Sunday, 28 April 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (49)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are 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.



Wow - the books I received this week all look incredible! I absolutely loved The Selection and so was really happy to receive the second book in the series, The Elite. I haven't read anything by Sara Grant or Rachel Ward before, but both Half Lives and The Drowning look and sound really, really interesting. I also received a bumper copy of Shadow and Bone which has the new book, Siege and Storm inside! I absolutely loved Shadow & Bone (formerly known as The Gathering Dark), so I can't wait to get stuck into book two!

I hope you've all had a great week!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Blog Tour Stop: Heroic



You may have noticed that I'm quite a fan of Phil Earle's writing - I read both Being Billy and Saving Daisy as soon as they were released and I'm so glad that I have also had the opportunity to read his latest novel, Heroic. When I was offered the chance to participate in the blog tour, I jumped at the chance and so Phil provided me with an exclusive piece - a list of his Top Ten Underdogs! 
Here is what Phil had to say:
Underdogs. 
I love them. 
Whether they’re on the page or the big screen, there’s something about them that is completely intoxicating.
So here, in no particular order, are my top-ten-kids-books underdogs, the individuals you think are going to amount to nothing…but delight in proving you wrong.

Stanley Yelnats
Holes by Louis Sahar
His family is cursed and he’s been busted for pinching a pair of sneakers. Sent to the steaming hot desert to dig holes all day and surrounded by a ragtag bunch of reprobates. But, Stanley’s journey is only just beginning. 
One of the greatest characters ever created. An underdog so fine we named our son after him (well, him and Flat Stanley)

Ponyboy, Sodapop, Darry, Jonny, Dallas
The Outsiders by SE Hinton
I still struggle to understand how S.E. Hinton managed to create such vivid characters when she was only a teenager herself.
I read this book every year, as these lads have nothing: no money, no status or prospects, but they have each other, and there is such power in their relationships that it destroys me every time. A huge influence when writing HEROIC.

Stanley Lampchop
 Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
This young man doesn’t let being squashed flat by his brother’s notice board stop him living. He gets posted to California in an envelope to visit friends and foils an art crime, before being re-inflated by his brother’s bike pump. Classic, classic story-telling.

Skellig
Skellig by David Almond
Another of the books that changed everything for me. Who’d have thought the rambling, cobwebbed figure living in the ruined garage could possibly change Michael’s world forever. Skellig never fails to move or amaze me.

Sig
Revolver – Marcus Sedgwick
A book so tense and sparse that there isn’t a single word misplaced or misused. I’d give my right hand to write as lyrically as Marcus. 
In Sig, he has created a character facing both overwhelming odds and grief. He’s a character I absolutely loved.

Martyn Pig
Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks
This book was a game-changer for me, as Kevin Brooks came in and broke all the rules, making you empathize with a character who is making some morally complex decisions. Kevin is one of few authors I’d camp outside a bookshop for. A new book from him is an event to look forward to.

Joey Pigza
 Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos
Jack Gantos’ books about an ADHD kid are an absolute joy. Everyone’s written Joey off, his home life is chaotic and his head feels like it’s buzzing with bees. This book has more heart than any I’ve ever read.

Dermot Milligan
The Donut Diaries by Anthony McGowan
Dermot is fat, there’s no getting away from it, which sees him set firmly as one of life’s underdogs. What I love about him though, is despite his food-based flaws, he still manages to out-smart the FHK (the floppy-haired kid) every time.
So much more than a UK version of Wimpy Kid. Knocks spots off it in fact…

The Wolfe Brothers
Fighting Reuben Wolfe by Markus Zusak
Yes, ‘The Book Thief’ is magnificent, but so are the Wolfe brothers. HEROIC is all about brotherhood and the sacrifices Jammy and Sonny are forced into, and this book handles that same theme beautifully. Savage and tender in equal measure, you can’t help but root for this devoted pair.

Felix
Once/Then/Now/After by Morris Gleitzman
Not many writers could take a character and give them an arc as dramatic as Felix’s. Spanning a lifetime and four incredible books, we see Felix battling the Nazis in WWII as well as bush fires in his later years. Morris creates wonderful, three dimensional characters, and Felix is one of the finest in any children’s books.

