Thursday 31 January 2013

Why I Write For Young Adults (Prey Blog Tour)

As part of the blog tour for The Prey, Andrew Fukuda's second book in his brilliant The Hunt Series, he has stopped buy to talk about why he writes for young adults...

Why (and a little of how) I write for young adults

It’s been said that there are generally two ways to write a YA novel: (1) voraciously read and learn the ropes of the YA genre, then pen a YA novel along specific subgenre conventions; or (2) write from the heart and be told (sometimes with wide-eyed disbelief) that you’ve written a YA novel.

There’s also a lesser-known third category, one which I’ll title (rather cumbersomely) the teens-make-for-great-protagonists category. Authors are always on the lookout for great protagonists, and teenagers typically come prepackaged with all kinds of awesomeness. I mean, think about the average teen. Filled with vulnerability and curiosity during a roller-coaster chapter of life, on a journey of self-identity and world-discovery while being assailed by hormones and peer pressure. That’s a topsy-turvy milieu. That’s horizons being discovered, that’s depths of the heart being plumbed. That’s grist for the mill. That’s a protagonist who sucks you in.

Of course, writing with a teenage protagonist is not always easy. Most YA authors are many years (if not decades!) removed from adolescence. To get the voice, the outlook, the persona of teenagers, right (and to avoid trying too hard) you need to reach deep into the memory banks. And because memory lane is not always pleasant, this journey back in time can be painful.

My adolescence was the best of times, it was the worst of times (Dickens was writing about high school, right?). Like most, my teenage years swung like a pendulum between the extremes of self-discovery and self-forfeiture, the latter of which happened whenever I was peer-squeezed into one of those false molds bandied about. Over the past couple of years as I’ve worked on The Hunt series, I’ve had to dredge up some pretty painful high school memories. But in the end I think it helped to flesh out Gene. He is, after all, the epitome of teenage angst – wanting to fit in and be accepted, to find his place even in a world wrought with uncertainty and rejection. By digging deep into my memories, I was able to flesh out a more layered and conflicted protagonist, and brought a level of authenticity to his world.

So why do I write young adult novels? In short, because young adults make for such fascinating protagonists. And the journey backwards and inwards makes the writing process ultimately worthwhile for the author as well, one which Socrates would approve. The life examined…
Thanks Andrew!

You can read my review for the first book in the series here.

The Prey was published 31 January 2013.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

I want to read that...

The Originals by Cat Patrick

From Goodreads: A riveting new story from Cat Patrick, author of Forgotten and Revived.

17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a de facto part of life...

Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.

I've really enjoyed both of Cat Patrick's previous novels so I am really excited to read this one!

The Originals is published in May 2013.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

For Review: Mira Ink
Published: 6 January 2013

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

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

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

Having absolutely loved Kagawa's Iron Fey series I couldn't wait to read this spin off featuring Ethan. And it definitely lived up to all my expectations!

While I admit it was a bit strange at first to have Ethan as a (rather hot!) teen after him only being a four year old in the previous series I quickly adapted. It was great to get back into the world Kagawa created in the previous series, with all my favourite characters making a return. In addition we get to meed some wonderful new characters, including Keirran and Kenzie, both of whom have their own interesting stories (I am definitely intrigued by how Kenzie's storyline will pan out!). Those who have read the novella Iron's Prophecy will have an insight into some of the things Ethan is trying to work out. I hadn't read it when I first started reading The Lost Prince but I admit I temporary put The Lost Prince down in order to read it - and I am glad I did - I think it gives you a better basis for some of the motivations in The lost Prince.

Julie Kagawa has become one of my favourite authors. I have loved everything she has written and I can't wait to read more. The Lost Prince is full of adventure, romance and magic. A winning combination!

Saturday 26 January 2013

Lauren Oliver in the UK!

In case you guys haven't heard - Lauren Oliver is coming to the UK in March for the publication of Requiem - the conclusion to her brilliant Delirium series - and she will be doing an event at Waterstones Piccadilly in London on Tuesday 19 March.

Full details are available at this link.

I don't know about you guys but I am super excited!!!! Hope to see you there:)

Friday 25 January 2013

Sangu Mandanna’s Top Ten Couples That Don’t Actually Exist

Joining us today is Sangu Mandanna - author of The Lost Girl.  She has stopped by to talk about her Top 10 Couples (that don't actually exist)...

