Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Publisher: Harper Teen
ISBN: 9780062235657
Release Date: 2 July 2013
Source: Purchased.

From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

This was the first book I read by Kasie West and it definitely wont be my last. I really like her writing style – and this was a really cute romance!

I loved the main character in this. Caymen is so sarcastic and funny – I just loved her. Considering her mother’s story you completely understand why she feels the way she does about Xander - but I was willing her to give him the benefit of the doubt because he just seemed so nice!

A slight quibble – in that I wanted the story to go on longer. Some characters are introduced towards the end and I felt that I wanted more of them and their interactions with Caymen.  But that was because Kasie West had created a good story - I wanted more! 

Overall though, this was a great read. Recommended!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781471119156
Release Date: 18 July 2013
Source: Provided by the publisher for review.

From Goodreads: It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As

Anna sets out to find her friend's killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine...

You know when everyone is talking about how good a book is and you kind of really want to read it but are also slightly scared that it wont live up to all the hype?  That pretty much sums up how I felt about Dangerous Girls - not only does it sound amazing but so many people kept telling me I would be blown away.  Any you know what - it completely lived up to all the hype and glowing reviews that surround it.  I loved it!

One thing that really surprised me was how engrossed and mesmerised I was by the story when I pretty much disliked every single character.  I found I just couldn't warm to Anna. Elise annoyed me straight away and I felt Tate tried too hard to be / do the perfect thing - you just knew underneath he wasn't going to be able to live up to that.  So I found it really clever that I still wanted to read the book - that I was totally invested in what had happened / what was happening - and I think that is the key to this book.  The way it is put together means you really don't know for sure until the very end what really happened (even if you do suspect!)

Speaking of the end - I loved it and think it made what would have be a really good book a fantastic book!  But I also felt just a little bit cheated in the sense I just wanted a little bit more from that last scene.  I think you'll understand what I mean when you read it.  Because you really should read it.

It would also make the most amazing movie!  Just saying...

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Winning and Losing (Scissors, Sisters and Manic Panics Blog Tour)

Photo credit: Paula Broome Photograhy
I'm really please to be part of Elle Phillip's Blog Tour for Scissors, Sisters and Manic Panics.  Today she has stopped by to talk about winning and losing...

Winning and losing

In my new book Scissors, Sisters and Manic Panics my heroine, Sadie Nathanson is absolutely determined to win the Thames Gateway Junior Apprentice Hairdresser (or Barber) of the Year Award. Although you’ve got to admire her spirit and determination she realises at various moments that she’s more-or-less sacrificed everything in order to give herself the best possible chance to reach that goal. I’m not going to spoil things for you and tell you whether or not she succeeds(!) but her actions do pose the question – what happens when you don’t win? Is it really the end of the world?

Go to any childrens’ party these days and you will witness children WINNING. All of them. There is a moment in your life when you are simply unable to bare the disappointment of losing at ANYTHING. Children of a certain age become fiercely competitive – they have to be first at everything, and to some extent parents these days pander to this and just let them go right ahead and win. It’s perfectly understandable – who wants a room full of crying children who’ve just ‘lost’ at musical statues? Much better to give everybody a sweetie when they’re ‘out’ and tell them they’re a winner. But of course this is just prolonging the inevitable. As soon as a child sets foot in the gates of a school, it is most likely that they will get their first taste of ‘not winning’ – losing even. And this is just the beginning of a long path where you fail and you pick yourself up and you start again.

There are places I’ve worked where sitting in the chair the longest counts for more than any amount of inspiration or original ideas. These are industries where reliability and ‘doing your job according to the rules’ are very important. It’s quite difficult to ‘lose’ in these places. At best they can be extremely cosy areas to work in. At worst – they can be dull.

If you work in a creative industry then it’s much more extreme. It’s the best of times and the worst of times, and it’s a sad fact that, unless you are blessed by good fortune, you will ‘lose’ many times over if you want to write, act, sing, dance or play music. But is losing such a negative thing? Or is the old adage ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ a truism?

