30 November 2012


Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Orchard
UK Release date: July 2012
Genre: YA Paranormal

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay. When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home. (Goodreads)

First off, I loved Anna Dressed in Blood. It was a gripping and haunting ghost story. Beautifully written it had me engrossed from page 1. I just adored Kendare Blake's writing style which was easy to  read, flowed naturally and was wonderfully captivating.

Cas was a brilliant protagonist. From the first person perspective, his distinctive voice and witty personality shone through. I loved his sense of humour and purpose, and I enjoyed seeing him change from the 'loner' that doesn't want to get close to anyone to actually needing the friends he had made. For his age, Cas was quiet mature and grounded and I think his character benefitted from not being a typical sulky teenager. Instead he had a sense of motivation, and a really great relationship with his mum, whom I adored.

As soon as I heard about Anna through the ominous letter covered in blood, I couldn’t help but think of her as some evil, wretched ghost (that looked like the girl off the film Ring) and that couldn’t be reasoned with thereby needing to be completely banished. I wasn’t disappointed (Anna was a force to be reckoned with) but she was also so much more. To then have the unusual interplay between Cas and Anna was so unexpected and well done that it felt completely natural and brilliant.

The secondary characters, Thomas and Carmel were well developed, each of their personalities bouncing off each other to create humorous but very natural feeling dialogue exchanges. Together with Cas there were an unexpected ragtag group: the ghost-hunter, the witch, and the popular girl. Considering Cas kept proclaiming he worked alone, the support he had from them was unexpected but it worked so well.

Looking back there was foreshadowing in the plot that could have helped me guess the ending. But I was so caught up in the tense action, the gory horror and fast paced plot, that I didn’t pause for even a second to try to interpret the clues. I just enjoyed the story for what it was. There were certainly a few moments that had me on the edge of the seat with tingles running down my spine.

Anna Dressed in Blood is a creepy, fast paced horror thriller, with wonderfully written characters and dialogue and a ghost story to match any horror film.

Rating: 5*

28 November 2012


A little while ago I had the great fortune of winning a competition to go on a creative writing workshop with Picador, which I attended last week.

The Notebook session was led by Suzi Feay, literary editor, journalist and teacher of Feature Writing at Brunel University. And it certainly got the creative juices flowing. After sharing with the group what stopped us from writing, we took part in a series of different writing exercises to encourage imagination and pull out our own experiences, skills, fears and likes. We then put these together to create the starting blocks of a story. This was my favourite activity, and is based on an activity developed by Scarlett Thomas, a writer and teacher at University of Kent, Cantebury. I loved how you can use your own knowledge and past to create something new and interesting.

Some key tips Suzi reminded the group of was to keep your writing fun (if it's not fun, why write?), have self belief, and use your own experiences to enrich your writing. I particularly liked the idea discussed of sending away your inner critic whilst you write your first draft, but bringing them back when you edit your writing.

When the Picador team were asked what they look for when reading a manuscript, the key element that all of the staff mentioned was the energy created in, and the reaction to, the story. A book should engage the reader, get them excited, and start them talking with others about the story. A distinctive voice, an exciting plot, and the ability to invoke some sort of feeling or emotion in the reader were also highlighted as important when reading a new manuscript.

For me the session has re-inspired me to write. At the moment, it is just to write and start getting back into the feel of it. Soon I will start putting the little hints and tips I've gained into practice and hopefully I'll have a finished draft of my already-started dystopian short story in the near future!

Notebook sessions will be creative workshops run by Pan Macmillan authors, editors, illustrators and literary experts, and give both new and experienced writers the chance to take part in motivating exercises and ask questions of authors, editors and writing/publishing experts. Keep your eye 

You can find more information on Picador and Suzi here:

27 November 2012


The purpose of my weekly trailer teasers is to highlight some fab books (and/or their related movies). Here are this week's trailers:

First up, isn't actually the trailer for a book, but I couldn't resist showing you. It is actually a trailer showing the behind the scenes of how the cover for The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa was made. It will be published by Mira Ink in January 2013. It's absolutely amazing what some people can do on Photoshop. Take a look:

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Yesterday, the trailer A.E. Rought's Broken was unveiled (thanks to The Pewter Wolf for bringing it to my attention). Based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, this looks set to be an interesting modern retelling. It will be published by Strange Chemistry on 8th January 2013.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He's an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely... familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel's.