‘Top Ten Couples That Don’t Actually Exist’

The Lost Girl is about all kinds of love. It’s about the love between a parent and a child, between a creator and a creation, between you and the person you’ve lost, between friends. It’s also about the other kind of love, the one that makes your heart beat faster and your skin go all tingly, the one that makes you blurt the most embarrassing things because you can’t help it and endure all kinds of difficulties because the alternative would be to leave the other person and you can’t do that.

I love stories about love. All kinds of love but, I have to admit, I do like stories about the swoony, heart-melting kind a little more. I particularly love the characters involved. If these characters are great and the chemistry is there, I’m sold. Some of my favourites involve YA books, some adult. My top ten?

1. Lochan and Maya from Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden
Forbidden is the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love. And also happen to be brother and sister. It doesn’t get any more star-crossed than this and the book is so beautifully written, the characters feel intensely real and, in spite of knowing perfectly well that the idea is just wrong, I wanted Lochan and Maya to be together. (And oh, what a bawl-fest this is!)

2. Lou and Will from Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You
Another one that compelled me to contribute to Kleenex’s profits. Will is crippled and doesn’t really want to live; super-cautious Lou becomes his carer and starts to discover how to live. Somehow this book is gritty, sweet, realistic and sexy all at once. Lou’s transformation over the course of the book is incredible, and it’s all down to Will, and the ending… oh, the ending.

3. Sloane and Rhys from Courtney Summers’ This Is Not A Test
Apart from the fact that there’s something so appealing about watching two scared, passionate teenagers getting together in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, what sets Sloane and Rhys apart is a) the fact that when they get together it feels believable, b) the sizzling attraction turns gradually, and sweetly, into something more, and c) Rhys is just so very sexy. Instead of spending the entire book thinking omg please don’t be eaten by a zombie (though I did think that a lot), I spent the book thinking kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss…

4. Harry and Hermione from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series
I know. I know. They’re not a couple. But I spent seven books rooting for them! She was the only one who always stuck by him, no matter what. Even now, I still think their friendship/almost-love story is the strongest relationship in the entire series. And that’s saying something.

5. Gemma and Ty from Lucy Christopher’s Stolen
It is so completely wrong that these two are even on this list. No matter how kind, sincere and ultimately redeemable Ty is, he is Gemma’s kidnapper. And when she grows attached to him, it’s obviously Stockholm Syndrome, not true love. But it’s a mark of how powerful this book is that, even knowing all these things and knowing that in real life I would never think this is a good idea, I almost – almost – wanted Gemma to be with him.

6. Millie and Hugh from Jill Mansell’s Millie’s Fling
This book is sweet and funny, indulgent chick lit at its finest. And while there’s nothing exceptionally special about Millie, Hugh or their love story, I never grow tired of reading about them.

7. Donna and the Frenchman from Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek
Far too overlooked and underrated, Frenchman’s Creek is one of my favourite books of all time. The writing is beautiful, the water and moors and atmosphere of Cornwall just leaps off the page, and the romance… Donna is unhappily married, with two children she dearly loves, and the Frenchman is a pirate who also happens to sketch birds in his spare time. Their love story is thrilling and heartbreaking. (Yes, another weepy! There seems to be a theme here…)

8. Emma and Mr Knightley from ITV’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma
Confession: I’ve never read Emma. So I’m going purely on the ITV version of the book with Kate Beckinsale. Emma and Mr Knightley are just perfect together.

9. Sam and Grace from Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver
Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Only the boy turns into a wolf when it gets too cold and will, one day, turn into a wolf forever. Sam and Grace’s relationship is developed and described so intricately and with such detail that you feel like you’re a part of them. And the book has one of the most wonderful endings ever.

10. Daisy and Edmond from Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now
I don’t even know what I can say about Daisy and Edmond. This book – and their love story – is spectacular and utterly heart-wrenching. I can’t even describe it. Go get hold of a copy now.

There you have it. What do you like of the list? Agree or violently disagree with any of my choices? Who would you pick?

Thanks Sangu!

I definitely agree with Sloane and Rhys!!!  And Lochan and Maya *sobs*. I'd have to add Rose and Dimitri (from Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series). And...hmm...I think I really need to give this some serious thought! :D

The Lost Girl is available to buy now.

You can find out more information about the book and the author at her website.

Thursday 24 January 2013

I want to read that...

Parallel by Lauren Miller

From Goodreads: Abby Barnes had a plan. Get into a great college, major in journalism, and land a dream job at a major newspaper. But on the eve of her 18th birthday, she is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. A cosmic collision of parallel universes has left Abby living a new reality every time parallel Abby makes a decision. Now Abby must race against time to take control of her fate without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally in reach.

