Wednesday 30 November 2011

Review: One Seriously Messed-Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane & Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite - Tom Clempson

Our Hero?
Sam Taylor

Jack Samsonite

His Mission?

1. Pass his GCSEs
2. Get the girl (to notice he exists)
3. Survive the week without a serious face punching

Good thing he's got a plan.
Well, half a plan . . .

Jack Samsonite Series:
One Seriously Messed-Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane & Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite
One Seriously Messed-Up Weekend in the Otherwise Un-Messed-Up Life of Jack Samsonite

Visit Tom Clempson's website for more information

Our hero Sam (or Jack as he has decided to call himself) is writing a diary for a week as a school project. His goals for the week are to study for his exams, get the girl and to avoid being beaten up but that's going to be a lot more complicated than it sounds.

I don't even know where to start with this review - sometimes you come across a book that is just so much fun to read that you don't want it to end and One Seriously Messed-Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite (hereafter referred to as OSMUW) is one of those books. I can't tell you how excited I am that there is going to be a sequel (although I believe we'll have to wait until 2013 to read it unfortunately). I have to mention that title - it has to be the longest book title I've ever come across but it suits the story perfectly and I love it.

Jack is a fairly typical 15 year old boy, he isn't one of the popular crowd but he isn't one of the geeks either and he flits between several different school cliques. I'm not going to tell you what he gets up to in his week - you're going to have to read the book for yourself if you want to find out. What I will tell you is that Jack reminded me of a less geeky Adrian Mole and I've not read a book that made me laugh as much as this one in a long time. In fact I completely embarrassed myself by snorting with laughter when I was reading OSMUW on a train. I just couldn't stop myself - I mean who knew choosing which urinal to use was such an exact science!

I have quite obviously never been a teenage boy but it was easy to relate to Jack, he faced a lot of the same kind of problems at school as I did and his character is very realistic. If you have ever wanted to know what goes on in a teenage boy's head then you need to read this book - it explains a lot! I don't think a page goes by that won't have you laughing but the story deals with some serious issues along with the humour. The twist at the end completely shocked me and as soon as I finished reading I had to go back and read the beginning again because it was so cleverly written.

I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone, if you have ever been a teenager you will be able to identify with Jack. I'm sure teenage boys will love the story but it will definitely appeal to girls too. My only warning would be that if you don't like crude humour and are easily offended by swearing then this might not be for you but as long as you don't take it too seriously I'm sure you'll love it as much as I did. OSMUW is a fantastic debut and I can't wait to see what Tom Clempson comes up with next!

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Guest Review: Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick

Today I have a guest review from the lovely Kirsty at The Overflowing Library.  Kirsty is a fab blogger and a great friend so if you've never visited her blog make sure you drop by and see her.  Thanks for letting me post this as a guest review Kirsty!  This review was originally posted on The Overflowing Library here.

Nora Grey's life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn't pleasant, but at least she got a guardian angel out of it: a mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But, despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He's more elusive than ever and even worse, he's started spending time with Nora's arch-enemy, Marcie Millar.

Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Patch hadn't been acting so distant. Even with Scott's totally infuriating attitude Nora finds herself drawn to him - despite her lingering feeling that he's hiding something.

Haunted by images of her murdered father, and questioning whether her nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death, Nora puts herself increasingly in dangerous situations as she desperately searches for answers. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything - and everyone - she trusts.

The Series:
Hush, Hush

Visit Becca Fitzpatrick's website for more information

Kirsty's Review:
I'm sorry to say I didn't like this as much as Hush Hush. The story picks up where hush hush finished off and continues to follow Nora's story.

I like the character of Nora. She is cute and feisty (albeit a bit dim when it comes to Patch) and I love Vee her best friend. I love their relationship and following the story for their point of view.

I really didn't like Patch in this book. I hated how he acted towards Nora and I really wanted to go and give him slap him and tell him to pull himself together and grow up.

Like Hush Hush the story goes along quite slowly to start with. A lot of ideas where built up (especially the story line involving the new character Marcie. The final part of the book was where it all kicked off and the revelations that came out were awesome. I am looking forward to seeing where the story goes next.

All in all not bad once you got through the first part which was a bit slow. The scene has been set for a brilliant finale.

Source: Received from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Atom Blogger Event - 23rd November 2011

Christi Daugherty, Sarra Manning & some of the Atom team

Last week I was very excited to go to the Atom offices for their blogger event and we were well and truly spoiled with books and nibbles!  When we arrived there were piles of books everywhere & you can imagine our excitement when we were told to help ourselves.  We spent some time mingling with the fabulous Atom team and other bloggers before heading through to the meeting room where the team told us about some of the new books they have lined up for next year and introduced the special guests Christi Daugherty and Sarra Manning.

Here are a few pictures I took of everyone before the presentation started:

First we heard from Christi Daugherty who was talking about her debut novel Night School that will be released by Atom on the 5th of January.  She told us that the inspiration for the story came when her husband took her to see his sister's school.  It was an old Victorian building that was incredibly creepy and Christi couldn't understand why parents would send their children to such a scary school!  Night School sounds like it is going to be a fantastic read and I'm really looking forward to starting it.

Christi Daugherty

Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested.


This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers.

But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Its rules are strangely archaic. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch.