The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks' estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.


Having just read this next book, I was excited to excited to hear that the book trailer for Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black, was revealed on MTV's Hollywood Crush blog last week. Dance of Shadows will be published by Bloomsbury in February 2013.

One step into passion. Two steps into danger. Three steps and there's no going back...

Vanessa Adler isn't so sure she really belongs at the School of American Ballet. But dance runs in her family. It's been a part of life for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother and mother were prima ballerinas, and her older sister Margaret was, too. That is, until Margaret mysteriously disappeared from school three years ago. Vanessa is heir to the family's gift and the only person who can fulfill her sister's destiny. She has no choice.

But she never could have guessed how dangerous the school is. The infamous choreographer, one in which the school's dancers - prized for their beauty, grace, and discipline - become pawns in a world of darkness...
For extracts from Margaret's diary, fabulous giveaways and inside information about the book, become a Facebook fan today!

You can read my review for Dance of Shadows here, or you can watch the trailer below.

25 November 2012


This week's installment of my quest to delve into the human psyche and behaviour, has been a bit of a struggle. I wasn't sure what to pick; should it be Babies, Bullying, or Breakups? I wanted something a little inspiring and positive. So after a lot of indecision, I decided to go with Bravery.

B is for Bravery

When I'm reading, I love the moments where one character nobly sacrifices themselves for another in a grand display of selflessness, fearlessness and love. I can't help but weep at their courage in the face of danger and even death.

Unfortunately I couldn't think of any times I'd seen someone in London do anything remotely brave like this. Rude, obnoxious, selfish - yes. But not brave. And then earlier this week, we were talking in work about violence in the city and some of the awful things that have happened to people on London transport. Then out of the blue, one work colleague talked very openly and candidly about how she had been raped many years ago. I was both shocked and on the verge of tears as she told us that no one would stop to help her after the crime. However she spoke with pride of joining other women in court to help give evidence and put the attackers behind bars. Since that time, she said she made sure she stood for other people when they were in trouble. Her honesty made me appreciate that she hadn't let her attackers torment her after the crime; she didn't feel sorry for herself or and let them keep her down. Instead she picked herself up, got on with her life, and became even more determined to prevent others from suffering at the hands of violence.

Since hearing this story, I've realised that bravery isn't always something you can see. Sometimes bravery is just getting up in the morning and getting on with your life without self pity. But with a fierce determination.

When I think of bravery in books, Neville Longbottom jumps out at me. I still get goosebumps and shivers when I think of Neville in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and how he stood up to Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. At the risk of losing his friends, he did what he thought was right. It was such a small action, but there so much more behind it: the courage and determination of a rather shy young boy. This small action of Neville's even had a pivotal role in the house competition at the end of the story, showing us just how much little acts of courage can make a big difference.
"There are all kinds of courage," said Dumbledore, smiling. "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."
Bravery doesn't have to be something big or grand. It doesn't have to be life-saving. It can be something small, something you believe in. But it should have meaning to the reader, and to you.

What does bravery mean to you?

24 November 2012


Earlier this week I was very lucky to be invited to the Pan MacMillan Children's Book offices in London, for a live google chat with Alyson Noël, to celebrate her latest book Echo. It was published in the UK earlier this week by Pan Macmillan.

Echo is the second book in Alyson's Soul Seekers series, which is about a young girl named Daire finding.

