29 June 2011


As we are now half way through the year, I thought I would do a bit of a recap on the past six months (Jan-June 2011)….

I’ve read 36 books (or 12,475 pages),
taken 260 bus trips,
drunk 206 coffees,
written only 2,120 words (oops!)
and deleted 1,665 words.

                                                                          * * * * * 
Longest book read:
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - 662 pages

Shortest book read:
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman - 112 pages

Most number of books in a series read:
10 – The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

                                                                           * * * * * 
Favourite cover:
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon (does anyone else think the model on the UK cover looks a lot like Amy from Doctor Who...?!)

Best hunk:
Eric from the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

Best couple:
Tris and Four from Divergent by Veronica Roth

                                                                          * * * * * 

Best Dystopian read:
I couldn't decide between Matched by Ally Condie and Divergent by Veronica Roth. Both were brilliant!

Best Fantasy read:
Because they are both so different I have to pick  The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett.

What have been your 'bests' from the past 6 months?

27 June 2011


A Beautiful Lie
Author: Irfan Master
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
UK Release date: January 2011
Genre: YA, MG

Summary: Set in India in 1947, when racial tension was rife and the country was on the verge of dividing, Bilal weaves a web of lies to keep his father safe from the truth of his India at war.

Members of the community become caught up in the lies, helping Bilal as the India he knows falls down around him, irrevocably dividing communities and friends alike.

Review: When Bilal realises that his father is dying, he is dogged about making sure he never discovers just how bad things are getting. His determination and loyalty to his father are endearing and heart wrenching; his guilt about all the lies he must tell make him an even  sweeter and more innocent character.

During all his attempts to make sure no one tells his father the truth Bilal has the unswerving help of his friends. Bilal, Manjeet, Chota and Saleem all stand up for each other when fights start and fires are set in the village. It is really sad to see the four friends become separated because of their religious differences and the growing violence in their village.

Seeing the Partition through Bilal’s eyes we watch as his community is torn apart by blind hatred and age-old friends are at war with each other. The violent tension between religious groups builds throughout the story, however the writing maintains a lovely flow and almost rhythmic pace. The rich and vivid descriptions of the village and Indian life help to bring the story alive and make it feel like a real account from 1947.

A Beautiful Lie is not the normal kind of book I would pick up and read due to the real historical elements but it is a powerful and endearing debut story none-the-less about family, friendship, love and religious (in)tolerance.

Rating: 4*

24 June 2011


This week’s Book Blogger Hop question comes from Elena who blogs at Books and Reviews, hosted by Crazy-for-Books is:


As a child, I used to absolutely love read my parents' old battered copies of Enid Blyton's 'Malorie Towers' and Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'. Even then I knew books were special. I used to read them everywhere...including in the car, which my sister claimed was crazy because reading in the car made her feel sick! Go figure?!

This week’s Follow Friday question, hosted by Parajunkee is:


When I was little I loved it when my mum read the Brothers Grimm to me at night. My favourite fairy tale was 'The Worn Out Dancing Shoes' about 12 princesses whose shoes were worn out every morning. The King offered any man who could discover where his daughters were going at night the hand in marriage of any of the princesses. Needless to say, there is a soldier looking to solve the mystery and gain a princesses' hand in marriage, and 12 princesses determined to keep their secret...

If you want to read it, you can find it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

22 June 2011


Neversuch House
Author: Elliot Skell
UK Publisher: Simon and Schuster Childrens Books
UK Release date: February 2011
Genre: MG

Summary: Built hundreds of years ago after the very first Captain of the House arrived in the small town of Pettifog, Neversuch House is a warren of rambling buildings and home to the rather unusual Halibut family.

When the current Captain of the House dies and Omnia discovers that someone has been leaving the grounds, she becomes involved in a dangerous mystery that is bigger than the House and the Hailbuts.

Review: I honestly couldn’t wait to read this book - I love the magic, excitement and mystery that you get with children’s books. But I still don’t know what to make of the start of the story, which was filled with wonderful back-story but little action. Chapter seven is titled ‘The First Extraordinary Event (or Two)’, and it isn’t until this chapter that the plot really gets going.

I do however love the setting and the House with its maze of gardens, walkways and buildings, and hundreds of hidden rooms that have been undiscovered for decades. You just know that mystery lies behind every door.