When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy.
(Description taken from Goodreads)
Next we found out about Trapped by Michael Northrop which I think will be a very scary story so I may have to read this one in daylight!  It is supposed to have a Lord of the Flies feel to it and we were warned that not everyone will survive until the end of the book.
The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive....
Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision....
(Description taken from Goodreads)
The Book of Blood & Shadow by Robin Wasserman will be published in January.  This is a nail biting thriller that was described as Dan Brown for the YA market with the story taking main character Nora on a quest all over Europe that ends in Prague.
It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.
But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.
(Description taken from Goodreads)

One I'm really excited about is Under the Never Sky which is Veronica Rossi's debut novel and is being published next February.  This is a post-apocalyptic story set in a savage world and it sounds like it has a wonderful romance.

Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers abarbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY

The first book in a captivating trilogy, Veronica Rossi’s enthralling debut sweeps you into an unforgettable adventure.
(Description taken from Goodreads)

Next up we have Bunheads by Sophie Flack which was described as Black Swan for the teen set and is due to be published in March.  The story doesn't shy away from the dark side of ballet - the gruelling rehearsals, the food issues, bleeding feet and even the back stabbing as people fight over the lead roles.

As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?
(Description taken from Goodreads)

Another one I'm really looking forward to is 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad that will be released in April.  This was first published in Norway 3 years ago and Johan was described as "One of the most important authors to emerge in the beginning of the century" in a Norwegian newspaper.  The story has a classic 70's sci-fi feel to it and is supposed to be very creepy and frightening - it sounds absolutely awesome!

Three teenagers are going on the trip of a lifetime. Only one is coming back. It's been more than forty years since NASA sent the first men to the moon, and to grab some much-needed funding and attention, they decide to launch an historic international lottery in which three lucky teenagers can win a week-long trip to moon base DARLAH 2 - a place that no one but top government officials even knew existed until now. The three winners, Antoine, Midori, and Mia, come from all over the world. But just before the scheduled launch, the teenagers each experience strange, inexplicable events. Little do they know that there was a reason NASA never sent anyone back there until now - a sinister reason. But the countdown has already begun...
(Description taken from Goodreads)

We also got to find out about some of the books Atom have coming out for younger readers (around the 8-12 age range).  Now, I don't usually read books aimed at younger readers but some of these have me tempted to give them a try!

First we have The Witch of Turlingham Academy by Ellie Boswell.  This one will be available in March and was described as The Worst Witch meets the Chocolate Box Girls with a dash of Enid Blighton.

It's not easy being the only day girl at Turlingham boarding school: Sophie misses out on all the midnight feasts and late night gossip. Things take a turn for the worse when a new girl - Katy - shows up and all Sophie hears is Katy, Katy, Katy from her friends. It's like she's put a spell on everyone. Katy's no witch, but there is a witch at Turlingham. Katy comes from a long line of witch hunters whose fate is to stop evil magic once and for all. Sophie is going to help her - anything to get Katy out of her life and get things back to normal. But what she finds out means nothing will ever be normal again!
(Description taken from Amazon)

In April we have the first book in the Creepover series - Truth or Dare by P.J. Night.  This is a series was described as Goosebumps for girls and is like telling scary stories around a campfire.

Another fun sounding series to look forward to next year is the Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams which starts with Athena the Brain in May.  The next 3 books (Persephone the Phony, Aphrodite the Beauty and Artemis the Brave) will all be published next year so there is no long wait in between installments.

Last but by no means least we got to hear Sarra Manning talk about her next book Adorkable that will be published in May.  Sarra said she wanted to create a heroine who was bolshy but real and said that the story is full of haribo, roller derby's, cupcakes and teen culture.  It sounds like a really fun read, there is currently no cover image available but here is the blurb (taken from 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?
Sarra Manning

After the presentation there was time for more mingling, food and book chat before it was time for us to haul our new books home with us.  I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone at Atom for a fab evening and for letting us loose on the books (there was a lot more space on the shelves by the time we'd finished lol).
So what do you all think of the titles Atom have lined up for us next year?  Which of these are you most looking forward to?
Who was there?
Sam, Rosi, Maddie, Gina & Kate - Atom Website - Event Report
Christi Daugherty - Website
Sarra Manning - Website
Leanne - District YA
There were a couple of new to me bloggers who were also at the event and unfortunately I didn't make a note of their names or blogs.  Please let me know if I've missed you off the list & I'll add you in!

Review: Die For Me - Amy Plum

My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal.  But it only took one moment to change everything.

Suddenly, my sister Georgia and I were orphans.  We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents.  And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again.  Then I met Vincent.  Mysterious, sexy and unnervingly charming, Vincent appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy.  Because Vincent is no normal human.  He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day.  He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

Can I risk putting my heart - as well as my life and my family's - in jeopardy for a chance at love?

Revenants Series:
Die For Me
Until I Die
If I Should (2013)

Visit Amy Plum's website for more information

Kate and Georgia's parents recently died in a car accident, their life has been turned upside down and they have moved from America to live with their grandparents in Paris.  When Kate meets Vincent in a cafe she is attracted to him but she soon realises that he has a secret that could put her life in danger.  Is she brave enough to stay with him despite the risks?

I've had Die For Me on my shelves for quite a while now and I'm annoyed with myself that it took me so long to get around to reading it.  Although perhaps that really is a good thing as it means I have less time to wait for the next installment.  This was a great addition to the YA paranormal romance genre, it is a quick and easy read and one I really enjoyed.

