Sunday, 4 September 2011

In My Mailbox Mega Bonanza!!! Sunday 4th September

This'll teach me for not not doing an IMM for a couple of weeks... I end up with loads of books and stressing over producing a super long post that you'll all get bored of half way through and not bother to look at all the books. So, to counter this probable problem, I'm putting my best books at the end of this list - so ha! You'll have to scroll down right to the end.

I should also point out that I'm writing this whilst watching Dr Who re-runs, so excuse the spelling/grammar mistakes, it's all River Song's fault.


The Gallow's Curse by Andrew Hammond
When a brutal crime is committed... 
But there's no human explanation...
Who can the police turn to?
C. R. Y. P. T. (Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team)
This secret MI5 division recruits teenagers with extra sensory perception. CRYPT agent Jud Lester and the team crack these cases using their innate talents and state of the art technology.
Terror has seized London. People are dying in vicious attacks. But those who survive agree: the killers, bearing the scars of the hangman' noose, materialised out of thin air. 
CRYPT has been dispatched, the hunt is on...
Released: September 2011

Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones
Blink, man, what were you thinking? Sneaking into the hotel for a hot breakfast - hot scraps of someone else's breakfast, really. Couldn't you just feel that it was a wrong place/wrong time scenario? Even before you heard the banging and saw those dudes in suits jet it out of room 1616? Now you're not only witness to a crime; you're linked to it, thanks to the smartphone you were stupid enough to jack from the room.
And then they're Caution. As in "Caution: Contents Under Pressure." She's also on the run, from a skeezy drug-dealer boyfriend and from a nightmare in her past that won't let her go. The last thing she needs right now is some skinny-ass street punk spouting crazy conspiracy theories, but something about Blink tugs at her heart - a heart she thought deserved not to feel.
Charged with suspense and intrigue, this taut novel follows two compelling characters as they forge a fated, tender partnership. 
Published in the UK: 2012

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
In the good old days, magic was powerful, unregulated by government, and even the largest spell could be woven without filling in magic release form B1-7g. 
Then the magic started fading away.
Fifteen year old Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for soothsayers and sorcerers. But work is drying up. Drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and even magic carpets are reduced to pizza delivery.
So it's a surprise when the visions start. Not only do they predict the death of the Last Dragon at the hands of a dragonslayer, they also point to Jennifer, and say something is coming. Big magic...
Released in Paperback: 15th September 2011

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith
Ever wondered about the probability of falling in love at first sight? Two people are about to find out...
Meet Hadley. She's feisty and romantic, yet vulnerable. She's also about to miss the flight from New York to London for her father's wedding to a woman Hadley's never met.
Meet Oliver. He's sensitive, witty and charming. He has his own reasons for not wanting to fly home to London.
They're about to embark on the flight of their lives.
Released: January 2012

The Invisible Assassin by Jim Eldridge
When Jake Wells is sent to cover a seeming 'non-story' of some demonstrators who are agitating against the construction of a new University Science block, he is unimpressed. But what Jake sees there is shocking and terrifying...
And then sinister things start happening: Jake is 'accidentally' pushed, almost falling under a tube train; Lynette, Jake's girlfriend, has her computer stolen; and then Jake returns home to find a dead body in his flat and is accused of murder... Can it be anything to do with his discovery of the ancient and secret Order of Malichea?
Who is trying to prevent Jake from finding out more? Is it the British government? Or other, more sinister agencies?
Either way, Jake must fight for his life to escape a web of intrigue, danger and murder...
Released: 12 April 2012

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag, Kasienka and her mother head for England. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother's heart is breaking: at school friends are scarce. But when someone special swims into her life, Kasienka learns that there might be more than one way for her to stay afloat.
A beautiful, unique story, which will make you sad, happy and amazed.
Jump in.
Released: January 2012

