Tuesday 30 November 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

For review: Puffin.  Published 2 December 2010
From Goodreads:In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

I found this one really thought provoking!  I kept asking myself what I would do if I were Cassia -  if I found myself in this world where all our choices are made for us.

We first meet Cassia on the night of her Matching banquet - a night where her 'ideal mate'  is revealed to her.  But later that evening, she sees a different face appear on her matching screen and suddenly the world she has always trusted shifts.  Now she starts to question the society and all the choices that are made for her...

I loved Ally Condie's writing style.  There is something very beautiful about it and it really held my interest.  The story and style is not action packed and intense - but there is something very gripping about it.  I found I didn't want to stop reading - I wanted to get to know Cassia more and more.  What was really interesting for me was how Cassia grew.  I loved watching her start to realise that she should make choices - that not everything about the society is as good as she thought it was.  The rose tinted glasses definitely come off so to speak! 

I found the whole premise for this book really intriguing.  The society has so much control over every aspect of peoples lives.  Everything is monitored and enforced by them.  What you eat, what you do, who you are partnered with, how many children you should have.  They even control when you die!   It is scary when you think about it too much because of how possible it potentially feels.   How can you fight something that is that powerful?  And even more chilling is the acceptance - that the characters take it all for granted because they don't know any different - they don't realise they should be questioning it!

The characterisation was superb.  I loved Cassia's family - especially her grandfather.  And, of course, Ky and Xander were great.  I could honestly understand what Cassia saw in them both.  And although I wasn't disappointed with the love triangle - both boys are wonderful -  I think I may be rooting for the wrong one!  I guess time will tell!

I'm really looking forward to seeing where Ally Condie is taking us.  I get the feeling it will be an impressive journey and I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Monday 29 November 2010

Author Interview: Jenny Downham

Jenny Downham is the author of the amazing Before I Die and the soon to be released You Against Me - which is published 2 December.  As a massive fan of both books I am absolutely thrilled she agreed to answer some of my questions...


What made you decide to write You Against Me?
I was contracted to write a second book for my publisher, but actually knew very little when I started writing. I had a few ideas, but they were abstract, theoretical, as if I knew the tone of the piece, but nothing else.

I always use free writing techniques when I start a new project. This is a bit like improvising in theatre – throwing words down and not planning anything in advance. Most of it goes in the bin, but the strongest themes and voices keep returning.

After months of this, I began to know more. I was haunted by a small seaside town, by a girl called Karyn who alleged something terrible had happened to her and by her brother, Mikey who was out for revenge.

What kind of research did you need to do for the book?
I interviewed criminal lawyers, social workers, family support workers and police officers. I watched court cases and read lots of books.

The research really grounded the novel, but it slowed me down a lot too. All the people I needed to talk to were busy professionals, some of whom charge a fortune for ten minutes of their time and I was asking if they would talk to me for hours for free!

I Love how you tell the story from both Ellie and Mikey’s point of view. What made you decide to do this and was one easier to write for than the other?
I initially started writing the book in Karyn’s voice. But she was unreliable, often unwilling and mostly silent! I knew she’d been assaulted after a party, but she wouldn’t tell me the details. Instead, she introduced me to her older brother, Mikey. Then she sat on the sofa, covered herself with a duvet and refused to tell me anything else.

Mikey took over the narrative. In fact he ran with it. He was determined to avenge his sister and all I had to do was follow him. I loved writing as him, because he was a mass of contradictions – he’d left school with limited prospects, yet was hugely ambitious. The main carer for his family, he also managed to juggle a complicated love life. Bright, but often inarticulate, he had an innate distrust of authority, yet his family were dependent on police and social workers for support.

So, imagine my surprise when about a year into the project, a second voice appeared! Ellie was sixteen and recently moved into the area. It was her brother who was being accused of assaulting Karyn, and Ellie certainly seemed to know a lot more than she was saying about what had happened.

Now that I had two voices, a more complex narrative began to emerge - a story about truth, about looking at someone you know really well and wondering what they’re hiding. It also became a love story. A bit Romeo and Julietish - loving someone forbidden. A bit Hamlet - something rotten in your own family.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book you can share?
My favourite scene to write was the one at the river where Ellie dares Mikey to swim. The final version is almost the same as the first draft, which rarely happens to me, but it just seemed to flow off of the page.