Sounds awesome! I can't wait to read it! It's already getting some great reviews on Goodreads

Parallel is  published May (US) and June (UK).  You can find out more about Parallel and the author at the Lauren Miller's website.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

From Goodreads:At the start of her senior year in high school, Sara wants two things: to get into a top college and to find true love.Tobey also wants two things for his senior year: to win Battle of the Bands and to make Sara fall in love with him. However, a popular jock named Dave moves in on Sara first. But Tobey’s quirky wit and big blue eyes are hard for Sara to ignore. Plus, he gets the little things that matter to her. Can a slacker rock-star wannabe win the heart of a pretty class brain like Sara?

Hilariously and movingly told through Tobey and Sara’s authentic voices, Susane Colasanti’s debut novel sizzles in its portrayal of two young people searching for The One.

I really liked the dual narration (no surprises there) but I have to say I didn’t warm to Sara as much as I hoped I would. I can’t quite put my finger on why though. I did however, warm to Tobey straight away – he was just so endearing. And some of the. .. er… scenarios that played out in his mind had me laughing. A typical boy I think.

I liked the story much more once Sara and Tobey actually started talking. I really didn’t understand why Sara wasted time on Dave (blech!) and I also didn’t completely understand her reaction to Tobey towards the end of the book. Was it because he lied to her? Was it because she was jealous? Or did it have something to do with her dad? I think I would have liked a bit more focus on her home life and relationship with her mom – it might have explained her character and motivations a bit more.

I loved both Sara and Tobey’s friends – they are all really great characters. And Maggie’s storyline was interesting.

Although I had a few (small) issues I did enjoy this one overall – the romance is really sweet (LOVED the boombox!). I liked that both Tobey and Sara were looking for something real – a genuine connection. Plus I really liked Susane Colasanti's writing style- she did a fabulous job of creating distinct voices for Sara and Tobey. I’ll be checking out more of her books.

Monday 21 January 2013

Everneath by Brodi Aston

For Review: Simon & Schuster
Published: August 2012 (Paperback: 6.99)

From Goodreads: Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her friends—before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s...

I read Everneath at the beginning of the year and I have no idea why I haven’t reviewed it until now – I absolutely loved it!

I loved the concept behind the book – using Greek Mythology as the back drop instantly caught my attention – and it’s done really well here. It feels fresh and doesn’t overload the story at all – instead it provides a basis for the characters to shine.

Since the story is structured in the way it is, we don’t know straight away what compelled Nikki to go to the Everneath – what happened to make her decide to leave everything behind. But now she’s back, she wants to spend the six months she has reconnecting with her family and her boyfriend Jack. Of course, since Cole is determined to make her his queen (and rule the Underworld) he isn’t prepared to go down without a fight. And I have to say even though he’s the bad boy I loved Cole. I really like the way the author made this happen – created someone I didn’t exactly trust but cared about all the same.

I adored Nikki. She’s such a broken character – I don’t know how else to explain it. But there is a strength to her too. How she was, how she felt,  fitted in perfectly with the story. She was supposed to have been gone for a long time, with time moving at a different speed in the Everneath, so the alienation she feels with her family makes sense. Jack, however, is a different story. She feels just the same about him as she did before she vanished – there are reasons for that and I think it says a lot about their relationship. How connected they are and how genuine that connection is.

And Jack. Be still my heart because I ADORED him. Completely adored him – and the relationship between him and Nikki is why I loved this book as much as I do. We get to see them before and after her time in the Everneath and I just …*sighs* I really loved it.

As for the ending? Oh man, it’s a killer! I NEED to read Everbound! I am so excited for it – I really hope it lives up to all my expectations.

Friday 18 January 2013

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

From Goodreads: From the much-buzzed-about author of THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB (already blurbed by Stephenie Meyer, Lauren Myracle, and Jen Calonita), a prom-season delight of Jane Austen proportions.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn't interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be - especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend's burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles's friend, Will Darcy, who's snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn't seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it's because her family doesn't have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk - so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Having read and loved Elizabeth Eulberg’s first novel The Lonely Hearts Club I was really looking forward to reading this – and I really enjoyed it. I suppose I should start by admitting I have never read Pride and Prejudice (*hides*) so the fact it’s a retelling was slightly lost on me. But given how much I enjoyed this story, I’m thinking I should probably read it.