Twelve year old Omnia, is stubborn, curious and very different to the rest of the Halibut family. Whilst every other Halibut is focused on their own strange hobby, like Everfine D Halibut who measures shadows, Omnia is off trying to find out who is behind the mysterious accidents and falling from towers.

The narration of Neversuch House reminds me of A Series of Unfortunate Events, with the mysterious and quirky narrator embellishing the story with little off the point ramblings. The style is friendly and inviting and you really feel like you’re listening to the story being told to you.

A great read for children – cloaked figures, mysterious accidents, hidden rooms, tall towers and one curious Halibut!

Rating: 4*

20 June 2011


Author: Veronica Roth
UK Publisher: Harpercollins
UK Publication Date: May 2011
Genre: Dystopian

Living in a society split into factions based on common values might seem ideal. But if you don’t fit into one of those factions, life can be very dangerous.
Beatrice Prior is Abnegation, a faction that values selflessness above all else. But being selfless doesn’t come naturally to Beatrice, and she must decide if she wants to stay with her family in Abnegation or move to a different faction: Dauntless who value bravery, Candor who tell only the truth, Erudite who seek knowledge or Amity who value peace above all else.
Taking the aptitude test should tell Beatrice where she belongs, but instead she discovers she’s Divergent. She doesn’t know what it means, only that it’s dangerous to be one.

Review: Once I started reading Divergent, I just couldn’t put it down. It really is one of the best YA debuts we’ve had so far this year.

I really enjoyed the build up of anticipation and attraction between Tris (Beatrice’s new faction name) and Four, her initiation trainer. Their connection felt real and natural, as an instinctive attraction to each other, rather than just falling for the perfect gorgeous hunk. As trainer, Four has to maintain his tough and hardened persona, but as we get to know him through Tris we find out there is so much more to him. I couldn’t help but fall for him myself! Both characters have their flaws and insecurities, which makes them so much more real and likeable.

The initiation into her new faction is brutal and unpredictable, not only forcing initiates to show their true character but also giving the plot a strong undercurrent of tension that feels like it might just explode at any minute. The appearances of Dauntless leader and power-hungry sadist, Eric, are enough to make your toes curl in anticipation!

Divergent also looks into tensions between the factions and the prejudices different sections of society hold against each other, but I don’t want to say anymore because it really is a story you should read yourself!

As Veronica Roth’s debut novel, it is a gripping and thrilling look at identity, finding your place in society and finding friendship and love!

Rating: 5*

18 June 2011


This week’s Book Blogger Hop question, hosted by Crazy-for-Books is:


In my physical to-read pile, there’s about 10. As I get so many books from the library, I try not to take loads out or I end up getting confused and taking them back late! These include Coraline, Beautiful Lie, Black Swan Rising, The Unremembered, The Graveyard Boy, and Beautiful Creatures.

In my Goodreads pile, there’s 90+, but really I could make that a few hundred. I try to keep it low so I have a better chance of looking through them and actually deciding what to read next!

This week’s Follow Friday question, hosted by Parajunkee is:


This is really tough. I love YA, Dystopian and Fantasy. Just because I have read it recently, I’m going to say Dystopian, and Divergent as Veronica Roth as the best novel. The society setting is really interesting, and I love Tris and Four.

17 June 2011


Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood #1)
Author: Aliette de Bodard
UK Publisher: Angry Robot
UK Release date: January 2010
Genre: Historical fantasy

"I brought the tip of the knife in contact with my own hand, and carefully drew the shape of a human skull. As I did so, I sang a litany to my patron Mictlantecuhtli, God of the Dead.”

When Priestess Eleuia goes missing under supernatural circumstances, Acatl is charged with the task of solving the mystery of her disappearance. Sensing traces of magic in her blood-soaked room, it appears that a nahual spirit was summoned to kill her. The search begins by hunting the jaguar beast and potential suspects born on a Jaguar day. However Acatl soon learns that his estranged brother, Neutemoc, is the prime suspect after being found in the Priestess's room covered in her blood. Believing his brother to be innocent, Acatl must find the Priestess before his brother is executed for her murder.