Hope the list was entertaining, was certainly fun putting it together…


Heroic by Phil Earle is available to purchase now!

Thank you to Phil for writing this fantastic post and to Penguin for giving me the opportunity of hosting a stop in this tour.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

From The Review Pile (48)


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 Follow Me Down!

Unfortunately I haven't yet read Byrne's first novel, Heart-Shaped Bruise but I have only heard positive things about it! As soon as I received a copy of this for review, I was delighted that I'd have the opportunity to check out her writing! The story sounds very interesting and just look at that cover - stunning!


Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne
336 Pages

Expected Publication 9th May 2013 by Headline

The sensationally good Tanya Byrne returns with her new novel - a dark, compulsive tale of obsession and betrayal.

When sixteen-year old Adamma Okonma, a Nigerian diplomat's daughter, arrives at exclusive Croften College in Wiltshire, she is immediately drawn to beautiful, impetuous, unpredictable Scarlett Milton. Adamma and Scarlett become inseperable - until Adamma falls for Scarlett's boyfriend Dominic. Soon the battle lines are drawn and Adamma is shunned by Scarlett and her priviledged peers. But then Scarlett goes missing and everything takes a darker turn. As Adamma begins to uncover a series of ugly scandals at the school, she realises there was more than one person who wanted Scarlett to disappear and indeed that Croften has its own disturbing secrets to hide...

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Deadlands (Deadlands #1)


Deadlands (Deadlands #1) by Lily Herne
Paperback, 304 pages

Expected Publication: 8th April 2013 by Much-In-Little

Shelves: arc-or-review, better-than-expected, blog-tour, books-i-own, lgbt-characters, read, read-in-2013, really-good, series-or-companions, title-appeal, young-adult, zombies

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

In Deadlands, life is a lottery.

Ten years have passed since Cape Town was destroyed in the war with the living dead. Now, human survivors are protected from the zombies that lurch around the suburban Deadlands by shrouded figures known as 'Guardians'. But the price for protection is steep: each year, the Guardians hold a human lottery in which five teenagers are chosen for a secret purpose.

Seventeen-year-old Lele hates everything about her life in the city: her new school, the brainwashed zombie-lovers, the way everyone seems creepily obsessed with teenagers . . . She wants out. Then she is picked as a Chosen One: but she's not prepared to face whatever shady future the Guardians have in store for her. So she runs for her life - straight into the Deadlands, and into the ranks of the Mall Rats - a renegade gang of misfit teens who have gone underground - and are preparing to take a stand.


Deadlands is not a book I had heard about and I hadn't heard of the author, Lily Herne, before I picked this book up, but I'm always willing to read books that are new to me, and it's even better when they're unexpectedly fantastic like this one! I am so glad that the publishers put Deadlands on my radar and I'm glad to be able to share it with you, too.

Deadlands is the beginning of a new young adult series set in Cape Town, South Africa. I have only read one other book set in South Africa, so this was still a relatively new setting for me. I loved the setting. I'm not all that familiar with South Africa or some of their dialect, so I was a little bit unsure at first, but after a few pages I soon adjusted to the setting - there wasn't much use of Afrikaans or references but that didn't devalue the authenticity of the setting - it just made it easier to understand. The fact that this is set in South Africa is of course very refreshing, but the setting of the enclave and the Deadlands themselves are incredibly atmospheric and gritty. The two sides of the city - the dangerous Deadlands where zombies roam and the (assumed) safer enclave, lawed by Guardians. The differences between the two are clear and very well written. 

The storyline sounded potentially confusing, but that wasn't the case at all - the story was very easy to understand and follow whilst certainly having a good level of complexity. There is so much room for the story to expand and develop - there have already been some opportunities for twists and turns in this first book and I can only see more being added as the story progresses over the series. As I said, the story still is simple to follow - I was never confused by anything. There are lots of aspects to this story and to the city that Lele, the main character inhabits. This was certainly a page turner as I was reading quickly, trying to absorb every detail.