This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees
Caro: She's beautiful, impulsive. And trouble.
Jamie: He wanted her to notice him. Can't believe she did.
Rob: Back from Afghanistan. Wounded. Secretive. Out of reach. Except with Caro. He lets her in.
Over the course of one summer, their lives collide and entwine with dangerous results.
The brightest flames always leave the deepest scars. 
Released: February 2012

Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda
Varanasi: holy city of the Ganges.
In this land of ancient temples, incense and snake charmers...
Where the monsters and heroes of the past come to life...
One slightly geeky boy from our time...
Is going to kick some demon ass!
Released: March 2012

The Radleys by Matt Haig
Life with the Radleys: Radio 4, dinner parties with the Bishopthorpe neighbours and self-denial. Loads of self-denial. But all hell is about to break loose. When teenage daughter Clara gets attacked on the way home from a party, she and her brother Rowan finally discover why they can't sleep, can't eat a Thai salad without fear of asphyxiation and can't go outside unless they're smothered in Factor 50.
With a visit from their lethally louche uncle Will and an increasingly suspicious police force, life in Bishopsthorpe is about to change. Drastically.
Released: Out Now!

The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker
3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I'd seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 
98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world. 
The seeds of first love are sown amongst the death and destruction of a nightmare future in this incredible debut YA novel. 
Released: February 2012


Hopefully you managed to extrapolate that I put the books on in order that they were piled on my desk, not in order of awesomeness. And there is an awful lot of awesomeness there, don't you think?!

Anyways, comments welcome, let me know what you're looking forward to!

Hugs and high fives,

Friday, 26 August 2011

Triple Review Bonanza Time!!!

Have got three amazing reads to share with you - There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff, Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson, and VIII by HM Castor. All are pretty different with regards to genre, but all will give you a great read this bank holiday weekend. 

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
Oh My! The wonderful Meg is back on form! I say that only because I found The Bride's Farewell a little tough going - it was a very horsey book, and I'm not much of a horsey person. I am, however, a  'style and whimsey' person, and There Is No Dog has plenty of that! Every sentence is a delight. There weren't many pages where I wasn't smiling with joy for the way Meg weaves her words. The premise is easy: What If God Were Actually a Teenage Boy? It would certainly explain all the weirdness and bad planning in the world. And then: What If Teenage God Fell In Love? Well it would probably cause all sorts of chaotic havoc. And it does. 
This isn't a novel that asks you to fret over consequences or mull over possible apocalypses - all it wants you to do is sit back and enjoy yourself. Moments of gorgeous romance sit with improbable poker games, plus it features a curiously adorable, penguiny creature called an Eck. The Eck is particularly wonderful. This isn't a novel for those who need a good plot to assist them in turning the pages. Plot is a little inconsequential here. But if, like me, you get your kicks from reading words conjured from a magical imagination, then please do read this book, because you won't be  disappointed.
There Is No Dog is out now in hardback.

Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
If you're looking for a plot-thick page-turner, then this is it! Confused by psychic powers that allow her to move objects with the power of her mind, Lila runs away from London to America to spend some time with her brother and his best friend, Alex. They work for some secret government operation - the purpose of which you are able to guess pretty early on, but don't worry about that. There are plenty of other plot twists to keep you guessing! This is a superb, fun read. A well crafted thriller with a little bit of X-Men and Heroes chucked in - it's like reading a cinema blockbuster. Plus there is Alex. Let's take a moment to consider Alex. Because he is awesome. OK - where were we?! 
This is teenage escapism at it's very best, and Sarah Alderson is a writer I'm really looking forward to following in the future. 
Hunting Lila is out now in paperback.

