Sunday 28 February 2010

New covers: Mediator Series by Meg Cabot

Oooooh! I Love the new covers for the Mediator series. I really love this series and am really pleased they have changed the covers - I think the new ones are fab (and yes I will have to buy them as they are so pretty...) If you haven't read them yet I whole heartedly recommend the series - they are great fun!

What do you think of the new covers?

Saturday 27 February 2010

In my mailbox (28)

In my mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

This week I recieved:

For review:

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
From Goodreads: Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

No and Me by Delphine de Vigan
From Goodreads: Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend called Lucas who gets her through the school day. At home her father cries in secret in the bathroom and her mother hasn't been out of the house properly for years. But Lou is about to change her life - and that of her parents - for good, all because of a school project she decides to do about the homeless. Through the project Lou meets No, a teenage girl living on the streets. As their friendship grows, Lou cannot bear that No is still on the streets when she goes back home - even if it is to a home that is saddened and desolate. So she asks her parents if No can come to live with them. To her astonishment, her parents - eventually - agree. No's presence forces Lou and her parents to finally face the sadness that has enveloped them. But No has disruptive as well as positive effects. Can this shaky, newfound family continue to live together? A tense, brilliant novel tackling the true meaning of home and homelessness.

Drawing with light by Julia Green
From Goodreads: Kat and Emily have grown up without their mother for almost as long as they can remember. And now Dad is with Cassy and they all muddle along together well enough - even though they are living in a cramped caravan while their new house is being renovated. Then Cassy and Dad tell them that Cassy is pregnant, and everything seems to shift. Emily feels a new urge to find her own mother. How could she have left them the way she did? Never writing to them? Not communicating with them? And as Emily begins her search, not knowing what she will find, she is at the same time embarking on a new relationship of her own, that of her romance with Seb. This is an evocative and finely drawn novel about family relationships, in particular that of mother and daughter, and the shifting emotions of a teenager trying to make sense of her family and her world.

My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey (read my review)
From Goodreads: The Blakes are rather different to your usual neighbours. They are vampires and some of the members of the family date back to the twelfth century. One of the children, Solange, is the only born female vampire known and, as such, she poses a direct threat to the vampire queen. Her best friend Lucy is human, and when Solange is kidnapped Lucy and Solange's brother, Nicholas, set out to save her. Lucy soon discovers that she would like to be more than just friends with Nicholas. But how does one go about dating a vampire? Meanwhile, Solange finds an unlikely ally in Kieran, a vampire slayer on the hunt for his father's killer.

Need by Carrie Jones (read my review)
From Goodreads: Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

A big thanks to Emma @ Bloomsbury for sending me these:)

I bought:

Tips on having a gay (ex) boyfriend by Carrie Jones
From Goodreads: It isn't every day that my high school boyfriend, Eastbrook High School's Harvest King, tells me he's gay. It's not every day that the Harvest Queen is dumped in the middle of a road with the stars watching the humiliation and the dogs barking because they want to come help tear my heart out and leave it on the cold gray ground. It isn't every day that my entire world falls apart. Belle believes that Dylan is her true love-maybe even her soulmate. Until one cold night when Dylan drops the ultimate bomb: he's gay. Where, Belle wonders, does that leave her? Should she have somebeen able to tell? Is every guy that she loves going to turn out to be gay?
This beautifully-written debut explores what happens when you are suddenly forced to see someone in a different light, and what that can teach you about yourself.

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
From Goodreads: When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society. The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a girl from her school is found dead... drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn't know what to think. Could those vampire legends really be true? Steeped in vampire lore and set against the heady backdrop of the rich, young, and powerful in the heart of New York City, Blue Bloods will be devoured by Melissa de la Cruz's legion fans.

Evernight by Claudia Gray
From Goodreads: Bianca wants to escape.
She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.
Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him.
"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."
But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.

The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth (read my review) - I had to have a copy of this:)
From Goodreads: Hannah Rose Brown is twelve years old when she finds out that her family is cursed. Desperate to find the truth about her father' disappearance, she travels to her ancestral home in Scotland, and discover a chain of dark secrets that plunge her into different worlds, timeframes and dangers.

