Thursday, 31 May 2012

From the Review Pile (4)

 From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!
This week, I'm going to showcase Brave New Love: 13 Dystopian Tales of Desire edited by Paula Guran!
I am a big fan of dystopian ideas, so hopefully there'll be a few tales in this book that I'll love! I'm showcasing this book as I'm pretty sure that a lot of you will love the idea of this book too and hopefully you'll pick a copy up.

Brave New Love: 13 Dystopian Tales of Desire by Various (Edited by Paula Guran)
Paperback, 384 pages

Published 19th January 2012 by Robinson

When society crumbles, can young love survive? When the young are deprived of their bright future and left to survive day to day, what bonds remain between individuals? Can young love survive a dystopian nightmare? This exciting collection of stories explores the struggles, both emotional and physical, of teenagers trying to survive as society falls apart or as they help build a new world.

Compelling, emotionally charged stories of young lives lived in desperate circumstances by: John Shirley, Elizabeth Bear, Kiera Cass, Nisi Shawl, Maria V. Snyder, Carrie Vaughn, Steve Berman, Amanda Downum, Diana Peterfreund, Jeanne DuPrau, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jesse Karp, William Sleator, Carrie Ryan and Seth Cadin.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

In My Mailbox (IMM) is hosted by Breaking the Spine
Waiting On Wednesday is a meme that spotlights upcoming releases 
that we're anticipating.


The full credit of this choice should be given to Vickie @ ComaCalm as I saw this book on her WOW post last week and I honestly have had difficulty not thinking about it! As you may know, I'm interested in anything mental-health related and so this one sounds as though it's right up my street! I've been hunting for a place to pre-order it but I haven't found anywhere so far (fair enough, seeing as it's not released for more than a year, boo-hoo!), I'm just so eager to get my hands on a copy of this! 


The Program by Suzanne Young
Expected publication: April 30th 2013
From Goodreads:

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. 
With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.


I think that this sounds amazing! What do you think and what are you waiting on?

Monday, 28 May 2012

Black Heart Blue


Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid
Paperback, 266 pages

Published May 10th 2012 by Puffin

My shelves: 
abuse, arc-or-review, books-i-own, death, drink-and-drugs, medical-conditions, mental-health, misery-lit, rape, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, to-be-reviewed, young-adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
Hephzibah: You've no idea what it's like having a freak for a sister.

Rebecca: Born first, prettier, Hephzi's always been the popular one.

The Father: When he was busy with his bottle we were usually safe. Usually.

The Mother: Her specialist subject was misery and lessons of painful silence ...

Hepzibah and Rebecca are twins. One beautiful, one disfigured. Trapped with their loveless parents, they dream of a normal life. But when one twin tragically dies, the other must find a way to escape. Because if she doesn't, she'll end up like her sister.

My thanks go to Puffin for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

I've actually waited a couple of days before reviewing this book and I think that I made the right decision to do that. Black Heart Blue is definitely a haunting book and I think that I appreciate it more now that I've had even more time to reflect on it. I think that this will be a book that lingers in my mind for quite a long time.


On the very first page of this story is a verse from Sylvia Plath's poem, Daddy. I absolutely adore Sylvia Plath, so when I read the verse, I was so excited that I was maybe going to read something that was so marvellously interlinked, but I was also scared that the story was going to be a disappointment - in my eyes, it's quite a big thing to try and follow on after a Plath verse! Thankfully, I think that using the poem was the right thing to do - Reid definitely did it justice with the story that followed.


Black Heart Blue follows the life of two twins - the well rounded and beautiful Hepzibah (Hepzhi) and her disfigured sister, Rebecca. We learn right from the start that Hepzhi has died and we discover exactly how and why as we progress through the book. I thought that the format of the book was really well done. Hepzhi narrates chapters 'before' her death so that we get a clear picture of what life was like for the twins. On the other hand, Rebecca narrates the time after Hepzhi's death and what it meant not just for her, but her family and the community around them. Writing this way meant that we learnt so much about both twins and they were so well developed. The twins had a very troubled past (and present) and we can see this in so many ways - their behaviour, their emotions and through other people's actions towards them. Everything that was explored felt so realistic and had a lot of depth, despite the shortness of the book. We were introduced to several characters including the granny of the twins, Hephzi's boyfriend, her friends, members in the community such as a church assistant and people who Rebecca worked with, as well as non-immediate family members. Every single person in this story seemed to matter and they each contributed something to the story. I was absolutely fascinated with how everyone interacted. 