She inherited a magical destiny—and a mission to stop a powerful family of dark sorcerers. She never expected to fall in love with one of them.
There’s still so much Daire Santos has to learn about being the last Soul Seeker….and about herself. As her magical training becomes more intense, so does her relationship with Dace. But when she learns that his connection to the evil Richter family goes far deeper than she ever imagined, she begins to question if love really can conquer all.
Dace is painfully aware that he wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the Richters’ dark magic—and now his brother Cade is determined to use his love for Daire against him. Dace is willing to sacrifice anything to protect the girl he loves —including his own life. But will Daire allow it? And what if defeating Cade costs not only his life, but his soul too?

I found the live chat amazing fun (you can watch it below), and found Alyson to be such a lovely lovely person! in case you don't want to watch the full video, I thought I would share a few interesting facts about the Soul Seekers series and Alyson:

  • Alyson took a 3 day course in shamanism, venturing into the lower world and finding her spirit animal, as part of her research for the series.
  • Alyson is extremely dedicated, and writes seven days a week.
  • Based on her fascination with twins, Alyson included twin brothers Dace and Cade in her latest series. They are polar opposites of each other; one being good, the other evil. Alyson picked these names because the letters of both their names can be re-arranged to create the other. 
  • Alyson uses the 'Blake Synder' method when writing, using a beat sheet to structure the key plot points of her story.

22 November 2012


Author: Yelena Black
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
UK Release date: 12th February 2013
Genre: Paranormal YA
Read via NetGalley

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . .

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Josh, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed . . .

As a child I always wanted to dance, so I was really excited to read about ballet 'behind the scenes'. There was something very idyllic and stylish about living in New York, and popping out with a cute guy for pizza. But the storyline was made up of two different subplots: Vanessa starting and settling into the New York ballet school, and the strange mystery of her sister who just mysteriously ran away and disappeared from the same ballet school a few years before. 

I enjoyed the balance of both angles - I loved finding out about the realities of living and studying in a ballet school. I’d already heard that it could be really tough, so it was interesting to see Vanessa making friends and flirting with Zep and also having to work really hard to train and learn new dances. Seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly was fascinating for me. And I also liked the mysterious goings-on and strange clues there were for Vanessa to follow, but I would have liked a few more twists and surprises as the plot was a little easy to guess.

Vanessa was driven by her search to find out what happened to her sister Margaret, and it some ways it was a little sad that she was so good at dancing but didn't fully appreciate and enjoy her talent for what it was. But the fact that she still wanted to find the truth was very noble and caring. When she started seeing strange things when she danced and kept bringing up her sister, I knew that others might start questioning her sanity and think she was losing it. And it made me feel nervous for her, as I really wanted her friends to believe her. Vanessa’s friends were cute, quirky and bubbly and their tight-knit little group felt like it was plucked straight from scenes of TV musicals like Glee. 

I wouldn’t say Dance of Shadows has the strongest plot, but for a younger audience I think this book would be a great insight into ballet school that also has a creepy, supernatural mystery running alongside.

Rating: 3.5*

21 November 2012


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating. My choice this week is Ink. Not only do I love this cover, but I love that this book is set in Japan.

Ink by Amanda Sun
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: 18th June 2013
Genre: Paranormal
I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.
Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

What books are you waiting for?

20 November 2012


The purpose of my weekly trailer teasers is to highlight some fab books (and/or their related movies). Here are this weeks trailer:

Ketchup Clouds by  Annabel Pitcher was published by Orion Books on 8th November 2012. (The kindle edition will be published on 27th December 2012.) Not only is Ketchup Clouds written by a British author, but this story sounds so unique and gripping. Plus I love the reddish, pink colours of the book cover and trailer!

I've done something wrong.
Not a little bit wrong or even quite a lot wrong.
What I've done is awful.
And do you want to know the worst thing?
I got away with it.

Fifteen-year-old Zoe is keeping a secret that she can't tell anyone. Stuart Harris is locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. 
Or lies. Or murder. Full of heartache and humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can – in letters to the man in prison in America.

Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal . . .

You can read an extract from Ketchup Clouds here.