I loved the story from the start and loved Lizzie’s voice. I really liked the setting too and could really imagine the girls at Longborne hating scholarship students – and how they would make that known! I really liked Jane and Charles, and loved a certain Will Darcy. I couldn’t help but think he just kept coming across wrong! And I really enjoyed how Lizzie pretty much hates Darcy to begin with and then is forced to change her mind.

A fun, quick to read story that I thoroughly enjoyed! I’m looking forward to reading her next book Take a Bow!

Thursday 17 January 2013

Cover Wars: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

UK /  US

So I honestly can't choose!  I really love them both!  The UK one is really pretty and I love the way they have designed the title.  The US one is just awesome - it really attracted me to find out what the story was about when I saw it.  So hmm....

What do you think?

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Minimising Cringe: A Suzy P Guide (Me, Suzy P Blog Tour)

To celebrate the release of the hilarious Me, Suzy P by Karen Saunders we have the one and only Suzy P with us today.  When I was asked what I would like her to talk about?  Well, lets just say one thing came to mind...

Minimising Cringe: A Suzy P Guide

Hi, I’m Suzy Puttock, star of the new book Me, Suzy P by Karen Saunders. I’m constantly doing stupidly embarrassing things that make me want to die of shame. It keeps my mates entertained though, and my boyfriend, too. The book’s all about me and my friends, and what happened when I got a huge crush on someone who wasn’t my boyfriend. Irk. Humiliation CENTRAL.

When I was told you guys wanted my guide on how not to embarrass yourself, I laughed for about an hour.

For real.

It took a very long time compose myself, because I couldn’t believe you were actually serious. I am possibly the worst possible person in the entire universe to be giving such advice.

Why? Because I embarrass myself constantly. Daily. Minutely, on particularly horrific occasions. To be honest, half the time I think it would be better if I just stayed in bed and never came out. But even then, I’d probably still find a way to humiliate myself.

Do you embarrass yourself all the time, too? Please say it’s not just me. If you also suffer with regular bouts of embarrassment-itis, here are some things that just might help (but I’m not making any promises).

1. Do not, under any circumstances, let your parents land you with a ridiculous name that rhymes with a part of your bottom. You might not get much say in this, what with being teeny tiny when your name is allocated, but seriously, I’d look into getting your name changed by deed poll if you ever get stuck with something like Puttock (yeah, I know, I know, it rhymes with buttock, haha, I’ve only heard it about eighty million times). Having said that, my big sister Amber’s going to become Mrs Mycock when she gets hitched. I’m pretty sure that’s even worse.

2. Don’t run. Ever. I mean it. Even when you’re horribly late, which I am, a lot. Running makes you out of breath, blotchy, and often leads to falling over. Embarrassmentamundo.

3. Disown any younger brothers and sisters, or get them adopted out. In my experience you will become their main target for practical jokes, fart cushions and anything mean they feel like revealing about you to any passing random. They are nothing but a liability.

4. Be careful when you eat in public. There’s a zillion ways you can embarrass yourself when there’s food and drink about. Spilling it. Dropping it down yourself (you can guarantee it will be on something brand new and it will stain). Laughing mid-mouthful and starting to choke. Choking and spitting said food out. It makes me shudder just thinking about the possibilities.

5. Don’t let people talk you into doing things you don’t want to do, or wearing things you don’t want to wear. Like, for example, being a bridesmaid at your crazy big sister’s wedding, where you have to put on an utterly disgusting dress. People will take photos and the evidence will haunt you for all eternity. No good can come of it. Trust me. 

Good luck!

Me, Suzy P is available to buy from all good bookshops, online and is also available as an e-book.

Come visit Karen Saunders online, at, ‘like’ me on Facebook at www.facebook/karensaunderswriter , or follow me on Twitter: @writingkaren. There are also tweets from Suzy Puttock @suzyputtock– so do follow her too.

Look forward to seeing you around!
Thanks Suzy! Thanks Karen!

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Me, Suzy P by Karen Saunders

For Review: Templar
Published: 1 January 2013

From Goodreads: 14-year-old Suzy Puttock and her three best friends lead an average teenage life, spending most of their time in school, home or hanging out in cafes. Side-splitting mishaps and cringe moments have a nasty habit of following Suzy wherever she goes, but otherwise life's pretty normal - she's been going out with Danny since forever, her nutty older sister Amber's wedding is taking up all her family's attention and her annoying younger sister Harry is intent on making her life a misery. But when gorgeous new boy Zach starts showing Suzy attention, she wonders if the grass may be greener on the other side of the romantic fence. Before Suzy knows it, she has broken up with Danny, there's a huge rift in her friendship group and life is careering off track. Can she sort herself out before things are messed up completely?

