Sunday, 29 July 2012

On My Bookshelf (25)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea

I had put a small ban on the library for me so I could blast through the to-reads that I own - but yeah...that didn't happen. These are results of just 'having a look'. Will I ever learn...



- Specials by Scott Westerfeld - As regular and old followers will know, I have spent the last couple of months catching up with this series which I've grown up in my teenage years looking at - YET NEVER READING. This is the last in the trilogy focussing on the main character Tally as she becomes a Special. There is another book called Extras, a little like a spin-off, that looks at Tally's changes to this world of Uglies, Pretties and Specials. Have a look at my reviews for Uglies and for Pretties (1st & 2nd in series). 

- Debutantes by Cora Harrison - I have read I was Jane Austen's Best Friend (review) and loved it with the sequel Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend (a title I severely cringe at) on my bookshelf waiting to be read. So when I heard about this through a In My Mailbox/Letterbox Love/Stacking the Shelves/Showcase Sunday, I was pretty interested. So when I saw this on the shelf in my library when I was 'just looking', it was hard to resist, right? 



What books have you got this week? Have you read any of these books? If so, what are your opinions? 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

I did an guest interview

I love doing guest posts or interviews - especially if it's to help other bloggers out or to participate in a feature I care about.

So, of course, I jumped at the chance when Clover from Fluttering Butterflies asked Twitter if anyone would like to do a guest post or interview for the re-launch of her feature, Awesome Women which celebrates exactly that - how great women are.

It was really fun to do and made me think a lot about my past role models and those I do actually look up to more than others. 
So, have a look here, leave a comment perhaps saying on if you agree or disagree or even who your own role models are. 
Also have a look around - Clover's blog is one of my favourites!

Now, I'm going to run back to the TV to watch the Tennis at the Olympics - so great to have it right on my doorstep. Literally. (Wimbledon is like, 30 minutes, away from me)


Have a lovely Sunday!

Author Interview: Lisa. M. Stasse


Launched in February 2012, this is a special feature on Rebecca-Books where I ask 5 of the same question to different authors on their new books to get an insight into what they are about and what it was like writing them. To check out past and future authors for this feature, click here

~ ~ ~

Lisa M. Stasse sent me an email a couple of weeks ago with the book trailer (look below) for her new book, The Forsaken and while watching it, I got hooked. While some book trailers look like a secondary school film project at times, this looked professional with the great graphics that made it look like a proper film trailer. Ironically, a couple of days ago, a copy of The Forsaken came into the bookshop I work in and I admit, I had a small fan-girling moment - thankfully, the shop was empty at that time. 
With this being compared to hugely successful The Hunger Games, this should be hopefully a popular book this summer as people wait for second movie of the franchise (and yes, I haven't even seen the first movie yet...)
I asked if she wanted to participate in The 5 Questions with which she agreed so here she is! 


Synopsis (from Goodreads.com): As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.
The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

What made you write THE FORSAKEN?
I always wanted to write a novel, ever since I was in high school. But I felt like I could never come up with a good enough idea (despite many false starts). Then one night I had a dream I was on an island being chased by crazy people in black robes, carrying knives. I thought that might be an interesting starting point for a book. At the same time, I was thinking about standardized tests because a friend's sister was about to take the SAT. Somehow my nightmare merged with the idea of the SAT and I came up with the concept of a government personality test that if you failed, you lost everything and got banished to a prison island--where you either fought your way out or died trying. The book sort of felt like it wrote itself, so the process was actually a lot of fun.

What did you enjoy the most about writing it?
Getting lost inside the world of the book. In fact, sometimes it was hard to come out of the world and go back to mundane everyday life. I often feel like that when I'm reading other people's books too--I love to get captivated and drawn into a whole other world. It's the best! Writing The Forsaken also gave me an excuse to sit and listen to a bunch of music too. I always listen to music when I write.

Describe the book in a sentence  
A normal teenage girl inexplicably fails a government personality test that claims she has a high capacity for brutal violence, so she is exiled to a harsh prison island called "the wheel," where she must forge alliances with the wild tribes that control it and try to escape.