To aid the investigation Ceyaxochitl sends an eager young boy, Teomitl to run tasks. Surrounded in protective spells, there is more to the warrior in training than meets the eye, but he is keen to prove himself by helping Acatl. Although reluctant to take him on, Acatl soon realises that the boy is more important to the unfolding events than first thought.

Review: Whilst the plot is complex due to the number of gods and different lands that Acatl must journey to, it is well paced with Acatl and Teomitl running from place to place and danger to danger. With plenty of mystery, gripping plot turns and natural world-building, the story keeps you enthralled right through to the end.

Although necessary to the plot, the number of characters in the book is huge especially when considering all the different gods. And in keeping with the period, traditional Aztec names are used, making it difficult to keep track of exactly who is who.

Acatl’s character is well developed and even though he is self-effacing, he is a likeable character. We learn that his relationship with his late parents was fraught with difficulties, seeing him as cowardly for going into priesthood and not becoming a warrior like his brother. Resentful and unappreciative of his rise to the position of High Priest, Acatl neglected many of his roles. Since his previous apprentice died trying to perform summoning magic, Acatl has since been reluctant to train anyone else. However, life-threatening events and the exuberant Teomitl force him to look again at his role as High Priest and face his own feelings of inadequacy and jealousy.

Servant of the Underworld is not only de Bodard's debut novel, but was also impressively written in English, her second language. Steeped in Aztec mythology and culture, it’s refreshing to read a story that is set in a time so rarely used as a fictional setting. With its complex plot, interesting cast of characters and magical mystery, Servant of the Underworld makes a great first installment to the Obsidian and Blood series. 

Rating: 4*

You can find the full review on Fantasy Faction.

15 June 2011


To celebrate the start of My Book Journey back in August 2010, and to thank all my lovely fellow bloggers and followers I will be giving away 2 books from the following:

Divergent, Veronica Roth
Starcrossed, Josephine Angelini
Heartless, Gail Carriger
Spellbound, Cara Lynn Shultz
Lost Voices, Sarah Porter
Siren, Tricia Rayburn
Haunting Violet, Alyxandra Harvey
Darkness Becomes Her, Kelly Keaton
Forever, Maggie Stievfater

There will be 2 winners!
Each winner gets to choose 1 book from the list above!

This giveaway is international as long as the Book Depo ships to you.
Winners will be picked using random.org, contacted by email and have 48 hours to get back to me or a new winner will be chosen.
I can't be held responsible for items lost/damaged in the mail: once I order the books they're out of my hands.
Giveaway ends July 31st 2011, midnight (UK time)

To enter:
Open to followers of My Book Journey
Fill out THE FORM!


Dead Beautiful
Author: Yvonne Woon
UK Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
UK Publication Date: May 2011
Genre: YA, Paranormal

Summary: When Renée finds the bodies of her parents in the woods near her California home, she suspects there is more to their deaths than just a heart attack. Her grandfather, a wealthy but strict man, becomes her guardian, deciding to move her to the East coast to study at the unusual Gottfried Academy. Studying Latin, Horticulture and Philosophy, things are a bit different at Gottfried, including Dante.  Aloof and with some well-hidden secrets, Renée instantly falls for him. Learning more about the history of the school, she pieces together clues that link her parents’ death with the school and the death of a past student.

Review: Reading Dead Beautiful I was instantly pulled into the mystery, wanting to fit together clues and figure out who Dante is and what the Gottfried curse might be.

Renée doesn’t fit into Gottfried’s code; speaking her mind, sneaking out at night to meet Dante and questioning everything. Dante, a loner who left his friends following the death of a student the previous spring, is drawn to Renée. Mystery surrounds him, and you can’t help but what to know what he is hiding. The build up of his relationship with Renée holds some similarities to Twilight’s Edward and Bella, however the premise and setting of Dead Beautiful stand it strongly in its own stead.

Set in the middle of the countryside and riddled with secret passages and underground tunnels, Gottfried Academy is creepy but wonderfully interesting. Students study an unusual array of subjects and a Board of Monitors is the school’s not-so-secret secret club for specially chosen students. With a history of deaths and disasters, the school suffers from the Gottfried curse, which Renée is determined to get to the bottom of.

Towards the middle of the story, the plot starts to become one dimensional focusing on Renée’s obsession with Dante and the deaths linked to the school, and at this point the story starts to slow. It picks up quickly when Renée finds intriguing school records on fellow students and helps to quicken up the pace and build up to all the final twists and surprises toward the end.

