belong. Not when the forest is calling to her, when the rush of wind through branches feels more real than school or the quiet farms near her house. Then she saves an injured creature—he looks like a boy, but he’s really something else. He knows who Fer truly is, and invites her through the Way, a passage to a strange, dangerous land. 

Fer feels an instant attachment to this realm, where magic is real and oaths forge bonds stronger than iron. But a powerful huntress named the Mor rules here, and Fer can sense that the land is perilously out of balance. Fer must unlock the secrets about the parents she never knew and claim her true place before the worlds on both sides of the Way descend into endless winter. 

Sarah Prineas captivates in this fantasy-adventure about a girl who must find within herself the power to set right a terrible evil.


House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier 
TBP July 2012

After their father’s death, two sisters must find their own fortunes. Karah’s seems secure as she has a place waiting for her in a glamorous Flower House. But Nemienne sees the world differently, as if on a slant, and no one will take her in until she meets the mage who will change everything in her life.

An apprenticeship means a home and survival, but can Nemienne trust the mage? Life in the Flower Houses turns out to be rife with unsuspected intrigue and subtle games of power. Now Karah and Nemienne find themselves at the center of a plot that threatens not only to upset the fragile futures they have found for themselves, but also to destroy their kingdom.

The arrival of a mysterious bard uncovers dangerous secrets that not even the mages suspect… sleeping dragons will wake some day.


The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow 
TBP August 2012

Emma Bannon, Prime sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn’t much help that they dislike each other, or that Bannon’s Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen. In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs. 

The game is afoot…


Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey
TBP January 2012

Wilde Island is in an uproar after the recent death of its king. The uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is fraying, and a bloodthirsty witch hunter with a hidden agenda whips villages into frenzies with wild accusations. Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet near the mysterious Dragonswood, finds herself caught in the crosshairs of fate when she is accused of witchery and has to flee for her life along with her two best friends.

Not even Tess’s power to see the future can help the girls as they set off on their desperate journey, but she keeps having visions of a man wielding a sword. And when she finally meets him, Tess has no idea how to handle the magnetic attraction she feels for him, or the elusive call she hears from the heart of the Dragonswood.

In this epic romance, an ancient prophecy comes true in a way neither dragon, fairy, nor human would have predicted.


Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers
TBP April 2012

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. 

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

8 December 2011


Darwin's Children 
Author: Natasha Larry
Series: Yes, #1
Publisher: Penumbra Publishing
Release date: June 2011
Genre: YA
Kindly given by the author for an honest review

Being a teenager isn't easy for Jaycie; not when she has to learn how to handle her telepathic and telekinetic gifts. Luckily for her she has a super-powered trainer and super-supportive (albeit mind-reading) dad. But for Haylee, appreciating her gift is harder to come to terms with. With some angelic guidance, the two might just about feel a little less different and alone.

Review: I liked the concept behind Darwin's Children; that evolution plays a part in the development of the human species and results in a small proportion of people like Jaycie that have special talents such as telekinesis. This was also complimented by angelic guardians, that help guide Jaycie to cope with strong bursts of her power.

I definitely liked Jaycie and Haylee, as they were both so different. Jaycie was outspoken, but in such a friendly and sassy way that meant you couldn't help but like her brashness and little nicknames. She's definitely the kind of person that grows on you, and I can't see how anyone wouldn't warm to her. In contrast, Haylee was so withdrawn and shy that I really wanted her to be brought out of her shell and find friends. Both of them though feel very real and typical of teenagers. For Jaycie, who just wants to be a normal teenager, telepathy and telekinesis doesn't help and she can't control herself around Matt. Bless her, it must be hard!

The first three-quarters of the books really grabbed my attention with suspense, fast pace and intrigue. However the concluding part of the story dragged a little for me as it lost a little of its humour and lightness, but it did leave a big hook for the second book that is very compelling.

An element of the story that stood out was the whole serial killer interest / abuse / execution issue. For this reason I think the story would suit a more mature YA audience. It was definitely out of the blue for me, but certainly makes you think about morality, vengeance and justice.

Darwin's Children is an interesting, funny, thought-provoking paranormal story that is certainly worth a read.