The Host by Stephanie Myers was published back in 2009 by Little Brown. It took me a little while to get into this book as it was quite intense and had strong science fiction and dystopian feels to it, but I started I couldn't stop. I loved this book, and so I'm really excited that it has been filmed and will be in cinemas in Spring 2013. I beg you, whether you love or hate Twilight, give this book a read if you like sci-fi dystopians.

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.

What do you think? Do the trailers make you want to read the books?

18 November 2012


Years ago, I took a degree in Psychology because I wanted to learn about human behaviour. However I didn't actually learn how to interpret body language or 'read' what people are thinking. Needless to say I was slightly disappointed by this. In both the areas of my life that I want improve, acting and writing, I want to understand people better. I want to be able to write about the little things that people do, the way that we react in different situations, the habits we display. And I want to find inspiration for my acting.

So this A - Z will be a weekly series of posts exploring human nature and behaviour by looking at everyday emotions, experiences, and situations. It will draw on my observations of other people, my own experiences, snippets from authors that write emotions/behaviour exceptionally well, or just some cathartic rambling. However I do hope you find these posts insightful, amusing or just a little bit interesting.

A is for Anxiety

Anxiety is something that I think everyone can relate to and understand. Whether it is a full blown panic attack, the nerves of talking to a large audience, or butterflies before a big exam, anxiety is something we all experience at some point in our lives.

For me personally, the height of my anxiety levels is on a rush-hour, busy tube. I don't know if it's the claustrophobia of so many people squeezed into one place with arms stretching  and bags poking into my back, the simple lack of fresh oxygen or the terrifying thought of being stuck underground in a cylinder of metal, but my rational mind goes out the tube window. Within minutes my heart rate sky rockets, my breathing becomes shallow and rapid, and my face flushes an unattractive, vivid puce.

The fear that I might be sick is compounded by the butterflies in my stomach, the sweaty palms, the wobble of the tube as it hurtles over the bumpy tracks, and the knowledge that I just can't escape until the next stop. The only way I've found to distract myself during the journey is to play word games in my mind and stop all thoughts from wandering to my own feelings of panic.

So when I reach my stop, I feel a complete and sweet relief as I jump through the tube doors. I can finally take a deep breath and feel my heart start to slow. I have escaped.

Having just finished reading Kendare Blake's amazingly creepy and well written Anna Dressed in Blood, I can't help but be reminded of the tension and anxiety that spilled from the pages. So here is a little snippet that perfectly describes Cas's fear and panic:
"I'd like to leave now. I'd very much like to leave now. The hairs are up on the back of my neck and my teeth would chatter if I wasn't clenching so hard. Given the choice between fight or flight, I would choose to dive out the window, knife in hand or not... After this is over, I might puke. Assuming, of course, that I'm still living."

Does this quote make you as anxious as Cas?
What situations make you nervous or panicky?

15 November 2012


Author: Jonathan L. Howard
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Strange Chemistry
UK Release date: 6th November 2012
Genre: Science fiction
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent.
Katya Kuriakova doesn’t care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career.
There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world’s future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet. (Goodreads)

Katya, despite being only 15, was an extremely practical and logical young girl at the start of her navigation career. As her first job veered extremely off-course, she was able to come up with solutions to life threatening situations that even experienced war veterans weren’t able to think of. She was also very forthright and stubborn, refusing to be left behind from any dangerous missions on multiple occasions, despite the risks. All of these things made me like her a lot. She had smarts and balls!

The setting for the story is primarily underwater on a variety of different submarines. Russalka is a planet that has absolutely no land mass, forcing the inhabitants from earth to live under water, on submarines, on ships or on water platforms. This makes for a very interesting setting as the threats are different to normal sci-fi/YA, the obstacles characters face are very different, and because of this I found the story really engaging.

Outlaw Kane was a most secretive and mysterious character. He often withheld important information from the other characters and at best talked cryptically. I did expect certain things to be revealed about his past and links to Russalka, but never got any of this. I don’t know why but I expected more revelations and big surprises lurking in his past. I guess if this is the start of a series, there may be more revelations later on. Despite the fact that he has had a shady past, I couldn’t help but like him. I knew deep down he was a good man by the way he looked out for and protected Katya.