Dead Beautiful looks at immortality in an intriguing and new way, weaving in Latin, philosophy, history, mystery, love and theories of the soul. The end is spectacular, and makes you want to find out what will happen to Renée and Dante in the second book Life Eternal.

Rating: 5*

14 June 2011


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can join in, all you have to do is the following:

  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

This is my first ever teaser!

"Omnia's brother, Eversmooth T Halibut,
was seventeen years old and already the strange tendencies
of the Halibut adults was starting to take hold of him.
In the last year, Eversmooth had developed a startling interest in hair wax."

- p.50, Neversuch House by Elliot Skell

What are you reading?

13 June 2011


Die for Me (Revenants #1)
Author: Amy Plum
UK Publisher: Atom
UK Publication Date: May 2011
Genre: Paranormal YA

Summary: My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything. Suddenly, my sister, Georgia and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent. Mysterious, sexy and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies...immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

Review: Written from Kate's perspective following the death of her parents, she and her sister Georgia move to Paris to live with their grandparents. There she meets a dangerous nineteen year old who she falls for but struggles to come to terms with his immortality. Vincent is the perfect young guy: handsome, caring, sensitive, and in love with Kate. His good looks and flawless character, make him feel a little too perfect, despite being immortal.
Sisters Kate and Georgia are very different characters, with Kate being the more introvert bookworm with little experience with boys and Georgia being the party loving extrovert. Kate falls instantly for Vincent which I can relate to, however a little more build up and tension before their initial first date/encounter would have worked better for me.

The other characters in the revenant family are interesting and well developed, particularly Charlotte and Jules. We see the struggle they face not being able to share their existence with other humans, and how they enjoy Kate’s company as a rare opportunity to interact with others outside of their group.

We discover Vincent is part of a group called the Revenants: immortals who come back to life after dying to save another. Their immortlity is defined by a compulsion to continue dying to save others, always returning back to life at the same age as their first, original death. Their arch enemies are the Numa, immortals who first died betraying others, and who are compelled to keep on killing others. This an interesting twist on the popular immortal theme and although there is little science behind the phenomenon of Revenants and Numas, this isn’t a problem to start. However as more quirks pop up, and Kate and Vincent share an unprecedented breakthrough in human/revenant interaction, more questions arise for me that aren’t really answered.

There feels to be little action in the plot, and what action there is, the outcomes are predictable. Rather, the story follows Kate’s emotional ups and downs - her depression after the traumatic loss of her parents, the high of meeting Vincent, and the low of deciding whether to stay with him.

Set in Paris, Die for Me creates a beautiful backdrop in the city of lights, and is obviously a place Amy Plum is very passionate about and familiar with. For me this was the highlight of the story – there was so much descriptive detail of the Parisian landmarks and architecture, you really felt like you were there yourself basking in the beauty of the cities surroundings. With all the twinkling lights and secluded spots, this helps add a romantic and exciting element to the encounters between Kate and Vincent.

Over the past few years, there have been a string of books about the girl who falls for an immortal guy. For me, this is one of the good ones, but not one of the best.

Rating: 3.5*

10 June 2011


Last night I went to London Writers Café. Normally during the session members will read out their work and get critique from other members, but last night’s session was hosted by The Word Association, an editorial consultancy who support writers with the editorial process and the writing craft.

They talked about submitting to an agent, what agents are looking for in a manuscript, and the pitfalls that new writers fall into. I won’t list all 10 pitfalls, but I’ll pick out a few which I know I struggle with:

Characters without clear goals whose dilemmas and choices are not set up. Relationships without conflict.

Too much setting up, too much detailed observation that has no relevance to character or plot development.

Too much background information about characters which does not contribute dramatically to the main story or build anticipation.

The reason why I hit a barrier with my own MS was that I knew the start was far too long and I felt frustrated that it took pages and pages to get where I wanted. At first yesterday I got really disheartened because they were confirming my worst fear: that I’d written far too much before even beginning the story and any agent I might send my MS to would get bored after the first page or two. However I decided to be positive about it, and have now figured out a way to keep enough back-information that is vital to the whole story, but still plunge right into the drama and conflict. Now, I just have to re-write the damn thing!