It seems wrong to say that I enjoyed this book due to the subject matter. I didn't really enjoy it as such - there wasn't anything that made me feel very happy, but instead, I appreciated it. I really appreciated how well Reid had portrayed the lives of Hephzi and Rebecca - there were no holds barred on the content - this is a story that involves abuse and a whole lot more. Whilst the events weren't overly graphic or descriptive, they were unbelievably powerful. As aforementioned, the words were haunting. There was a seriously sinister undertone and it worked seriously well.


This is a book that I will recommend to others who are looking for a different read to your usual YA - I'm glad that there's something different to the usual 'boy meets girl' or paranormal subjects. This is definitely not a book for younger teens but for older teens and I know a lot of adults that would appreciate the work that's been put into this too. I look forward to more of Reid's work in the future.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Stacking the Shelves/Showcase Sunday (5)


Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is a meme hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are is a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.

Hi everyone - I hope you're all enjoying the sunshine if you're in the UK, if not, I hope it's sunny where you are too!
Here's a quick reminder to enter my 800 Follower Giveaway! Now, here's my books:


I received a great mix of ARC/Review copies this week! I received New Girl and What's Up With Jody Barton? which have such bright colours - Jody Barton has a fluorescent pink and orange background which is so cool! I also received Throne of Glass which I am SO excited to start. I'll have the review up before it's released, so keep checking back! I've wanted The Immortal Rules for a while now and finally I have a copy in my hands so I can see what all of the fuss is about. Willful Impropriety was a surprise book that came in the mail this week and I just love the cover. I also got a lovely little set of quick reads including The Fix, Johnny Delgado, 2 Die 4 and Until Proven Guilty!

 I bought Slated this week and can't wait to read it!
I also visited Barter Books where I exchanged Barter (received by exchanging old, unwanted books) for Torn, Rebecca, 21 Proms and The Wild Things!

I swapped a couple of books with the wonderful Vickie @ ComaCalm once again and she sent me Dead Beautiful, Infinite Days as well as a book thong (which I'm using right now!) and a cute owl bracelet! Thanks, Vickie!

l'd also like to give big thanks to Waterstones Newcastle for getting me some really cool Black Dawn/Morganville Vampires goodies, including a signed bookmark, yay! 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Throne of Glass Cover Reveal

Happy Friday, everyone! 
Only a few minutes ago, Hooked on Books/Bloomsbury revealed the cover of upcoming YA book Throne of Glass which I am SO excited for. I absolutely love the cover and would love to hear your thoughts on both the cover and the book
Here it is, with a description:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Throne of Glass will be published August 2012 in the UK!
How excited are you?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Adorkable


Adorkable by Sarra Manning
Paperback, 385 pages

Published May 24th 2012 by Atom

My shelves: 
arc-or-review, books-i-own, contemporary, let-down, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, title-appeal, to-be-reviewed, too-much-hype, young-adult
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
Jeane Smith is seventeen and has turned her self-styled dorkiness into an art form, a lifestyle choice and a profitable website and consultancy business. She writes a style column for a Japanese teen magazine and came number seven in The Guardian's 30 People Under 30 Who Are Changing The World. And yet, in spite of the accolades, hundreds of Internet friendships and a cool boyfriend, she feels inexplicably lonely, a situation made infinitely worse when Michael Lee, the most mass-market, popular and predictably all-rounded boy at school tells Jeane of his suspicion that Jeane's boyfriend is secretly seeing his girlfriend. Michael and Jeane have NOTHING in common - she is cool and individual; he is the golden boy in an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. So why can't she stop talking to him?

My thanks go to Atom for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

As soon as I heard that there was going to be a book called Adorkable, I jumped at the chance to read it! I mean really - a title that includes the word 'dork' just has to be good, doesn't it? The premise sounded pretty cool too -  the story is about a self-proclaimed dork called Jeane and her ever-changing relationship with the 'cool' guy at school, Michael. I've not read anything else by Sarra Manning, so I wasn't sure what to expect but this one looked like a fun read.

Every review I've read for this book so far have been raving 4 or 5 stars and I do feel bad that I've not managed to rate this one higher, but I think I must've missed something. I'm all for dorkiness and I'd definitely call myself a nerd. Like Jeane, I am not afraid to speak my mind or opinion (something that's gotten me into trouble a couple of times) and I'm not afraid to express myself in the way I want, whether it's through my clothing, music or art. I am also, as you may be able to tell, pretty much addicted to blogging and twitter. So yes, you could say I'm a lot like Jeane Smith, however, I still just couldn't connect with her. At points, I just felt that she was trying so hard to be different or 'out-there' that it started to annoy me and I felt as though she was a little bit hypocritical at times.  Jeane often began criticising other people for what they wore, watched or listened to, even though that may have just been what they liked which I found to be a bit unnecessary - she might like being 'different', but she didn't need to force her opinions on others. At times, I felt she was slightly inconsiderate and making a big deal over nothing. Jeane was also meant to be an international online celebrity which had potential to be really great, but due to her slight arrogance, I couldn't get away with it. I don't know though - maybe I do see a bit of myself in her and I don't like it. 