Kate and Georgia are both great characters and I loved the relationship between the two of them and their grandparents.  The sisters deal with their grief in very different ways with Kate becoming more and more isolated and preferring to lose herself in a good book while Georgia is a social whirlwind who is constantly out making new friends and partying.  I felt both ways were very realistic but I could definitely identify more with Kate as I have a similar tendency to hide away from the world when something is bothering me.  I liked the fact that although Kate is instantly attracted to Vincent they take time to get to know each other, yes their relationship progresses fairly quickly but it does so in a believable way and I was routing for them to find a way to be together.

I loved the setting of the book, I've not read many stories set in Paris and Amy Plum did a great job of describing the cafes and museums that Kate spent so much time in.  I really want to go back to Paris now and spend time exploring!  I also loved the mythology of the revenants, I don't want to go into detail about that as I think it's best to discover them for yourself by reading the book but it made a nice change to read about something different from vampires and shape shifters.  I really liked Vincent and his group of friends, Charlotte, Ambrose and Jules were particular favourites of mine but I'm keen to find out more about all of the others too and it will be interesting to see what direction things head in next.

Die For Me is a fantastic start to a new series and one that I'm keen to continue reading.  I'm sure it will be a big hit with YA paranormal romance fans and I would highly recommend picking up a copy.  I'll be looking forward to seeing what Amy Plum comes up with next.

Source: Received for review via Netgalley but I was also given a print copy from my friend Kirsty (The Overflowing Library)

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Monday 28 November 2011

Review: Night Myst - Yasmine Galenorn

Eons ago, vampires tried to turn the dark Fae in order to harness their magic, only to create a demonic enemy more powerful than they could have imagined.  Having quietly amassed their strength for centuries, the Vampiric Fae are determined to enslave the world.  Now Myst, Queen of the Indigo Court, is rising again - and a long-prophesied war is about to begin . . .

Cicely Waters, a witch who can control the wind, has returned home to New Forest, Washington, after learning that her family is in danger.  The Indigo Court holds the city in fear.  People are vanishing, and strange deaths plague the town.  And when she is swept into an unexpected and passionate reunion with Grieve, the Fae prince who taught her how to harness the wind, Cicely finds herself with a fierce and territorial lover.

But Grieve has become enslaved by Myst's court, and now, caught between two evils, the lovers must survive the machinations of the Vampiric Fae queen, even as Cicely untangles the hidden secrets to her own heritage.

Indigo Court Series:
Night Myst
Night Veil
Night Seeker (2012)

Visit Yasmine Galenorn's website for more information

It has been years since Cicely last returned to her family's home, she was brought up by her junkie mother and they were always on the road, running from dealers they owed money to and looking for her mother's next fix.  But as soon as she finds out that her aunt and cousin are in danger Cicely knows it is time to go back and help protect them.  She could never have imagined the danger she will have to face though, she always thought the vampires were bad but that was before she found out about the Indigo Court - the court of the Vampiric Fae.

This is the first book I've read by Yasmine Galenorn but it definitely won't be the last!  Night Myst is a dark and gritty urban fantasy that leaves you never quite sure how the characters will survive to the end and it makes for gripping reading.  As can often be the case with the first book of a series there were times when I was a little confused about the rules of the world and the different abilities the characters had but once the story got going and I'd figured out who everyone was I didn't want to put it down.

Cicely has spent years protecting both herself and her mother and living a nomadic lifestyle so she is street smart and knows how to look after herself.  There are a few times when she walks into danger without thinking things through though so she is by no means a perfect heroine.  She is willing to admit her mistakes though and she is prepared to ask for and accept help from her friends which is something I admired.  I was really interested in her abilities and I loved the way her wind elemental, Ulean, looks out for her and warns her about coming dangers.  It does feel at times that she is completely out of her depth, the vampires in this story are pure evil but even saying that they are nowhere near as bad as the vampiric fae.  Cicely is forced into working with her enemies because they are the lesser of two evils but it doesn't take her long to realise she has made a bargain with the devil.  I'm hoping that we get to see her stand up for herself more as the series progresses and she learns to have better control over her magical powers.

The story moves along at a fast pace with Cicely and her friends facing danger at every turn.  We are introduced to a great selection of characters and I'm looking forward to getting to know all of them better.  I'm not sure why but I have a really bad feeling about her cousin's boyfriend Leo, I'll just have to wait and see if that feeling is justified.  While I liked Grieve and could see why Cicely is attracted to him I didn't get to know him well enough to fall for him yet.  He is definitely sexy, I liked the connection between them and am going to enjoy discovering more about their history in the next book.

Night Myst ends on quite a cliffhanger and I'm just glad that I've already got my copy of the next book, Night Veil, so I can find out what happens next.  There is plenty of scope for where Yasmine Galenorn can take the series so I'm looking forward to discovering which directions she chooses.  This is a strong start to a new series that I'm sure will only get better with each book, I'd highly recommend it if you like your urban fantasy dark and at times disturbing.  I'm definitely going to have to check out the authors Otherworld series too.

Source: Received from Turnaround in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Publisher Spotlight: Oxford University Press - January - March 2012

I thought it would be fun to start spotlighting new releases that different publishers have coming up over the next few months for us to look forward to.  I'm constantly looking for new books to add to my wish list and thought it would be a nice way of spreading the bookish love with other bloggers.  So stepping into the spotlight today we have . . .