What advice would you give to future writers - both in the writing and publishing process?
My main advice would be to read as much as you can! I'm a librarian at UCLA, so I'm surrounded by books all day. I probably read 3-5 books/week. I love YA novels (my most recent reads are an ARC of Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans, and Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, both of which are awesome). My other advice would be to write as much as possible. It doesn't have to be a novel, or even stories. My main writing as a teenager was keeping a journal. I think the more you write, the better (hopefully) you get, and the more fun it becomes. Revising can be a big part of writing too, so be prepared to edit and revisit your stories in depth. The Forsaken went through several drafts before it was ready to be published.

Are you working on anything else?
Right now I'm just finishing up Book 2 of THE FORSAKEN trilogy, which will be coming out in the summer of 2013. I'm also playing around with ideas for a mystery/thriller set in Detroit.


Thank you Lisa!

Contact: 

Here's the great trailer I mentioned in my introduction: 



THE FORSAKEN is out now in both America and the UK. 






Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver

I read the first chapter of this book when it was featured at the back of Lauren Oliver's other YA book, Delirium (review) and liked the sound of it. I had actually seen it in my local library the week before and glanced at it...and not liking the sound of it too much.

But this chapter made this book seem like a typical contemporary book with a twist. Set in a high-school with the main character being one of the popular kids, falling in love, repeating the same day over and over again, the accident - perfect, I was hooked.
When I mentioned it on a On My Bookshelf (here), so many of my blogging friends told me this was a great book - as good as Delirium which I loved. So let's just say I had incredibly high expectations for this book. I wanted to love this.

Synopsis: Sam Kingston is one of those girls. She has it all - looks, popularity, the clothes, great friends, a perfect boyfriend. When she wakes up the first time on Friday 12th February - Cupid Day - she expects it to be as easy and good as normal with lots of roses being sent her way and a great party at the end of it where she will finally do it with her jock boyfriend, Rob. However, the ending isn't quite as she thought it would be. After a major car accident with her three best friends, Sam finds herself waking up at 6.30am, her sister coming in, Lindsay waiting to pick her up - and the day is Friday 12th February. Across seven days, Sam has to work out how work out what was happening in her life, how this happened and also, just live life.

Review: I really did want to love this book, like I did with Delirium and from reading the first chapter I felt I would be sucked in straight away. Nah-ah. That did not happen. I hate doing negative reviews in the fear I will sound too harsh or brash. But I just did not like this book - I'm entitled to an opinion.

The plot is simple. Sam gets (what we assume) killed in a freak car accident that included her three best friends when coming home in the early hours from a typical teenage house party. We all dream and wonder what would happen on the other side but for Sam, she experiences an unconventional idea of life on the other side. When Sam wakes up, there's no gates, God, angels or paradise. Nope, it's the morning of the day she gets killed and she has to re-live it over again. However, when a similar outcome happens at the end of this day, she is woken again. And again. And again on that morning of the day she died. It seems like she needs to work out what to do to prevent herself or another being killed because everyday someone is, even if it's not Sam.

Describing my reading experience with this book would look quite interesting on a graph as I had moments of enjoyment of this book as well as moments where I was thinking even Frankenstein was more thrilling than this (which is saying something). Like I said, the first chapter I thought was brilliant, drew me in and gave me a flavour of a contemporary style - this was a book centred around teenagers for teenagers and I was good with that.
However, it was on the second day that it all went down hill. The pace just slowed down so much and I felt I was struggling to get through the pages of this book. And the pace only really kicked back up for the last two days - Day 6 and Day 7 I found the most interesting and readable.
The other thing that annoyed me for the majority of the book, largely the middle was Sam. I felt no connection with her, like many other reviewers too. She was selfish, ignorant and I just wanted to slap her for pretending so much - even when she was dead! It is true that this is a book about her transformation into a person who does what they want, whatever the consequences and that message I did get from this book, although I don't think Sam changed all that much really - only on the surface.
For the plot, although I loved the clever idea that Oliver has originally invented, there was no clear structure to Sam's journey. I still have no idea whether she wanted to be in this limbo, neither dead or alive. I have no idea what the intention of this repeating of the day before her death was for - did this end when she did what she truly wanted? When she saved someone? When she helped a certain amount of people rather than herself? When she do a certain something? Did this happen only for Sam or does this idea happen to anyone? I have no clue and it could be an infinite amount of reasons at the end.