Rating: 4*

5 December 2011


Today I am really excited to have author Audrey Hart joining me on the blog to kindly answer a few questions about her young adult novel The Dig and her writing method. The Dig was released last month - you can read my review of it here or you can head on over to Amazon to grab yourself a copy, so be sure to check the bottom of the post for the links!

Your first book The Dig was released in November. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The Dig is the first book in a trilogy that follows outsider Zoe Calder on her travels through time to Ancient Greece where she discovers that she has special powers. She meets Zeus. Hello crush! And then she endures trials and heads to Mount Olympus with Zeus where she clashes with the clique of gods. They’re all pretty rankled by her budding relationship with Zeus. After all, where did this Zoe come from? Why does she have powers? At school, Zoe understands that her outsider status is her own doing. But here, the tables are kind of turned. And ultimately, she learns a lot about her own power, the power that we all have, whether or not we can, you know, move actual mountains.

A huge theme of The Dig is Greek mythology and the Olympian gods. What inspired you to adapt the gods to be teenagers?
When I meet new people I always wonder what they were like in high school. I think you learn so much about someone when you learn how they evolved, or haven’t. So I liked the idea of Zeus, who has this reputation for being so cold and domineering having had a period in life where he was actually kind of vulnerable. And who knows? Maybe the image he has now is totally untrue and he never did all these terrible things. Or maybe he got fed up on Olympus and eventually turned into the Zeus we read about it books. Teenage years are formative years, and that’s what makes the stakes so high.

Plus, the Olympian gods are such strong characters. It was exciting to me to make the leap that they might have been real people with flaws and baggage like all of us. Then we have Zoe, who can be cynical about people, learning that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. In high school, we all tend to put certain people on pedestals because of their appearances or their abilities. And I like the idea of Zoe dealing with a group of kids who are literally on pedestals. What a great journey for a teenage girl who thinks she’s sort of immune to cliques, to be alone, on Olympus with the ultimate clique of teens. And I think the reason she falls so hard for Zeus isn’t just that he’s, you know, Zeus who’s hot and can fly, but also that through spending time with him, she’s changing her outlook on people. And that’s a powerful experience.

Who was your favourite character to develop and write for in The Dig?
I love Creusa because she’s, to me, the friend we all would love to have. She opens up doors for Zoe, and she also pushes her to be a better person. Creusa is a nymph who’s totally comfortable in her world. She’s not an outcast like Zoe, yet the two become instant friends and communicate really well. She’s spunky and direct and strong, even though she’s transparent and glittery. When I started writing her, I found that I was making her kind of valley girl ditzy and I tore up those pages and started fresh. Creusa is great because she’s so solid, so sincere and I like that Zoe doesn’t brush her off because she’s a cheery, neon little nymph. Creusa is the girl who would volunteer to meet the new kid who transfers to school in the middle of the year. And it’s not because she’s desperate or clingy. She’s just really brave and open.

How long did it take to complete the first draft?
I think if you’re going to write you have to love rewriting. So I would complete a big part of the book, send it off to my amazing editor and then get started on the next chunk. Then, I would get feedback on the first part and apply those notes. Over and over again! All in all, I was working on the book for around six months.

If you were to 'sell' The Dig using a single quote or line from the book, what would you choose?
“And there is nothing more dangerous in this world, in any world, than someone calm, clear and angry.”

Can you give us any clues as to what might happen next to Zoe and Zeus?
Let’s just say that you learn a lot about a person when you travel with them. And Zoe and Zeus have only just hit the road.

What is your ideal writing environment?
Home alone, Macauley Culkin style. I envy those people who can write in coffee shops. How do they do that? I concentrate the best when I have few distractions. Of course, the computer in and of itself is a distraction, but hey, we all need to procrastinate sometimes. That’s why we have youtube, after all…

Do you prefer to plan out the plot-line and scenes or do you just write and see where you end up?
It’s kind of like a road trip. You don’t want to be like ‘At 9:15 AM we will arrive at the Biggest Ball of Twine and stare at it for 30 seconds’ but you also don’t want to get in the car with no plan whatsoever. I’m fortunate that my publisher had a great concept with a solid vision. Since I knew where Zoe and Zeus would conclude this part of the story, it was really fun to color in the details of the journey.