As far as I’m concerned the path to success in a creative industry is not straightforward and it’s also not for the faint-hearted. Self-belief is key, as is energy and enthusiasm for what you’re doing. After a set-back; getting right back up, dusting yourself down and counting your blessings keep you in the game. And a memory of ‘recovering from failure’ is the most important lesson of all. A friend of mine who recently won a BAFTA - often judged as the pinnacle of many creative careers - spent much of her thirties on the phone to me weeping about various career failures. In fact we wept in unison! But she worked her way to success and now, whenever she has a set-back, the knowledge that she has that ability is enough to keep her going.

So perhaps winning isn’t about the end result at all:
If you are knocked down but find it in yourself to come back for more then you are truly successful.
Thanks Ellie!

Make sure you check out the rest of the tour - details are below! 

And make sure you have a go at her hair-quiz: http://girlswholikewords.polldaddy.com/s/ssmp-quiz 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Dangerous Girls Playlist (Blog Tour)

I'm really excited to be part of the Dangerous Girls Blog Tour. Today we have Abigail Haas talking about the Dangerous Girls Playlist...
Dangerous Girls Playlist

Calvin Harris – Feel So Close
I imagine Anna and Elisa and the gang partying to this track in the club on their first night in Aruba.

Florence & the Machine – Girl With One Eye
A great dark, twisted song by one of Anna’s favorite artists. Anna has these lyrics written on her notebook – which comes back to haunt her during the trial.

Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen
This is so full of joy and possibility, for the moment Anna and Elise first skip gym to go into the city.

Taylor Swift – Treacherous
A softer moment at the beginning of Anna and Tate’s relationship.

Carina Round – Stolen Car
I love everything she sings, but this song in particular is brooding and intense, all about the reckless thrill of attraction and danger.

Band of Horses – No-one’s Going to Love You
Bittersweet and possessive, sort of like Anna and Elise!

Yoav – Beautiful Lie
Haunting. Every lyric in this song rings true to the book, but I’ll pick just one to quote: “In the blink of an eye everything can change/ and it’s a beautiful lie if you think it can stay the same.”

Florence and the Machine – No Light, No Light
Another track by this artist, sweeping and epic and full of struggle. I had it on repeat a lot while writing. “You can’t choose what stays and what fades away.”

Check them all out below:

Dangerous Girls - Abigail Haas by Simon & Schuster Children's Books on Grooveshark
Thanks Abigail!  

Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour - details can be found below:

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

I want to read that...

When the World was Flat (And We Were in Love) by Ingrid Jonach

Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.

When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.

But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.

When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.

Sounds seriously good, right? Plus I really like the cover - it's simple but eye catching at the same time.

It is published September 3rd 2013 by Strange Chemistry.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Publisher: HaperTeen
ISBN: 9780062117373
Release Date: 12 February 3013
Source: Purchased.

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

So... I freaking loved this book! Having just read Kasie West's contemporary romance The Distance Between Us I knew I really liked her writing style. And Pivot Point sounded awesome so I'm super please that it was!

The book alternates with each chapter, each depicting one of the potential futures. It was really easy to follow which was which (also helped by the cute chapter headings) and I found myself equally invested in each. Addie is a really likeable character - and I loved her best friend Laila - their banter back and forth is brilliant. Boywise - I instantly knew who I liked (and willed Addie to feel the same!) But the story isn't just about which boy - much more is going on and the choice Addie has to make is harder than you think...

I love this kind of story. It's contemporary which an edge - is it sc-fi/paranormal? Not sure, but I do know I like it! I didn't realise that this was going to be the first in a series - it certainly works as a standalone - but I am really glad to get more. I can't wait for Split Second when it comes out next year!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

I want to read that...

From Goodreads: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters…

Hells yes! I want to read this one. I loved Han's Summer series so I'm sure this one will be fabulous!

Bit of a wait though - it's not published until April next year...

