Saturday, 31 December 2011

Favourite Books of 2011

It's that time again this year! December for bloggers is the time to reflect on what we've read and think about the books we would like to read in the new year...and what books we want on our present lists!

This the second year that I have done one of these, it's so nice to know that this blog is still going strong. It's been an amazing year and I hope I'll be doing another one of these this time next year. If you want to have a look at the one for 2010, click here.

On the Books of 2011 page, I added my favourite book of that month and this is an end of year round up of  my all time favourite books of this year. Enjoy!

January: A Song for Summer - Eva Ibbotson
This is the first book of 2011 I read and it is one that has stuck with me for the rest of the year. It is incredibly beautiful and powerful to read and I think it shows the essence of Eva Ibbotson's great writing skills.
I also read another one of Eva Ibbotson's - This Morning Gift. Which although it was good and enjoyable, for me, it just didn't suit my tastes and I found it a little boring. Eva Ibbotson's plots can be quite complex but this book and The Secret Countess are ones that are more simple and much more enjoyable.

Review | Goodreads

February: Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
This is one of those books where you're not sure whether it's going to be good or not. I mean, it was an interesting concept but I read so many bad reviews for this before I started.
And until about halfway through, I thought it was so-so. This book has some of the most well thought-out and most original characters I have ever read in Audrey, Victoria and Jonah. The plot is fast and keeps you interested without being too fast paced. It has an interesting storyline and one, although it's never happened to me, I could relate to. Although there is a lot of swearing, like on every page, this book creates a fun, musical atmosphere that is so enjoyable and optimistic to read. You can tell I enjoyed it as I read it in only a few days.
Review | Goodreads

March Part 1: Chocolate Cake with Hitler - Emma Craigie
This was an extraordinary book, one that I remember frequently and really got me interesting in the whole story of Hitler's last days. This has a lovely range of characters in an interesting and intriguing setting. You can see how much research and detail has done into this novel and it has, although a horrible, shocking ending to the main story, a look at the different characters mentioned and how they spent the rest of their lives. This is a book that makes you reflect on life and how experiences like this can change you.

Review | Goodreads

March Part 2: The Legacy - Gemma Malley
Yes, I couldn't choose which one to have that month so I chose two. The Legacy was a book I waited for, for what seemed like ages. I had read the first two books in the trilogy, The Declaration and The Resistance and loved them - but they left so many things unanswered to I was itching for the library to have this book in. And it did - finally. This was my first dose of dystopian fiction and I loved it, from the characters of Peter and Anna to the plot to the interesting twists and turns that line the whole series. Gemma Malley, for me, is a genesis.

Review | Goodreads

April: I was Jane Austen's Best Friend - Cora Harrison
I admit I was dubious of this book when I saw the title and cover, something stopped me buying it until it was in the sale. But I absolutely loved it. The characters are amazing and really reflect the characters of Austen's best loved book, Pride and Prejudice. The plot, language, descriptions, characters, romance was just spot on and this instantly became my favourite book after reading. I'll looking forward to reading the next in the series, Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend (yes, I am dubious of the title still) which I'm waiting for the paperback version before buying.

Review | Goodreads

May: Looking for Alaska AND July: Paper Towns - John Green
Okay so there were two John Green novels at the top for 2011 but I thought I'd combine them.
Looking for Alaska was interesting and gave me a nice introduction to John Green in general. This was a great book with interesting characters, a great plot and a lovely setting. It isn't a perfect novel, I thought the second half of the novel was nothing special but for me, the first half made this book.

Review | Goodreads

Paper Towns was a much better read for me than Looking For Alaska. The plot and characters were much better and I don't think I've EVER laughed so much when reading a novel. This  book had me in stitches on every page, some of my favourite quotations come from this.
Great book, I would recommend it to anyone.

Review | Goodreads

June: Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
I was introduced to this book by a friend of mine, she wanted me to read it thinking I would enjoy it. And boy, did I. It's quite interesting when you get behind an idea like a painting. I loved the original setting and characters that accompanied it.
Although this is a fiction book, I liked the idea that it could be real and that the story could have happened. So glad I read this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction or this movie.

Review | Goodreads | Movie Review

July: The Roman Mysteries: The Man from Pomegrantate Street - Caroline Lawrence
The Roman Mysteries was a series I started reading when I was in Year 4 (3rd Grade) and have read it over and over since. This year marked the end of the main series with the release of the final book in the series.
I loved it and it is my favourite of the whole series. This series is aimed at children 9-12 but is still amazingly interesting for a 16 year-old like me.
They have some great characters with vivid descriptions and lots of twists and turns throughout. The ending was perfect and a great end to the books that filled my childhood.