The scene I am most proud of is the one where Ellie goes to the police station, because it was difficult to research and almost impossible to write. I wanted to show what really happened to Karyn without being titillating in any way. I wanted the reader to sympathise with Ellie, despite the circumstances she describes. I wanted it to be legally accurate and also page turning and I wanted to encourage the reader to sit in Ellie’s position and ask themselves what they might have done differently.

Both Before I Die and You Against Me deal with very emotional and powerful issues. What was the most challenging part of writing them?
The common advice to writers is to write what you know – but I knew nothing about terminal cancer or about sexual assault and so, for me, it was the research that was the greatest challenge. After that, it was owning the material – feeling as if I had the ‘right’ to tell these stories.

The final scenes were hard to write in Before I Die, because it’s a first person present tense narrative and Tessa is narrating her own death.

With You Against Me, I wanted every characters’ actions to be motivated, so that readers would be able to put themselves in anyone’s shoes and find something to relate to. I didn’t want any character to be wholly bad or impossible to understand. I wanted the readers’ loyalties to shift. That was very challenging.

What authors/books did you love when you were growing up? Did any of these inspire you to become a writer yourself?
Favourite books, Mmm… As a young reader I devoured poetry, folk and fairy tales (Grimm, Andersen), and stories from the Arabian Nights and Ancient Greece. I loved Ann Holm (I Am David) and Robert C.O’Brien (Z for Zachariah) – my first realisation that I could be utterly transported by words on a page.

I had a fantastic teacher at secondary school who used to hand me books in the corridor – D.H.Lawrence, Gunter Grass, Jane Austen. He introduced me to poets – Dylan Thomas, John Donne, Keats, R.S.Thomas, Auden. He also spoke to the librarian and I was allowed to take out books that were clearly marked as being for older children. On my first visit, I chose Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and D.H.Lawrence’s ‘The Rainbow,’ both of which have a very special place in my heart.

I always wrote even as a very young child, so I guess you could say that these early books inspired me.

What is a typical writing day like for you? Are there any ‘must-haves’ you need before you sit down to write?
I write every week day when my kids are at school, and again once they’re in bed and I sometimes manage to snatch a few hours over the weekend. I consider myself full-time. But then I also consider myself a full-time parent, so I’m not quite sure how that tallies…

The only ‘must-haves’ are my kitchen timer and hot strong coffee. I set the timer for ten/twenty minutes and write. I do this over and over again to generate material. All the while swigging the coffee!

Eventually (after weeks), I put it in scene order (chopping bad stuff) and edit with a machete until it’s a tenth of itself. I write the whole foundation of a novel like this. It’s great for when you think you have nothing, because you can get some wonderful phrases and some surprising characters and action. Loads of rubbish too. But ultimately you will familiarise yourself with your own story, see possibilities, get insights, resonances. When this is done, I move to stage two which is about revision/crafting.

What’s next for you? Are you working on something new?
I’ve started free writing book three, but have no idea where it will take me. Inspiration comes from everywhere. I watch the world for stories in a very energised way - newspapers, overheard conversations, etc, anything can be used. I don’t like knowing in advance. I never plan a structure. I like surprises. I’m quite disciplined and sit at my desk every day and just write.


Thanks Jenny!  I love that Mikey took over the narrative!  And I loved that river scene too - it's one of my favourite scenes in the book!

My review for You Against Me will be posted on 2 December:)

Friday 26 November 2010

Review and Giveaway: Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald (Amulet Books)

For review: Amulet Books. Published 1 November 2010
From Amazon: Three friends spend an unforgettable snow day in their Brooklyn apartment building, making and distributing fortune cookies to their lonely neighbors -- and confronting the secrets that they've been keeping from each other. Confident Kate doesn't notice much but the latest gossip, and shy Georgia can't say out loud what's always on her mind. They make homemade fortune cookies along with bubbly Olivia, whose epic, single-minded crush on PBJ (real name: Phillip Becker-Jacobs) is starting to frustrate the other two. Using specially-targeted fortune cookies, they try to work together to bring some love to their building on Valentine's Day, while reminding each other why they're such good friends to begin with.