This is seriously so much fun and a delight to read. I loved it!  Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Suzy P is such an awesome character - I completely adored her. She is absolutely hilarious (mostly when she isn't intending to be) and manages to get herself into the most embarrassing scenarios! She's also really sweet and you can't help but like her.

I really liked her friends too!  I really loved her best friend Millie (and Millie's dog Murphy!) And as much as I did like Danny - he is incredibly sweet - you can see why Suzy becomes unsure over his feelings and why she's tempted when Zach shows her attention.  I really enjoyed the way it all plays out.  I also loved the storyline involving Amber and her wedding.  Suzy's family is just as crazy as she is and I really liked seeing that dynamic.  Harry is a complete menace but adorable!

I can't wait for more Suzy P adventures!  I think fans of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson or Sue Limb's Jess Jordan will love Suzy P!

Monday 14 January 2013

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

From Goodreads: Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

Speechless was one of those books I practically stalked the postman for! I was so excited to read it! I loved Saving June and couldn’t wait to see what she did with this story.

At the beginning of this story Chelsea Knot was a character I would have gone out of my way to avoid in real life. I just didn’t like her at all. She came across as someone who didn’t think for herself – just did whatever her ‘best’ friend wanted her to do. Of course, in this ‘world’ secrets are a commodity – something to use as a way to make you more popular with the in-crowd. So when Chelsea stumbles across a very big secret she doesn’t think anything of sharing it with everybody. But when it leads to someone getting hurt it makes Chelsea take stock of what she has done and forces her to decide what kind of person she wants to be.

What I loved about this story is the growth in Chelsea’s characters. The fact that she actually takes the risk and reports what she knew made me think she was someone worth getting to know. And over the course of the novel she really evolves as a character – I loved her by the end. Her decision not to speak is understandable too – I can see why she would choose to do this. And it makes for very interesting reading – seeing how people react to her – and seeing what she learns from it.

We are also introduced to some wonderful characters. Asha is bubbly and someone who first thinks Chelsea is worth getting to know. Sam (who I absolutely adored!) – he’s so kind and nice and I loved the scenes he has with Chelsea. The rest of the gang at Rosie’s Dinner –  I loved that place – so warm and inviting. It made me wish it was real and I could go there!

Hannah Harrington has just secured her place on my list of authors to auto-by. I will read anything she writes! Her characters are so realistic and I adore her writing. Brilliant!

Thursday 10 January 2013

First Love (Burning Bright Blog Tour)

Today we have the lovely Sophie McKenzie with us.  To celebrate the release of the second book in her Flynn Series - Burning Bright - she has stopped by to talk about first love...

First Love

The first time we do anything it’s almost always a bigger, stronger, more intense experience than the times that follow. That’s why we often feel first times so deeply and remember them so clearly. Which makes it strange, to me, that adults are so often dismissive of first love. Grown-ups sometimes seem to think that when the two people involved are young, their feelings are somehow less powerful. I think the opposite is often true. When you are young, you rarely have the reference points and resources that help you to put emotional highs and lows in any kind of context. Everything is heightened – the joy and the pain – precisely because it is fresh and new.

In my Flynn series, River and Flynn fall deeply in love with each other. This isn’t always an easy experience for either of them. All the books are written from River’s point of view and basically provide a record of her obsession with Flynn – how she learns to live with her strong feelings and their consequences. Falling Fast shows them coming together and gradually learning to understand each other. In Burning Bright, the focus is on Flynn’s anger and the impact on River of his outbursts.

Although I was never in a relationship quite like River and Flynn’s as a teenager, I do remember how intense my emotions often were back then. Everything in both Falling Fast and Burning Bright is imagined, but my own experiences definitely inform the books, as do stories I have heard other adults tell about their teenage love lives.

I have been asked if I would ever write a book – or part of one – from Flynn’s point of view. I’ve also been asked, sometimes reproachfully, why I refer to the books as ‘the Flynn series’. The answer to the first question is ‘no, definitely not’, because the whole point of the stories is to explore River’s experiences. Flynn is always seen entirely from her point of view. Sometimes she sees him clearly; sometimes she imagines things that reveal more about her than Flynn himself. This is also why I refer to the stories as ‘the Flynn series’: they are about her experience of him. About first love - and all its hopes and fears.
Thanks Sophie!