Review | Goodreads

August: Theodore Boone - John Grisham
I've always known about John Grisham, in fairness, who hasn't? But this was a nice way to be introduced to his writing and interesting with him branching on to teenage fiction. Theodore Boone is such a unique person with a life which is quite...nice. I would love to be him for a day.
There's something very different about this mini-series of books which makes you want to read them and read them.

Review | Goodreads

September: The Rogue's Princess - Eve Edwards
I absolutely fell in love with Eve Edward's writing and characters in her first novel The Other Countess. This year saw the release of the next two in the series, The Queen's Lady and this one, The Rogue's Princess continuing following the male Lacey's falling in love. Soppy, but she does it so well.
The Other Countess is my favourite so far but this one is close behind with moments I laughed out loud and moments I had tears in my eyes. She really is an author to watch eagerly.

Review | Goodreads

October: The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
There is always that book where you seem like the last person to finally get around to reading it and then, when you do, you think 'Why on earth did I not read this one before?'
The Hunger Games is the case here. I borrowed the book from a friend after my close friends were always saying 'Rebecca, you have a blog about books, why have you not read it?!'
This is one of my favourites, the characters, plot and setting are all so unique and something incredibly different. I am so looking forward to the movie version in 2012.

Review | Goodreads

November: Wither - Lauren DeStefano
This is another case where I wondered why I hadn't read it yet. I bought this book in the summer because I loved the cover (sad but true I'm afraid). This is an amazing book with lots of morals we don't think about challenged.
For me, the thing that clung to me was the descriptions and DeStefano's beautiful writing. This is an incredible book that stays with you.
I'm looking forward to the sequel, Fever, released in February!

Review | Goodreads

December: Saving June - Hannah Harrington
This was my first Netgalley book and I wasn't sure whether I would enjoy it at all. In fact, I really enjoyed it and I realised that this is the kind of book I truly like.
There are many faults that annoyed me but ultimately, this book reminded me so much of Sarah Dessen's work. The continuous change of location and the look at Harper's judgements about those around her constantly changing really interested me. One of the most surprising reads that I enjoyed indeed.

Review | Goodreads

Notable Mentions:
- Bright Young Things - Anna Godbersen
- Once - Morris Gleitzman
- Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery - Keren David
- Where She Went - Gayle Forman


Friday, 30 December 2011

On My Bookshelf: Christmas Edition (12)

This meme is inspired by the similar meme, 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren  (I don't have a Mailbox...)

As Christmas has just past, I, of course being a book lover, got quite a few books in my stocking. So here they are (all links lead to Goodreads):

For Christmas:
These were from my best friends.
- The World of Downton Abbey - Downton Abbey is my ALL TIME FAVOURITE SHOW on TV at the moment, closely followed by Doctor Who. If you haven't watched it, I would certainly recommend it. It's like a cross between Upstairs, Downstairs and Hollyoaks - soap-ish but not too soap-ish - and in period costume.
- Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro - this is from my friend Tijana who describes me as elegant. I appreciate it, but when I look at my clumsiness, I cringe, so yeah, maybe a little. ANYWAY, when she read this book, she was reminded of me so wanted to get it for my birthday - but couldn't find it. And now I have it! It looks great and you never know, it may stop my clumsiness.

These are from my parents and grandmother.
- Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies - the thing that interested me about this book was that it was written by Miep Gies who has more of an insight into Anne Frank than most people. This seemed an interesting novel to read and I'm quite looking forward to this one. 
- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - To add to my John Green collection, this looks really good and my mum was even like 'Oh I might read this one, this looks funny'

Bought myself:

After my parents couldn't find the Hunger Games trilogy box set I had put on my Christmas list, I bought them myself with my own money and a discount so happy days. I love these new covers, they're so simple and unique. 
So here are The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay - The Hunger Games Trilogy

What about you guys? What books did you get for Christmas?

Thursday, 29 December 2011

End of Year Book Survey

I saw this last year but didn't jump on the wagon but decided this year that I would. This is a meme hosted in the month of December by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner - one of my favourite blogs.

Anyway, all you have to do is answer the questions she has created with your favourite books of 2011, and then you can add your post to Jamie's answers with the Mr.Linky. Click here for more details.

1. Best Book You Read In 2011? 
Okay, this is hard. I mean, I don't know if I can pinpoint one.
So I'm doing the great idea of Jamie's method to answer this question.

YA American author: Theodore Boone - John Grisham
YA English author: The Rogue's Princess - Eve Edwards
Dystopian: The Legacy AND The Hunger Games
Adult: Girl With A Pearl Earring
Historical: I was Jane Austen's Best Friend

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?
Wicked by Gregory Macguire - my friends and I love the musical and my friends love the book so I thought I would try it out. Warning for potential readers: If you've seen the musical, avoid this book at all costs. Haven't seen the musical? Fine, go ahead, read away.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
Saving June by Hannah Harrington - I did not think I would enjoy this book but surprisingly, I did!