Which authors or characters inspired you when you were growing up?
Let’s see. When it comes to Big Famous Wow Writers, I love Mark Twain because of the way he writes friendship and travel. You can pick up Huck Finn and open any random chapter, and immediately, you’re just right there, on that journey, and I just hope to give my readers that kind of experience. And I love Judy Blume because she’s funny and understands what girls go through as teenagers. I also love Barbara Kingslover. She has an amazing sense of adventure and pacing and her body of work is truly inspirational. Recently, I’m obsessed with Hunger Games (just like you, no doubt) and, of course…

As a debut author, what one particular element to the writing and publishing process has been the most exciting?
It’s so exciting to hear reader reaction. I love the passion of the audience. Sometimes people criticize this generation for not having an attention span, which is completely ridiculous. These readers are smart and they have great follow-through and are wonderfully eloquent. And Backlit Fiction makes it all even more exciting because their business model makes the publication process move so quickly. I feel like I just finished writing a minute ago, and yet that cannot be, because of all the people who just finished reading it a minute ago. Crazy!

Thank you so much Audrey for taking time to answer my questions! If you would like more information on Audrey or her first book The Dig, you can find it here:

4 December 2011


The trailer for Celia Rees' forthcoming novel This is Not Forgiveness is now out. I can't wait to read this one, and the book trailer looks fab too!

This is not a historical fiction. This is not a safe read. This is not Celia Rees as you’ve ever seen her before.

Bestselling Celia Rees is known for writing tales of high adventure set in the past. This exciting departure is a psychological drama that sees her tackling subjects of political terrorism, extremism and the effects of post traumatic stress disorder on soldiers.

Everyone says that Caro is bad news, but Jamie can’t help himself. He thinks of her night and day and can’t believe that she wants to be his girlfriend. Gorgeous, impulsive and unconventional, she is totally different to all the other girls he knows. His sister, Martha, hates her. Jamie doesn’t know why, but there’s no way he’s going to take any notice of her warnings to stay away from Caro.

As Jamie falls deeper and deeper under her spell, he realises there is much more to Caro than he first thought. She disappears for days on end, she has small scars on her wrists, she talks about revolutions and taking action, and then there are the rumours he hears about the other men in her life.

Always in the background is Rob, Jamie’s older brother, back from Afghanistan and traumatised after having his leg smashed to bits there. Jamie wants to help him, but Rob seems to be living in a world of his own and is increasingly difficult to reach. With Caro, the summer should have been perfect . . . but that isn’t how things work out in real life and Jamie is going to find out the hard way.

3 December 2011


I can't really believe it but 2011 has been my first full year blogging, reviewing and keeping up with new releases (or at least trying to!).

As 2012 promises so many exciting new books, I decided that one post wouldn't do them all justice. So over the next five weeks, I'll be highlighting the top 5 books I'm awaiting in 2012 for the following categories: YA, Fantasy, and Children's books.

This week's category is YA, and below are the top 5 I'm looking forward to reading. (Forgive me but I've lumped dystopian and contemporary into this category!)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Divergent #2
TBP May 2012

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. 

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so. 


Torn by Cat Clarke
TBP January 2012

Four girls. One dead body. A whole lot of guilt. 

Alice King isn’t expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares… 

Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down. 

Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she’ll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever... 

A compelling story of guilty secrets, troubled friendship and burgeoning love.


Thumped by Megan Mccafferty
Bumped #2
TBP April 2012

It’s been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. And now their story has become irresistible: twins separated at birth, each due to deliver twins…on the same day! 

Married to Ram and living in Goodside, Harmony spends her time trying to fit back into the community she once believed in. But she can’t forget about Jondoe, the guy she fell for under the strangest of circumstances. 

To her adoring fans, Melody has achieved everything: a major contract and a coupling with the hottest bump prospect around. But this image is costing her the one guy she really wants. 

The girls’ every move is analyzed by millions of fans eagerly counting down to “Double Double Due Date.” They’re two of the most powerful teen girls on the planet, and they could do only one thing to make them even more famous: 

Tell the truth.


Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney
Iron Witch #2
TBP February 2012

Donna Underwood is in deep trouble. An ancient alchemical order is holding her accountable for destroying the last precious drops of the elixar of life.