Falling Fast and Burning Bright are available to buy now.

You can read my reviews for them here

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Burning Bright by Sophie McKenzie

For Review: Simon & Schuster
Published: 3 January 2013

From Goodreads: The second title in a new four-book romance series from the Red House Book Award–winning author of Girl, Missing.

Four months have passed and River and Flynn are still going strong. But things are not perfect. Flynn continues to fly into unprovoked rages, and when River tells her mum, she is banned from seeing him. Fighting to stay together, they end up being torn apart. Is it all over for River and Flynn?

I really enjoyed Falling Fast, the first book in this series so I was looking forward to reading this. I really like River and Flynn and am really enjoying their journey.

Following on from the events of the first book, River and Flynn have now been dating for a few months. They are completely smitten with each other – there is just one problem. Flynn’s temper! What I found interesting about this is that it’s not just the fact Flynn gets angry (at pretty much everything) but it is how his mood completely affect River. Not only does he seem to control the way she feels but he is also alienating her from her family and friends. I think as readers we see the same side to him that River does, which is great, but it is also easy to see why her friends and family react to him in the way they do.

I loved the ending to this and how it all plays out. River comes a long way from the character she is at the start of the story – and while she doesn’t make the best choices I think she had to live it to reach the conclusion she does at the end. And Flynn is still as compelling as before – I like how his character is written. How flawed he is, yet how much I fell in love with him too. I could see both the positive and negatives of his character and willed him to see how he appears to others – how that behaviour affects others.

A brilliant look at the intensity of first love, with characters that are remarkably believable. I can’t wait to read the next instalment!

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Falling Fast by Sophie McKenzie

For Review: Simon & Schuster
Published: March 2012

From Goodreads: When River auditions for a part in an interschool performance of Romeo and Juliet, she finds herself smitten by Flynn, the boy playing Romeo. But Flynn comes from a damaged family—is he even capable of giving River what she wants? The path of true love never did run smooth . . .

This is real life, not a rehearsal...

Having enjoyed all of Sophie McKenzie’s books I knew I was in good hands for this – and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Using the play Romeo and Juliet as the back drop to a romance is a brilliant idea – I loved it. I really loved the characters too. I really liked River – how she grows and matures in the story – and Flynn is that flawed, kind of intense character I always seem to love. He has issues definitely, and while I’m sure many parents would want him as far away from their daughter as possible, there is something so compelling about him I could understand why River felt about him the way she does.

Drama filled, this is a quick and rather addictive read. As the first in a planned trilogy I’m now really looking forward to reading the sequel, Burning Bright, to see what is next in store for River and Flynn.

Monday 7 January 2013

52 Reasons To Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

From Goodreads: 

Being America’s favorite heiress is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Lexington Larrabee has never to work a day in her life. After all, she’s the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to work. But then again, they’re not supposed to crash brand new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Blvd either.

Which is why, on Lexi’s eighteen birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there’s anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it’s dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.

In a hilarious “comedy of heiress” about family, forgiveness, good intentions, and best of all, second chances, Lexi learns that love can be unconditional, money can be immaterial, and, regardless of age, everyone needs a little saving. And although she might have 52 reasons to hate her father, she only needs one reason to love him.

As soon as I say the trailer for this I knew I had to read it. If anyone remembers a film in the 80’s called Maid to Order, this is what came to mind (just with a teen and no magic or fairy godmother!) It’s the first book by Jessica Brody I had read – but I picked up two of her others as soon as I’d finished this. Yes, it’s that good!

Lexington (aka Lexi) is a complete spoiled brat at the beginning of this book. She thinks nothing of the damage she causes when she crashes her brand new Mercedes into a convience story – she just expects are father to sort it out. Which he does - if in a very cold and distant way! But he also comes up with a plan to make Lexi see that she can’t keep behaving the way she is. In order to get the cheque to her sizable trust fund she has to take on a low-wage job each week for the next year.

This is such a fun, and heartwarming story. I loved Lexi (even in the beginning when she was being a complete brat she managed to do it in such a way I couldn’t help but smile at her!) – and she definitely goes on a journey in this. Seeing her attempt all the different jobs is hilarious – especially in the beginning. . And over the course of the story you are given an explanation for why she behaves in the way she does, and while I’m sure she could have handled things differently, you understand why she was the person she was – and how much her father wanted to help her even if doesn’t show it.