The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth
From Goodreads: Emilia Finch and her cousin Luka are gypsies. For them, that means they live a strongly traditional life, rich with story, music, dance, and magic, governed by the laws of the clan and the ways of the road. To the repressive Puritanical government of 17th century England, however, the gypsies are thieving, fortune-telling vagrants who are most likely allies of the devil.
While the Finches have managed to steer clear of trouble, it finds them when they decide to raise dowry money for one of their daughters, by performing in Kingston square one ill-fated market day. A series of terrible events lands the family in jail, charged with murder. Only Emilia and Luka manage to escape, promising to bring back help and free them.
The only problem is -- how? Emilia believes in the legend of the charms: it is said that the luck of the Rom has turned sour ever since a long-ago gypsy matriarch broke her chain of charms, giving one charm to each of her five children. Since then, the gypsies have been persecuted and the families have dispersed. If they can gather the charms from the families, Emilia thinks, the strong magic of the Rom will somehow bring her family freedom. Luka, on the other hand, is more practical - he wants to enlist the help of the other clans to help the Finches escape.
Emilia and Luka must race through the countryside, navigating a hornets' nest of Rom-hating Puritans, Royalist spies, and traitors, if they are to complete their quest before the magistrate delivers a death sentence...

How did you all do?

Friday 26 February 2010

A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker

From Goodreads: When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: Jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer. Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.

Razorbill, $9.99, Available now.

How much did I love this book? It is so funny I found myself laughing out loud. In some places I had to put the book down I was laughing so hard!

I adored the main character Fiona. She's not perfect and can be self absorbed at times but I loved her sassy attitude and ability to not care what others thought. I also really liked Todd and the banter these two characters had. The pranks they played on each were awesome! I was disappointed Marcie and Johnny didn't have more ‘screen time’ but otherwise I really enjoyed it. It's a bit predictable at times and some elements of the story are unrealistic but this didn't bother me in the slightest. I found the whole thing great fun and loved Fiona as a narrator.

Hi–freaking–larious as Fiona would say. If you want a light, sweet, and outrageously funny book this could be the one for you. I still can’t get the idea of Fiona trying to do a Russian jump out of my head:)

Thursday 25 February 2010

I want to read that...

By Midnight: A ravenwood Mystery by Mia James
From Amazon: April Dunne is not impressed. She's had to move from Edinburgh to Highgate, London, with her parents. She's left her friends - and her entire life - behind. She has to start at a new school and, worst of all, now she's stuck in a creepy old dump of a house which doesn't even have proper mobile phone reception. Ravenwood, her new school, is a prestigious academy for gifted (financially or academically) students - and the only place her parents could find her a place, in the middle of term, in the middle of London, on incredibly short notice. So she's stuck with the super-rich, and the super-smart . . . and trying to fit in is when the rest of the students seem to be more glamorous, smarter, or more talented than she is, is more than tough. It's intimidating and isolating, even when she finds a friend in the conspiracy-theorist Caro Jackson - and perhaps finds something more than friendship in the gorgeous, mysterious Gabriel Swift. But there's more going on at Ravenwood than meets the eye. Practical jokes on new students are normal, but when Gabriel saves her from . . . something . . . . in the Highgate Cemetery, and then she discovers that a murder took place, just yards away from where she had been standing, April has to wonder if something more sinister is going on. . . . and whether or not she's going to live through it . . .

This is published in the UK in May (Hardback). Sounds rather good :)

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Review copy: Hodder & Stoughton General. Published 4 Mar 2010

From Goodreads: What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

This is an amazing novel. It is everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s one of those books that pulled me in and didn’t let me go until the final page. I loved the premise - reliving the same day over and over again. Although it’s an idea I’m familiar with through TV and film, the way in which it is executed here made it feel original and fresh and like nothing I’ve read before.