The ending, despite this ambiguity throughout the whole book that I felt should have been answered, was great and ends with a right and final feeling. The epilogue, although only a page long, really made me smile and think about what life could be after death - this is only one interpretation which could be valid. The ending is clever and I appreciated seeing the ending of Sam's journey to be firmly dead. To end it in a certain and special way getting and doing everything she wanted to do. It's fair to say that Sam is totally unrelatable throughout the whole book until the end, but even then for me, I still didn't understand or get her and still wanted to throw a shoe at her.

On a positive note, the idea is extremely clever, like I found Delirium. And this is the part I enjoyed the most about this book. I finished this book because I was intrigued to see what would happen, however infuriating Sam was or that I had no idea what the aim of this limbo period was really. If you did when reading this, let me know - maybe I just missed that part. I would interesting the mix of genres here. This book isn't quite dystopian because of the contemporary setting but then it isn't really contemporary because of the whole waking the day of your death thing.

Despite my negativeness, this book has scored some great reviews, although all of them agree with their hatefulness towards Sam at SOME point throughout the novel. I know that's the point blah-blah, but when you hate the main protagonist who is talking in first-person, it definitely decreases your enjoyment.
This is Oliver's debut to the world of YA and for me, it shows. Her other novel, Delirium is much better and sucked me in quicker and easier and this is the book I would recommend people interested in Lauren Oliver.
This book was a let down to say the least but I did enjoy parts such as the beginning and ending as well as the all the unique and stereotypical teenage secondary characters such as Kent and Ally, Lindsay and Elody (love that name!).
Perhaps I just expected too much.

I give a 3 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/
Pages: 470
Publisher: HarperCollins
Challenges: None

Related Posts:
Review: Delirium

Sunday, 22 July 2012

On My Bookshelf (24)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea

The summer holidays are in full swing now with the fact I'm entering my third week off (only 5 more to go!). The amount of work I have done so far is nil, except if you count reading Frankenstein when I'm on the move. If you want to find out a little more about what I've been doing the last couple of weeks, check out this post here.


Won:
I entered Jess Hearts Books' blogoversary giveaway on a whim. I do that a lot with giveaways - I enter with that small chance of winning. So you can imagine my surprise when I get an email from Jess saying I'd won her giveaway. I was at college, helping with a Year 10 day, sitting reading and drinking bad coffee and was a little alarmed reading that. And the books came within days which was a slight surprise for both me and Jess.

As part of my prize, I won three books set in the past, present and future as well as some postcards and bookmarks. This is such a lovely giveaway as I was interested in all three of these books.

- Changeling by Philippa Gregory - I saw this at work and was interested straight away. Philippa Gregory is a renowned historical fiction writer having written The Other Boleyn Girl. I was interested to see her branch off to the YA/Teen genre. I really hope this is as good as her other books 

- Emma Hearts LA by Keris Stainton - I've seen so many reviews for this book and Jessie Hearts NYC, it's ridiculous so I hope this is as good as everyone says it is. I have her other book, Delia Says: OMG on my to-read list for a while now. I also visited LA last year (I was there, like now, a year ago) so I'm looking forward to recognising some of the places mentioned! (Hint: Venice Beach isn't as great as it seems)

- The Selection by Kiera Cass - Okay, okay, I know, I said last week that I received this as a Net Galley here but I didn't know I'd won this giveaway when I requested it. This book is a book quite high on my to-read list, mostly because of the cover. So pretty. 