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?
Erm...probably with my job at a bookstore, I recommended The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Hunger Games SO MANY TIMES.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?
Probably a cross between The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, the Once, Then, Now series by Morris Gleitzman and the Theodore Boone series by John Grisham - all very good.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?
OH, so many!
Erm, Robin Benway, Emma CraigieCora HarrisonJohn Green, Suzanne Collins - so many!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
An Education by Lynn Barber was a very different book for me. It is a biography and although I'm interested in the movie of this, I felt so uncomfortable and bored by just reading about her life - I don't know, I just realised that I don't enjoy biographies

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
Let's face it. It has to be The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?
Probably The Legacy by Gemma Malley. I read the first two in The Declaration series in quick succession so I really was hungry to know what happened next, especially as this was the final book in the trilogy. And it was the best, I think.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?
I am one of those people that judge a book by its cover, so covers make me want to read a book more. I think Wither has to be one - it is so beautiful and I bought the book without knowing what it was about BECAUSE of the cover. Another favourite of mine is the cover for The 10pm Question.

11. Most memorable character in 2011? 
There have been so many but the one I think of quite often is Flavia from The Roman Mysteries. 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?
Hands down - A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson. Such a beautiful book that I have thought of often throughout the year.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011? 
I think Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Andersen had a huge impact on me. I mean, I am quite thin and have been called anorexic before, and I know at least 3 girls who want to lose weight but are thinner than me. It made me think about how we all obsess about weight but what if you couldn't control that obsession...if I'm honest, that thought really scared me.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?
*in a quiet voice* The Hunger Games...

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011? 
Bright Young Things by Anna GodbersenOne shall be married, one shall be famous and one shall be dead'

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?
Meg Cabot needs to be in my life a bit more: Teen Idol 

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Okay so at one point in Saving June, I was like 'Where the hell did this come from?'
The END of Candor - I did not see that coming, I forced my friend to read it so I could talk about it...
The Hunger Games - OH MY LORD THE END.
Where She Went - AHHH THE END AHHH.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2011

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2011? 
There are so many I have discovered this year. I love Amy's blog, Nessie's, Audrey from Holes in my brain - sorry, but there are so many I love, they are the main ones I can think of right now.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2011? 
If I'm honest, I don't have a favourite at all. They are are such fun writing and reviewing.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog? 
Probably the one about Our World. I was looking at the terrible weather and just how the world was at the moment. I still can't remember what spurred me to write that.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else's blog?
There have been a few I must admit and to be honest, I don't know if I can pin one out, sorry.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I got to meet Malorie Blackman with my friend in the summer and that was great meeting the person you've always known about since I was a child.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?
AH. So many moments, this year has been amazing blogging wise. I think one of my favourites was when Caroline Lawrence saw the Childhood Faves of Tuesday Top Ten. Another is meeting so many new bloggers and becoming great friends with Amy and Nessie - it's weird I've only known them less than a year, it seems so much longer. Another favourite moment of mine was the guest posts that I did this year, my favourite being the one of Amy's blog on why I love books. It's so great to apart of this amazing blogging world.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Views: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - not one I would have thought
Comments: I think it was my post about Eva Ibbotson, a year after her death - that really made me happy.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Sadly, there are quite a few. The reviews I posted in late November on Wither, New World, Perks of Being a Wallflower and Where She Went got no comments and I worked hard on those in the middle of a rough time. Oh well, I can't win everything.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
So many book blogs for one. Erm, I would say another discovery was Netgalley! AH, A-MAZ-ING. I never would have read Saving June without it - no absolute way.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Well. I completed my Historical Fiction Challenge where I aimed for 10 books and read 17 (WHOO!). Then, I also completed the British Book Challenge to read 9-12 books and overall, read 20 (AGAIN WHOO!).
My only regret is I aimed to read 50 books this year and there is only a couple of days left of 2011 and I'm read...48. I know, so disappointing. I blame my GCSE's.

Looking Ahead...

1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen - hands down.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?
The next book in the Chemical Garden series, Fever. Then, also the paperback version of Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend, continuing from I was Jane Austen's Best Friend.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?
Get 100 followers and have people comment frequently. If that happened this time next year, I would be one happy lady.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Twenty Boy Summer - Sarah Ockler

In July 2011, this book and 'Slaughterhouse-Five' were banned from school libraries in Missouri. However, they were brought back into the library but with heavy restrictions in September. Their reasons, I hear you cry?

'Books that fail to meet the age-appropriate threshold for language, violence, sexuality and drugs, alcohol and tobacco -- including the two in question -- would be available at school but housed in a secured section of the library. But, they could only be checked out by a parent or guardian.' 

It was also said that this book does against the values and beliefs of the Bible- so needs to be banned? I find it ridiculous personally, however, I understand the reasons, after reading, why it could be censored. These issues are dealt with in the novel, but so do about 20 other YA books I could mention, and none of them are less or more graphic than TWENTY BOY SUMMER. 
So where did I require my copy of this book? Well, ironically, my college library...