The characters were great to 'meet' and learn about the mix of characters in Deadlands. Our main character, Lele obviously has a lot of history and the plot allows us to see many facets of her personality. Due to the situation that the city is in, It was so difficult to trust anybody that we read about - I never knew quite who was on the right side of the city's Guardian 'laws'. The opposing groups were fascinating and it was interesting to see the politics of the enclave. The underground group, the Mall Rats who regularly venture into the Deadlands were particularly fascinating - they each had their own story and all had their own distinct personalities, which I loved.

Overall, Deadlands was a fantastic book which had me gripped from start to finish. It felt like an amalgamation of positive themes and ideas from several ideas  whilst having its own unique story. I really, really enjoyed this and I will definitely be following the rest of the series. If you're a fan of young adult dystopian or paranormal (particularly zombies!), I'm sure that this book would appeal to you - it would be ideal for fans of The Hunger Games. If you're looking for a great new voice in YA, you'll find it in Deadlands.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Stacking The Shelves and Showcase Sunday (48)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are 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.


 I received a very mixed lot of books for review this week! I received two new adult books, The Holiday Home and A French Affair. I also received three very intriguing young adult books, all of which I'm very excited about! Those were The Dead Girls Detective Agency, Kite Spirit and You Don't Know Me. Last but not least, I received two childrens books, Summerkin and Unlocking the Spell.

Enjoy your weekend!




Friday, 19 April 2013

Blog Tour Stop - Deadlands


I have recently received and read Deadlands, a new young adult book which is also kicking off a new series. I was very pleasantly surprised by this book and I really enjoyed it - I know that a lot of my readers will love it too, it has huge potential. My review for Deadlands will be up very soon, so keep checking back!
I was very lucky to be offered the chance to participate in the Deadlands Blog Tour and share with you an exclusive post from the mother and daughter duo who wrote this book!

Music to Write and Fight Zombies by
As a mother and daughter writing team, we have very different ideas about what constitutes the perfect writing atmosphere. Savannah (the daughter half) listens to music constantly while she’s writing (if we’re working in the same vicinity, she has to be nagged to turn it down – it leaks out of her earphones, as if there’s a highly annoying and inept ghostly rapper in the room). Sarah (the mother part) can only write in peace and quiet – otherwise she gets too distracted and starts daydreaming about being Jay Z.
The following are some of the tracks Savannah listens to when she writes. Excluding the K-pop, the playlist could possibly double-up as a soundtrack if you’re ever caught in a stereotypical zombie-fighting scenario. Sarah was only allowed to choose one track for the list: Tubthumping by Chumbawamba (the lyrics, ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again’, sums up the zombie existence and she wants the track played at her funeral). 
Playlist
The Destroyer – Blue Stahli 
Been to Hell – Hollywood Undead 
I am the Best – 2ne1  
Down with the Sickness – Disturbed 
The Rockafeller Skank – Fatboy Slim
Hit the Floor – Linkin Park
Time is Running Out – Muse
Voodoo People (Pendulum Remix) – The Prodigy
Post Blue – Placebo
Riot – Three Days Grace
Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Variation) – Rob Dougan
Avalon – Professor Green
Enter the Ninja – Die Antwoord  
Wretches and Kings - Linkin Park
Sabotage – The Beastie Boys
Warrior – B.A.P 
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Tubthumping – Chumbawamba 


Many thanks to 'Lily Herne' for taking the time to write a post for my blog and also to Much-In-Little for both asking me to host a tour stop and providing me with this post.
Deadlands is available to purchase now!

Check out the rest of the tour here:


Thursday, 18 April 2013

From The Review Pile (47)


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 The Thorn and the Blossom!

This has to be one of the most beautiful books that I've ever seen, and definitely the prettiest that I own! The thing that is so striking about this book is the gorgeous cover and the strange accordion binding! This has two stories in one and is undoubtedly different to your standard book! I'm not sure why I haven't actually read it yet, especially as it is a short book. I must pick it up soon!


The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss
82 Pages

Published Jan 2012 by Quirk

One enchanting romance. Two lovers keeping secrets. And a uniquely crafted book that binds their stories forever.

When Evelyn Morgan walked into the village bookstore, she didn’t know she would meet the love of her life. When Brendan Thorne handed her a medieval romance, he didn’t know it would change the course of his future. It was almost as if they were the cursed lovers in the old book itself . . .