These are some of the other things that Jess included in the package: 


I thought the business card above was such a lovely idea to give to people!


Have a good week - what books did you receive this week? 



Saturday, 21 July 2012

Author Interview: S.R. Johannes


Launched in February 2012, this is a special feature on Rebecca-Books where I ask 5 of the same question to different authors on their new books to get an insight into what they are about and what it was like writing them. To check out past and future authors for this feature, click here

~~~

Today, S.R. Johannes is here to talk answer the five questions on her new book, UNTRACEABLE. S.R. Johannes said she was a big fan of book bloggers (which is GREAT to hear from authors!) and I just LOVE the cover of UNTRACEABLE, so pretty.
This is the first in a series entitled The Nature of Grace in the dystopian genre - it reminded me a little of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld with the mention of Smokies. So dystopian fans, listen up.


Synopsis (from Goodreads.com): 16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father. Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.


What made you write UNTRACEABLE?
I visited the bear pits in Cherokee, NC and they bothered me so much, I wanted to bring attention to them in the hopes of shutting them down and focusing on the black bear's plight. My hubby is an avid camper and he always talks about how illegal things can go on in remote areas of the woods. I put those two ideas together.

What did you enjoy the most about writing it?
I love having a character like Grace who loves being in nature. I love nature but have never felt comfortable in the remote wilderness. I would love to have that kind of confidence to be outdoors without being scared of animals or freaks.

Describe the book in a sentence  
When Grace's forest ranger father disappears, she fights town officials, tribal leaders, and nature to find him only to uncover a conspiracy that changes her small town.

What advice would you give to future writers - both in the writing and publishing process?
Don't do what people say you should do. Find your own path and know it's okay if it looks different than everyone else's.

Are you working on anything else?
My novelette series started in June called Suffocate. The next two will be out by Xmas. The sequel to Untraceable comes out September 24th.


Thank you to S.R. Johannes for participating in 'The 5 Questions'!

Contact:




UNTRACEABLE is available now







Friday, 20 July 2012

Little Update on being British & kittens.

It's that time to year again.
The time when the last few hours of the day have everyone re-enacting the moment in High School Musical 2 when they all whisper 'summer' to count down the minutes.
The time when the British weather decides to pretend it's actually autumn instead of August when, oh, normally it's supposed to be like sunny. And warm. Yet it's raining, cloudy and I swear it looked like the monsoon season the other day.
And last of all, the time where all teenagers wake up at 11am/12pm, eat, watch TV, perhaps go out to see friends and then go to sleep at like 12am.

IT'S SUMMER. And my summer holidays, because I'm in college, are 9 weeks! That's longer than a term!
Two weeks have passed so far and I haven't done much at all - even though I have quite a lot of reading and work to keep me occupied. I love being off from college for the rest and also the chance to see and do things I wouldn't otherwise been able to.

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1/ Last Tuesday, for instance, I went to Windsor. Many of you will, or may not know, of Windsor Castle - one of the Queen's royal residences. Anyway, I went there with my friend, T to watch the Olympic Torch go through the town. It was funny because there were these threatening black clouds over us but it wasn't until the Olympic Torch was literally in front of us that it chucked it down so hard with rain. 
It was lovely standing with the castle in the background watching all these people wave their Union Jack's and the Olympic Torch right there in front of you by Windsor Castle where the Queen was in residence. It was quite patriotic and my friend, T (who was born in America), agreed it was a moment where you felt proud to be British.


2/ I also made my holiday trip to the V&A (Victoria and Albert) museum in Kensington, London. This one of the three main museums in the area - the Natural History museum and the Science Museum (which is amazing). 
The V&A is more arty, with the subway from the Tube taking you to a galley with sculptures. There's lots of interesting things in there like fashion, carvings, paintings and we even found a section with an old wooden staircase from 1600's France. One thing I know is that I've never visited every single gallery that the V&A has to offer - it's just so big with lots of secrets places.