Synopsis: When Anna and her best friend, Frankie are getting ready for the best summer ever on holiday with Frankie's parents at Zanzibar Bay in California, they make a challenge. Twenty days in a beach town is the perfect opportunity to meet one boy a day, then, Anna has a pretty good chance to have her first summer romance. Although Anna light-heartedly agrees, there is something she hasn't told Frankie. She's already had her first romance the summer before with Frankie's older brother, Matt - who tragically died a month later. As the girls set off on their trip and the challenge starts, Anna has to find a way to tell Frankie before she finds out herself. 

Review: I don't quite know what to say about this novel. There were moments I loved, moments I didn't but by the end of this book, I connected with it and started to get into Anna and Frankie's lives, relationship and feelings. 
The crazy idea of a guy every day for twenty days on a holiday sounds ludicrous I guess. That was my first reaction when I saw the blurb. Okay, I agree it is very...teenage girl-esque, this is a typical teenage fiction book for girls about guys, love and summer. However, although upon the surface there is this, how do I put this...frivolous plot, there is a deep underlying context where Anna has to deal with both her and Frankie's grief while watching her best friend go off with a load of guys while she's still hung over with Matt. I guess the situation our protagonists are in is hardly something you see often in real life, but like all fiction, this book looks at 'What If?' All teenage girls play games or have challenges like the one in TWENTY BOY SUMMER, I should know, I am a teenager. But when you pronounce the challenge, such as this one, no-one really expects someone to go along with it but has the type of secret Anna has combined with it. It's something that really makes me think about when I ask people about things, or talk about things. 
For example, I know a few of my friends have crossed the teenage line where they may have had or done things associated with sex, I know that. But when you start talking about this kind of thing, there are people who may equally have done this but do not wish to talk about it. These are the people I think about now when I say things, where they've been in that situation before.

The writing is something that Ockler has to be merited on. She writes well with the occasional time where I had to re-read a sentence to understand - something I hate. She is very lyrical and I loved the constant references to the sea which makes this a real summer beach read book. Some reviews I have read talked about Sarah Ockler's wit and laugh out moments and yes, there were a few times which I found entertaining but personally, I did not find it THAT funny at all. The antics and outings Anna and Frankie had were entertaining and there was no moment, however, that I found boring. 

The characters are fantastic. And this book really reminded me of SAVING JUNE by Hannah Harrington with the protagonist, love interest, someone dead, the frivolous best friend, California - it really did remind me of that book. I felt, like some other bloggers, that Frankie's past character was lost a little with the past memories of Matt and Anna. Anna talks a lot about how Frankie has changed but as a reader, I didn't quite understand that she had as I never saw a clear image of the old Frankie. Matt became that perfect boy character, the one most readers come away wanting to know personally. For me, Anna was an interesting voice that I enjoyed reading about. She wasn't too 'out there' but wasn't too reserved with herself and her feelings. 
One problem that I found was with Anna's love for Matt and Sam. I liked Sam as a character and I understand the attraction Ockler makes Anna and the reader have for him. But. Anna says she has liked Matt for about six years before something finally happens and for me it showed that this relationship was built on being best friends from childhood, then, liking him. However, it seemed like the minute Anna set eyes on Sam, she was in love with him straight away which seemed the complete opposite to her attraction to Matt. I know this was done purposefully, but to me, it seemed a little weird. 

The romance and overall plot in TWENTY BOY SUMMER is well done. It brings the essence of a conventional teenage novel but adds a psychological look at the effects of Anna's type of grief for someone who she loved but no-one else knew she did. It is interesting and enjoyable to read, despite the few flaws. Anna and Matt as characters I think make this book, especially with the way it was written by Ockler. This book reminded me of so many novels I have enjoyed like THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE or SAVING JUNE. 
This is a book I would recommend for people who enjoy this type of fiction. I would have liked to see more of Frankie's past rather than Matt and Anna's, but overall, this is a book I think I'll remember and smile at.
Verdict: If you don't enjoy those typical teenage girl reads...avoid!

I give it a 4 out of 5 

Author's Website:
Pages: 290
Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers
Challenges: None 

Job, Future Posts and Books

Sorry for the lack of posting, I've been busy celebrating Christmas and working.

So, yes, news! I have a job, my first ever paid job. And guess where at?

A book shop! Yes, I have a Christmas job at Waterstone's which is like the main book shop company in England. There are lots of branches and I work in my local one in Richmond - a place where a lot of stars live because it's very affluent and so close to Ealing, Shepperton and Twickenham Film Studios. Which is great.

I'm mostly on the till or helping customers to find books, but it's still great fun and I get along with everyone I work with well. I'm leaving this week sadly, it was only for over Christmas but it was still a great experience.