Like My Life in Pink and Green, Lisa Greenwald delivers a cute and enjoyable read.

This time the story is told by three main characters - Olivia, Kate and Georgia. The three girls have been friends forever, but lately they haven't been getting along as well as they use too. Over the course of the day they each learn a valuable lesson about themselves and each other.

I really liked all the three characters. They are all very different, and each had their own story to tell. You can easily see why they are friends but also understand why they are having difficulties - they come across as real people with real insecurities. I really liked that. I found it really endearing watching them remind themselves why they are such great friends.

I loved the setting for this - there is just something really exciting about living in an apartment building! I loved the way all the friends lived in the same building and I liked the idea behind the fortune cookies and handing them out to all the residents - such a great way to meet characters and find out snippets of their lives. There also seemed to be magic attached to the fortune cookies - there are times when the fortunes are really spot on!

I really like Lisa Greenwald's writing style. She makes me care about the characters and gradually increases my interest in the story. I seem to find myself becoming completely glued to the story and can't wait to find out what happens. I love that her stories have a feel good factor - you know they will end happily so you enjoy the journey!

This is a great story for Middle grade / tween readers, or readers wanting their first teen read. It's super cute - and I really fancied a fortune cookie after reading it!

I have 3 copies of Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald, published by Amulet Books to giveaway. 

The contest is open to everyone - there will be 1 international winner and 2 UK winners. 
Closing date is 12 December.
You don't have to be a follower to enter.

Good luck:)

This giveaway is now closed. The winners will be notified shortly.

Thursday 25 November 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

I've decided to take part in The Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge!  For more information or to sign up yourself check out this post.

So, here are the books I'm thinking of reading for the challenge:

1: Entangled by Cat Clarke
2: Across the Universe by Beth Revis
3: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
4: The Demon Trappers: Forsaken by Jana Oliver
5: Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison
6: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
7: The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder
8: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
9: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
10: Clarity by Kim Harrington
11: Rival by Sara Bennett-Wealer
12: Saving June by Hannah Harrington
13: Possession by Elana Johnson

There are just so many great books to choose from! I can't wait to get started:)

Books read for the challenge:

1: Entangled by Cat Clarke
2: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
3: Being Billy by Phil Earle
4: Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling
5: Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
6: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
7: Across The Universe by Beth Revis
8: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
9: The Demon Trappers: Forsaken by Jana Oliver
10: Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
11: Siren by Ricia Rayburn
12: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
13: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
14: Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison
15: Forgotten by Cat Patrick
16: Fury by Elizabeth Miles
17: Clarity by Kim Harrington
18: Hunting Lila by Sara Alderson
19: Shelter by Harlan Coben (YA debut)
20: Dark Ride by Caroline Green
21: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
22: Dirvergent by Veronica Roth

UPDATE:  Completed (Yay!)

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Author Interview: Kate Kaynak

Kate Kaynak is the author of the Ganzfield series. Minder is the first book in the series (my review is here) and Adversary is the second.

She kindly took the time to answer a few of my questions...


What was the inspiration behind Minder and the Ganzfield series?

Minder started as a thought experiment. I'd recently completed reading the Sookie Stackhouse books and the Twilight saga, and I realized both series had telepathic characters who could only fall in love if they met someone whose thoughts they COULDN'T read. I started to consider what kind of a person a telepath COULD love…as well as what kind of a person wouldn't mind being in a relationship with someone who knew their every thought.

I love all the different psychic abilities. What kind of research did you do for the novel?

Most of the special abilities found in the Ganzfield world are found in parapsychology, which is a fringe area of psychological research. I used a few books like Reading the Enemy's Mind to learn more about the U.S. government's former psychic spy program: Project Star Gate (yes, it really existed). I also looked into historical claims of special abilities such as those of William Underwood; he was the first person to claim to have pyrokinesis, the ability to control fire. I've got a background in psychology, so I drew on that to work out how to enhance and control special abilities in the brain. The settings are real places in New Jersey and New Hampshire. Oh, and I named most of the bad guys after ex-boyfriends.

I adored Trevor! Do you have a favourite character from the series – or one you find it easier to write for?