Today I'm going to be talking about some fabulous books that Oxford University Press will be releasing early in 2012.  Trust me these books are ones you're going to want to add to your wish list!  Visit the Oxford University Press website for more information.

The first book I'm going to tell you about is 15 Days Without A Head a 2012 debut novel by Dave Cousins.  This is being released in January 2012 and I can already tell you that this one is a MUST read!  I was lucky enough to meet Dave at an OUP blogger event in September and the reading he did from 15 Days Without A Head had me in tears of laughter.  Although the story is obviously full of humor it also touches on some really difficult issues and I literally can't wait to start reading it.  I already know I'm going to love it!  You can find out more by visiting Dave Cousins' website.

Fifteen-year-old Laurence Roach wants a normal life.  But that's not easy when is Dad is dead, his Mum is a depressed alcoholic, and his six-year-old brother - Jay - thinks he's a dog.  (Scooby-Doo, to be exact.)  When Mum fails to come home one night, Laurence and Jay are left alone - with no head of the family.

Terrified that he and his little brother will be taken into care, Laurence tells nobody.  Instead he single-handedly attempts to keep his family together, spinning an increasingly complicated web of lies, and even dressing up as his Mum in an elaborate act of deception . . .

To top it off, each evening Laurence calls his local radio station from a telephone box, impersonating his dead father in an attempt to win an all-expenses-paid luxury holiday in the sun.  Surely that would be enough to cheer Mum up, stop her drinking so much, and make her come back home?

After two weeks on their own, running out of food and money, and with suspicious adults closing in, Laurence finally discovers where his Mum has been.  And that's when the trouble really starts . . .

Disillusioned with her ability to cope, will the boys be able to convince their Mum to come back home?

The next book I want to tell you about is Matt Dickinson's novel Mortal Chaos which will be released on the 2nd of February 2012.  Matt has already written several books for adults - The Death Zone which is an account of his climb to the summit of Mount Everest and two fictional novels High Risk and Black Ice - but Mortal Chaos is his YA debut and the first book in a new trilogy.  This looks like an action packed adventure story and I'm really looking forward to reading it.  For more information visit Matt Dickinson's website.

The Butterfly Effect: the scientific theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever.

Jamie and Will have bunked off school to go hunting.  Kuni, an 18-year-old Japanese climber is approaching the summit of Mount Everest.  Tina is piloting a troublesome flight from Heathrow to Moscow.  Six-year-old Bakili is desperately guarding his family's crops from bloodthirsty baboons in Malawi.  Shelton, an unhinged father in Washington DC, is hooked on revenge and building a bomb . . .

Flashing between characters around the world, Mortal Chaos is a heart-stopping adventure that will leave readers breathless.  Though the action starts with an innocent beat of a butterfly's wings in sleepy Wiltshire, this sets in motion a global chain of events that build to a nerve-jangling climax of mayhem and destruction.

Some will live.  Some will die.  All are connected.

Now we have Blade: Enemies by Tim Bowler, this is a bind up of the first two stories in the Blade series and looks like it will be a gripping read.  You'll be able to grab your copy from the 2nd of February.  Visit Tim Bowler's website for more information.

So what am I going to tell you?  Not much so don't get excited.  You probably want to know my name.  Well, that's a bit of a problem.  I got loads.  But there is one name I like.  Everybody called me it in the old days.  No one does now cos no one in this city knows it.  And that's fine.  I don't like to remember.  But I do like the name.  You can use it if you want.

Previously published in two parts as Blade: Playing Dead and Blade: Closing In, this is a stunning new package for this groundbreaking series.  Narrated by Blade himself, be prepared to enter his world.  It's not pretty . . . it's urban, real and dangerous.  As Blade's story unfolds, readers will become completely hooked by this unforgettable character.

Last but not least we have The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen that is due to be released on the 1st of March.  I've been really enjoying my historical fiction recently so I have to say this one really appeals to me.  I love the idea of a young girl who dresses up in ball gowns by day and sneaks out at night to commit robberies!  You can find out more by visiting Marie-Louise Jensen's website.

Set in Georgian England, fifteen-year-old Sophia is trapped by the limitations of living in a man's world.  Forced by her father to give up everything she loves, Sophia is ordered to make a new life in Bath.  By day, she is trapped in the social whirl of balls and masquerades.  By night, she secretly swaps her ball gowns for breeches, and turns to highway robbery to get her revenge . . .

When one man begins to take a keen interest in her, Sophia must keep her distance, or risk unmasking her secret life.

So what do you think of the upcoming Oxford University Press titles?  Are you adding them to your wish list?

Saturday 26 November 2011

Review: The Demon's Surrender - Sarah Rees Brennan

The Goblin Market has always been the centre of Sin's world.

But now the Market is at war with the magicians, and Sin's place is in danger.  Keeping secrets from the market she loves and struggling with a friend who has become a rival, Sin is thrown together with the Ryves Brothers, Nick and Alan - whom she has always despised.  But as Sin watches Alan struggle to protect the demon brother he loves, she begins to see both brothers in a new light.  But how far will brother go to save brother - and what will it cost them all?