On another subject, I have an army of posts to be posted after I have completed my English essays - sorry they take a higher priority. They are:

- 'Twenty Boy Summer' by Sarah Ockler review
- On My Bookshelf - Christmas presents
- End of Year Bookish Survey, hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner
- Top 10 Favourite Books of 2011

Have a lovely week and Happy New Year!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas tomorrow and get all those lovely books you wanted.

What will be happening next week?
I have a top ten book list of 2011 coming up and I'll do an 'On My Bookshelf' showing the books that I got for Christmas.

Have fun!

Friday, 23 December 2011

2012 Historical Fiction Challenge

Again, I am participating also in the YA Historical Fiction Challenge, hosted again by YA Bliss. All you have to do is choose either Level 1, 2 or 3 which aims to read a certain amount of books and are documented on a public place, like a blog, after being read throughout 2012. If you would like to join yourself, click here

It is a great challenge and something I enjoyed in 2011. As I read a lot of historical fiction, I'm going for Level 3  - 15 Books. I read 16 historical fiction books in 2011 so this could be quite easy for me.

Here are some possible books that might appear:
1. A Company of Swans - Eva Ibbotson
2. Velvet - Mary Hooper
3. Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend - Cora Harrison
4. Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen
5. Magic Flutes - Eva Ibbotson

My List:
1. VIII - H.M.Castor
2. Vice and Virtue - Veronica Bennett
3. The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald
4. Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen
5. The Lady in the Tower - Marie-Louise Jensen
6. The Future of Us - Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
7. Strings Attached - Judy Blundell
8. Debutantes - Cora Harrison
9. After - Morris Gleitzman
10. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
11. Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend - Cora Harrison
12. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys
13. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D.Salinger
14. The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
15. The Girl in the Mask - Marie-Louise Jensen

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Books for Santa to bring (or my parents to buy)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's topic is Books that I wish for Santa to bring

1. Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend - Cora Harrison - I have been waiting for months after reading the last book I was Jane Austen's Best Friend - I think I deserve a chance to read the sequel where apparently, I am told, exciting things happen...

2. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson - Yes, I am the only YA blogger not to have read this yet...

3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green - Another to add to the John Green collection. So looking forward to this one. 

4. Hunger Games trilogy - Suzanne Collins - I've read the first in the series, but I thought as my mother was pestering for a Xmas list, that, instead of pestering also my friends to lend me copies, why not knock two birds with one stone and get my mother to buy it for me?! 

5. Velvet - Mary Hooper - Been waiting for months for Christmas so I can put this one my Christmas list...

6. Anne Frank Remembered - Miep Gies - I saw this when I was looking for my Prizegiving books and thought it sounded so interesting, especially as I love The Diary of Anne Frank

7. An Abundance of Katherines - John Green - again, to add to the whole John Green collection. 

8. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece - Annabel Pitcher - I wasn't sure about this book when it first came out but at the bookstore I work at, it's recommended and popular so I think I might give it a go. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Guest Post about my bookshelves!

Last month, I volunteered to take part in Kirsty from The overflowing library 's weekly feature, Bookcase Showcase.
It is a feature I read myself, as I am so curious to see what books other people have on their shelves, sad but true. So, I was delighted when she said I could.

Anyway, while I was in Berlin (details will come...) over the weekend it was published and yes, I just realised.

Check it out, it's pretty weird seeing your bookshelves on the internet, that's NOT your blog. Kirsty is a lovely person and I love her books, especially with the amount of British books she features. She's also holding the 2012 British Book Challenge that Becky from The Bookette hosted this year.

So, check it out here and tell me what you think :)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Gifts I want to give as presents

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's topic is Gifts I would love to give the people I know as presents

1. Wonders of the Universe - Brian Cox - This was a space series about how the world works on BBC over the last couple of years and was a huge hit over here. My friend absolutely loves this series and she has the other book Wonders of the Solar System so it would be great to get her this to complete the collection. 

2. The whole Princess Diaries series- Meg Cabot - Nessie, Nessie, Nessie. She's all I think about when I think of Meg Cabot as she LOVES her as much as I do. So, Nessie, this is your virtual Christmas present :) 

3. Sarah Dessen books - on the blogging friends note, this would be for Amy. She loves a lot of the books I like, especially the romantic contemporary ones YET she has not experienced the wonder that is Sarah Dessen (as far as I know) so this is her virtual Christmas present - my favourite Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever. 

4. A signed Patrick Ness book - when I met Patrick Ness a couple of years ago, my friend Tijana desperately wanted to come with us but alas, she was away when we went to meet him so she now has a book that simply says 'Sorry I couldn't meet you! Patrick Ness' which is a little bit sad I think anyway.
Anyway, I would give (if I could) a signed Patrick Ness book with the man himself giving it to her. Wow, that is one ideas I hadn't thought of until now...