I did enjoy reading about the more personal, quiet side to Jeane though, and that seemed to come out more when she interacted with Michael Lee, the boy who seemed to have it all - looks, popularity and good grades. I didn't dislike Michael until he started to become ashamed of being seen with Jeane which just seemed ridiculous. I did find it interesting to see how his opinions changed and it was good to see them both exploring different aspects of how the other one lived. The more 'hidden' and quiet side of Jeane was probably the most intriguing part of the book for me - I mush preferred the second half of the book as we got to learn more about the real feelings of the characters and it seemed a lot more eventful. 


I think that the reason I didn't enjoy this book as much as I could have was because it just didn't ring true to me. I may be living in my own little bubble, but at least where I am, I'd like to think you're not completely excluded because of the way you dress - I actually like to think the diversity in dress is something that's becoming more popular. It's true that Jeane also wasn't very popular due to her attitude, but it didn't really seem that way. I did like the use of fun, teenage language and phrases. There were a lot of popular culture references, and that was enjoyable, but I think the book could age easily. The writing itself was fine - I can't complain about that.


With my inability to really love the characters and my quite high expectations, this book didn't really satisfy me as much as it could have. I think that a lot of people will love the outspoken Jeane and the trials and tribulations of her friendship with Michael. I am certainly not put off the author from this book - I have given this book 3 stars and I think that's actually pretty good. It certainly wasn't painful to read and the writing was new, fresh. Unfortunately, I just couldn't bring myself to really care for the characters, which was disappointing.


From the Review Pile (3)


 From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

This week, I'm going to showcase Partials by Dan Wells!
This is a book that looks SO good and I'm so excited to read it when I can finally get around to it. 

Partials (Partials #1) by Dan Wells
Paperback, 482 pages

Published 29th March 2012 by HarperCollins Children's Books

The only hope for humanity isn’t human.

In a world where people have been all but wiped out by a virus created by part-human cyborgs called ‘Partials’, and where no baby survives longer than three days, a teenage girl makes it her mission to find a cure, and save her best friend’s unborn child.But finding a cure means capturing a Partial…

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Gathering Dark (The Grisha Trilogy #1)

The Gathering Dark (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo
US Title: Shadow & Bone


Paperback, 442 pages

Expected Publication: 7th June 2012 by Indigo

My shelves: arc-or-review, better-than-expected, books-i-own, fantasy, favourites, read-in-2012, really-good, series-or-companions, supernatural, to-be-reviewed, young-adult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

My thanks go to Indigo  for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Terms such as 'The Shadow Fold', 'Ravka' and the 'Grisha' intimidate me. I don't really know why, but they made me think that this book was going to be some sort of epic fantasy or something really complicated. However, I've been surprising myself this year by picking up things I wouldn't normally read. I knew I had to read this book after reading so many positive things about it - and oh my, I am so glad that I did! 

I opened the book and saw a list of the Grisha - Corporalki, Etherealki and Materialki - without much explanation as to who they were. You guessed it - I was confused already. I'm one of those people who has to have a reason for everything and has to know why things are how they are. Anyway, making notes of these terms, I started reading and I was no longer confused. This book is not confusing in the least when you get into it. If you're a little bit scared about being thrown into a book that has some foreign words in it, don't be. There are some non-english words in this book, but it is so easy to know what's being talked about - it just adds to the authenticity of the story. Bardugo's writing is fantastic. Within a couple of chapters, she managed to have me completely absorbed into this other world - in Ravka and its inhabitants.

I loved meeting Alina, our main character, and the boy she grew up with, Mal. I thought their relationship together was really well shown - it's clear that they have a very strong bond together and have gone through bad times and good. They worked very well together as a team and I can't wait to see what happens with them next. There were quite a few interesting characters that were already well formed by the end of this first book and I am looking forward to seeing what happens to them, too! I absolutely loved Genya, a girl that Alina befriends at Os Alta, where the leaders of Ravka reside. I thought that the pair had a friendship that felt genuine - Genya was just the type of girl I'd have liked to have met if I'd been in Alina's shoes. I thought that the minor characters, or the characters we didn't see/hear much of were just as important as the main characters in this book, feeling strong and each having their own purpose. 