At first I hated Sam – a typical ‘mean girl’ that seemed completely superficial and relied too much on other people for her moral compass. As we relive each day we completely peel back her layers. I loved the way we got to see glimpses of the real Sam each time she relived the day. This was fascinating to watch and is one of my favourite aspects of the story. I also loved that on each day there were things that changed but also things that stayed the same – it felt as if these changes and similarities provided clues to a larger puzzle. I spent the entire novel feeling as if I should know what was going on – as if it was just there if only I could grasp it – but I didn’t understand until Sam did and I loved that.

Lauren Oliver has such a great writing voice. It’s such a natural style it’s so easy to forget you are reading – I completely connected to the story and to Sam. There is also such honesty in the way she depicts her characters - they came across as completely believable and by the end of the novel I adored them all.

This is one of those books I know I will read time and time again. As soon as I’d finished it I felt as if I wanted to experience it all over again. It is a stunning debut and I beg you to try it. I loved everything about it.

A big thank you to Katie at Hodder for sending me a review copy:)

Cover Wars: Faery Rebels series by R.J. Anderson

There is quiet a difference between the UK and US covers for this series. Different titles too. Which do you prefer? This one is really easy for me as I LOVE the UK covers - I think they are gorgeous! I really like the US cover for Wayfarer (book 2) though.

UK Covers:

US Covers:

What do you think?

Sunday 21 February 2010

Author Interview: Rook Hastings

Rook Hastings, the author of Nearly departed, kindly took the time to answer a few of my questions.

Nearly Departed
From Goodreads: "I've seen a ghost," said Emily. "Well, not seen one exactly. Heard one. At least, I think I have!" Everything has a rational explanation. Unless it doesn't. Welcome to Weirdsville... Woodsville is not like other towns. Night falls a little earlier there, the shadows are darker and denser, and everyone knows it's a place where strange things happen. Even if they won't admit it. Bethan would prefer to be anywhere but here. Jay has his theories, but isn't ready to share. Hashim sees more than he'll say, while Kelly's demons are all too flesh and blood. But Emily's freak-out brings them out of denial and face to face with the supernatural. Anywhere else, Friday night would be date night. But not in Weirdsville!

What inspired you to write Nearly Departed?
I just love ghost stories, horror films - and I love being scared! I love ghosts and the paranormal.

Is this a subject that really interests you?
Yes, I am so interested in it - I really do think that something is left behind when we leave our physical bodies - and there are places that are just full of atmosphere - of the leftover lives of the people that have lived there. I love old houses, and buildings - sometimes you can almost hear the people that stood there once still moving and talking all around you.

And have you ever seen a ghost yourself?
Yes, when I was a student I lived in a house haunted by a recently deceased student - one afternoon I was looking out of the window when i saw a pale, hollow eyed face of a girl looking back at me - i would have been scared anyway - but my room was on the second floor.... I've also been haunted by a cat and a friendly ghost who let the tires down on my friends bike when I laddered my tights on its pedals. I loved hearing about all the paranormal investigation equipment and mythology.

What kind of research did you do for the novel?
Quite a lot, I spoke to some paranormal investigators, read a lot and spent a long time on the web - I found some pretty amazing and inexplicable things that really spooked me.

I loved all the characters but I think Jay was my favourite. Do you have a favourite character? Or one you relate to more?
I like Jay too - but I think Kelly is my favourite - she seems to be one kind of person - tough, selfish, a bully - but really she is hiding a lot of pain and complexity. As the story continues she really comes through. All of the characters are going to find out more about themselves and what they are capable of.

I love the cover for Nearly Departed –it’s really creepy. What did you think about it when you first saw it?
I loved it! I couldn't imagine how they would sum up the book in an image - and they did it straight away. I've looked at a lot of covers recently and I think mine is the best.

I’m really looking forward to the next in the series. Can you tell us more about it?
I can't tell you too much, I don't want to spoil it for people who haven't read Nearly Departed yet - but there are answers in the next books to some of the mysteries in book one, and a lot more scariness, danger, twists and adventure.