I went to the V&A specially for the British Design 1948-2012 exhibition which basically showed how British design has changed over the years and why. It was so interesting especially looking at the bits from the 1960's and 70's. Plus it really helped with my Media coursework I'm planning for next year where I have to show a mixture of decades in a perfume advert - which is harder than it sounds...

Something I did learn was that one author in the 1960's wrote a book where there were clues to treasure that he had buried. He buried a hare necklace by the grave of Catherine of Aragon and even though he made so much money from the books, no-one ever found it until by chance in the 1980's. Such a nice idea! Any authors willing to do that?


3/ This is a photo I took of some 1960's dresses that were on show. Behind me was a Mini with two security guards watching me like hawks thinking I was about to dive in the car and drive away (let's not even talk about the fact I can't actually drive to start with).
I love these dresses and when I see the fashions of the past decades, I want to grab the TARDIS and go there to live the life - this is why I love vintage clothes. The funny thing is I have a dress like the red one but in black...
I would recommend this exhibition if you're in London for the Olympics until 13th August. This and the Ballgown exhibition nearby, part of which is free!


4/ Just look at them. Just, seriously, look at them. They are absolutely positively gorgeous and I've demanded to be named their official godmother. These actually belong to my friend Emma (yep, the same one that basically made me read The Fault in Our Stars) and I've fell in love with them. I spent the afternoon with them crawling on my lap, falling asleep and then giving me a dirty look when I moved. I want a cat...badly.


What have you been up to?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Strings Attached - Judy Blundell

A couple of years ago, I read Judy Blundell's debut What I Saw and How I Lied (review). Although I didn't LOVE the book, I thought it was good - it gave a good impression of the time of which it was set, 1947, and there was so much mystery, I felt I HAD to read on to find out what would happen in the end.

I heard about Strings Attached around the blogosphere as What I Saw and How I Lied was one of those books which everyone was talking about or reviewing. It seemed interesting so I reserved it at my library quite a while ago, but I only received it at my local library recently.

Synopsis: 1950 America. Having fled her family in Providence, Rhode Island and cut her relationship off with the hot-headed Billy, whose enlisted in the army, Kit arrives in New York City with nothing. She becomes a chorus girl in a low-budget Broadway show but nothing lasts long in this city. Suddenly, Nate Benedict, Billy's lawyer father, appears in her life - offering her an apartment, a job and an introduction to a new, better life. But this is New York, where nothing in life comes for free which Kits learns the hard way.

Review: I think there is an unanimous decision from everyone that has read this book that Nate Benedict is a total, utter creep. Exactly the type you would not like to meet in a deserted, dark back alley somewhere. He is a slimy character that has an interesting first impression that doesn't last long.

I started this book a little apprehensive. I enjoyed What I Saw and How I Lied for the mystery, intrigue, history and romance but it didn't leave an ever-lasting impression on me like other books have done so in the past. In fact, I felt a little underwhelmed at the time. I read it because I wanted to find out what happened in the end but not because I was sucked in like in other books. The same really happened for this book, but I think I was much more sucked in this time round. 

Kit is an interesting character. She comes from a poor background growing up with only her father, aunt Delia and her two twins (she's one of a triplet). After a serious argument following her brother and Billy joining the US army, Kit decides to leave and pursue her own dreams of becoming a star on Broadway. She goes get a part in a minor musical as a chorus girl by herself but it's a job where it is clear she cannot live on forever. Enter stage right, Nate Benedict who turns up one night after a show, taking her to a suitable apartment before inviting her to accompany it. Without realising, this man gives Kit a place to live and a great job working as a dancer at a popular club as well as even new fashionable clothes. It is clear Kit owes him and when something bad happens and someone from their past turns up in New York, Kit realises that she shouldn't have accepted the easy way.