I love writing from Maddie's point-of-view, and I have a major book-crush on Trevor that my husband only tolerates because Trevor's partially based on him. The romance was a delight to write, since the emotions of a sixteen-year-old in love for the first time were so intense. Beyond that, I simply adore Drew; he cracks me up.

If the Ganzfield books were made into a TV series or Movie who would be your ideal cast?

I've only cast two people in my head.

Dr. Williamson would be played by James Pickens, Jr.:


Trevor would be played by Steven R. McQueen:


How many books are planned for the series? Can you give us any hints on what’s in store for the characters?

There are six books in this plot arc. I'm writing book 5 now and have the outline for #6. I may do a seventh from Seth's point-of-view, since his story diverges from Maddie's in the later books, and there's a character coming in book 4 who might narrate a book later on, as well. As for hints, the names of the later books give a few clues:

#4: Accused
#5: Operative
#6: Soulmate

What inspired you to become a writer?

I've been a voracious reader since I was six years old, and I started writing short pieces in high school and at Yale. The Ganzfield books aren't the first novels I've written--but they're the first GOOD novels I've written.

What is a typical writing day like for you? Do you have any ‘must-haves’ before you can start?

I have three kids under age six at home, so I do most of my writing after they’ve gone to sleep at night. I also have a playlist of songs that put me into the Ganzfield world, including Gary Jules' version of Mad World, Scissor Sisters' Fire with Fire, Muse's MK Ultra, Velvet Chain's Strong, Glenridge's Angels, and Regina Spektor's Fidelity.

Are there any YA books you would recommend? Perhaps something you have read recently that completely blew you away.

There's SO much great stuff out there these days, including some amazing series! I'm currently catching up with Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires--start with Glass Houses. In the past year...Scott Westerfield's Uglies, Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games, Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Garcia & Stohl's Beautiful Creatures, Kristen Cashore's Graceling, Holly Black's White Cat, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey, and Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. Keep an eye out for Jennifer L. Armentrout's Half-Blood; I loved the manuscript enough to pitch it at Spencer Hill--it comes out in September of 2011. Those are the stand-outs.


Thanks Kate! I love that you use your ex-boyfriends names as the villains! Classic! And I love your pick for Trevor - it's just as I pictured him!

You can find Kate at the following places:

Her Website
Her Blog
Ganzfield Website

And here's the trailer for Minder:

Monday 22 November 2010

I want to read that...

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

From Goodreads: Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could.

I'm REALLY looking forward to this one. Not only do I love the cover but it's Elizabeth Scott!  Enough said!

It's published by Simon Pulse 24 May 2011.

Friday 19 November 2010

Minder by Kate Kaynak

For Review: Kate Kaynak.  Published 18 June 2010
Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place. Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control. A stray thought can burn a building to the ground. And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads. But it's still better than New Jersey--especially once she meets the man of her dreams...

The premise for this one really appealed to me – I love anything to do with psychic abilities so this fits the bill perfectly.

After a traumatic incident Maddie begins realises that she may be different to other people. When she meets Dr Williamson and is asked to attend Granzfield she begins to realise just how different she is. But she’s not the only one...

All of the characters in this are wonderful. Maddie really grew on me – she has great inner strength as well as a strong moral compass. I absolutely adored Trevor – he is really sweet and caring and I really enjoyed the romance that develops between the two of them. It does get a bit mushy in places – but it's the kind that left a big goofy smile on my face so I’m not complaining! I also really liked the relationship between Maddie and Dr Williamson – there is obvious affection there and I really enjoyed their interactions. I also liked Seth – he comes off as a bit annoying at times but I’m really interested to see how he features in the future. The rest of the ‘gang’ are fun – and you get to know them all pretty well and there is definitely room for some interesting stories for them all.

I thought the storyline was really good and completely held my interest. It does get quite dark in places and there are some scenes that are uneasy to read – but they ground the story and give it a sense of authenticity. There is also some humour to even it out which works really well and makes the book fun to read. Minder does feel a bit of a world builder for the series, but it also has a great plot in itself. The scenes at the end had me tense and holding my breath - they were superbly written and it really sets up the story and the ‘gang’ for future

I’m really looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Not only am wanting more Maddie and Trevor but I have my suspicions on where Maddie gets her gifts so I am really excited to read more to see if I am correct! A great start to what I believe will be a really addictive series!