I also loved the banter she has with Luke. He was such a great character – and you can see how these two are going to end up liking each other! I loved seeing their relationship develop.

I really love Jessica Brody’s books – I love how accessible her writing is and how easily she gets into the heads of her characters and lets them grow. I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

Friday 4 January 2013

Easy by Tammara Webber

From Goodreads: Easy is a New York Times Bestseller - a must-read for everyone who loves Slammed by Colleen Hoover and the New Adult genre. Deeply romantic and utterly gripping, this is not to be missed.

Jacqueline seems to have a knack for making the wrong choices. She followed her boyfriend to his choice of university, disregarding her preference. Then he dumped her. She chose a minor she thought she could combine with her music studies, but she's falling behind. And then, leaving a party alone one night, she is attacked. If it wasn't for the timely intervention of a stranger, she would have been raped. Now she must make a choice - give up and give in, or toughen up and fight on. Only the support of the man who is tutoring her and the allure of the guy who saved her from the attack convince her that it's worth fighting on. Will Jacqueline now have to make a choice between them too? And can she make the right decision? It's not easy . . .

I was really blown away by this story. I had been recommended it by a friend – I hadn’t really heard much about it before that although I had seen it listed on the Kindle bestsellers for a while – so I decided to give it a try. And I absolutely loved it! I’m so pleased it’s been published in paperback by Penguin.

I really like the way the story takes place in college – it is something I haven’t seen in many YA stories before this (although I’m beginning to think this may start to be a bit of a trend ).

I loved Jacquline’s voice. She really nice – at first I couldn’t understand why she would follow her boyfriend to college but they had been together for a long time, and snippets into her home life indicate that her parents have a tendency to ignore her at times. But she’s really easy to relate to, she get a lot stronger as the story progresses and I loved her patience with Lucas.

I love Lucas! He’s a bad boy but nice boy – which will make much more sense when you read it! He definitely has issues (and mega reaons for having them!) but he is such a great character. Yes, he is a bit hot and cold with Jaqueline – but he’s also incredibly sweet with her too. And I loved seeing Jaqueline strip down the wall he has around him – and let her in. Their relationship builds slowly and they definitely have chemistry! It’s really sweet and romantic!

I also thought the way this tackled the issue of rape was well done. There are consequences for Jacquline’s decision not to report her attack – and the way that people react when the person repsonisble is accused feel spot on. The ending felt a bit dramatic but at the same time I was glad Jacquline had the opportunity to fight back and prove to herself she’s not a victim. Plus Lucas is awesome!

Really, really good – I’m now looking forward to reading Tammara Webber’s Between the Line series!

Thursday 3 January 2013

Night School: Legacy Blog Tour

Night School: Legacy by C J Daugherty publishes today!  And to celebrate it's release they have organised a blog tour with a unique twist. More details below, but first, today's stop!   I have a Night School Member Card for Carter West!!!

Yep, you have to love Carter West!

Now for the unique twist! The blog tour gives you the chance to enter a competition, called The Night School Challenge, where you can win the chance to become official members of Night School! All you have to do is to visit each of the blogs taking part in the tour to collect 14 Night School skills which will be hidden across the 14 blog posts. To find out if you have found the right one, click on the skill and it will take you to a website letting you know if you are on the right track.   For more detailed instructions check out this post.

Good Luck everyone!

All the stops and dates are below:

Thurs 3rd – Fluttering Butterflies

Thurs 3rd – I Want to Read That

Fri 4th – Teen Librarian

Fri 4th – Mostly Ready YA

Sat 5th – District YA

Sun 6th - So Many Books, So Little Time

Mon 7th – The Bookette

Mon 7th - Endlessly Bookish

Tues 8th – Feeling Fictional

Tues 8th - Bookaholics Book Club

Weds 9th – PewterWolf

Weds 9th -Book Passion for Life

Thurs 10th – Serendipity Reviews

Thurs 10th – Once upon a Bookcase

Night School: Legacy by C J Daugherty

For Review: Atom
Published: 3 January 2013

From Goodreads: In the last year, Allie's survived three arrests, two breakups and one family breakdown. The only bright point has been her new life at Cimmeria Academy. It's the one place she's felt she belongs. And the fact that it's brought the dreamy Carter West into her life hasn't hurt...But far from being a safe haven, the cloistered walls of Cimmeria are proving more dangerous than Allie could've imagined. The students, and faculty, are under threat and Allie's family - from her mysterious grandma to her runaway brother - are at the centre of the storm. Allie is going to have to choose between protecting her family and trusting her friends. But secrets have a way of ripping even the strongest relationships apart...