Thanks Rook! The next book sounds fantastic and I can't wait! Nearly Departed is available to buy now and you can read my review here.

Saturday 20 February 2010

In my mailbox (27)

Imm is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren


Mr Monster by Dan Wells (Headline)
From Goodreads: From the author of I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER...John Wayne Cleaver has always known he has a dark side but he's fought hard to oppress it and live a normal life -- separating John from Mr Monster to survive. But after confronting and destroying the vicious killer that was terrorizing his town, his inner monster is getting stronger and harder to contain. And now more bodies are being discovered...With the police failing to catch Clayton County's second serial killer John is going to have to use his secret knowledge of the first demon-killer to trap the second...but will he be able to avoid suspicion falling on him, and, in the face of extreme horrors, will he be able to restrain Mr Monster?


Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
From Goodreads: As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy into the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reasons to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI, and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town goes missing, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel. In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed—about God, your family, and yourself—is transformed.

My So called After-life by Tamsyn Murray
From Goodreads: "I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs..." Meet Lucy Shaw. She's not your average fifteen year old - for a start, she's dead. And as if being a ghost wasn't bad enough, she's also trapped haunting the men's toilets on Carnaby Street. So when a lighting engineer called Jeremy walks in and she realises he can see and hear her, she isn't about to let him walk out of her afterlife. Not least until he's updated her on what's happening in her beloved soaps. With Jeremy's help, Lucy escapes the toilet and is soon meeting up with other ghosts, including the perpetually enraged Hep and the snogtastic Ryan. But when Jeremy suggests Lucy track down the man who murdered her, things go down hill. Can Lucy face up to the events of that terrible night? And what will it cost her if she does?

Vampire Diaries: Nighfall (yay! - I also got Vampire Diaries 1&2 and 3&4 so they all match...)
Elena Gilbert is alive—again. When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her—the handsome, brooding Stefan and the sleek and dangerous Damon—she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back. Now Elena is not just human. She has powers and gifts that were bestowed on her in the afterlife. What's more, her blood pulses with an overwhelming and unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire. Stefan wants to find a way to keep Elena safe so that they can make a life together. Damon, however, is driven by an insatiable desire for power, and wants Elena to rule as his princess. When Stefan is lured away from Fell's Church, Damon seizes his chance to convince her that he is the brother she is meant to be with. . . . But a darkness is infiltrating the town, and Damon, always the hunter, is now the hunted; he becomes the prey of a malevolent creature that can possess him at will, and who desires not just Elena's blood but her death

and a big Thank You to Jenny @ Wondrous Reads for sending me a copy of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles (I am reading this one now and it's fab! Thanks Jenny!)
From Goodreads: A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers. When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more. In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

So that's me for the week. How did you all do?

Friday 19 February 2010

Undead Much? by Stacey Jay

From Goodreads:


Even Zombie Settlers with Super Hot Boyfriends get the Blues... A few months ago I was a normal girl with a normal life. But that was before my power to Settle the Undead returned and someone tried to kill me with zombies. Now I work magic and practice kicking butt while trying to find time for pom squad and my boyfriend, Ethan, and trying NOT to think about how freaky my life has become. It can be tough. Still…things could be worse… Oh yeah, right: 1. Feral new super-strong zombies. Check. 2. Undead psychic hottie predicting a zombie apocolypse. Check. 3. Earth-shattering secrets that could land me in Settler prison for life. Check. 4. Cheerleader vs. pom squad turf war threatening the end of the half time as we know it. Check. I’m going to need therapy (and a cookie) if I live through the week. Unfortunately I’m learning that’s not something Zombie Queens can take for granted.

I adored You Are So Undead to Me and I was a bit worried this wouldn’t live up to it. But it did. Big time! I really, really enjoyed it.

I love the voice Stacey Jay gives to Megan – she is really sweet, very good at putting herself into trouble and very believable as a teenage girl trying to balance her supernatural duties with regular teen issues.