The action in this book is mainly centred around The Shadow Fold, a very dangerous place for all of the people in Ravka, especially those who try to cross it. The Darkling, one of the most important people in Ravka, has his own ideas about The Shadow Fold and it's interesting to see what he's really like when we find out more about him during the book. There was just the right amount of action in this book for me - there wasn't constant physical battles, but there was always something happening, most constantly the internal battles of Alina. I thought that learning about the Grisha and their supernatural talents was super interesting and one of the highlights of the book for me.

This book may sound dark, and I guess it is, but there is also a lot of humour - I was really surprised with how much humour was in this book, actually. The snarky remarks of some of the characters really made me laugh and made me take a shine with them. This was a really well-developed, captivating story with good world-building. I am hoping that this is a series that will have consistent quality as I can easily see it becoming one of my favourites. Fans of Young Adult literature will eat this up. I can't wait to read the next book!    

Monday, 21 May 2012

Saving June

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Paperback, 336 pages

Expected Publication: 1st June 2012 by Mira Ink

My shelves: 
arc-or-review, books-i-own, contemporary, mental-health, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, really-good, road-trip, suicide, title-appeal, to-be-reviewed, young-adult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going, California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

My thanks go to Mira Ink for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew that it was going to be something that I would enjoy. I'm a big fan of contemporary books, especially if they have the ability to make me cry (weird?). I am glad to say that Saving June was everything I wanted it to be - captivating, fun, hopeful and heartbreaking, all at the same time. This will hopefully be one of the top contemporary YA reads of the year.

We are sent on a road trip through America with Harper, her best friend, Laney, a mysterious guy called Jake Tolan and June's ashes. The story is narrated by Harper and focuses on coming to terms with her sister, June's suicide. I am happy to say that I thought that the topic was dealt with in a realistic and tasteful way. Although I do find books based on mental-health issues very interesting, I do sometimes feel wary of them as they can easily be handled in an incorrect manner - thankfully this wasn't the case for this book. I thought that the characters all handled the situation well, yet differently, in their own ways and it was interesting to see how the different parties reacted to the news. I do wish we could've learned a little bit more about June and her decision, but what we did learn with Harper was enjoyable. We definitely learned a lot about Harper herself.

All of the characters that we were introduced to in this novel felt well presented and each had their own unique personality, something that is very important, and although they were different, they were all relatable in some way. Harper is our protagonist, and as aforementioned, grieving over her sister. I thought that Harrington did a phenomenal job of portraying Harper's grief in an atypical manner. Harper was seen by her parents and aunt as 'rebellious', but that didn't really seem true to me - it just looked like she was doing what she thought was right during her life, and had her own opinion on things. Her relationship with Laney, her best friend was fantastic. It was clear that they both supported each other, despite their differences in thoughts. I loved that Laney was very forthright and she did what she want - she oozed confidence whilst still having some fragility, was very fun and I can see a lot of people loving her. 


We met a whole bunch of different people during the road-trip and experienced a lot of different things, mostly due to meeting Jake Tolan, a boy who had a connection with June before she died. I really liked Jake for the most part and I thought that his passion for music was wonderful. I've read a few books that have been music-orientated but didn't like them - Harrington successfully managed to connect me with Jake as I could certainly relate to a lot of the things he said about music. As a love interest, I can understand why Harper was attracted to him - he was respectful yet snarky and there was a good amount of chemistry between them both. Trying not to include spoilers - I did feel a little irked by him towards the end, though I could understand his decision at the same time.


I like listening to music for much of the same reasons as Jake - to quote: 
“It's just nice, I guess. Knowing that someone else can put into words what I feel. That there are people who have been through things worse than I have, and they come out on the other side okay. Not only that, but they made some kind of twisted, fucked-up sense of the completely senseless. They made it mean something. These songs tell me I'm not alone. If you look at it at that way, music... music can see you through anything.”"
I thought it was SO cool that this book had not one, but three playlists included. I absolutely loved being able to listen to the songs that captured the mood of the characters at the time and it certainly added another form of 'connection' to them. Harrington didn't just say that Jake felt these things, but she proved it by creating some amazing soundtracks to back it all up. Reading this book, along with listening to the soundtracks, really made it feel as though we were having an experience with the characters. I felt pure emotion whilst reading and admit to tearing up as the book came to a close.


Overall, this was a very powerful, emotional yet enjoyable story. It didn't just feel like I was reading a book - even if it is an overused phrase, I totally felt as though I was taking a journey with Harper, Laney and Jake. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to any young adults or adults. I think that this is a story that will stay with me for quite a while. 

Listen to one of the songs from Saving June...

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