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Guest Post: Just Saying (Half Lives Blog Tour)

Photo: Faye Thomas
I'm really pleased to be part of the Blog Tour for Sara Grant's new novel, Half Lives.  She's kindly stopped by to talk about the Just Sayings...

Just Saying

My new teen novel Half Lives is two tangled stories of survival. Icie is a typical teenager, until disaster strikes. Her only hope of survival is escaping to a top-secret mountain bunker. Hundreds of years later, 18-year-old Beckett leads a cult that worships a sacred mountain. But Beckett and his beliefs are under attack. Icie and Beckett must fight to survive. They are separated by time but connected by a dangerous secret that both must protect at any cost.

While writing Half Lives, I had great fun playing around with platitudes. We all say them from time to time. “Everything happens for a reason.” “Time heals all wounds.” ‘Platitude’ is defined as a trite remark often uttered as if it were fresh or profound. In Half Lives, these types of sayings have been twisted – at times to the point of nonsensical – and are part of a sacred text used by the cult in Beckett’s story.

‘Just Sayings’ in Half Lives are the cult’s term for scripture. Here are a few “Just Sayings”*:

‘Destiny is a choice, not an option.’ – Just Saying 103
‘Some things are just not meant to be.’ – Just Saying 23
‘Everything happens for a reason. You just may never know what it is.’ Just Saying 76
‘What you fear most sometimes happens and it’s worse than you could ever imagine.’ – Just Saying 187

The blog Award-winning Blather came up with a list of common platitudes – http://writerzim.com/2012/10/13/a-list-of-platitudes/. I’m not sure how helpful platitudes really are. Does everything really happen for a reason? Or do we just make the best of a bad situation?

I read once that you can go a day without water but not a rationalization. I wonder how long you could go without a platitude.

I mean, I’m just saying that knowledge is power and what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger…
About Sara Grant
Sara is an author of fiction for teens and younger readers and freelance editor of series fiction. She has worked on twelve different series and edited nearly 100 books. Dark Parties, her first young adult novel, won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Her new novel for teens – titled Half Lives – is an apocalyptic thriller. She also writes – Magic Trix – a fun, magical series for younger readers.

Sara was born and raised in a small town in the Midwestern United States. She graduated from Indiana University with degrees in journalism and psychology, and later she earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She lives in London. www.sara-grant.com @authorsaragrant
* When I first started writing Half Lives, I noticed people adding ‘I’m just saying’ right after they said a ‘truth’ they thought wouldn’t be well accepted.

Those shoes are an interesting choice with that dress. I’m just saying!

It’s as if bookending the ‘truthful’ observation with this phrase somehow inoculates it from being rude. It doesn’t. I thought it was the perfect phrase – a just (as in fair, moral) saying – for my cult’s scripture.
Thanks Sara!

Half Lives is available to buy now.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour this week - you can see all of the stop dates on the banner below:

Monday, 1 July 2013

Last Chance Angel by Alex Gutteridge

Publisher: Templar
Release Date:
1 June 2013
Review copy provided by the publisher.

From Goodreads: What would you do for another chance at life?

When Jess is knocked off her bike in a traffic accident, she finds herself at the gates of heaven before her destined death date.

Given one last chance to say goodbye, she heads back to Earth to visit friends and family. Closely kept secrets are revealed to the now-invisible Jess, and one shocking discovery leads her to the biggest choice she'll ever have to make.

A poignant, bittersweet story of friendship and family from a unique voice in teen fiction.

This was a really sweet story. Aimed at the slightly younger teens I think (it reminded me in terms of feel and tone to Eight Keys by Suzanne LeFleur) it is an accessible story with a great message.

I liked the main character in this - Jess really goes through a transformation - and thought the angel Darren was a brilliant addition (loved his scenes!) - it help to keep the story light and fun.  What I enjoyed most about the story though,  were the interactions with her family - especially her brother Jamie - and how she did learn a lot about herself and what is important.

There were a few places where the pace slowed a bit and I found myself not quite as absorbed in the story as I was but it soon picked up again and I found myself steaming ahead.  I'm definitely interested to see what this author writes next.


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