Monday, 12 December 2011

Saving June - Hannah Harrington

I required a copy of this novel through Netgalley (which is an amazing site by the way) where I was sent the Kindle edition in return for a review.
Now, why was I draw to this book? I don't quite know, I think it was because it sounded interesting and like the type of contemporary fiction I enjoy.
This is another one of those road trip music novels that are around the blogosphere at the moment, I know I've seen at least three reviews for this book already, so have a look around, but I think the opinions of this book are quite similar to mine...

Synopsis: Harper Scott's older sister, June, has always been the perfect one, the one that did everything right and their divorced parents loved the most. One morning, Harper goes into the garage to find June dead in the back seat of her car, a pill bottle in her hand, a mix CD playing on loop as she killed herself. But why, she was so perfect in Harper's eyes? And how come no-one saw it coming? When Harper's parents decide to spilt the ashes, Harper takes matters into her own hands and steals the urn, planning to travel to California, a place June always wanted to visit, and spill the ashes into the Pacific Ocean.
Now, enters Jake Tolan, a bad-boy with a slight obsession with music which he sees can get you through anything. He seems to have no connection with June but still insists on joining them on the road trip across America. With his charming but annoying personality, this may be something that Harper needs on the road to recovery. But when things start to go to plan, Jake reveals his own secret that if told, would turn Harper's life around again

Review: This is, well, quite a novel. I read this within about 10 days, despite a busy week with lots of work and then, going to Berlin over the weekend. This novel had me hooked from start to finish, and I think a lot of people would agree with me.

Before I get into depth, this book is not perfect in any way, I mean I gave it a 4.5. It has faults that I will explain more but overall, it comes across for me as the type of book I love and considering this is Hannah Harrington's debut novel, it is pretty damn good. I mean, I've read Sarah Dessen's debut and to be honest, it's not that fantastic compared to her latest stuff. No author has a debut that is absolutely amazing - until now obviously.

First, the faults before I go off on a ramble about the good things. When I first started reading, I thought this was going to be boring, repetitive, done before. But it wasn't until they actually started the road trip and things started hotting up that it got majorly interesting. To start, Harper is quite boring and whiny, she shows a lack of emotion towards her sister and I didn't even process and take notice to the first meeting with Jake. So, I started off quite disappointed and already planning my next book to read. UNTIL.
Suddenly, it got interesting, exciting, sad, happy, cheerful, funny - EVERYTHING! Harper was interesting and I really connected with her voice. Her grief towards June became evident and I loved following her journey both to California and with herself changing, it made some great reading.

The characters of SAVING JUNE are very Sarah Dessen-type characters. For me, this was like the next best thing to Sarah Dessen and throughout I was constantly reminded of Dessen's characters and plots. The book that strikes me as most like this book is The Truth About Forever and Just Listen. Jake reflects Wes and Owen so much with his secrets, his mysterious, cool self as well as his passion and excitement for music. Laney reminded me instantly of Kirsty from TTAF with her fun loving attitude, drama queen and carefree self. Laney is a great character and was so funny and enjoyable to read about. Jake was someone you just wish you could be friends with. He comes across quite alone, but he is very compassionate and understands all the problems the trio deal with throughout the narrative. Harper is extraordinary, I thought she was going to be the typical mopy, exasperating girl who goes on and on about her dead sister. Yes, this is how people react to this kind of problem, but it's not great literature, honestly.  She was strong, independent and liked how she was straight and didn't beat around the bush.
The trio work so well with each other and created some lovely moments that really reflected what relationships are like.

The story and writing itself is well planned out and shows the problems that might occur if you did do this kind of thing. Harrington explores teenage issues at ease and by the end of this novel, there are so many morales that many will take away with them. She talks about sex, alcohol, death without hesitation and with the amazing combination of characters, this becomes a book where you learn, enjoy and imagine the world she has created, that is quite realistic. She also makes you feel so many things towards the events and Harper, there is something quite original in her writing.
Another thing that confused me. Okay, so you're driving across America, yet their parents were not after them, they stopped off SO MANY times to do things that added to the adventure of the book. It's not a huge problem and I understand this was all to add to the plot but erm, in real life, I'm not sure this would happen.

The book is quite amazing and I loved the adventure the reader follows of Harper, Laney and Jake as they change and we discover more about each other and themselves. The romance that is in this will make any teenage girl, like me, shout 'Aww!' at the book MANY times, there is so much tension and subtle hints that when it happens (yes, I am not saying who....), it is so amazing and written so well. It is in a such unexpected  moment.
I really did enjoy this book, despite a few faults. I would recommend this to anyone that loves Sarah Dessen of contemporary romance books, this is especially for you. I haven't read a romance book quite like this in a while. If Hannah Harrington keeps it up like her debut, she could be quite successful.
Verdict: Sarah Dessen fan? You must read this!