VIII by H.M. Castor
Well I promised you three contrasting reads, and here is something else entirely different! VIII follows the life of renowned king Henry VIII, highlighting key moments in his life from early childhood to death, a bit like a best-bits compilation video. And like any good best-bits editor, Castor picks her moments carefully to create an image of a boy, then a man, troubled by the ghosts of his, and his family's past. Creepy spectres crop up throughout the book, always a precursor to something entirely horrible, and by the end I was left thoroughly chilled. 
This is a very satisfying read. I can completely buy-in to Castor's theory that Henry was a young man psychologically troubled enough to develop a devastating superiority-complex that leaves death and disaster at every turn. The burden of the past is certainly not anything I had ever considered before when it came to the Tudors. When you learn about kings and queens in school, and all the plots and murders that surround them, you rarely get the chance to think about the emotional connections between them all. For example, despite knowing lots about 'The Princes in the Tower', for some reason I never connected them to Henry VIII, who was their nephew, their sister's son. The scars of countless wars and battles must have flowed down the royal line like a genetic illness, and it is this powerful idea that Castor explores. 
Castor has written other novels, but I believe that this is the first that has been marketed to a younger audience. I use that phrase carefully, for I believe that this is one of those novels that could easily and happily be picked up by anyone. Give this book your full attention, it deserves it. 
VIII is out in hardback in October


Feel free to send me your reactions and comments, especially if you have read or are planning to read any of these great titles!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

In My Mailbox - 20th August 2011

Another bumper week of awesomeness! So much to read and so little time!!! (especially when so much of it is spent sleeping...)

Tempest by Julie Cross
Today: Jackson and Holly are in love.
Tomorrow: She will lie dying in his arms.
Yesterday: Jackson must undo it all.
Released: January 2012

Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan
When Daniel Lever accompanies his dad to the Leisure World Holiday Complex, his expectations are low. But then he sees a mysterious girls by the fake lake and everything changes. Lexi is funny and smart, but why does she have wounds that get worse each time they meet? And is her watch really going backwards?
Released: February 2012

After the Snow by SD Crockett
Living in the haunting and barren landscape of a new ice age, fifteen year old Willo is a straggler kid who loses his family in the opening pages of this story. Completely alone, he is immediately flung into an icy journey of survival, adventure, friendship and self-discovery - with only the dog spirit inside his head to guide him.
Released: February 2012

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
New York 2082. When Anya is arrested for attempted murder, the DA offers her a choice: stay away from his son or watch him destroy her family. It should be an easy decision. Except Anya is falling for the son of the DA and her family is at the dark heart of the city's criminal underworld. 
Anya must choose between love and loyalty, knowing that whatever she decides will have shattering consequences for somebody.
Released: April 2012

The Horse Girl by Mary Finn
1757 - When Thomas Rose discovers a girl concealed in a ditch outside his rural village, she looks drab as a lark. Yet she enchants Thomas with her tales of the circus, and of dancing on the back of her horse, Belladonna. But the leader of the troupe has sold the pure-white mare with a tail the colour of barley. Now Thomas joins Ling, determined to find Belladonna.
Released: Out Now

Naked by Kevin Brooks
London, 1976: it was the summer of so many things.
Heat and violence, love and hate, heaven and hell. It was the time I met William Bonney - the boy from Belfast known as Billy the Kid.
I've kept William's secrets for a long time, but now things have changed and I have to tell the truth. But I can't begin until I've told you about Curtis Ray. Hip, cool, rebellious Curtis Ray. Without Curtis, there wouldn't be a story to tell.
It's the story of our band, of life and death... and everything in between.
Released: October 2011

Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Princess Elisa is a disappointment to her people. Although she bears the Godstone in her navel, a sign that she has been chosen for an act of heroism, they see her as lazy, useless and fat.
On her sixteenth birthday she is bartered off in royal marriage and shipped away to a kingdom in turmoil, where her much older and extremely beautiful husband refuses to acknowledge her as his wife. Devastated, Elisa decides to take charge of her fate and learn what it means to bear the Godstone.
As an invading army threatens to destroy her new home, and everyone at court manoeuvres to take advantage of the young princess, Elisa becomes convinced that not only is her own life in danger, but the whole world needs saving. But how can a young girl who has never ridden on horseback, never played the game of politics, never attained the love of a man, save the world? Elisa can't be sure, but she must try to uncover the Godstone's secret history before the enemy steals the destiny nestled in her core.
Released: September 2011


There you have it, another bumper blockbuster of a week for me! Let me know your thoughts, what you fancy reading, and what you think really stands out.

