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?


Nobody's Girl
Author: Sarra Manning
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
UK Release date: February 2010
Genre: Contemporary YA

Bea has spent her life studying, babysitting, being a pushover and generally winning awards for the best daughter ever. When the cool girls accept her into their group and invite her on holiday to Malaga, Bea snatches up the opportunity to escape the clutches of her overprotective mother for some girly fun. But when they push her too far, Bea ends up travelling through Europe on a quest to meet her father and going on a journey of self-discovery. 

Review: First off, I loved Bea. Not because she had amazing gifts, or because she kicked arse. But because she was like me when I was her age. Bea was kind, nice, and too shy to stand up for herself. She had a completely overprotective mother, like mine, who wouldn’t let her out of the house without some sort of emotional chastity belt on. I could completely relate to Bea, and what it felt like to be in her shoes, so when I was reading about how she stood up to the mean girls in Malaga, I practically ‘yippeed’ for her! Bea's narrative voice was also very real and genuine, perfectly portraying teenage anxieties, dreams and the occasional drunken nights.

Her relationship with her mother was fraught with tension, usually around Bea's relationship (no matter how imaginary) with boys and her mother's constant worry that Bea might lose her virginity and get pregnant as a teenager like she did. The parental chains felt so real, and I was glad that the mother's push about abstinence was tempered by Bea's physical feelings for Toph.

Bea's love interest, Toph, really won me over too. I'm getting really bored of gorgeous, sexy guys that have no substance or character to them; but Toph was different. Manning squeezed in so much about his personality, little details about the curve of his eyelashes and his quirky habits such as wearing 'I LOVE...' hats that I actually felt like I knew him as a person without thinking how hot he was.

As part of her mistaken, forbidden travels Bea ends up in Paris. References to Amelie, Audrey Hepburn and French music showed how well Bea (and Sarra Manning) had obsessed over and learnt about all things French, and even though I didn't get all the references I still loved the idea that Bea decorated her room to look like Amelie's and wanted her first kiss on the Pont Neuf! Reading about Toph and Bea's days spent wandering the streets of Paris and visiting cafes and restaurants made me want to jet off to Europe, sip coffee with a pain au chocolat and travel around with my own set of amazing but absurd rules.

Despite being a 'girl meets guy' type scenario, the plot still managed to surprise, intrigue and interest me. When Bea was confronted by the mean girls' final act of abuse, I was literally hooked to the pages and spent several nights going to bed late because I couldn't put the book down.

Genuine and true to life, Nobody's Girl had me hooked from the start and took me right back to my teenage years. My love affair for Sara Manning has now officially started.

Rating: 5*

14 November 2011


If you like fairy tales and were a fan of Twilight's Kristen Stewart, then you'll love the forthcoming film Snow White and the Huntsman.

Here's the film's official website, and the trailer...

Will you be going to see it?

12 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 for this week come from random searchings of the interwebs, and had previously missed my radar...but I'm very glad I found them :)

The Predicteds by Christine Seifert
Published September 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire

Your future is not your own...

"We wanted to know what makes a good kid good and a bad kid bad. Can you blame us for that? We found an astoundingly, marvelously simple answer: The brain isn't so much a complicated machine as it is a crystal ball. If you look into it, you will see everything you want to know."
-Dr. Mark Miliken, senior researcher at Utopia Laboratories

Who will it be? Will the head cheerleader get pregnant? Is the student council president a secret drug addict?

The whole school is freaking out about PROFILE, an experimental program that can predict students' future behaviour.

The only question Daphne wants answered is whether Jesse will ask her out...but he's a Predicted, and there's something about his future he's not telling her.


God Save the Queen
 by Kate Locke
To be published July 2012 by Orbit (cover not yet final)

Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.

The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.

What's on your wishlist this week?

10 November 2011


Carrier of the Mark
Author: Leigh Fallon
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: HarperCollins
UK Release date: October 2011
Genre: Paranormal YA
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Their love was meant to be.
When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRÍs.
But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction. (Goodreads)

Review: As soon as I started reading Carrier of the Mark, I felt like I was reading Twilight again. The similarities felt quite striking, from Megan moving to a new town with her father, the mysterious DeRis family that no-one ever mixes with, and the gorgeously handsome Adam that blatantly ignores Megan before admitting he can’t stay away from her. It’s not that I mind the similarities too much, but it made the story feel familiar without inspiring a feeling of excitement in me that something unique and different was going on. However the setting for the story was Ireland, and I haven't read any books that are set there so I was pleased to read about somewhere new and different.

The 'science' behind the carrier genes and royal blood was rather confusing but interesting. I'm not sure I understand why Megan is so special in terms of being a girl with the mark but I did like the elemental aspect, where Megan, Adam, Aine and Rian are gifted with the power to manipulate earth, air, fire or water. Aine’s ability to make plants instantly grow and to communicate with animals was really cool. If I could get my garden to grow beautifully whilst chatting with a raven, I would be very happy indeed.