At times I loved Kit, especially her voice when describing her experiences in New York. Blundell really creates an atmosphere that lets the reader experience the glamour and paranoia of 1950's America with the threat of a nuclear bomb from the USSR (Russia). These different atmosphere's really contrast with each other to show the positive and negative sides to America at this time. There is the lovely descriptions of Kit's feelings when she is dancing or of a theatre or when she goes ice-skating at the Rockefeller Centre (oh yeah). But then, she is made to go into an air-raid shelter as New York prepares for if a bomb did hit. And then, there is the perhaps less legal activities of Nate. It's funny because when I think of the 1950's America, I think of suburbia and James Dean and the creation of teenagers. But the atmosphere that Blundell brings feels like America in the 1920's/30's with gangs, Communism, violence and the glamour of New York City.

Kit is a good protagonist but I never felt fully connected to her. She seems very selfish and once again some of the choices she makes seem unrealistic. Apart from those moments, she was a great voice to have for the narrative. She did seem older than seventeen (my own age) but I admire her for what she does. She leaves home for a huge, unfriendly city at 17! I couldn't do that yet.

The writing was average for me, it mostly helped create a great atmosphere for me. The chapters are in the past and present which is stated at the beginning of the chapter. This was good to start with and it was quite balanced. However, I found nearer the end when more things needed to be revealed for the final ending that there would be multiple and uneven chapters in  the past which meant when it returned to the present, it was a tad confusing at times.
The alternative time settings added a little suspense and were a great way to find out about Kit's life before 1950. This, I found, created the mystery for me in the story and ultimately, I was so surprised by the ending. It's very sudden and to be honest, I think it could have been built up more.

I did enjoy Strings Attached, certainly more than What I Saw and How I Lied. However, this, for me at least, wasn't perfect at all. Despite that, I think I enjoyed it more than I realised. Kit was a great lead, even if I didn't feel for her at times, and there are some awesome secondary characters such as Hank and Nate succeeded in creeping me out. Blundell creates a world of suspense and intrigue where everyone is hiding something, even Kit. I loved the romance of the story and of the world and of course, the atmosphere of 1950's America. So what did I learn from this novel?  In this world nothing in life certainly in never free - there is always some debt to be paid. This is well worth a read if you love historical fiction.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.judyblundell.com/
Pages: 313
Publisher: Scholastic
Challenges: Historical Fiction

Related Posts:
Review: What I Saw and How I Lied

Sunday, 15 July 2012

On My Bookshelf (23)

his meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea

It's officially the summer holidays now so I'm starting to go to the library more with my free time, especially as one is a 2 minute walk from my work. So there will probably be more library books appearing here. Also, after my Tuesday Top Ten last week, I really want to clear some of the books that are sitting unhappy on my bookshelf.


Borrowed: 
- Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver - When I read Lauren Oliver's other book, Delirium (review), there was a sample chapter in the back of Before I Fall. I'd seen this book around the shops, library and blogosphere for a long time but nothing made me want to pick it up and have a look. It wasn't really until I read the first chapter, that I felt I really wanted to read this book. Thankfully, it was sitting unclaimed in the library still.

- The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan - (see below)

- Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan - This book and The Realm of Possibility I found in a charity shop near my college. I was going in to help out with an event there and got an early train so had about 30 minutes to kill. I went to the Oxfam on the high street, just for a little look, and found these two books sitting side by side in the Children's book section. They were 99p each but the shop were doing a 'Buy One Get One Free' that day so I got both these and paid only 99p! BARGAIN.
I've read Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (review) earlier this year where this lovely pairing made the book so entertaining and enjoyable - this should be as good especially as it was made into a movie! TRoP looks great, all written in verse. Really loving David Levithan at the moment. He also wrote The Lover's Dictionary (review)


Netgalley:


- Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry - When I read the synopsis for this, it really reminded me of a typical teenage romance with the popular girl who was at the top of the food chain and is now at the bottom and the weird, dodgy guy. Two different people that meet. I'm not in love with the cover, in truth, if I saw this book in a bookshop, I would look the other way but I'm excited to read this now all the same.