Hugs and High Fives

Saturday, 6 August 2011

In My Mailbox - 6th August 2011

As if I didn't have enough to read already, my huge stack of books has just got huger and more awesomer. Check out the fab titles I received over the past week:

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
Beauty really does lie in the eye of the beholder.
Seventeen year old Bianca Piper is smart, cynical, loyal - and well aware that she's not the hot one in her group of friends. But when high-school jock and all round moron Wesley Rush tells her she's a DUFF - a Designated, Ugly Fat Friend - Bianca does not see the funny side.
She may not be a beauty but she'd never stoop so low as to go anywhere near the likes of Wesley... Or would she? Bianca is about to find out that attraction defies looks and that sometimes your sworn enemies can become your best friends...
Funny, thoughtful and written by the author when she was only 17, this novel will speak to every teenage girl who has ever thought they were a DUFF...
Released: 5th April 2012

A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton
When love is tangled up in magic, how do you know what's real?
Fast paced, sensuous writing from exciting debut talent Ruth Warburton. A Witch in Winter tells the heart-wrenching story of a couple meant to be together, but being forced apart.
Released: 5th January 2012

The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor
An intense, edgy thriller for readers who love suspense, action and romance.
Believing she is possessed, Genie Magee's mother has imprisoned her all summer. Beautiful Rian, love of her life, sets her free, but their escape washes them up at a remote farmhouse.
Why are there newspaper clippings of missing kids pinned to the walls? And should they believe the stories about the experiments at the Fortress, an underground research station nearby?
Released: 1st March 2012

Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger
Not such a long time ago, in a Middle School not so far, far away...
Something amazing happened. A weird kid named Dwight made an origami finger puppet of Yoda. (That wasn't the amazing thing - just typical Dwight weirdness) The amazing thing was that Origami Yoda gave great advice. He could predict the date of a pop quiz, tell a guy if a girl liked him or not, and keep kids from embarrassing themselves in a dozen different ways. Most of the sixth graders were convinced he was using The Force. 
But now, a year later, it's a dark time at McQuarrie Middle School. Dwight has been suspended and may be expelled, which means no more Origami Yoda. Even worse, Darth Paper, a puppet created by Dwight's nemesis Harvey, has taken Yoda's place. He spews insults and evil and just may be responsible for getting Dwight kicked out in the first place. Now the kids of McQuarrie are trying to build a case to save Dwight. This is their case file.
Released: very soon!

Heaven by Christoph Marzi
The night that Heaven lost her heart was cold and moonless.
But the blade that sliced it out was warm with her dark blood.
An utterly compelling urban fairy tale where love, death and the stars collide.
Released: February 2012

The Killables by Gemma Malley
Evil has been eradicated. The City has been established. And citizens may only enter after having the 'evil' part of their brain removed. They are labelled on the System according to how 'good' they are. If they show signs of the evil emerging, they are labelled a K... But no one knows quite what that means. Only that they disappear, never to be seen again...
Released: March 2012

VIII by H. M. Castor
Destined for greatness... tormented by demons.
VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is plagued by the ghosts of his family's violent past and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII.
Released: October 2011

Right, I'm off to get reading! So much goodness on my shelves right now!

Monday, 1 August 2011

In My Mailbox: July Part 2!!!

Happy Monday folks!

Yes, it's the very first day of August 2011, but I received the following lovely books in the latter part of July, so this still counts as a July IMM. Enjoy!