Thursday 18 November 2010

I want to read that... (Atom 2011 highlights)

This is a special edition of my I want to read that... post. Atom have some amazing releases in the first half of 2011 so I thought I would share them with you...

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Published 20 January.  This one looks AWESOME and I've been hearing great things.  Can't wait to get stuck in!

Rosebush by Michelle Jaffe
This one hits the shelves 3 March - VERY excited about this one.  It's a departure from the supernatural titles that are on Atom's list so far and it sounds as if it will be amazing!

Halo by Alexandro Adornetto
How much do I love the cover for this one?  And it sounds sooo good!  It's published January.

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
This is published 12 April - and the cover is lovely and shiny - VERY pretty.  I believe it's set in the same world as the author's Darkest Powers series so it's definitely one to watch out for!

One Seriously Mess Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite by Tom Clempson.
This one sounds like great fun!  Pitched as Louise Rennison for boys - sounds awesome if you ask me.  Published in June.

I couldn't find covers pictures for the following books- but I found a couple of trailers to catch your attention... :)

Chasers by James Phelan
The first in a trilogy and published June - with the second to follow in August and the third in October.  Sounds like one for fans of The Hunger Games or Gone.

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
This is also to be a Movie and the book is more of a collaboration than a novelisation - the film trailer looks AMAZING so I am now doubly excited! This is published February.

and finally

Lois Duncan Reissues:
I ADORED Lois Duncan when I was a teen and am super excited they are re-releasing her books.  First up are I Know What You Did Last Summer,  Don't Look Behind You and Killing Mr Griffin.  Apparently they have all been updated slightly by the author so they are fresh for a new generation to enjoy!  They are published March, April and May.  Hopefully my favourite,  The Eyes of Karen Conner (aka The Third Eye) will be getting a re-release soon too - I love that book!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

For review: Netgalley.  Published 15 November

From Goodreads:  Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.

Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right.

The goblins are coming

This one really caught my attention. Kersten Hamilton infuses it with Irish mythology and creates a really tense and action-packed story.

The book worked for me on so many levels. It has great mythology and brilliant characters - I think it was here that Hamilton excelled. I loved them all and really liked the family atmosphere she creates. Teagan was interesting as the main character – very easy to like and comes across as intelligent and kind – and of course I loved Finn Mac Cumhaill! At first he’s quite mysterious but as the book progresses more and more is revealed about him. I also adored Aiden and his relationship with his sister - Super sweet! And Abby was great fun – I definitely want more of her in the next book.

The mythology feels fresh and different. I loved everything about it – and it really does have some very tense and scary moments. Cat-sidhes are now forever etched in my brain as rather terrifying! There are also some standout action scenes and moments when I found myself completely gripped by everything that was happening. It’s one of those books that I found hard to put down – I wanted to finish it in one sitting. All of this is grounded by the characters - their banter is fun and the basis for some really witty moments.

There is a time jump about 100 pages in that makes the book feels as if it’s split into two parts. The first ‘half’ concentrates on building the world and characters - which may make the story hard to get into for some. However, I felt this paid off in the second half of the book – and I loved how all the pieces fitted together in the end. Everything we learn in that first half makes all that happens afterwards work – so it’s definitely worth it. And the second ‘half’ really hits the grown running – it really took me by surprise in its change of pace and sense of urgency. This was when I found myself really not wanting to put it down!

My only complaint is I found the slight time jump jarring. Because of what happens in the scene before it I found myself still dealing with that when the characters had already moved on. It made it feel as if the characters were not as upset as they should be – but it does move the story to where it needs to be.

I’m really looking forward to the next installment. I want to get back into the world Hamilton has created – and (unsurprisingly) I really want more time with Finn!

Monday 15 November 2010

Cover Wars: Inside Out

I'm really looking forward to reading Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder when it's released in the UK in January and I absolutely LOVE the UK cover - Mira really out did themselves I think - I really love the font for the title and the image is very eyecatching. So, I'm definitely voting for the UK cover this week - but I do like the US one and the way she's ripping through the cover.


Which do you prefer?

Saturday 13 November 2010

In My Mailbox (65)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

This was such a great week!  I went to London on Tuesday to Atom  for a blogger party - It was a great day (I also couldn't resist having a *quick* look in Waterstone's in Piccadilly) and I got some great books - and there were cupcakes!