The Thorn and the Blossom
 is a remarkable literary artifact: You can open the book in either direction to decide whether you’ll first read Brendan’s, or Evelyn’s account of the mysterious love affair. Choose a side, read it like a regular novel—and when you get to the end, you’ll find yourself at a whole new beginning.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Secret of Ella and Micha


The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen
Paperback, 320 pages

Expected Publication: 11th April 2013 by Sphere

Shelves: arc-or-review, books-i-own, contemporary, new-adult, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction, suicide
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

The girl he thinks he loves needs to disappear. I don't want tonight to be irreversible, so I pull away, breathing him in one last time.

Ella and Micha have been best friends since childhood, until one tragic night shatters their relationship and Ella decides to leave everything behind to start a new life at college, including Micha.

But now it's summer break and she has nowhere else to go but home. Ella fears everything she worked so hard to bury might resurface, especially with Micha living right next door. Micha is sexy, smart, confident, and can get under Ella's skin like no one else can. He knows everything about her, including her darkest secrets. And he's determined to win back the girl he lost, no matter what it takes.


The Secret of Ella and Micha is both the first 'New Adult' book that I have read, and the first book written by Jessica Sorenson that I have read - thankfully, it didn't disappoint! To be honest, like a lot of people, I'm a little confused by the term New Adult, so it's probably easier for me to say that both young adults and adults alike should enjoy this book, personally, I think it is most ideal for older young adults.

The Secret of Ella and Micha is about, you guessed it, two characters called Ella and Micha! At the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to Ella. We only really get a vague idea of who Ella is at the start - she left her home months ago  after years of trouble and a particularly difficult night and is now trying to be a different person. However, soon after we meet her, Ella returns to her home neighbourhood and her true identity starts to show - especially when she is around her almost lifelong friend - Micha.

It is undeniable that there is huge chemistry between Ella and Micha, it is so easy to see that they are connected and suited to each other. Sorensen has done an amazing job of portraying their relationship and managed to get the tension between them, sexual and otherwise, just right. Ella and Micha are clearly two different people with two different personalities, but they fit perfectly together. Some people may find the whole 'soulmate' idea a little too saccharine, but I was surprised with how well the idea worked within the book, probably as the romance was quite angst filled and balanced out with other issues alongside it.

As well as love, this book also about loss. Ella and Micha have both had their own troubles and are coming to terms with them. We are not fully aware of their problems at the start of the book which gave it a certain sense of vagueness that I must admit, I struggled with at first. Micha has an absent father who seems to always be in the back of his mind and Ella lost her mother when she committed suicide, leaving her to deal with her alcoholic father. Their problems are unresolved and it's clear that they have certainly had an impact on their relationship. As they both come to terms with their issues, they become even closer and things for both the characters and us as readers seem much clearer.

As you can tell, I enjoyed this book and I thought that Sorensen did a very good job of portraying what she wanted to. There was, at points, sometimes a little too much vagueness in this book for me and sometimes I had a little problem with how it flowed, but overall the book seemed well written and for the most part, enjoyable. I would definitely be willing to read anything else that Sorensen offers in the future and think that this will be a great hit for both young adults and adults alike. 


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (47)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are 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.



Hello everyone! I hope you have all enjoyed following Night School Week on my blog during this past week! Don't forget to enter my giveaway for two signed bookmarks (International) by clicking HERE!

I received two unexpected books for review this week! The first was Dead Silence and the second was Jinx!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Signed Bookmark Giveaway (INT)


I hope you've all enjoyed Night School Week on this blog - I have, and I'm sad for it to come to an end! 
When I met CJ, she very kindly gave me two sets of two signed bookmarks to giveaway on this blog, so I am going to end this week by giving you the chance to win one of those sets!

There will be two winners of this giveaway and both winners will receive TWO bookmarks (1 Night School, 1 Legacy) signed by the author, CJ Daugherty.

This giveaway is completely international and ends on 26th April 2013.

To enter, simply fill in the form below:




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 11 April 2013

From The Review Pile (46)


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 Legacy!