I give it a 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 336
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Challenges: None

Other similar books on road-trips and music you might like:
- 13 Little Blue Envelopes - Maureen Johnson
- Paper Towns - John Green
- Amy and Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson (REALLY want to read this)

Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for allowing me to read this.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite childhood books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

**Sorry for my lack of posting on Top Ten Tuesday, just been quite busy recently!

This week's theme is my Favourite Childhood books

1. The Roman Mysteries - Caroline Lawrence - I discovered this series in Year 4 (3rd Grade) and fell in love with the setting, the characters and just the way it was written. Sadly, the series came to an end recently, but when now I enjoy them as much as I did 8 years ago. 

2. Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie - Needless I say anything else? I used to feel so grown up reading this bedraggled copy from the library that was falling apart. I think I started to love second hand books from then....

3. Charlotte's Web - E.B.White - I used to be so scared of Charlotte...

4. I Want My Potty! - Tony Ross - Okay, so I may be the only person who remembered this kid. But I laughed so much at this book, it was my favourite. I still have it somewhere in my wardrobe. But I loved this kid because she was an only child like I am and somehow, I loved her...don't ask. 

5. Six Dinner Sid - Inga Moore - oh my god...I loved all animals ESPECIALLY cats and I loved stories involving animals, so I remember when my nan borrowed this from the library for me, I wanted it permanently in my home, so my mum went out and bought one. Actually, you can still get this book, I saw it in Waterstone's when I was working. 

6. Jacqueline Wilson books - Ahhh. Okay, one thing for those who have NO IDEA who this woman is or don't like her. I think every girl who is in their late teens now from England, so was born in the 90's like me, will have read at least 3 of Jacqueline Wilson's books. She is like the queen of children's books. When I think of my childhood, when I was about 7/8/9, I think of this woman. She is amazing, I would recommend her to anyone, she writes such vivid stories about anything and everything, loved her...

Friday, 2 December 2011

British Books Challenge 2012


Yes, it's the time where every book blogger considers what challenges to participate in and this year, again, I am going to take part in the British Books Challenge, this time hosted by the lovely Kirsty at The overflowing library.

This challenges aims you as many books by British authors as you can, something I find very easy as I live in the country.
I think this is a great challenge especially as sometimes people perhaps don't realise that some famous books are written by British people, they are mostly seen as by American authors.

If you would like to join yourself, have a looky here

Here are some books I am going to try and FINALLY read this year (links to Goodreads):
1. A Company of Swans - Eva Ibbotson
2. Magic Flutes - Eva Ibbotson
3. Velvet - Mary Hooper
4. The Killables - Gemma Malley
5. My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece - Annabel Pitcher
6. A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness
7. Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend - Cora Harrison 

Here are the completed books by British authors (links to reviews):
1. VIII - H.M.Castor
2. Vice and Virtue - Veronica Bennett
3. Enduring Love - Ian McEwan
4. One Dog and his Boy - Eva Ibbotson
5. The Lady in the Tower - Marie-Louise Jensen
6. Shadow Web - N.M.Browne
7. The 39 Steps - John Buchan
8. Adorkable - Sarra Manning
9. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
10. Debutantes - Cora Harrison
11. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
12. Emma Hearts LA - Keris Stainton
13. Breathe - Sarah Crossan
14. Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend - Cora Harrison
15. Undone - Cat Clarke
16. The Girl in the Mask - Marie-Louise Jensen

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Looking back at NOVEMBER

November was a weird month. I felt like I was reading a lot but I only read two books, as well as two texts that I'm doing in class at the moment.
I also had a bit of a blogging slump. I just didn't know what to write and had so much work on that I just left it thinking, hey, when I have something to write, I'll write it. As you can tell, nothing came. Anyway, here is a link up for November if you missed anything.

Wither - Lauren DeStefano



Guest Posts: 

Wither - Lauren DeStefano (#1)

As soon as I saw the cover for this book, I was attracted to it instantly. The beautiful dress, the shapes and just the overall, old fashioned yet modern feel the cover gave me. It is one of those book where I did judge a book by its cover - but who can blame me with THAT cover?!
I love the circles that point out the details that define the story - the ring, the caged bird and on the back, the low hourglass - AH, I love it!

So after reading review upon review on the blogosphere with bloggers raving about this book, I decided this was excuse enough to buy it on Waterstone's to read - a couple of months on, I have and boy, am I glad I bought this partly over cover lust...

Synopsis: Set in the future, the world has done disastrously wrong. After several decades of genetic manipulation, a deadly virus has swept across the human race where men die at 25 and females at 20 and the world now only consists of North America, the other continents uninhabited. To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped to marry men near their death date to procreate the human race. 16 year-old Rhine Ellery is blackmailed and kidnapped, sold and married to a man near the end of his life amongst two other young girls, Jenna and Cecily. Even though her new husband is kind to her, Rhine is desperate to escape the beautiful but prison-like mansion - especially because of Linden's cruel and creepy father. With the help of Gabriel, an assistant she becomes attracted too, Rhine attempts to break free - in the little time and freedom she has.