The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy
The Demon's Lexicon
The Demon's Covenant
The Demon's Surrender

For more information visit Sarah Rees Brennan's website

Sin grew up in the Goblin Market, she's always been the best dancer and has always believed that she will become their leader when Merris leaves.  It turns out she has a rival though - she may like Mae but she is shocked that someone so new to the market might take over.  But Sin has been keeping secrets from the other market people, a secret that will destroy everything if it is discovered, and she has nowhere to turn for help apart from to Alan and Nick, the brothers that she has hated for years.  Can Sin take her rightful place as the leader of the market or will she lose the job to her friend?  The war between the market and the magicians won't wait while the new leadership is decided though so can the friends find a way to work together to beat their enemy once and for all?

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Demon's Lexicon trilogy so while I have been looking forward to reading the final installment I am also sad to reach the end of the series.  Luckily Sarah Rees Brennan manages to end on a high note and I think The Demon's Surrender was my favourite book of the series.  I love the way the narrator changes with each book, we had Nick's POV for The Demon's Lexicon, Mae for The Demon's Covenant and now in The Demon's Surrender it's Sin's turn.  I have to admit I was expecting the story to be told from Alan's POV, he seemed like the obvious choice but I think the story worked better with Sin taking charge of the narration.  Sin was able to give us an insider's view of the Goblin Market and I really enjoyed seeing her thoughts about the place she grew up in.

The story had plenty going on to keep me gripped, there were laugh out loud moments (particularly when Nick and Mae were together), heart breaking moments when I could hardly bear to carry on reading and a satisfying end that left a smile on my face.  I grew to really like Sin's character, I never disliked her in previous books but I didn't particularly care for her either.  We only ever really saw the surface of her character before and with her as the narrator we get to find out a lot more about her past, things haven't been easy for her since the death of her mother and the fact that she is caring for her siblings just makes it harder.  She was more vulnerable than I expected her to be but she was strong when it came to protecting those she cares about.  I have to admit there were times when I really started to dislike Mae which I wasn't expecting but I was glad that the rivalry between the two of them never overtook the rest of the story.  They may both want to be leader of the market but they both like and respect the other and I think in the long run the decision made at the end was probably the right one.

I still love Nick but this book was the one where Alan really started to shine for me.  I've liked him throughout the series but he was never my favourite character, this time I connected to him much more and I loved the way Sin was able to see through his different masks.  I thought the two of them were well suited as they are both performers - albeit in different ways - who only show the world what they want it to see.  Because they are both capable of displaying different persona's to others they were able to see through the other's lies and bluster to the real person underneath.

I don't want to say anymore about the plot for fear of spoilers so I'll just say if you're a fan of the series you're going to love the conclusion.  If you haven't started the series yet you definitely need to start with the first book The Demon's Lexicon, you wouldn't get the full experience if you pick it up at the end, but I'd definitely recommend giving it a try.  I'm excited to see what Sarah Rees Brennan comes up with next!

Source: Received from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

Other Reviews:
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Friday 25 November 2011

Review: The Iron Duke - Meljean Brook

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero.  Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power - and fear - of his name.  And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Dectective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

Mina can't afford his interest, however, Horde blood runs through her veins, and despite the nanotech enhancing her body, she barely scratches out a living in London society.  Becoming Rhys's lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him... and the Iron Duke's ruthless pursuit makes him difficult to resist.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England.  To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans - and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

Iron Seas Series:
The Blushing Bounder (Novella found in the Wild & Steamy anthology)
Here There Be Monsters (Novella found in the Burning Up anthology)
The Iron Duke
Heart of Steel

Visit Meljean Brook's website for more information

200 years ago the majority of England was infected with nanoagents by the Horde.  Only the wealthy aristocracy were able to escape infection by leaving the country and moving to the New World.  After the population was contaminated the Horde activated the nanoagents and were able to take full control of every person.  For 200 years the population lived in fear and poverty, stripped of their emotions and forced into having mechanical upgrades by the Horde.  Everything changed when The Iron Duke destroyed the control towers, the Horde was overrun and driven out of England.  Now the aristocracy (known as Bounders) have returned to claim the land they believe is rightfully theirs, those who remained behind and were infected (known as Buggers) are resentful of their return and struggling to deal with the return of their emotions.  Mina is a Detective Inspector but because of the circumstances of her birth and the fact she is obviously of Horde heritage she doesn't receive the respect she deserves.  She crosses paths with Rhys (The Iron Duke) when a body is thrown out of an airship onto his property and she is sent to investigate.  But whose body have they found and why was it delivered to Rhys?  Is it part of a conspiracy against the whole of England and will Mina be able to stop it in time?

I've had The Iron Duke on my wish list for quite some time now, I've heard nothing but good things about this book and the author so was really looking forward to reading it.  I have to admit I'm still fairly new to steampunk but it's a genre I've really enjoyed discovering.  Meljean Brook has done some amazing world building and I can't wait to continue reading the series.  Things can be a little confusing in the first few chapters as you try to get to grips with the setting and the history of the Horde but I was completely hooked from the moment Rhys stepped onto the page.

Mina is intelligent and works hard at her job as a Detective.  She constantly has to fight prejudice, not just from being a female in a job that is traditionally viewed as a man's work by her peers but also because of her Horde background.  She faces insults and threats on a daily basis but she is brave enough to keep going and she just wants to do her job to the best of her ability.  She is also fiercely loyal to those that she loves and will do whatever it takes to protect them.  She is immediately attracted to Rhys but she is worried about what would happen to her family if it is publicly known that she is dating England's hero.