Never mind the fact that Donna was acting to free her friend, Navin, from the dangerous clutches of the Wood Queen at the time. But what the alchemists have in store is nothing compared to the wrath of the fey.

The Wood Queen has been tricked and Donna must pay. Get ready for all hell - quite literally - to break loose...


Fated by Alyson Noel
The Soul Seekers #1
TBP May 2012

So here's the deal . . . 

Strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, glowing people appear from nowhere. Worried that Daire's having a breakdown, her mother sends her to stay with the grandmother she's never met, who lives on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico. There Daire crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes. 

Her grandmother recognizes Daire's episodes for what they are - a call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, a person who can navigate between the living and the dead. Guided by her grandmother, Daire must be quick to learn how to harness her powers because Dace's brother is an evil shape-shifter, out to steal them. 

Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and discover if Dace is the guy she's meant to be with . . . or if he's allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy.

30 November 2011


The Dig
Author: Audrey Hart
Series: Yes, #1
Publisher: Backlit Fiction
Release date: November 2011
Genre: YA, mythology
Kindly given by the author for an honest review

When Zoe goes off to Crete to visit her aunt and uncle at an ancient Greek archaeological dig, she ends up transported back to real ancient Greek times. Except here, mythology is turned on its head, and the Olympian Gods are real, living people. Teenagers in fact. But will they be able to help her find out why she has mysterious powers like them and how she can get home, or will Zoe find herself up against the wrath of the gods?

Review: I really enjoyed the Greek mythology aspect, with the Olympian gods - Zeus, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Hermes - featuring heavily in the second part of the story. What's interesting about them was that they were just like real teenagers, having strops and being mean to the new girl. Except they have incredible (and dangerous) powers that they can use if something isn't to their liking.

I did like Zeus, the beautiful winged God, as he kept popping up to help Zoe when she needed it most. He was protective of her, encouraging and instantly saw the good inside her. He's still quite mysterious, and I hope to see more of the real him, beyond the god persona, in the next book.

I'm not sure yet if I've made up my mind about the main protagonist Zoe. To start with I was like, yeah I completely get how she feels as the outsider. She was independent, brave and didn't worry about having loads of friends or being popular. But then she bashed girly girls and clique girls, whilst spending all her time fawning over Zeus and hoping to kiss him. I'm going to reserve my judgment until the next book, although really I can't complain because personally I don't like perfect characters without any flaws.

Audrey Hart's writing style was really unique, peppered throughout with quirky metaphors, humour as well as references to pop culture and TV. I think that The Dig would be a great read for younger girls and teenagers, as it was a light read that wasn't bogged down with heavy mythology but kept light and fun. Saying this though, there were messages entwined in the story about friendship and judging others that are definitely relevant to this audience. With lots of adventure thrown in, from time travelling to trials of fire (quite literally) on Mount Olympus, the pacing was fast and the plot full of danger and suspense.

I'm really intrigued to see where the story with Zoe and Zeus goes next, and honestly I have no idea what might happen with them as there were no huge plot lines left hanging. I guess though we have to wait and see in the next book!

Rating: 4*

28 November 2011


Author: Cat Clarke
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Quercus Publishing
UK Release date: January 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA

17 year old Grace wakes up one morning in a strange room, being held hostage by a mysterious young man. She has no idea why she is there, and her only reprieve is the pen and paper left for her, on which she tries to untangle and remember the events that lead her up to this point. But as much as she tries to recall the past, there still seems to be something missing...

Review: Entangled is an emotional story that delves into cutting, self harm, sex and teenage pregnancy. During her time imprisoned, Grace recalls the events that led up to her meeting with the mysterious Ethan; from meeting Nat, falling out and making up with her best friend Sal, and trying to stop the self harming that is an instinctive and unstoppable way of making herself feel better. The weaving of past events with her present imprisonment was written really well, keeping the mystery and suspense of the story, making me want to know what else happened to Grace.

I've never read a book that touches on self harming, and at first I was a little surprised. But it does so in such a real and understandable way. I felt really sad for Grace, especially as we learn more about her family life. Sometimes in her narrative she came across as a little bit of a bitch, because her thoughts were honest, self centred and uncensored, but as I thought more about it her voice and thoughts are just what we really feel and think and its probably one of the most genuine teenage narratives I've ever read in the YA genre. I definitely related to Grace despite not being that alike to her, and as I read her story I couldn't help but picture myself back at school and in her shoes. Cat Clarke is one of those few writers that actually makes you feel like you're in the characters head, and I really respect the ability and skill needed to do this.