Although the current inhabitants of Russalka are long ago descendants of earth, specifically Russians, they have lost their sense of heritage and ancestry and formed a completely new identity and society for themselves. I liked seeing how a group of people from the same socio-economic and cultural group now lived without any earth history to go by. Even on Russalka, a people united against earth, they still managed to have their own factions and groups, and I thought that Jonathan L. Howard’s writing managed to subtly explore human nature and behaviour without overpowering the plot.

Katya’s World is an underwater, action packed adventure with a strong lead character and amazing space setting.

Rating: 4*

13 November 2012


The purpose of my weekly trailer teasers is to highlight some fab books (and/or their related movies). Here is this week's trailer:

The debut dystopian YA novel, The Forsaken by Lisa Stasse, was published by Simon & Schuster in August 2012, but for some reason it has taken me until now to discover the trailer link in my inbox. Anyway, in case this book has slipped your attention (like it slipped mine) here is a quick recap of the blurb:

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

10 November 2012


Although my post today isn't part of the linked original meme, I just couldn't bear to think up another name for what is basically a post about books that I'm looking forward to. So anyway, here are books that I can't wait to read.

MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: 12th March 2013
Genre: Science fiction

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past —that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity–style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.


Taken by Erin Bowman
Published by: Harper Teen
Release date: 16th April 2013
Genre: Fantasy/Dystopian

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends...and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?


Freakling by Lana Krumwiede
Published by: Candlewick Press
Release date: October 2012
Genre: Dystopian

A thrilling, fast-paced dystopian novel about the dangers of unchecked power and the dilemmas facing a boy torn between two ways of life.

In twelve-year-old Taemon’s city, everyone has a power called psi—the ability to move and manipulate objects with their minds. When Taemon loses his psi in a traumatic accident, he must hide his lack of power by any means possible. But a humiliating incident at a sports tournament exposes his disability, and Taemon is exiled to the powerless colony.

The "dud farm" is not what Taemon expected, though: people are kind and open, and they actually seem to enjoy using their hands to work and play and even comfort their children. Taemon adjusts to his new life quickly, making friends and finding unconditional acceptance.

But gradually he discovers that for all its openness, there are mysteries at the colony, too—dangerous secrets that would give unchecked power to psi wielders if discovered.

When Taemon unwittingly leaks one of these secrets, will he have the courage to repair the damage—even if it means returning to the city and facing the very people who exiled him?

What books are you dying to read?

8 November 2012


Author: Alyson Nöel
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher:
UK Release date:
Genre: YA
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Until now, he's existed only in her dreams - but fate is about to bring them together.
I shove through the crowd, knocking into girls and bouncing off boys, until one in particular catches me, steadies me.
I feel so secure, so at home in his arms.
I melt against his chest-lift my gaze to meet his. Gasping when I stare into a pair of icy blue eyes banded by brilliant flecks of gold that shine like kaleidoscopes, reflecting my image thousands of times.
The boy from my dream. The one who died in my arms. (Goodreads)

Having read and really enjoyed Evermore, I've had a bit of an up and down journey with Fated. The writing style, which was in the present tense, was sometimes surprisingly jarring and off putting due to sentences that could go on for lines and lines, and the overuse of ‘–ing’ words. It just felt like a few sections of the book were written at different time periods or in different moods, because the style wasn’t fully consistent. But I know this isn’t representative of Alyson Noel's usual brilliant writing, and I’m willing to trust that these kinks will get worked out in the next books. Plus, I loved the Native American aspects to the story.

The setting really suited the magical themes of the book, drawing on animal guides, healing and the Day of the Dead to add magical context and depth to the story. The wild lands that Daire explores on horseback and visits for her quest sound so beautiful, despite being very remote and harsh. For me, these elements made up the best parts of the book and helped to keep me engaged with the story.