Rhys was a pirate before he destroyed the tower and is now one of the most well known faces in the country.  His sins have been forgiven in the face of his help destroying the Horde tower and he has even been given the title of Duke of Anglesey as a reward.  At heart Rhys is still a pirate though, he is arrogant and expects to be obeyed.  If there is something he wants he goes for it and isn't willing to take no for an answer and what he wants more than anything is Mina, no doubt about it he plans to make her his.  Although he could come across as overbearing (especially at first) there is something sweet and deliciously sexy about him - who doesn't find a ruffian pirate at least a little hard to resist? - and the more you get to know about his back story the harder you will fall for him.  I loved the way he changed as he gets to know Mina and sees how fearful she is of someone having power over her, she was controlled by the Horde and refuses to let anyone have that kind of hold over her again.  As Rhys learns more about her past his attitude towards her changes and this is where the relationship really started to take off for me.

Along with the main characters we have some great side characters, I particularly loved Scarsdale who was always able to put Rhys in his place and provided a lot of light relief throughout the story.  I really hope we get to see his story in a future book.  I was excited to discover that Yasmeen will be the heroine of the next book, she is an airship captain and quite a tough cookie and I'm really curious to find out what her secret is.  At the moment I'm not too sure about the hero of the next book though, I'm not his biggest fan going on what we've seen of him so far but it'll be interesting to see if Meljean Brook can change my mind.  The plot is strong and fast paced, full of conspiracies, intrigue, prejudice and discrimination it is a real page turner that you won't want to put down.  If you love a story with a strong romance, likable characters and interesting world building then The Iron Duke is one I would highly recommend.  Even if you're new to the steampunk genre I think this would be a great place to start.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Book Trailer: Darker Still - Leanna Renee Hieber

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber at AADPhilly and it was one of my favourite reads in October.  The book has now been released in the US (there is no UK release date at this time but you can still order a copy online) so I thought I'd share the book trailer with you.  If you missed my review you can read it here, if you're a paranormal fan and like historical stories you'll love this book!

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Guest Review: Between - Jessica Warman

Today I have a guest review for you from my very good friend Poppy, she isn't a blogger (and has no intention of becoming one) but I'm hoping to convince her to make regular appearances on here as a guest reviewer.  Thanks for a fab guest review Poppy, I'm looking forward to more of them in the future!

‘It’s funny,’ Alex says. ‘I always thought you guys had such simple, perfect lives. Everything seemed so easy for you.’

Elizabeth Valchar is young, beautiful and popular. Everything is right in her expensive, glossy life…until the night of her eighteenth birthday party, on her parent’s yacht. A persistent thumping noise from outside the boat wakes her.

What Liz finds changes everything she thought she knew about her life, her friends, and what lies in-between…

Visit Jessica Warman's website for more information

Poppy's Review:
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book except that like in The Lovely Bones, the main character Liz is actually dead. I was intrigued as I assumed that like The Lovely Bones, Liz had been murdered and the book would be in her narrative until the reader found out who committed the crime. However, what soon became apparent was that the narrative would reveal much about the lives of the people Liz knew and her own life in the past and leading up to her death. I was no longer sure whether it would reveal any more about her death than was revealed in the opening chapters and in a way I didn’t care.

From the first chapter I could tell that the book was aimed at a teenage audience, but I was completely transfixed by the content and wanted to keep reading even though I am no longer a teenager! Liz came across as a spoiled ‘mean girl’ type of teenager who was used to getting her own way and had a clique of like-minded friends, a loving boyfriend, a step-sister she adored, a stepmother, her father and anything she wanted that money could buy. Liz came across as superficial and spoilt, but rather than finding this annoying to read about, I was pleasantly surprised because the book itself is far from superficial.

As I continued to read [and struggled to ever have to put the book down for any reason], themes started to emerge including bullying, social economic and high school status divide, drugs, trust, anorexia, guilt, loss, betrayal, deceit, lies and more. The narrative was a combination of Liz seeing events following her death in real time and dream like immersion in memories from her past. Initially Liz cannot remember much about her life or how she died, and the memories are a way for her to recall and start to piece together the story of her life from childhood.

What I didn’t expect from this book was to be challenged about how easy it is to judge people on face value, making assumptions based on outward appearances. The notion that you can never know or understand a person without having walked in their shoes rings very true. Morality is also questioned and the human nature of not wanting to get involved in other people’s problems. If you can see there is a problem, do you have a moral responsibility to help? There were times where I felt that more should and would have been done in certain situations…not everyone would pass on having to address some of these issues surely? Unfortunately real life shows us every day that this can be true. In many cases the people needing help don’t always want to ask for it or know how to at times and when they do it can be poor timing to find the right person who is prepared to listen and/or act on what they hear.

Between was a compelling read from start to finish. I changed my view about many of the people within the narrative as more became revealed about them, further to their outward actions and appearances. Some characters made me feel frustration, others anger, sympathy, understanding and disbelief. Overall I could see how the character’s lives intertwined and their behaviour, choices and actions mixed with various events to continuously affect their unwritten futures. Jessica Warman shows us that life is complicated and we have choices and we should take responsibility for our own behaviour. Within a well written intriguing novel, is woven much food for thought to help each of us re-assess ourselves and the bigger picture of the life in which we live.