The other characters, Sal and Nat, also felt so real. Sometimes they were nice, and sometimes you just couldn't figure out what was going on in their heads, but that is exactly what real life is like. I wasn't a huge fan of Sal, who wouldn't let Grace into her life, but then I guess Grace wasn't always the easiest person to get on with either.

The story was really fast paced, even though the story is very introspective. It's one of those few books that you pick up and don't want to put down, and before you know it you've read it all. Although I guessed where the plot was going to end, it was done really well, with very subtle changes and shifts and it wasn't disappointing in any way. I was expecting something good from this book, but I wasn't expecting it to be this good. Entangled is definitely one of my top reads of this year.

I don't want to give any plot or too many details away, and really to understand this book you just have to read it. But I guarantee you won't regret reading it.

Rating: 5*

26 November 2011


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where you can list all the books you desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.

My choices for this week are both out in 2012, so sadly I'll have to wait a while before I can get my hands on them. What do you think? Do these books take your fancy?

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti
To be published March 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.


Touched by Cyn Balog
To be published August 2012 by Delacorte Press

Nick Cross always listens to the voice in his head. Because if he doesn’t? Things can go really, really wrong. Like the day he decided to go off script to save a life, dooming another one in the process. Trying to change the future can have disastrous consequences.

But this summer at the Jersey Shore, something’s about to happen that Nick never could have predicted. He meets Taryn, a girl with a dark family secret that may be the key to understanding his past. But will she also destroy his future? . Now the path that he thought he was on begins to shift . . . and there’s no way to stop it. Or is there?

In a life where there are no surprises, nothing has prepared Nick for what he’s about to discover—or the choice he will be forced to make. . .

What's on your wishlist?

21 November 2011


Kill All Enemies
Author: Melvin Burgess
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Penguin Books
UK Release date: September 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA

Three teenagers growing up in North England each have their problems; family neglect, abuse, school troubles, and bullying. But to everyone else they are troublemakers, causing all the problems around them. When you hear their stories, what will you think?

Review: When I picked up this book I hadn't read any reviews for it and honestly didn't realise what a little gem I was holding in my hands. In Kill All Enemies Melvin Burgess has created the most realistic characters I've ever read about. The story follows four characters with each of their narratives and stories tying into the overall plot. Billie, Rob and Chris all end up in the Pupil Referral Unit, because no-one else wants them and school can't handle them, and it is here that they all cross paths together and work with Hannah, a social worker with a big heart.

The kids' struggles with problems such as parents' abandoning them, being bullied for being different, not getting on in school, and living in care, were told with surprising honesty and insight. So much so that you would think they were real, living, breathing people. To read how badly they were treated by the people that should be protecting them was also heartbreaking, and I completely sympathised with Hannah. Each of the narrative voices perfectly captures their most private and hidden thoughts, their northern roots, as well as an individual sense of personality. Although most people would judge them to be odd, a menace or doomed to fail, I really liked them all. The integrity of these characters is undoubtedly down to Burgess' writing skill, as well as the background research and interviews he conducted with real kids for a Channel 4 project.

The plot line also had me hooked - one moment my heart was in my throat with fear and anticipation, and the next I was laughing at the characters' internal monologue and little jokes. Although I could see where the plot was going to end, the events that happened throughout still kept me guessing and wondering how on earth the kids were going to survive another day.

Kill All Enemies is a must-read book for 2011 that will send you on an emotional rollercoaster deep through the working class lives of northern England.

Rating: 5*

19 November 2011


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where you can list all the books you desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.

My two choices this week don't come out until next year, so the wait for these will be a long one! I'm not sure I can wait that long!

The Selection by Kiera Cass 
To be published April 2012 by HarperTeen

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.


Freaks by Kieran Larwood
To be published April 2012 by Chicken House

The Freaks are a lonely band of misfits, trapped in a Victorian sideshow known as Plumpscuttle's Peculiars. Together they are a force to be reckoned with. In a world of thieves, grave-robbers and child-snatchers, the Freaks decide to put their extraordinary talents to use - to solve the mysteries that no one else cares about.