- The Selection by Kiera Cass - When I was accepted by Netgalley and the publishers to read this, I must admit I fan-girled. Big time. Before the release of this earlier this year in America, I saw the cover and fell in love. I just...THAT DRESS. 
I've heard a mixture of things about this book, especially after a negative review turned into a debate about the relationships between bloggers and authors/publicists. This looks amazing though from the cover and I hope the book does it justice. 

- Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett - Similarly to Pushing the Limits, I liked the idea of reading a typical teen contemporary novel over the summer. This sounds really interesting and I'm intrigued to know more about the main character. I also LOVE the cover with the white, grey and blue. Very nice.



So my summer reading is sorted, what about you?




Friday, 13 July 2012

Knee Deep - Jolene Perry

If I saw this book on the shelf, glanced at the cover, I would never have picked it up. In truth, I don't like the cover. At all.
But for me with this book, the words 'Don't judge a book by it's cover' sounds pretty right.
I was asked by Tribute Books to review this book as part of the Knee Deep book tour. I read the synopsis and was attracted to the book before I saw the cover. I got an e-book of this and I was on my way.
However, by the time I sat down to read this, I had completely forgotten what it was about so I dived into this book while on holiday completely oblivious to what this book would actually be about due to my memory. I had reservations, I can tell you.

Synopsis: Shawn is the guy Ronnie Bird promised her life to at the age of fourteen. He's her soul mate. He's more uptight every day, but it's not his fault. His family life is stressful, and she's adding to it. She just needs to be more understanding, and he'll start to be the boy she fell in love with. She won’t give up on someone she’s loved for so long.
Luke is her best friend, and the guy she hangs with to watch girlie movies in her large blanketopias. He's the guy she can confide in before she even goes to her girlfriends, and the guy who she's playing opposite in Romeo and Juliet. Now her chest flutters every time he gets too close. This is new. Is Ronnie falling for him? Or is Juliet? The lines are getting blurry, but leaving one guy for another is not something that a girl like Ronnie does.
Shawn’s outbursts are starting to give her bruises, and Luke’s heart breaks as Ronnie remains torn. While her thoughts and feelings swirl around the lines between friendship and forever, she’s about to lose them both.

Review: So, as one can tell, I wasn't exactly jumping with excitement to read this book and entered the book in quite a neutral state. 

On the surface (I guess it is really) this is one of those really girly novels. You know, where you can just literally sit down, read and relax for a bit while stuffing popcorn in your mouth or on a sun lounger in a foreign summery country sipping something fruity. However, after reading this, really it feels far from that. Sure, I would read this while on holiday and the plot is simple and understandable. There are no clever witty remarks that I have to think about for a while before I understand and most of all, it is something I don't have to think about - just read.
The thing is this is a book about abuse and domestic violence. Being a 17 year-old teenage girl, I have not experienced anything that Ronnie goes through in this book but Jolene Perry's writing gives a pretty good idea of what it is like. I found myself becoming more and more attached to Ronnie for her individuality, her wariness of the issue of sex and just the crap she has to go through. Ronnie felt to me very much like a teenager with her language, her mannerisms described and her thoughts such the embarrassment of telling her parents things.

This is a first person narrative and through that, I became quite attached to her, especially as she is my age. With what this is about, there are a number of ways this could have been written like from being preachy to the target audience of teenagers like 'Don't do this' or in a way where writers think every teenager speaks in text language and would have lost the intense mood of this novel. Instead, I found this an interesting read that certainly showed me ways abusive relationships can start and how they should be dealt with. The way the latter happens in this novel is quite shocking and I didn't quite expect it. I've seen some reviews that didn't like Ronnie's first person narrative but I think this was effective - it really gets you into her head on her reactions and thoughts.

I liked Ronnie because she was a different female teen protagonist. Although, I think any reader will hate Shawn by the end of this book, I did like how his descent to hitting Ronnie was shown, at the beginning, he was the stroppy, normally male teenagers but by the end, well, hopefully you'll see. 