Source: Received from Egmont in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Scholastic & Foyles Events with Maggie Stiefvater - 12th November 2011

Maggie Stiefvater & me

Last week I was very excited to have the chance to meet up with Maggie Stiefvater, author of Lament, Ballad, Shiver, Linger, Forever and The Scorpio Races (links will take you to my reviews).  I met her last year when she came over here on tour (click here to read my event write up) and was really looking forward to seeing her again.  Thanks to Catherine at Scholastic a few of us got to meet up with Maggie for brunch at the Covent Garden Hotel before her afternoon event at Foyles.  We were spoiled with delicious food (bacon, pancakes and maple syrup - yum! Although unfortunately due to allergies Maggie was only able to eat a couple of fried eggs) and great conversation.  We did try to get Maggie to tell us about the new secret novel she is currently working on but unfortunately she didn't spill any secrets so we'll all have to keep waiting until it's finished.

Caroline & Lynsey

Lynsey & Maggie


After brunch Lynsey, Caroline & I set off in hunt of Ben's Cookies as a treat for Maggie (we may possibly have bought some for ourselves too but I'm not going to confirm that rumor lol!) before heading to Foyles for the event.  Things kicked off with a guest appearance from Jonas and Plunkett, their song Spaceship was on Maggie's play list when she was writing Linger.  They also wrote the music to the song Summer Girl which is the song Sam wrote for Grace in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series and is the song that Maggie used in the Forever book trailer. 

Here are Jonas & Plunkett singing Summer Girl:

and here they are singing Spaceship:

I loved Summer Girl after hearing it on the Forever trailer but hadn't heard Spaceship before.  I have to say I'm now a big fan of theirs though & have downloaded all of their songs on iTunes (Spaceship is actually a charity single raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital - a very worthy cause so go and buy your copy now!).

Adrian (Plunkett), Jonas & Maggie

When it was time for Maggie to talk she had the audience in stitches when she told us about how she found out that Linger was number 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.   She was actually on a plane at the time and her Dad had forgotten to turn his mobile phone off which got Maggie in trouble with the stewardess!

Maggie then gave us her top 10 tips for writing a Maggie Stiefvater novel:

1.  You need to decide on a mood - Maggie's mood for writing Shiver was that she wanted to make people cry when they were reading it.  Maggie said she is one of those people who never cries at sad movies or books, she usually laughs at the sad parts. She did say that The Time Traveller's Wife is the only book that has made her cry, in fact it even made her cry the second time she read it (proper crying with snot bubbles & everything - Maggie's words lol).

2.  Get an idea - Maggie mentioned that you could steal an idea but it is generally frowned upon unless the person who came up with the idea originally is already dead!  Some examples of good ideas included "scientists create dinosaurs on an isolated island", "a man dressed as a bat who goes around solving crimes" and "a boat containing Leonardo DiCaprio sinks".  Maggie's books tend to have similar ideas behind them:
~ Lament - A boy has to kill a girl but doesn't want to.
~ Shiver - A boy turns into a wolf but doesn't want to.
~ The Scorpio Races - A girl has to ride a killer horse but doesn't want to.
Did you spot the theme yet?

3.  Decide on the ending

4.  Research is the key - Maggie because obsessed with cliffs when she was doing research for The Scorpio Races, she visited cliffs in California and throughout the UK.  When she was on tour in Paris and had a day off but instead of spending a day in the world's most romantic city with her husband she made him take her to Normandy so she could visit the cliffs there.

5.  Start writing - you can have the best idea ever but it's worthless unless you actually write it

6.  Something should die within the prologue or first chapter (this is a Maggie Stiefvater novel after all!) - Maggie did say you could possibly substitute killing with severe maiming but she would have to see it in context to decide if it worked or not!

7.  There is no step 7

8.  Put food in it - Maggie said that she likes to read a book that makes her salivate.  She mentioned a book that I think was by Diana Wynn Jones (I didn't catch the book title I'm afraid) that mentioned butter cakes, Maggie was desperate to try them and was horrified to discover that they don't exist.  She decided that she wanted to do something similar to her fans when she was writing The Scorpio Races and came up with the November cakes.  Even though they weren't supposed to exist Maggie found she couldn't resist experimenting and after an afternoon of baking she managed to create them - you can find the recipe on her blog here (I'm going to have to try and have a go at baking them sometime!).

9.  By now the story should have a beginning, an end, a good mood and someone should have died.  At this point you're probably stuck - research is the key that will dig you out of the hole.  Think about why the book is important to you.

10.  Ignore steps 1 - 9!  Maggie said that writing is different for everyone, you have to find the way that works best for you.


Maggie also took questions from the audience:
  • Why does Malvern (a character in The Scorpio Races) put salt and butter in his tea?  Maggie wanted to show that the character is eccentric and well travelled so she made him drink Tibetan bitter tea.  She said that the tea is traditionally made with yak butter (although technically that isn't possible as female yaks are called naks so it should be nak butter!).
  • Was your first trip to London what you expected?  (I may have the wording of this question incorrect).  Maggie said that her friends had told her that school visits in the UK would be very different to ones in America and she found that was definitely the case.  She visited 6 schools and gave the same talk she usually does at home but didn't get the same response over here.  She also found pupils were very shy about asking questions, at one school the first question was actually a comment "your accent is very cool".  This did give other students confidence to ask questions but it was more like a visit with her grandmother than a school visit with questions like "what airline did you fly over with?" and "what is your hotel like?".
  • What do you find is the saddest thing to write?  Maggie said she doesn't get upset writing sad scenes in her books, in fact she usually laughs while writing them.  She likes to play with people's emotions!
  • Who is your favourite character?  Maggie said her favourite character to write is Cole but she definitely wouldn't recommend dating someone like him.  In fact she advised the audience to go out and search for a Sam!
  • Where is The Scorpio Races set?  Maggie didn't want to answer this question but she did whisper that all the place names are Irish so that was probably a good hint.
  • Will there be a third book in the Lament series?  Maggie said she had always planned on the series being a trilogy and she does still plan to write the 3rd book.  The book was kind of pushed into a ditch when the Wolves of Mercy Falls idea came to her, it was about to climb out when The Scorpio Races pushed it back in and then it was knocked back down yet again by her new secret novel.  Maggie did say that if the idea still refuses to climb out of the ditch when she has finished the current book she's working on then she will have to shoot it in the head herself to put it out of it's misery.
After the event had finished it was time for the signing and Maggie very kindly posed with us for this group picture.