I loved Night School when I read it last year so have been eagerly awaiting the sequel. I am pleased to say it lived up to all my expectations – it was different than I thought it would be but in a really good way.

The book starts straight in with the action, and we are thrown back into the mystery not knowing who to trust. I was pleased to get back to Chimmeria, with all the characters I grew to love last time. And yes, okay, I definitely wanted my fix of Carter West!

One of the things that surprised me in this instalment was how much my opinion of all the characters seemed to shift ever so slightly. While I loved Isabelle in the first book, seeds of doubt grew and I started wondering if she could be trusted. I also began to really like Sylvain, although I am still hesitant over his character because I feel what he did at the Summer Ball was serious and shouldn’t be dismissed too easily. And also, what the hell was up with Carter? Don’t get me wrong – I still loved him but he seemed so angry and possessive this time (or at least at the beginning of the story). Unless it was just me?  Either way, the whole ultimatum thing really annoyed me – you don’t get to dictate who someone is friends with! Although I do wonder what it is between Carter and Sylvain – does he know something we don’t? Or is it just jealousy over Allie?

So many things happened – it’s such an exciting story – but at the same time I got to the end and am not sure I knew much more than I did to begin with. That’s not a bad thing though – I’m sure I read somewhere (and please correct me if I am wrong) that this is planned as a series of 5 books? If so, I can see it taking a while to get those answers, but I know I will be along for the ride because so far, it is seriously awesome! I mean, that ending? I am so glad the author is prepared to go there and take risks – I didn’t see it coming at all but it certainly raises the stakes so to speak!

Can I have the next book now please?

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Favourite Reads In 2012

I have read so many great books this year - it is so hard to choose!  I have definitely been on a contemporary kick this year (which is showing no sign of abating!).  So, after much deliberation, here are my Top Ten Reads of 2012:

10: If I Die by Rachel Vincent
I LOVE Rachel Vincent and I adore this series!  I'm going to be gutted when this series finishes but I can't wait to read the final book.

9: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
I loved Delirium and I loved this one even more!  I love her writing and the world she has created.

8: Insurgent by Veronica Roth
One of my favourite dystopian series!  Soooo good!  Can't wait for the final book in the series.

7: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Many of you will probably know by now that I have loved everything Courtney Summers has written but this one is just pure awesome sauce!  I love zombies and Summers managed to make a horror story feel like a contemporary read.  Plus is seriously creeped me out!

6: Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Completely exceeded my expectations - the main character's voice is spot on.

5: Saving Daisy by Phil Earle
I was so looking forward to reading Daisy's story and it lived up to all my expectations.  Brilliant!

4: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
This almost destroyed me.  Such a great story and I loved the relationship between the main character and her dad.

3: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
My surprise read of the year.  I just loved everything about it but especially the friendship/romance that develops between the two main characters.

2: Wonder by R J Palacio
So different from anything else I've read this year - just loved it.  And although it made me cry it's also such an uplifting story.

1:  Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry
I read this at the beginning of the year and I had the feeling it would be my favourite read of the year.  Nothing else quite topped it - everything about it was spot on for me.  Love Noah and Echo and I am now practically salivating for Beth's story Dare You To.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

From Goodreads: Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.

And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?

I had read so many great things about this book I was dying to read it. I was so excited when I learnt it was going to be published in the UK that I started to wonder if it could ever live up for my expectations for it – but it really did. It is brilliant!

Carly’s voice is spot on. I love Kirsty Eagar’s writing – she made me believe I was in Carly’s head. She’s such a broken character – for good reason - and the story tackles a very difficult subject. But from a different angle - by looking at how someone lives with its aftermath.

I had to commend Carly for trying to get on with her life. She drops out of college but is managing to support herself and spend time doing what she loves – surfing. It’s here she meets Ryan and they form a connection. I loved Ryan! He’s honest with her about being in Prison and the reason why, and he’s just so patient with Carly – despite not having any idea why she is the way she is I love the way he slowly gets to her, slowly breaks down the wall she has and lets him in. Lets him see her by telling him about her past. I had to love him for refusing to let her push him away.

This story deals with serious and sensitive issues. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea - it’s definitely more character driven that plot driven - but I absolutely loved it.


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