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. After a night with Rubys friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers a dead body floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away - away from home, away from Ruby.
But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home at last, she finds a precarious and deadly balance waiting for her. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.
Released: out now in the US

POD by Stephen Wallenfels
PODs - strange alien spheres - hover menacingly in the sky, zapping anyone who ventures outside.
Will is 15 and stuck in his house with his OCD dad. They're running out of food... Megs is 12, alone and trapped in a multi-storey carpark. The hotel next door is under the control of dangerous security staff, but Megs has something they want, and they'll do anything to get it...
When the aliens invade, the real enemy becomes humanity itself.
Released: September 2011

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of her sworn enemies, she's certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer, one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack - and the boy - she left behind.
Ben is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side, no matter what?
Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can survive.
Released: Out Now

Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have) by Sarah Mylnowski
2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house - parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.
If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.
In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mylnowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart... one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.
Released: Out Now in the UK under the title Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A forbidden romance. 
A deadly plague.
Earth's fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future. 
Released: 5th January 2012

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio... and failed.
There are six of us left. And we're ready to fight.
Released: 23rd August 2011


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

In My Mailbox: July Part 1

Hi folks!

I haven't done an IMM in a couple of weeks, and have developed a hefty pile of books that I would like to share with you all. So am splitting the feature into two parts, the second to follow by the end of the week (hopefully!).

So here we go... six books complete with blurbs and release dates! 

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond
Billy Dean is a secret child, growing up in the dark heart of Blinkbonny. He has a beautiful young mother and a father who arrives at night carrying the scent of incense and cigarettes. His world is just a bed, some pictures of the Holy Island and a single locked door, but his father fills his dreams with mysterious tales and dreadful warnings.
When his father disappears, Billy's mum brings him out into the world, and he learns the dreadful truth of what happened in Blinkbonny on the day he was born. Gradually he finds he has the gift of helping to rebuild what has been broken. But there is one figure who is beyond healing, who comes looking for Billy himself and is determined on a kind of reckoning.
David Almond's extraordinary first novel for adults is the story of a child, born of sin, who emerges into a post-industrial, almost apocalyptic world where the force of his innocence is tested to the extreme. 
Released: 1st September 2011

Love, Inc. by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout
Zahra, Kali and Syd would never have met if their parents' marriages hadn't fallen apart. But when the three girls collide in group counselling, they discover they have something else in common: they've each been triple-timed by the same wicked charmer, Eric, aka Rico, aka Rick. Talk about eye-opening therapy. Now all three girls have one mission: to show that cheater the error of his ways.
Project Payback is such a success, the girls soon have clients lining up for their consulting services. Is your boyfriend acting shady? Dying to know if your crush is into you? Need matchmaking expertise?
Look no further than Love, Inc. 
Released: 26th September 2011

Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver
On the third night after the day her father died, Liesl saw the ghost.
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice - until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone. That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable. Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
Released: September 2011

Sister, Missing by Sophie McKenzie
It's two years after the events of Girl, Missing and life for sixteen-year-old Lauren is not getting any easier, as exam pressure and a recent family tragedy take their toll. Lauren's birth mother takes Lauren and her two sisters on holiday in the hope that some time together will help, but a few days into the holiday one of the sisters disappears, under circumstances very similar to those in which Lauren was taken years before. Can Lauren save her sister, and stop the nightmare happening all over again?
Released: 15th September 2011

Girl Parts by John M. Cusick
David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David's parents present him with a hot Companion bot designed to encourage healthy bonds and treat 'dissociative disorder,' he can't get enough of luscious, redheaded Rose - and he can't get is soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Severed from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up to her, knowing that she isn't real. With Charlie's help, the ideal 'companion' is about to become her own best friend. 
Released: Out Now

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Rose is about to wake up...
After sixty years of cryogenic sleep, Rose Fitzroy is woken with a kiss. Her world is barely recognisable and all the people she loves are dead. As she begins to find her way, she must come to terms with her dreams and memories and embrace a new world... before an unstoppable assassin can snatch her new life from her. 
Released: August 2011

Ok, so how exciting are those books, right?! I've got a lot of reading ahead of me... catch me later in the week for Part 2 of my amazing In My Mailbox for July!!!