Gorgeous and very yummy....

For anyone interested in hearing more about the blogger's party check out Sarah's Event Report for all the details:)

Now, the books....

The lovely team at Atom gave us a goodie bag:

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Rosebush by Michelle Jaffe

I also picked up copies of the New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn in their amazing white covers. There are absolutely gorgeous! And I picked up a copy of Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink which I have been meaning to read for ages.

A MASSIVE thanks to the team at Atom :)

For review:
Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen - Thanks to Puffin for this one:)

Fade by Lisa McMann
Gone by Lisa McMann
A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
Getting the Girl by Susan Juby
A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams

Hope you all had a great week:)

Friday 12 November 2010

I want to read that...

But I Love Him by Amanda Grace

From Goodreads:  Tonight was so much worse than anything before it.

Tonight he didn't stop after the first slap.

At the beginning of senior year, Ann was a smiling, straight-A student and track star with friends and a future. Then she met a haunted young man named Connor. Only she can heal his emotional scars; only he could make her feel so loved-and needed. Ann can't recall the pivotal moment it all changed, when she surrendered everything to be with him, but by graduation, her life has become a dangerous high wire act. Just one mistake could trigger Connor's rage, a senseless storm of cruel words and violence damaging everything-and everyone-in its path.

This evocative slideshow of flashbacks reveals a heartbreaking story of love gone terribly wrong.

I've already read some great reviews for this one.  Amanda Grace is a pen name for Mandy Hubbard, the author of Prada and Prejudice and You Wish.  She also has Ripple being released next year which I can't wait to read.

But I Love Him is published by Flux, May 8th 2011.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Cover to Covet (7)

I LOVE book covers. Love, love love them. So I decided to make it a regular post - each post featuring a cover I love.

Abandon by Meg Cabot

I LOVE this cover!  I love the design on the corners, and the way the image of the girl continues to the back.  It's officially my favourite Meg Cabot cover and I can't wait to get my hands on it!  Just check out the synopsis - doesn't it sound AMAZING?

Meg Cabot's Website: 
She knows what it's like to die. Now Death wants her back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce knows what happens to us when we die.

That's how she met John Hayden, the mysterious stranger who's made returning to normal life—or at least life as Pierce knew it before the accident—next to impossible.

Though she thought she escaped him—starting a new school in a whole new place—it turns out she was wrong. He finds her.

What does John want from her? Pierce thinks she knows... just like she knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven. But she can't stay away from him, either, especially since he's always there when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she might find herself back in the place she fears the most.

And when Pierce discovers the shocking truth, that’s exactly where John sweeps her:

The Underworld.

*Jacket image taken from Meg Cabots Website

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Out For Blood by Alyxandra Harvey

For Review: Bloomsbury.  Published 1 November 2010
From Goodreads:  Hunter Wild is the youngest in a long line of elite vampire hunters, a legacy that is both a blessing and a curse at the secret Helios-Ra Academy, where she excels at just about everything. Thanks to her friendship with Kieran Black, Hunter receives a special invitation to attend the coronation of Helena Drake, and for the first time, she sees the difference between vampires that must be hunted and vampires that can become friends—or even more. When students at the academy fall victim to a mysterious illness, Hunter suspects they are under attack from within. She will need someone she can trust to help her save the future of Helios-Ra . . . help that shockingly comes in the form of Quinn Drake, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire. Who said senior year would be easy?

As many of you know I am a big fan of this series - they are great fun and this one is no exception. 

Taking the same format as the previous books in the series, the narration is split between the two main characters.  This time Quinn is the Drake brother of choice - but it's really Hunter's story.  She is a student at the Helios-Ras Academy and comes from a family of vampire hunters.  I liked her straight away.  She comes across as dependant, strong and kind. Quinn is a bit of a 'ladies man' but immensely likeable - although I think Nicholas is still my favourite brother!   I'm glad we get to catch up with him and Lucy, as well as Solange, Kieran, Logan and Isabeau.  I also really liked Connor (Quinn's Twin) and am hoping to see more of him in future installments.