I really wanted to enjoy Carrier of the Mark but being presented with another male love interest like Adam, who was obviously very handsome and swoon worthy but with little substance to him was a tad frustrating. I could describe very little about Adam except for the fact that he’s gorgeous, he likes Megan and seems nice enough. For me, this just wasn’t enough to feel like I knew him and really could get behind him as a character. The good bit though was that with Megan being up the fourth element, they were not only uncertain whether elemental powers were causing their attraction but they were also forbidden by the Order from being together. This added more depth to their relationship, testing their feelings for each other and causing some emotional tension and turmoil.

Fast paced but familiar, Carrier of the Mark has left a lot open for the next books to continue, and there is bags of potential for the story and characters to develop further. We can only hope that Leigh Fallon rises to the challenge!

Rating: 3.5*

6 November 2011


This week, I've got a stack of books to read (on top of the stack already sitting on my bedside table) and I can't wait to read them, even though a lot of them are non-paranormal and a bit different to my normal read. I'm also really excited to read Barry Hutchison's book...

For review (both were kindly sent by HarperCollins):

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison

From the library:

Candy by Kevin Brooks
Nobody's Girl by Sarra Manning
Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse
The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff
Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess
Guilt Trip by Anne Cassidy

I got these books to read more Contemporary YA books, in response to Sophie's post over at So Many Books, So Little Time which looks at the prevalence of supernatural and paranormal stories within the YA genre and highlighting other contemporary YA authors that inspired her.

Have you read any of these? What's in your mailbox this week?

4 November 2011


As I have been doing a fair bit of shopping on Etsy, both for myself and for others for Christmas, I couldn't resist looking to see what gorgeous book related products were on sale...these are my top 5 favourites. I hope you like them as much as I do :)

Wicked witch in the book, £19.28
Shop: Olena
An unusual, quirky bookmark inspired by Wizard of OZ. I absolutely adore this!

Where the Wild Things Are Book cover, £54.55
Shop: shannashamrock
Get a fuzzy, cute cover for your copy of Where the Wild Things Are!

Kindle Leather Book Cover - Octopus, £40.43
Shop: Joe V.
For steampunk lovers, you can get kindle covers adorned with octopus or unicycles that will have you drooling with lust!

Book necklace, £16.96
Shop: Andrea Kohler
Cute and miniature books can make great jewellery!

Harry Potter Spellwriting Set, £12.84
Shop: Candida
This gorgeous set includes a Quill pen, Dragons Blood Ink (resin from a tree and not real blood!) and 3 pieces of genuine parchment, and two novelty parchments that kids will love!

What bookish things do you like to buy?

2 November 2011


Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Scholastic
UK Release date: January 2011
Genre: Faerie
Kindly given to me by Sarah at Feeling Fictional

Deirdre is a cloverhand, gifted with the ability to see faeries and move objects with her mind. It is only when the mysterious and enchanting Luke Dillon helps her win first prize at the music competition that she realises her hidden gifts. But they are the very reason that he has turned up, because he is charged with the task of killing Deirdre.

Review: I’m not particularly a big fan of faerie stories but Maggie Stiefvater has a way of intrinsically weaving the plot, regardless of what it’s about, so into her characters that you can’t help but get swept up in their stories. And for me, Deidre is the kind of protagonist I love to love – humble and vulnerable on the surface and underneath she’s strong but still a good person.

The faerie aspect was balanced really well – Brendan and Una are obviously fair-minded, they live for beautiful music and dancing but they are still mysterious and wild. And then there’s Aodhan and Elanor who both really gave me the creeps. They’re out for blood and they enjoy it. What could be more scary? The descriptions of the faeries such as their smell and unusual looks add an extra layer and sensory element to the writing, instantly able to invoke a sense of fear or otherworldliness.

There are several subplots and facets to the story, such as Deidre’s family with her uptight controlling mother and suspicious catty aunt, and although they aren’t all explored in huge detail they still give the story depth, history, complexity and a sense of continuing mystery. This is still so much potential to look at the different factions of faeries as well as what will happen to Luke and Deirdre’s family that I naturally want to read on in the series. There are lots of first books in a series that I pick and kind of enjoy but wouldn’t bother reading the next book; but with Maggie Stiefvater and this series I do want to read on because I know undoubtedly that I will enjoy the rest of the series.

I honestly cannot find fault with the writing style because the plot flows so beautifully and naturally, bringing characters to life and giving a poetic, melodic quality to the story. I read Lament really quickly, lapping up each word and felt completely involved in the story. Few stories can do this from page one, but like her other novels Lament does this, pulling you straight into Deirdre’s life.

I’m seriously starting to think that Maggie herself has been touched by the fey because her writing is so magic, I love every word she writes!

Rating: 4*