Hugs and High Fives,


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Triple Review Bonanza!!! Sunday 24th July 2011

It's a stunning Sunday, and I'm in one of those moods where I just can't move much. Saying that, I haven't moved much for the last three days, having been almost entirely eaten by my Hypersomnia. Don't even want to count the hours that I've been asleep, it would be far too depressing. On the bright side, I finally have an appointment with The Neurologist for Wednesday. Rather excited about this, as hopefully it will lead to some answers!

Anyways, on to Super Review Sunday!

First up is a great new read from a fantastic UK YA novelist, Keren David:

In this, David's third novel, we follow our marvellous anti-heroine Lia, whose obnoxious, self-centred teenisms make her a delight to read. She wins 8 million on the lottery, and her life changes forever. Alongside this she pursues a relationship with the mysterious Raf, tortured-soul/possible-vampire. Lia's musings on whether or not Raf is a supernatural being are absolutely hilarious, and the evolution of the true story behind his old-school demeanour and pale skin is really touching.

David packs a lot into this little novel, and the pace is perfectly timed. She also manages to tackle deep themes with a light touch, in fact sometimes I wonder if she's delved a little too deep. There's a great sub-plot surrounding Lia's friend Shazia's exploration of Islam, but I found Lia's own seeking out of the Imam in Shazia's mosque a little hard to believe. Using modern Islam to juxtapose Lia's lottery win, however, is a very intelligent way of tackling a real issue for the gamut of young people currently looking for deeper meaning in the world.

So now for my only Big Problem with the book, and it was a moment that really caught me by surprise. I actually found myself gasping "Lia! No!" at the pages. Those who don't want a spoiler, look away now. The issue is unprotected sex. Now I'm the first person to object against preachiness in YA, but I was really surprised that David chose to go to this particular place. Technically, we find out later, the sex isn't unprotected, but it was still enough to shock. Could get a whole debate started here... but I think it's time to move on.

Lia's Guide To Winning The Lottery will make a perfect Summer read, and I love the way it made me ponder what I would do if I won the lottery. Give half to charity and invest the rest... of course...!


Review No. 2 of this fine Sunny Sunday....

What a totally awesome read!!! Think that's all I need to say really.

Ok... will give you a bit more...

I just love how MJ gives us intelli-geeks some paranormal fantasy fun without feeling like we're sinking into sinister depths of silliness. But what really scares me is how our American author manages to capture London so brilliantly. She gets EVERYTHING right. Well... nearly everything... our heroine sits down to watch the BBC News at 7.30 one evening, and there I am, yelling at the book, going NO THAT'S WHEN EASTENDERS IS ON!!! So, Radio Times issue aside, we have this brilliant depiction of modern London from the point of view of a girl from the American South. And then Jack the Ripper crops up!!! Ingenious, totally thrilling, and MJ's trademark wit shines through.

I mean, where else are you going to get Zombie Spice Girls? With Posh featuring as a 'bone' accessory?!

Only issue with this book, is that it managed to end at precisely the point where I'm so into it that I just want More More More. So hungry for Book 2 of the Shades of London series that it hurts.


And now for something completely different... but not so different if you're a mega Margaret Atwood / Angela Carter fan like me!

Gentle, poetic prose leads you into the ghastly world of Rhine, trapped in an idilic mansion with two other sister-wives in a world where women die at 20 and men at 25. I was reminded so much of the Bluebeard stories as I read this, although here it's not Rhine's husband Linden who is the problem, but his father Vaughn, who we're led to believe has a torture chamber in the basement, designed to help him find the cure to whatever is killing all the young people. This is a dangerous and sinister world, one that seems ultimately tragic whatever way you look at at: either Rhine accepts her fate and has the children Linden wants, or she escapes and dies anyway in a few short years.