You can read the rest of The Word Association’s Top 10 pitfalls here.

What pitfalls do you fall into with your writing, and how do you try to overcome them?

8 June 2011


In My Mailbox was started by the lovely Kristi (over at Story Siren) - check out her blog for more information. 
IMM today, I have some (UK) YA Debut Authors for 2011, which will be part of this year’s challenge hosted by The Story Siren, and which I have got incredibly behind on. I think most people besides me will have read Divergent by now, but hopefully you will find one of these of interest:

A Beautiful Lie, Irfan Master
January 2011
An extraordinarily rich debut novel, set in India in 1947 at the time of Partition. Although the backdrop is this key event in Indian history, the novel is even more far-reaching, touching on the importance of tolerance, love and family. The main character is Bilal, a boy determined to protect his dying father from the news of Partition - news that he knows will break his father's heart. With great spirit and determination, and with the help of his good friends, Bilal persuades others to collude with him in this deception, even printing false pages of the local newspaper to hide the ravages of unrest from his father. All that Bilal wants is for his father to die in peace. But that means Bilal has a very complicated relationship with the truth...

Neversuch House (#1), Elliot Skell
March 2011
Simon & Schuster Children's Books
Neversuch House is home to the very unusual Halibut family. Spanning generations, the Halibuts all live together totally isolated from the outside world, never needing - or wanting - to step outside the walls of Neversuch, with every whim being catered for by a mass of servants. But when twelve-year-old Omnia Halibut sees a hooded figure emerging from the woods by the Wall, she can't help but wonder who the man is and why he is skulking around the House. And as Omnia sets out to discover the truth she triggers a chain of events that threatens to destroy Neversuch House forever. For the House is steeped in secrets, secrets that some people want to remain hidden, and, as Omnia tries to unravel the mysteries of Neversuch House, someone is watching her, and they will do anything to stop her from revealing the truth...

Divergent (#1), Veronica Roth
March 2011
Harpercollins Children's
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

6 June 2011


I am a big Neil Gaiman fan, so despite the fact that I found this one in the children's section of the library, I just had to read it. Written for World Book Day, it provides NG's usual magic in a book!

Odd and the Frost Giants
Author: Neil Gaiman
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 2008
Genre: Children's / MG

Summary: After the death of his father, Odd's life has been stuck in a downward spiral. However, his luck begins to change after he frees a trapped bear in the woods. Discovering that the bear is actually a Norse god, twelve-year-old Odd embarks on a perilous quest to save the other gods from evil frost giants.

Review: Odd is a lonely 12 year old boy, and a rather odd boy. Having crippled his leg after the death of his Viking father, he can do nothing right by his new step-family who taunt and tease him. When he visits his father’s old log cabin in the wood, he is befriended by three magical animals, who turn out to be the banished Norse gods Thor, Odin and Loki.
Having been thrown out of Asgard by the Frost Giants, the gods have been banished in animal form and are unable to cross the rainbow bridge and take back their Hall. Under the Frost Giants power, winter is set to stay for good, unless Odd can help them.

Odd and the Frost Giants is a simple coming-of-age story, which sees a young boy take on problems and enemies which even the three gods have struggled to overcome. Despite lacking the physical strength and prowess so desired by the Norse villagers, Odd fights and defeats the Frost Giants using cunning, wisdom and some lateral thinking.

Odd, which means blade, is actually a bit odd. He is unerringly positive, always smiling, and able to look at problems from a unique viewpoint. With a little more development his unswerving positivity might feel more realistic, as we don’t really understand why he is always so positive. Sometimes it comes off as arrogance or even madness, which is not necessarily true.

Written like an old fable in novella form, Odd and the Frost Giants is short but well paced. The plotline is simple, and easy to follow for young readers. The characters would benefit from more depth and back story, and of course the story could be much longer as it is so enjoyable to read. For the younger reader, this would certainly make a good introduction to Norse mythology as well as the writing of Neil Gaiman.

Rating: 3.5*

1 June 2011


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating. Here is my choice for this week:

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
Published by: Antheneum
Release date: 30th August 2011
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Summary (from Goodreads): High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future. It’s all a fake. At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated? But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—Are about him.