The story in this one moved away from the Drake family and is instead centered around the Helios-Ra Academy.  There is a bit of a mystery to solve and Hunter finds herself in the middle of it.  I really enjoyed it, although I thought Hunter was a bit too trusting at times.  But it is all great fun and I raced through the book to find out what happens.  My only complaint is I would have liked more resolution to Hunter's more personal storyline - but perhaps this will be explored at a later date in future novels.

Harvey has created a great world with these books and I just love the Drake brothers.  I'm not sure I will ever tire of reading about of them.  There is definitely the potential for many more in the series and I can't wait to read the next one.  Unfortunately, it's not published until next year but I'm sure it will be worth the wait:)

Monday 8 November 2010

Review and Giveaway: Angel by L.A. Weatherly

From Goodreads:  In a world where angels are beyond redemption, Alex thinks he's found one that might deserve mercy. Alex is a ruthless assassin - of angels. Forget everything you've heard about them before. Angels are not benign celestial creatures, but fierce stalkers whose irresistible force allows them to feed off humans, draining them of their vitality until there is barely anything left. As far as Alex is concerned, the only good angel is a dead angel...until he meets Willow. She may look like a normal teenager but Willow is no ordinary girl. Half-angel, half-human, Willow may hold the key to defeating the evil angels. But as the hunter and the hunted embark on an epic and dangerous journey and Willow learns the dark and terrifying secrets of her past, Alex finds himself drawn to Willow...with devastating consequences. Eoin Colfer reinvented the fairy, Stephenie Meyer reinvented the vampire, L.A. Weatherly reinvents the angel! This is a heart-pounding, knuckle-whitening, paranormal romance action-adventure for fans of the "Twilight" series. This is the first in a devastating new trilogy.

To say I loved this book would be a massive understatement.  It completely and utterly blew me away! I just loved everything about it, and yes, Alex is definitely a major plus!

The story follows Alex and Willow.  Alex has been raised as an AK (or Angel Killer) and, as such, knows the truth about Angels.  They are really feeding off human energy, draining them until there is nothing left, and must be stopped.  But when Alex is sent information to kill Willow he is confused - because Willow is not like any Angel he's met before - she's also human...

I really liked how the story alternates between Willow and Alex.  I've said in the past I really enjoy this style of narration and it works really well here.  It's easy to distinguish between the two voices - helped by the authors switch from first person narratiive for Willow to a third person narration for Alex's parts of the story.  I loved both characters from the get-go.  Alex has that 'Dean Winchester' thing going for him - or at least he did for me.  I spent a great portion of this novel itching to watch my Supernatural DVD's- but the book was too good to put down so I easily resisted!  He's just... I can't quite put my finger on it but I just adored him.  And Willow was a character that had me rooting for her right from the start.  Really likeable, caring and strong.  I could also picture the two of them together - so it was very easy for me to buy into their relationship as it progresses.

Weatherly has a very accessible writing style and a skill for writing both high action scenes and slower, more character driven ones.  I was suprised by how much story is packed in to this book.  There's loads of action, an epic love story and the mythology is just brilliant!  The whole thing is such an adrenaline rush!  So much happens that I just didn't see coming - I spent large portions of the book going 'Whoa!'or 'OMG!' and then the rest sighing (Te Amos Alex!) because the romance is soooo good! 

I apologise for the rather fan-girl review but I really can't recommend this one highly enough!   I can't wait for the next in the series -  role on June!


Have I convinced you?  Well, I have a signed copy up for grabs:)

It says 'Congratulations on winning!  LA Weatherly'

If you want to enter just fill in the form below.  Contest is open to everyone and the deadline for entries is 18 November 2010.  Good Luck:-)

This giveaway is now closed. The winner will be contacted shortly.

Saturday 6 November 2010

In My Mailbox (64)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (White Edition)
I looovvee the white versions of these covers!  I am so going to have to get the whole set now...
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (TV Tie In Edition)
I'm really looking forward to reading this one - the TV series is fab!  I love the TV tie in cover too:)

Thanks to Atom for sending both of these for review:)

Hope you all had a great book week:)

Thursday 4 November 2010

I want to read that...

Born at Midnight by C C Hunter

From Goodreads: Kylie Galen has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap. Her parents are getting a divorce. Her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn’t put out. Her grandmother died and now Kylie’s acquired a stalker. Unfortunately, she’s the only one who seems to be able to see the stalker. And that gets her sent to a psychologist’s sofa.