There are odd plot-holes here and there: I never could figure out why Rhine doesn't tell Linden the truth about his father, or why the orphan attendants aren't also pulled up to have children in this dying world. There is also the issue of where all the wealth and technology comes from in this decaying planet. But none of these problems detracted from the heart of the story, and the testimony of Rhine herself, clever and beautiful and trapped in a futile world.

Another first awaiting a sequel, but one I am really looking forward to. What a stunning debut talent Lauren DeStefano is, and I can't wait to see how this story progresses and develops.


Well folks, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and please let me know your comments!


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

You're going to have to trust me on this one from the outset, because the initial pitch isn't promising. I shall demonstrate by relaying a conversation I had with one of my best friends last weekend in Cambridge, who shall be known henceforth as Dr Alice:
Me: Alice, you like horses, don't you? (Alice is in fact a fine competitor in Eventing, a sport I don't really understand, except for the fact that it involves horses and is quite posh)
Dr Alice: Yes...
Me: Well I'm reading this book that you might like. It's about horses...
Dr Alice: Really? Tell me more...
Me: Well, when I say horses, what I really mean to say is magical carnivorous water horses... who race on a beach...
Dr Alice: [imagine open mouthed baffled expression here]
Needless to say that this expression was similar to mine when I was first told about the book by my lovely sales rep from the publisher, Scholastic. 

Every November the water horses emerge from the sea on to the remote island of Thisby seeking blood, and every year locals and tourists alike come down to the beach to watch them, perhaps catch one, and possibly enter themselves in the Scorpio Races, a bloody race in which the winner receives a vast amount of riches. Many try, and many die, either thrown off their horse and trampled underfoot, dragged beneath the waves as their steed charges back home, or eaten. Yes... eaten. There is nothing these horses like more than fresh meat. Sean and Puck both have their reasons to enter the race, and both want to win. They also find in each other kindred spirits, and slowly fall in love.  

There wasn't much about this book that I didn't like. The main characters fall in love a little slowly for my liking, and there weren't enough scenes of them together, but I understand Stiefvater's reasons for keeping them apart. For this isn't meant to be a love story between people, it's a love story between horses. The relationships between Sean and Corr, and between Puck and Dove, are truly beautiful and surprisingly gripping. 

Stiefvater revels in displaying unconventional, yet inevitable love. She does this to some degree in her other novels (whether with werewolves or faeries) but it is in The Scorpio Races that her confidence really shines. Her characters barely speak (especially to each other!) but she knows how they move, how they feel and how they touch. Scenes that in any other novel would seem tame are positively charged with sexual energy: there's a moment where Sean holds Puck's wrist, feeling her pulse after she rides his horse Corr, and needless to say my pulse was racing quite a bit too...

But what's truly amazing about this novel is the world that Stiefvater creates. It is so convincing I often found myself asking 'Where is it?! I want to go!!!' Thisby is part England, part Ireland, part eastern seaboard (I have visited Maine and Nova Scotia, and these could easily be locations). Sometimes I imagined characters with Cornish accents, sometimes Welsh, sometimes something else entirely (Puck was almost always consistently Irish sounding to me). As well as being an 'Other Place', Thisby is set in an 'Other Time'. Maybe Victorian, maybe post-war, maybe now. It is a world of quaint independent shops (butchers and bakers and tea rooms!), pagan festivals and old-school patriarchal values. This is a world where Water Horses are not only real, they are incredibly plausible. 

This is a novel that should be impossible to pull off. It is rooted in obscure myth, set in a strange alternate-England of olde, and features a romance more Victorian than modern. Oh, and did I mention the flesh-eating water horses? It shouldn't work. And yet it does. It really does. It is fine, intelligent escapism that makes me yearn for simple things, like bicycles and beaches (and quiet boys who know how to saddles from their spurs...). 