What's on your wishlist?

16 November 2011


Author: Kevin Brooks
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Chicken House
UK Release date: 2005
Genre: Contemporary YA

Joe Brooks is a regular 15 year old boy from a nice English suburban neighbourhood. When an unassuming visit to London leads Joe into a chance encounter with Candy, he ends up falling desperately in love with her despite the dangerous situations he finds himself in and the murky underworld he is dragged into. 

Review: When I first started reading I was a little confused about what was happening, a little like Joe I guess, because neither of us realised for a while that Candy was actually a prostitute. (I don't often read the synopsis, so please forgive me!) I think for both of us it helped us see Candy first as a real person, and not as the label 'prostitute'. To some degree I guess it also made me see why Joe might have fallen for Candy despite her situation.

The middle of the story slowed down for me, which could have because Joe's narrative felt quite slow and rambling. By which I mean, he was often confused and trying to figure out his own feelings without coming to any decision of why he liked Candy or why he was so hung up about finding her. His voice did however feel very real and typical of a young boy, and I guess a 15 year old boy's feelings aren't a perspective we often read about.

Pimp and all-round hard guy Iggy scared the living daylights out of me. When Joe went looking for Candy and came face to face the dangerous man, the plot and tension really picked up for me. Although I couldn't stop reading I almost didn't want to read for fear of what might happen to unwitting Joe. Sometimes I just wanted to shake him and wake him from his spaced out addiction to Candy!

Kevin Brooks dissected some complex serious issues including prostitution and drug use with a sensitive touch and a certain genuineness. Although Candy was stuck in a world of addiction, abuse and prostitution, we didn't see all the horrible, harsh realities of her lifestyle - we saw enough to understand how low she had fallen, but I could still empathise with her and felt sorry for how things had fallen apart in her life. I also appreciated the fact that Joe and Candy's experiences were at polar opposites despite the fact that they grew up in the same village and had similar upbringings. Not only because it showed how tiny little things could lead someone from even a nice background to get caught up in drugs and prostitiion without realising, but because Joe's naivety and lack of understanding about certain things meant I wasn't isolated as a similarly niaive reader.

I haven't quite decided what my final thoughts are about Candy, because the way Kevin Brooks wrote about such real life subjects was done really well, but at the same time Joe's narrative was so vague in his reasoning and thought processes that I got frustrated at his ramblings. His viewpoint and the subject matter though are really interesting and different from other YA stories I've read, so if you're looking for something a little different, but very real then you should really read this.

Rating: 4*

15 November 2011


Random House Children’s Books has acquired four new debut dystopian novels for publication in 2012 and 2013...

Starters by Lissa Price will be published in April 2012, and is an action-packed thriller set in a world where eternal youthfulness can be had – at a price. One girl has the ability to bring it all tumbling down.

A post- apocalyptic Los Angeles is the setting for Struck by Jenifer Bosworth, publishing in July 2012. After the city is devastated by an earthquake, Mia Price finds herself in the middle of a power struggle between two fanatical cults; one that wants to save the world and another that wants to destroy it.

Sangu Mandanna’s debut The Lost Girl publishes in early 2013 and centres around Eva, a feisty teen girl who technically has no true identity of her own. Eva is forced to abandon everything she's ever known and loved, finding herself torn between two worlds.

And finally, children’s librarian Emma Pass, releases ACID in early 2013. This action-packed novel introduces us to Jenna Strong, a truly kick-ass heroine who is serving time in an all-male prison for the murder of her parents. Set one hundred years in the future in a Big Brother style society; Britain is now under the control of ACID – a terrifying all-seeing police force.

Ruth Knowles, Commissioning Editor comments, ‘Dystopian fiction is a much-talked about genre, particularly with the release of The Hunger Games movie next spring. We have acquired some fantastic futuristic thrillers that we know will appeal to this audience, and are confident that RHCB will have some of the most exciting novels in the genre. The worlds within them are very different from each other, but all completely hook you in from the first page and do not let go.’

I have to agree with Ruth...the dystopian books I've read so far have certainly pushed boundaries, and I can't wait to get my hands on these either! 

Any take your fancy?