Review: This was quite a hard book to review so sorry if my words don't formulate well. Ask me in the comments below...
WITHER has something that I think most books lack. It is original and different in characters, plot, setting and even genre. Dystopian books normally leave you exhausted, wanting more. And also, I cannot wait for the next book in this series, I'm not exhausted at all. This book has a slower pace, but not too slow so I am reading ahead wondering what I'm being built up to. But I liked it - it was interesting.

I think the thing that brings people's attention (no, not the cover, but it's beautiful isn't it?) is the topic that this book deals with. No-one likes dying or even dying young. I am 16 going on 17. For me, that sounds older but I know I'm still young and have many decades ahead of me. But then I put myself in the place of Rhine who is MY AGE. She has four years until she dies. What a horrible feeling...that in four years, I too would be dead or ill, gently going out this world, when in reality I have no idea what I will be like or even doing in four years time. The situation the characters are in really makes the reader think and I think it will make you value your life a little bit more.

Regarding the characters, I found I became attached to them in different ways. You learn everything about them and more. I came away hating Vaughn and Cecily while sobbing over Jenna, feeling sorry for Linden and whooping on Rhine. I know this is how I was supposed to feel, but the fact that this is only the first book, it feels like I've been reading about these characters for a while. For Jenna, I became very attached to her and I liked how she saw right through this world from the start. Cecily...oh my. She is annoying, yes, but then you kind of feel sorry for her innocence in such a place and how she WANTS to have babies at like 13. This book is a lot about growth, and for me, she grew up the most and quickest.
Rhine as a voice was great and she reminded me of myself. She is very observant and looks deeper into things other than on the surface. While I read about the lavish lifestyle, the luxury of it all - somewhere I dream of staying - I always had this nag of something wrong about it all, much like Rhine does. I mean, this is a 300-page book, something can't be right.

WITHER is not one of those book where you are on the edge of your seat every minute. But then it's not a book you can sit back and relax with. Actually, the whole idea of the situation of Rhine and her world is quite terrifying and when you hear about cures for cancer etc, you kind of think 'What is this did actually happen?'. There are some disturbing parts in it, especially the beginning which hits you instantly. You find out the world she lives in, and it stays with you throughout reading and beyond. The beginning plunges you as a reader into the depth of the story, which I liked as well, DeStefano didn't beat around the bush on what she was trying to create, there is no airy fairy lyrical language, just plain words that create this extraordinary world.
The thing I found with the world created was that it felt very old fashioned and proper, when it's set in the future with huge technological advancements. It contrasts well and makes it have something very different from normal dystopian books.

Lauren DeStefano, herself, writes well, but not like in some reviews, beautifully. On many occasions, I had to re-read a sentence to understand and well polished novels shouldn't be like this, for me anyway. Her ideas and the imagery behind her writing is amazing, I could imagine every single moment of Rhine's life before and after the kidnapping. Actually, while reading, I kept constantly analysing the imagery and language like in an English Literature essay, it was so in depth and you can tell that it is a well thought out complete story. This is classed partly as a romance book and yes, it is. There is romance for the main character, both forced and not forced. Gabriel is someone every reader, like Rhine, learns to love. I agree with some reviews that there is a lack of real romance in this book but as there is two more books and after reading the ending, you may understand why the romance is perhaps played down a bit.
I enjoyed this book a lot, I liked the alternative view on the future that every dystopian brings. This writer isn't afraid to talk about taboo like issues such as sex, kidnapping and pregnancy or to kill and create more characters. I shall not say who, but someone dies in this book, and I don't think I've ever read a death scene with that kind of language, imagery and emotion. This is the kind of scene that makes reading a book worthwhile.

The book overall, was amazing. Just, wow.
I have seen a few negative reviews around the blogosphere and I think I understand why. Yes, there is the language thing I mentioned but also, this kind of book is not everyone's cup of tea. If you loved the Hunger Games where there is action every minute or when you're on the edge of your seat, you will probably dislike this book.
It is original though and outlines a world that is far too similar and possible in our society today. Rhine provides a glorious, youthful voice and although I would have liked a bit more romance, I think the relationships created are realistic and great to read. So, there is two more books, but I have absolutely no idea what will happen in them. For now anyway, I would recommend this to anyone who loves a bit of romance or dystopian. It is so worth a look.
Verdict: Great read but if you love action all the way through a book, I'd give it a miss.

I give it a 4.5 out 5

The second in this trilogy, Fever, comes out 16th February 2012

Author's Website: &
Pages: 358
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Challenges: None