The Scorpio Races comes out in October, and I'd urge you all to read it!
(Alice will be receiving my proof copy in the post shortly...)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

In My Mailbox - Sunday 3rd July

I wasn't going to do an In My Mailbox because I'm on holiday, but then I popped into work because I got a message saying my in tray was clogged with packages! These are the goodies I picked up. I also got a second copy of Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star, so obviously I'm really very special.

Ruby Redford: Look Into My Eyes by Lauren Child
Technically this wasn't a package I picked up in the post, because it was in a goodie bag I received at the superb launch party. This book doesn't come with a blurb, but it IS a spin off from the Clarice Bean novels. In those novels, Clarice is obsessed with reading the Ruby Redfort books, and now they are REAL!!! It's all very meta... 
This book also has proper actual code puzzles throughout, devised by the excellent mathematician Professor Marcus du Sautoy of Oxford University. 
I've read the first 50 pages (on my way home from the party) and it's like reading a mash-up of The Incredibles, Richie Rich and Harriet the Spy. I also know for a fact, because Lauren Child said so, that the 80s TV show Hart to Hart was a massive influence. Truefact. 
You'll  be able to buy a finished copy (with a GREAT front cover) in October 2011

Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess
Ever felt like you just don't fit in?
Everyone says fourteen year old Billie is nothing but trouble. A fighter. A danger to her family and friends. But her care worker sees someone different.
Her classmate Rob is big, strong. He can take care of himself and his brother. But his violent stepdad sees someone to humiliate.
And Chris is struggling at school. He just doesn't want to be there. But his dad sees a useless no-hoper.
Billie, Rob and Chris each have a story to tell but there are two sides to every story, and the question is... who do you believe?
Hard-hitting, shocking and powerful, and on the shelves of bookshops from the 1st September

Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling
Catch a thief, and lose your heart.
Phoenix is a thief, Yves is a genius. Two different worlds, one amazing love story.
On bookshop shelves from September 2011

Bloodstone by Gillian Philip
(proof cover is really shiny black, and my camera didn't like it! )
For centuries, Seth and Conal have hunted for the Bloodstone Kate wants, without success. Homesick, and determined to ensure their clann's safety, they've also made secret forays across the Veil. One of these illicit crossings has violent consequences that will devastate both their close family and, eventually, their entire clann.
In the otherworld, Jed Cameron - a feral, fullmortal young thief - becomes entangled with the strange and dangerous Finn MacAngus and her shadowy uncles. When he is dragged accidentally into the world of the Sithe, it's nothing he can't handle - but that's before time warps around him, and the danger reaches out to threaten his infant brother.
In the collision of two worlds, conflict and tragedy are inevitable - especially when treachery comes fro the most shocking of quarters. 
The sequel to Firebrand, and on shelves... actually it doesn't say when. Probably soon...!

Corsets and Clockwork - 13 Steampunk Romances, edited by Trisha Telep
When good hearts battle evil, resistance is automated. From magical outcasts to kindred spirits, feisty heroines to genius inventors, to war zones and supernatural rituals, idealistic young heroes skulk through the dangerous streets of the soot-choked city of industry, while lovelorn humanity trembles on the brink, all soft flesh and corsets in a sharp world of blood-sucking machines and technomagical desire.
But you can still find your true love - piece by spring-loaded, electro-magnetic, super-charged piece - if only you keep listening for the tick, tick, tick.
This was a guilty pleasure purchase, and is out now!

Who knows what more goodies I will receive when I go back to work on July 11th... 


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Cover Lover - July

Hi guys, seeing as I'm not going to be reviewing/receiving/reading much over the next couple of weeks, I thought I would give you a lovely look at what fun you'll find on the shelves of your local bookshop over the coming month. 

Look at all the pretty covers!!!

Wish I could figure out how to link the images to various websites where you can find out a bit more about the books... but that's a little too advanced for me. If anyone can help me out on that front, I can't wait to hear from you.

Happy Reading!!!