I have to admit I also had a love/hate affair with Daire. She could be extremely whiny and selfish, and a bit of a brat at times. When she acted like this I wanted to throw the book in frustration, and hopefully hit Daire with it and knock some sense into her. However in the second part of the book her character definitely changed and she became much more grown up and responsible and I started to like her a lot more.

Paloma is Daire's grandmother - and amazing. She's sympathetic, wise, and understands the balance of freedom and discipline. Her ancestral roots means she is into dreamcatchers, healthy diet, growing your own food, herbal potions, communing with dead relatives and so on. She was very cool, and it was Paloma that encouraged and guided Daire as she learnt to control her magical powers and venture into the spirit world.

Dace and his twin brother Cade were like polar opposites. Whilst Dace radiated kindness, his brother oozed false charm. Although with such a pleasant front and charming manner, it would have been hard to have imagined Cade as anything other than nice, if it wasn't for Daire's mysterious dream about the twins. Although her dreams included some steamy romance with Cade, she took time to get to know and trust him in real life, and I look forward to seeing where their relationship goes in the next book.

Fated journeys into the spiritual realms for a magical story.

Rating: 3.5*

7 November 2012


The cover art for Martha Wells' forthcoming book Emilie and the Hollow World has been released. And it is looking pretty cool.

Emilie and the Hollow World will be released by Strange Chemistry in April 2013.

I love the map imagery and the steampunk feel it has. It makes me think of Phileas Fog! I'm so excited to read this :D In case you are too, here is the synopsis:

While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.

Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.

With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.

The cover art was produced by studio amazing15.

What are your thoughts? Love the cover?

6 November 2012


Today I am really excited to have author Jeremy de Quidt joining me on the blog to talk about some of his latest book The Feathered Man, a historical YA with some creepy undertones and strong characters that delves into the concept of what happens after your last breath.

How would you describe The Feathered Man to a potential reader?
It’s an adventure, a dark, frightening adventure. I wanted to take the science and thought of the early nineteenth century - that Gothic world of Mary Shelley in which the boundaries of medicine and anatomy were being pushed forward - and mix it up with murder, and curse and the belief in an after life from an earlier, more distant time. It’s about a search for that unanswerable question - where does life go when we have breathed our last? Maybe it’s an answer it’s better not to know.

What sparked the ideas for this new book?
A present to my daughter Alice. A friend of ours gave her a life-sized wire and feather sculpture of a kneeling man. Alice hung it on her bedroom wall. I would go in to her room to say ‘goodnight’  and see its shape in the dark. I’d sit there on the edge of her bed and think to myself ‘there’s a story there.’

If you were to 'sell' The Feathered Man using a single quote or line from the book, what would you choose?
The warning given to Markus by Professor Karolus - ‘Curiosity is a killing thing.’

The Feathered Man is set in a German town in a long ago era. Did you need to carry out any research to help you write the book, and if so, what did you research?
I needed to have a grasp on the science and philosophy of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and of the beliefs and ritual of the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish Conquest. The town itself is made up - I dipped into every mental picture I had of a northern German town and fitted them together, though the twin-spired church is based on the Marienkirche in Lubec. It was on a postcard that someone once sent to me.

Who was your favourite character to develop and write for in The Feathered Man?
I liked writing Frau Drecht. She is simply so horrible. Cruel people are bad enough, but scheming cruel people are even worse - they are an absolute gift to a writer.

The Feathered Man touches on some thought-provoking issues such as life after death. Has writing this book taken you on any emotional/philosophical journeys.
It made me think about the conflict between religious belief and science, and the conflict between different religious beliefs themselves. And I had to think about an after life. I ended up asking myself what if there was one, but what if it was more broken and disfunctional than life itself?

When you were writing The Feathered Man what were the positive or challenging elements?
I found the difficult part was combining the real world and an after life - finding a way of running them together as one. The positive part? Actually making it to the end of the book.