The plot line in this was superb and I didn’t work it out. I loved the progression of her relationship with Monica – I think the potential is there for a really good friendship. I also really liked the addition of Cliff, even if his presence does test Megan's relationship with Ethan. As for Ethan he was on fine form – I really like his maturity and his sensitivity when it comes to Megan.

I also liked how this ended – a kind of cliffhanger but not an 'OMG I need the next book now' cliffhanger. Having said that, I do hope there are more to come otherwise I may have to cry! I really love this series – it ticks all the boxes for me:)

Thursday 18 February 2010

I want to read that...

The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees
From Bloomsbury: A fabulous, evocative, romantic new historical novel by bestselling Celia Rees
Violetta and Feste have come to London to rescue the holy relics taken from the church in Illyria by the evil Malvolio. Their journey has been long and their adventures many, but it is not until they meet the playwright William Shakespeare that they get to tell the entire story from beginning to end!
But where will this remarkable tale ultimately lead Violetta and her companion? And will they manage to save themselves, and the relics from the very evil intentions of Malvolio.

This sounds really good. I haven't read any Celia Rees but I think I need to! This is published 5th April. You can read the first chapter here. You can also you become a fan of Celia on Facebook

You can also check out the author's website by clicking here

Wednesday 17 February 2010

The Puzzle Ring Review and Interview (Blog Tour)

I am really excited to be part of Kate Forsyth's blog tour for The Puzzle Ring. Yesterday the Blog Tour stop was at The Word for a review and tomorrow's stop will be at The Story Siren for a review and interview. You can check out Kate Forsyth's website here

The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth
From Amazon: Hannah Rose Brown is twelve years old when she finds out that her family is cursed. Desperate to find the truth about her father's disappearance, she travels to her ancestral home in Scotland, and discover a chain of dark secrets that plunge her into different worlds, timeframes and dangers...

This is such a great book – if I had read it when I was younger it would have been one of those books I read over and over again. It just has everything – great characters and a strong mythology all combined with wonderful writing. What more do you need?

I was gripped from the beginning. Hannah is a great character and I loved her attitude from the onset. Yes, I imagine she could be slightly annoying at times but she was plucky enough that I really believed she could break the curse. As soon as we get to Scotland we are introduced to more wonderful characters. I loved them all and find it hard to pick a favourite but I did fall in love with Donavan and his quite and gentle ways. Linnet was also great!

So much happens in this novel – magic, curses, time travel – and it all fits together seamlessly. I really believed in the world created here and it almost feels as if I could go to Scotland and find Wintersloe castle! The time travel aspect was my favourite and there was so much detail put into recreating the past – it really brought it alive and highlighted the differences from today.

As for the ending it is just brilliant! Everything fitted together and I was really happy with how it all ended. It is aimed at a younger audience than I usually read (and review here) but please don’t let this put you off. I just loved it and can’t recommend it highly enough. I think I’m now going to have to track down everything Kate Forsyth has written!

The Puzzle Ring can be purchased from Amazon or The Book depository.


Kate also stopped by to answer a few questions...

What inspired you to write the Puzzle Ring?

Although the first seed of the idea for the Puzzle Ring came from reading an article about the history of puzzle rings - which was first invented by a cruel and jealous Arabian king as a sort of chastity belt for his beautiful wife – I think this book has very deep roots into my childhood. I’ve always loved time travel stories, and I’ve always loved romantic old-fashioned stories about a child having to search for some kind of treasure to save the family castle. I wrote a book very like that when I was only 11 or 12, coincidentally set in the Highlands of Scotland.

The Puzzle Ring really brings the past alive and I loved hearing about Mary, Queen of Scots. Is this a period that really interests you?