Caroline, Lesley, Maggie, me & Lynsey

Then the four of us headed off for an afternoon of shopping, eating and lots of book chat - I do love spending time with other book bloggers :o)  I'd like to say a massive thank you to Catherine at Scholastic and Neil at Foyles for arranging such a fabulous day for us.  We had an amazing time and it was great to get to chat with Maggie again!

Who Was There?
Catherine - Scholastic
Maggie Stiefvater - Website
Jonas & Plunkett - Website
Caroline & Lesley - Big Book Little Book

Monday 21 November 2011

Review: Twice Bitten - Chloe Neill

Merit, Chicago's newest vampire, is learning how to play well with others. Other supernaturals, that is. Shapeshifters from across the country are convening in the Windy City, and as a gesture of peace, Master Vampire Ethan Sullivan has offered their leader a very special bodyguard: Merit. Merit is supposed to protect the Alpha, Gabriel Keene - and to spy for the vamps while she's at it. Oh, and luckily Ethan's offering some steamy, one-on-one combat training sessions to help her prepare for the mission.

Merit has to accept the assignment, even though she knows she's going to regret it. And she's not wrong. Someone is gunning for Gabriel Keene, and Merit soon finds herself in the line of fire, he'll need all the help she can get to track down the would-be assassin, but everywhere she turns there are rising tensions between supernaturals - not least between her and a certain green-eyed, centuries-old master vampire.

Chicagoland Vampires Series:
Some Girls Bite
Friday Night Bites
Twice Bitten
Hard Bitten
Drink Deep
Biting Cold
House Rules
Biting Bad
High Stakes (Novella in the Kicking It anthology)
Howling for You (Novella)
Wild Things
Blood Games
Lucky Break (Novella)
Dark Debt
Midnight Marked
Phantom Kiss (Novella)
Blade Bound
Slaying It (Novella)

Heirs of Chicagoland Series:
(Spin off set approximately 20 years on from the end of the Chicagoland Vampires series)
Wild Hunger
Wicked Hour

Visit Chloe Neill's website for more information

With shapeshifters from all over America descending on Chicago to decide their future things are about to get interesting for Merit and the rest of Cadogan House. Master vampire Ethan is keen to make an ally of Alpha Gabriel and the rest of the pack so offers Merit's services as a bodyguard. Pack politics are adding complications though and Merit soon finds herself in the middle of assassination plots against Gabriel - can she keep him safe long enough for him to accept Ethan's offer of an alliance between the vampires and shifters?

I absolutely loved Twice Bitten and Merit is fast becoming one of my favourite urban fantasy heroines. Merit was changed into a vampire against her will and it has taken her time to accept her new life but she is slowly finding her place in Cadogan House and making stronger friendships with the other vampires. She is training hard for her position of Sentinel and can definitely kick arse when required but what I love most about her is her sense of humour and the fact that she refuses to blindly jump just because Ethan tells her too. He may be the master of her house but she questions him constantly and does what she believes is right no matter what the consequences.

There were a couple of things that I felt were missing in the second book (Friday Night Bites) and I'm happy to say that Twice Bitten didn't have the same problems. We still don't see as much of Merit with her best friend Mallory as we did in Some Girls Bite but I was happy to see that they are starting to get their friendship back on track again. Mallory is still learning to use her powers but she has a lot of strength and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her abilities as the series progresses. I was also pleased that we didn't see more of the triangle between Merit, Ethan and Morgan. I'm not a big Morgan fan and I love the chemistry between Ethan and Merit so I've been routing for them from the beginning. I was very pleased to see the progression in their relationship in this instalment, I nearly jumped for joy when they finally seemed to be getting it on so I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when things between them took a turn for the worse later on.

It's hard to know what to say about Ethan, he can still come across as arrogant and there are definitely moments when I really feel like giving him a slap but we get to see a softer, more vulnerable side to him here and I love him more than ever. I really hope that he and Merit can finally start to work out their differences in the next instalment, I want to get some kind of resolution to their relationship and things towards the end of the book have left me with high hopes for them.

The plot of Twice Bitten is fast paced and full of action, I loved finding out more about the different kinds of shifters and pack politics and am very curious to see how things continue in the next book. I love the side characters from the series - Lindsey and Luc from Cadogan House, Jeff and Catcher and of course Mallory. I've already ordered my copies of Hard Bitten and Drink Deep and will be moving them right to the top of my to read pile as soon as they arrive. If you haven't started this series yet then it's one I would highly recommend, it's becoming a firm favourite of mine and you don't want to miss it.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
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