The kooky psychologist gets Kylie sent to Shadow Falls Camp. Kylie and her parents think it’s a camp for troubled teens.

They thought wrong.

It’s a camp of supernaturals: vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shape shifters. And if she believes the camp leader, Kylie is one of them, too.

Just because she’s seeing ghosts, just because she was born at midnight, does that really mean she’s not human? And if so, what is she? Not even the other supernaturals can tell her.

As Kylie attempts to cope with the realization that these creatures actually exist, and that she might even be one of them, the ever present stalker/ghost appears to have secrets that could unravel the mystery of Kylie’s identity and her destiny.

But getting a ghost to open up is as hard as getting a guy to talk about his feelings.

As Kylie struggles to find answers, two hot guys, a werewolf and a half-fairy vie for her attention. However, Kylie’s determined that before she lets her heart discover a new love, she needs to solve her indentify crisis and unearth the truth of her destiny.

I love the sound of this one!  It's published March 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

For Review:  Puffin.  Published 28 October 2010
From Goodreads:  Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

I loved this!  Picking up the story where we left it with Beautiful Creatures, we find Ethan and Lena trying to deal with the aftermath of her birthday.  When Lena starts to pull away from Ethan he doesn't understand why, but when it looks like Lena is in trouble he does everything he can to help her...

I really liked Ethan in Beautiful Creatures but I absolutely adored him in this one.  The whole book was really his story and his journey to make sense of the supernatural world he has suddenly found himself in.  He really steps up to the plate and I loved his loyalty and courage. For me, his is voice is the anchor to this series, and through him we get to watch all the events unfold and interact with all the amazing characters.

Amma and Link are back and on fine form.  We also get more Marian, and the introduction of a new character Liv.  I really like her and thought she was a great addition.  Unfortunately, we get less Lena but because this is more Ethan's story I didn't find it too much of an issue.  I did miss her presence and the connection they had in Beautiful Creatures but that added to the pull of the story - I wanted them to get it back.

This is much more of an adventure than Beautiful Creatures.  The pacing and plotting is brilliant - I found myself really surprised with a number of revelations and, unlike Beautiful Creatures,  I did not lose track of anything that was going on.  What I really enjoyed was that as the reader I knew what had happened the night of Lena's Birthday whereas Ethan did not.  I couldn't wait for him to find out - but it also meant I understood Lena's actions even when he didn't.  I liked that Lena had trouble dealing with her choice - it make the story much more honest and gives it an emotional reality that paranormal stories need in order to make them believable.

I'm really interested to see what direction the authors take this now.  Considering the ending of this one I assume there will be another in the series - at least I hope there will be.  I am really invested in these character and love the world - I'm really looking forward to more.  A great continuation of what I hope will be many books in the series.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

From Goodreads: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

I really liked this one.  It's one of those stories that pulls you in with a slow building intensity that works superbly.  I loved that it was narrated by Ethan - not only did I really like him but having it told from his point of view insured the book caught my interest.  Other authors may have gone with the more obvious choice of having Lena narrate the story.

I really enjoyed all the mythology and having it set in the South.  It gave it an authentic feel and made the book incredibly atmospheric - with a kind of claustrophobic sense of life in a small town with everyone knowing everyone else's business. I don't want to say too much about the story because I went into it not really knowing much about it and I really enjoyed the mystery aspect - having to work it out alongside the characters.

My favourite aspect of the book is Ethan and Lena's budding relationship.  It is one of those intense attractions we've come to expect from this type of paranormal story but it also feels as if a gradual and genuine connection develops alongside this intensity.  I really liked both characters and am looking forward to seeing how their story progresses in Beautiful Darkness.

A minor complaint would be that I occasionally lost track of what was going on.  There were a couple of scenes that came across somewhat fragmented and I had trouble working out what was happening - even after a reread.  This didn't affect my enjoyment though - in some ways in added a bit more mystery to the proceedings - but it did interrupt the flow a little bit.

I adored the ending and it sets the next book up as a must read for me.  I am looking forward to immersing myself back into this world and spending time with these characters.  Can't wait!

Check back tomorrow for my review of Beautiful Darkness:)


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