Who would you say inspires you and your writing (people you know, authors etc).
I find I’m more inspired by object and image than by people or by other authors. I find it really difficult to read any fiction while I’m trying to write it myself. But it’s not the case that I see an object and think ‘I could make up a story about that,’ it’s more that it sets in motion a train of thought that leads to other things. Old photographs do that for me too. I love old photgraphs - they are a gold mine for imagination.

How has writing your second book differed from writing your first? Has it been easier, with the experience behind you, or more challenging?
It was far more challenging. When I wrote my first - The Toymaker - it was as a weekly instalment to tell to children at a local junior school. The only pressure was to make sure there was another instalment ready to tell them come Thursday. It was a different thing altogether knowing that I was writing a book that a publisher was waiting for. I think it’s an almost universal fear among second time novelists that the first was a complete fluke and that you are about to be found out in a big way when you try to write a second.

What can we expect next from Jeremy de Quidt?
I don’t know yet. I still haven’t quite put down THE FEATHERED MAN - I need to get a little more distance between him and me, and by then one of the ideas that is quietly working away in my head will have pushed it’s way to the front. I’ve got an opening scene I’d like to use though, and in it there is snow on the ground, and the breath of the man makes a small cloud as he walks towards the door of the carriage.

Thank you so much Jeremy for taking time to talk about The Feathered Man. If you would like to find out more about Jeremy de Quidt or his latest book you can find it here:


Jeremy's Blog on the David Fickling Books website

The Feathered Man was released on 1st November 2012 by Random House. You can read my review of it here or you can head on over to Amazon to grab yourself a copy.

1 November 2012


Author: Jeremy de Quidt
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Random House
UK Release date: 1st November 2012
Genre: YA, Horror, Historical
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

In a German town, long ago, lives a tooth-puller's boy called Klaus. It isn't Klaus's fault that he sees his master steal a diamond from the mouth of a dead man in Frau Drecht's lodging house, or that Frau Drecht and her murderous son want it for themselves.
He has nothing to do with the Jesuit priest and his Aztec companion who turn up out of the blue looking for it, or the Professor of Anatomy who takes such a strange interest in it. No, Klaus doesn't want any trouble. 
But when he finds himself with the diamond in his pocket, things really can't get much worse - that is, until the feathered man appears. Then they become a matter of life . . . and death.

The Feathered Man features some very strong characters, some of whom are very cruel and heartless. Particularly Frau Drecht who uses children as free labour and has an unusually high number of deaths in her boarding house. I loathed this woman and really wanted her to get her just desserts. In comparison, the two young children, Klaus and Liesel, were so innocent, naive and vulnerable. Because of this they ended up constantly on the run and all I wanted was for them to find safety and hope. My heart went out to them both because they had no parents or anyone to look out for them, and sorely needed someone to give them a hug, food and a warm bed. But in the poverty stricken German setting, safety and love were very hard to find.

The setting very much reminded me of Victorian London, due to the historical timing as well as the stark contrast between those with money and education and the poor struggling just to survive. There were also a fair few gruesome acts in the story from murder, torture and maltreatment which gave the town a very dark and sinister underbelly. This poverty meant that Klaus and Liesel were forced to work for horrible adults just to survive, and when they were both in danger (which was quite often!) I was wracked with fear for them. The plot also took a number of sharp twists and turns, and there was plenty of intrigue when new characters were introduced and I tried to figure out how hey might fit into the puzzle.

A huge part of the plot links to the spiritual and what happens after death. I’m not sure I completely understand the other world. In fact, if that’s what it is like afterwards, I’m not sure I want to know. And yet, the desire to know what lies beyond drove several of the characters to commit heinous acts of violence and murder. I did like that this spiritual element was balanced against the exploration of the physical through anatomy, and that the anatomists were intrigued in life after death despite having a scientific background. 

The Feathered Man is a dark and chilling tale of human nature and what happens when our curiosity about death exceeds the value of life.

Jeremy de Quidt is currently taking part in blog tour for The Feathered Man. Here on My Book Journey Jeremy will be answering some questions about his latest book – be sure to stop back on November 6th 2012. 

Rating: 4*