Yes, its my favourite period of history. My fascination with Mary, Queen of Scots, first began when I was a child and my grandmother told me the story of the bloodstain on the floor of her bedchamber that never fades, no matter how hard the floor is scrubbed. Queen Mary was seven months pregnant when a gang of rebel lords broke into her bedchamber, where she was having supper with a group of friends, and stabbed her secretary David Rizzio to death in front of her – 56 dagger thrusts, one of each of the conspirators which included the queen’s own husband. David Rizzio fell and his blood poured out over her wooden floor. You can still see it on the floor of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh – I’ve been there and I’ve seen it. Queen Mary was taken captive but she pretended to be so distraught that they left her alone. She knotted her bedclothes together and climbed out the window (remember she was 7 months pregnant!) and rode back to Edinburgh a week later at the head of an army, defeating the rebels and winning back her throne. I absolutely loved that story – she was my kind of queen! And the detail of the bloodstain that never fades just added to the general charm and romance and mystery and magic. My grandmother also told me that we were distantly related to the royal Stewart family, which just added to my fascination. I have no idea if this is true or not, though the great Scottish families were so inter-related I think most people of Scottish descent could claim the same!

The Puzzle Ring is also a story of magic and curses. It contained so much detail it felt real! Is this a subject that really interests you?

I’ve always been intrigued by the power of words. Curses and spells, wishes and prayers, they are all a way of trying to change the world with words. All of my books are filled with songs and incantations and spells, and quite a few curses too! Perhaps my fascination with curses comes from when I was in primary school and was being bullied mercilessly by the biggest, meanest girl in school. One day – when she had pinned my plaits to the back of my chair with some drawing pins, so I almost ripped my hair out by the roots when I tried to stand up – I told her I’d curse her if she was ever mean to me again. She laughed and gave me a chinese burn. So I went home and pricked my finger and I wrote her name on a piece of paper with my own blood, and then I burnt the paper in the flame of a candle, muttering a curse I’d written which went something like ‘by owl and bat and snake and rat, I curse you, I curse you, I curse you!’ The next day she fell down the steps and broke her leg. She never bullied me again (nor did anyone else) and I have never doubted the power of curses since.

If you could have an adventure like Hannah when/where would you travel back to?

So many times and places I’d like to go (as long as I could be sure of coming back again.) I’d like to go back and see my own Scottish ancestress and see how much truth is in all the old family myths (my sister has actually written a children’s book with this exact story line so it shoes the power of our old family stories!) I’d like to meet the Bronte sisters, I’d like to help Bonnie Prince Charlie escape, I’d like to smuggle French aristocrats away from the guillotine, I’d like to meet Mary, Queen of Scots and I’d like to know if she really did plan her second husband’s murder (I think she was framed). I’d like to have known lots of my favourite writers.

I love the characters in the Puzzle Ring – especially Donavan. Did you base them on anyone you know? And do you have a favourite?

Most of my characters seem to step fully grown out of my brain onto the page! I love it when that happens.
Donovan is definitely one of my favourites– he’s exactly the sort of dreamy, romantic, rebellious, sensitive boy I’d like to have met when I was 13. And I like Hannah! She’s clever, bold and determined, all the things I was not when I was her age. Linnet is one of my all-time favourite creations too. I want her to come and live with me and cook for me! And Lady Wintersloe was party inspired by my own grandmother, who was very elegant and loved poetry and history and old tales too. Max was fun to write too!

If the Puzzle Ring was made into a film (which would be amazing!) who would you want to cast as the characters?

Ooooh! I’d like Saoirse Ronan as Hannah! She’s brilliant. (She’s was in Atonement and Death Defying Acts and The Lovely Bones). Can she sing, I wonder? Taylor Swift would be cool as Scarlett, though maybe she’s a little too old now – so maybe a younger version. It’d be hard to cast Donovan. He has to be able to sing and play the trumpet! Nick Jonas? He’s 18 so a bit old too. It’d be fun trying to find him!

I love the Uk covers for The Puzzle Ring and The Gypsy Curse. Do you have any imput into these designs? Do you have a favourite?

I love them both too. I had no input at all, but as soon s I saw it I was so happy. I particularly love ‘The Puzzle Ring’ because there is so much in it. My kids love poring over it, and identifying it all.

What authors/books did you love when you were growing up?