Following on from the theme of this week, my choice for From The Review Pile today is Legacy, the second book in the Night School series. I can see myself enjoying this book more than the first book as I like the way that series have the ability to develop at a slightly more relaxed pace and I like all of the additional details that we learn as we progress. I have heard rave reviews for Legacy and I look forward to seeing what happens next for Allie.


Legacy by C.J. Daugherty
Paperback, 385 Pages

Published 3rd January 2013 by Atom

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 dark-eyed Carter West into her life hasn't hurt either. But far from being a safe haven, the cloistered walls of Cimmeria are proving more dangerous than Allie could have imagined. The students and faculty are under threat, and Allie's family - from her mysterious grandmother 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...

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Night School (Night School #1)


Night School by C.J. Daugherty
Paperback, 454 pages

Published 1st January 2012 by Atom

Shelves: books-i-own, young-adult, supernatural, series-or-companions, read-in-2013, magical-realism 
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Description via Goodreads:
Allie's world is falling apart...

She hates her school. Her brother has run away. And she's just been arrested. 

Again. 

Now her parents are sending her away to a boarding school where she doesn't know a soul.

But instead of hating her new school, Allie finds she's happy there. She's making friends. And then there's Sylvain, a suave French student who openly flirts with her. And Carter, the brooding loner who seems to have her back.

Soon, though, Allie discovers Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Nothing there is as it seems. And her new friends are hiding dangerous secrets.



Night School is a book that is hugely popular amongst a lot of young adults at the moment and I am sure that it'll continue to be a big hit. Night School has a very interesting idea behind it which could literally lead us anywhere - there is so much potential for this series and I truly think that it will just improve as it goes on.

I will start by saying that I didn't initially love this book. It took me quite a while to get into Night School, but towards the end I was definitely left wanting to know more! Though I've only given this book two stars, I'd say that it definitely deserves more towards the end. I always find it difficult to review first books in series, as they're sometimes just stepping stones for the following books, setting the scene and introducing us to people. I'd say that Night school was one of these books. As I've said, towards the end, it did definitely get more intriguing as we started to find out about Night School, a secret elite club. There is no doubt that Night School is an interesting group and I'd imagine that most people would be intrigued by it. 

The setting of Night School is a secluded boarding school in England, Cimmeria Academy. Boarding schools are a very popular setting for young adult books at the moment and it's obvious why -  the buildings can be full of history and so are the perfect place for creating a mysterious atmosphere. I am a person who loves reading about schools, so this was perfect for me. Daugherty definitely made the right choice by creating the Academy - she did a great job of creating a somewhat spooky feeling to the place and made very clear that there was a great amount of history to the school, which I hope she will expand on as the series progresses!

The history of the school is also embedded in the story's characters. The cast of primarily teenage characters will certainly appeal to the targeted reading group. In Night School we are introduced to Allie, a troubled girl who is having a hard time after her brother ran away from home. Allie is sent to Cimmeria Academy in the hopes that it will change her behaviour. She is pessimistic about the move at first, but after a while she realises that she's actually quite happy there with her new friends. There is a fair amount of different characters that we're introduced to - enough to allow good diversity but not too many to become confusing. I enjoyed seeing Allie interact with her new friends and I found it quite difficult to judge the characters - I wasn't quite sure who to trust and I didn't quite know where the story was going, which was good as it meant it wasn't predictable!

As you can see, I did enjoy some aspects of this book, but for me the thing as a whole didn't completely work. As aforementioned, I feel as though this is a book to pave a way for the rest of the series, rather than to be a fantastic standalone book. This book is reasonably thick, at 400+ pages and for me, the issue was that not much actually happened. C.J. did a good job of introducing us to characters and making us a little suspicious of them, which was probably what she was aiming for in this book, so she did well. Unfortunately I was a little unsure about where the book was going (I thought it was paranormal, which it doesn't seem to be) and this vagueness didn't allow me to get completely absorbed. I didn't need to know any specific information, so it was difficult to get hooked - I had no idea what I was waiting to find out.

Whilst I didn't love the whole of Night School, I did manage to find enough potential and intrigue inside it in order to want to read the second book in the school, Legacy. After reading a few reviews of Legacy, I think I am right in thinking that this story can only get stronger. I know that a lot of you will love Night School itself, and I am really looking forward to seeing where the story goes.


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