I read so many wonderful books as a child! Far too many to list. At one stage I was reading several books a day. By the time I left my primary school I had read every book in the library. The ones that stand out for me are Elizabeth Goudge, Lucy Boston, Susan Cooper, Ursula le Guin, Lloyd Alexander, Peter Dickinson, Enid Blyton, Edith Nesbit, Eleanor Farjeon, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, Joan Aiken, Nicholas Stuart Grey ... I told you there were a few. I love these authors and collect their books. Some are very rare now and quite valuable.

Did any of these inspire you to become a writer?

I think I was born wanting to be a writer. I certainly don’t remember a time when it was my deepest longing, my most urgent desire, my most precious dream. I think I badly wanted to write books like the ones that so enchanted me as a child. And I wanted to live the life of a writer – or what I imagined a writer’s life would be like! I think this dream came from Enid Blyton’s autobiography ‘My Life’ which has lots of pictures of her sitting under a tree in a beautiful garden, typing away, a dog at her feet, servants quietly about their business in the background. Sigh. I’d still like that life!


A big thanks to Kate for inviting me be a part of this blog tour, for taking the time to answer my questions and for writing such an amazing book:)

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Need by Carrie Jones

From Amazon: Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect Facebook friends. It's little wonder, since she's had a fairly rough life. Her father left when she was a baby, her stepfather just died and her mother's almost given up - in fact, she's sent her to live with her grandmother in cold and sleepy Maine to 'keep Zara safe'. Zara doesn't think she's in danger; she thinks her mother just can't cope. Zara's wrong. The man she sees everywhere - the tall, creepy guy who points at her from the side of the road - is not a figment of her imagination. He's a pixie. But not the cute, sweet kind with little wings. Maine's got a whole assortment of unbelievable creatures. And they seem to need something - something from Zara...

I really, really enjoyed this. The writing was really easy to fall into and I loved the main character Zara. She came across as very likable and while you could really feel her loss at the beginning of the story you gradually got to see her strength shine through. The other characters were also great, especially her grandmother Betty and her friend Issie. Nick was also rather gorgeous in a very alpha male kind of way and I really enjoyed his interactions with Zara.

The mythology was excellent. It felt really fresh and I loved the whole concept of the Pixies. Yes, it was a bit predicable in places and at times I found myself frustrated that the characters didn’t work out the things I found glaringly obvious. But I find this happens often in this type of novel and I do think the characters need to have a certain amount of denial for it to feel realistic.

The ending is really good – the action really picks up towards the end and I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know what would happen! I am really looking forward to the next book Captivate. Need has really set a high standard for me and if the series continues to be as good as this it has the potential to be one of my favourite series.

Monday 15 February 2010

Cover Wars: The Agency by Y S Lee

I really like both of these but there is just something that catches my eye with the US one. It really appeals to me:)


Which do you prefer?

Saturday 13 February 2010

In my mailbox (26)

In my mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

This week I bought:

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
CLASSIFIED ADS: RESTAURANTS SANGUINI''S: A VERY RARE RESTAURANT IS HIRING A CHEF DE CUISINE. DINNERS ONLY. APPLY IN PERSON BETWEEN 2:00 AND 4:00 PM. Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses — or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? TANTALIZE marks Cynthia Leitich Smith’s delicious debut as a preeminent author of dark fantasy.

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith
At last, Miranda is the life of the party: all she had to do was die. Elevated and adopted by none other than the reigning King of the Mantle of Dracul, Miranda goes from high-school theater wannabe to glamorous royal fiend overnight. Meanwhile, her reckless and adoring guardian angel, Zachary, demoted to human guise as the princess's personal assistant, has his work cut out for him trying to save his girl's soul and plan the Master's fast-approaching Death Day gala. In alternating points of view, Miranda and Zachary navigate a cut-throat eternal aristocracy as they play out a dangerous and darkly hilarious love story for the ages.

Nobody's Girl by Sarra Manning
Bea thinks she's the most boring seventeen-year-old in the world. She's not pretty or popular or funny, unlike her mother who had Bea when she was 17. The only glamorous thing about Bea is the French father who left before she was born and lives in Paris. She yearns for la vie Parisienne every moment of her dull existence. So when Ruby Davies, the leader of her school's most elite clique picks Bea as her new best friend and asks her to go on holiday with them, she's wary but delighted. If nothing else it's two weeks away from her over-protective mother . But when the gang arrive in Spain, Bea is crushed to realise that Ruby and her posse have simply been using her. Bea wreaks vengeance on her so-called friends, and plans to decamp to Paris to find her father. But when she falls asleep on the train and wakes up in Bilbao, she meets a group of American students who are backpacking around Europe and bonds with them straight away, especially the gorgeous Toph, who helps heal Bea's hurting heart. And though Bea has a shock in store when they finally get to Paris, the 'City of Lovers ' really works it magic on Bea and Toph, who spend a week wandering the sun-dappled streets of Paris, talking, holding hands and falling in love. When it comes time to go home to confront her Mum about her mysterious father, the new version of Bea is determined that she 'll never go back to her old, boring way of life - she's no longer Nobody's Girl; she belongs to herself and to Toph...But with an ocean between them, will he wait for her?

The Naughty List by Suzanne Young (US publication - I am really looking forward to this one)
As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn’t enough responsibility! Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty! When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe? The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?

A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker (US publication - have read it and it is hilarious!)
When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: Jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer. Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (US publication)
Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.

How did you all do?

Winner: Auf Wiebersehen Giveaway

Thank you to everyone who entered. Random Org has spoken and the winner is:

Jenny @ Wondrous Reads

Your book will be with you shortly:)

Thursday 11 February 2010

I want to read that...

Dreaming of Amelia by Jaclyn Moriarty
From Amazon: Amelia and Riley have transferred to Ashbury for their final year of school, and everyone is completely obsessed with them. Glamorous, talented and totally devoted to one another, the two of them drift through school in their own world. But there's more to the couple than meets the eye - they have secrets. And some of them are dangerous to share. As Riley starts to lose his grip on Amelia, the repercussions affect everyone around them.

A spellbinding story about ghosts, secrets, madness, passion, locked doors, femme fatales, and that terrifying moment in the final year of high school when you realise that the future’s coming to get you.

This is published April 2010 and I'm really looking forward to reading it. I also love the cover:)

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Nearly Departed by Rook Hastings

Review copy: HarperCollins Children's Books, Published 4 Feb

"I've seen a ghost," said Emily. "Well, not seen one exactly. Heard one. At least, I think I have!" Everything has a rational explanation. Unless it doesn't. Welcome to Weirdsville... Woodsville is not like other towns. Night falls a little earlier there, the shadows are darker and denser, and everyone knows it's a place where strange things happen. Even if they won't admit it. Bethan would prefer to be anywhere but here. Jay has his theories, but isn't ready to share. Hashim sees more than he'll say, while Kelly's demons are all too flesh and blood. But Emily's freak-out brings them out of denial and face to face with the supernatural. Anywhere else, Friday night would be date night. But not in Weirdsville!

I love ghost stories so I was really looking forward to reading this one. It did take a while to grab me but once it did I really enjoyed it. It was very quick, easy to read and even though I usually prefer first person narrative I really liked how it was written in third person as we got to spend time with each of the characters. They were the highlight for me and were where the story really came into itself. There were some great interactions between all the characters and their banter provided some really funny moments.

I also enjoyed the world of ‘Weirdsville’ – lots of supernatural creepiness that kept me interested in the mystery. How scary it is I can’t tell you – unfortunately I have a high threshold when it comes to horror stories, but there were some really good twists and turns I didn’t see coming!

The ending was great and set up the next in the series well. Overall I enjoyed it. In places it did read as if aimed at a younger audience but the content seemed more suited to an older readership. Some may be slightly put off because of this but, for me, the banter and character interactions, as well as the strength of the mystery more than made up for it. I am looking forward to the next instalment of what promises to be a fun and creepy series.

Monday 8 February 2010

Cover Wars: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter

This time I think they are very similar and like them both but the UK one just has a little more appeal for me:)


What do you think?


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