I liked Luke, but to me, he was a bit on the cheese side. Some of his lines had me rolling my eyes like 'Meh, as much as I would like a future love to say that, it won't happen'. However, even throughout what happened to Ronnie, I never felt inclined to Luke, even though he plays a knight in shining armour role. There is this image of a player about him that is repeated frequently so when Ronnie starts to like him, to me, it felt insignificant as he was like this. I think this also stemmed from forgetting the plot so anyone who did have the plot accessible while reading may have had a different interpretation. 


I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book - I neither loved it or disliked it. I guess you could say it was 'okay'. I had no major problems with this book and it flows, writing wise, very well with me wanting to know what Ronnie's reactions would be. This is quite a taboo subject so I am glad that another author has decided to write about this subject for teens. This way, I found many similarities to Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (review). 


I like the characters within this, especially Ronnie with her individuality and I'm sad it happened to her. Mindy was also another favourite of mine which I feel could have been included much more frequently. The writing was simple yet well-read and didn't have an annoying preachy feel. This is a book for teens about teens writing with teens in mind. Jolene Perry has certainly done her research on what teenagers are truly like, and I thank her for that. She adds a mature look at high school and older teenagers life that is obvious in her writing for me. A poignant and favourite quote of mine from the book was this, which I think sums up what relationships should be like for teenagers: 
'This kind of loyal dedication is what someone deserves as a wife that he's put years of work and trust into, not a young man who hasn't even started his own life yet, Ronnie. This is the time in your life when you should be able to fly free. If something doesn't suit you, or work out right, you jump to the next. It's one of the beautiful things of being young.'

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Pages: 176
Publisher: Tribute Books
Challenges: None

Thank you to Tribute Books!

This is part of the Knee Deep Blog Tour where bloggers post reviews, guest posts or interviews on this book. Keep up to date with the blog tour here: http://knee-deep-book.blogspot.co.uk/

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Pretties - Scott Westerfeld (#2)

**There may be some spoilers from the first book, Uglies (click here for my review) in this review**


Last month, I finally read Uglies, the first book in this series by Scott Westerfeld evolving around sixteen year-old Tally on her journey from Ugly to Pretty to Special. I say 'finally' because this is a series I have pondered and been looking at for the majority of my teenage years - never quite having the nerve to buy the book nor seeing a copy in the library. 
I think the thing that spurred me last month to read this series of books I had grown up with was the new covers (left). Before the covers used to have bits of Barbie's on the cover that, now having read the first two books, I understand why the designer would have chosen that. Bits of Barbie (what teenager now can say they DIDN'T have a Barbie doll?!)  on the front cover? Now that's intriguing for my 12 year-old self. If you want to have a look at what I'm rattling on about, head to Google or click here.

Synopsis: It's a month since Tally gave herself up to become a Pretty. Now, Tally is finally Pretty - something she's always wanted to be. She has the perfect face and body, all the best clothes, completely popular - all with romance in her life as well as her best friend, Shay. This is her dream from when she was an Ugly. But that was before she met Shay, David and co, went to the Smoke and learnt the secret behind becoming Pretty. Beneath all the fun, Tally knows there is something wrong that she needs to remember. A person and message arrive from Tally's ugly past life and suddenly, Tally is awoken from the fun and remembers what is wrong with New Pretty Town. 


Review: I'd read a mixture of reviews for the sequel after finishing Uglies. With one blogger proclaiming 'Don't read Uglies or you'll want to read Pretties and Specials - they are awful. Don't read Uglies or you'll be drawn in hook, line and sinker'. However, I had been hooked, lined and sinkered into Tally's world and I desperately needed to read the next book to find out what would happen next. What would happen to David? Or Shay? Who was this Fausto guy in the sneak peek at Pretties section at the back of Uglies? Does she remember? WHAT WILL HAPPEN?

One thing I liked about Uglies is the setting and the post-apocalyptic world. The thing with Uglies that made the book for me is how uncomfortable I felt at times thinking how well I could see Tally's world becoming our own.
Although, this world hasn't gone and is built upon more in Pretties, I felt that it wasn't as life-like or relatable as the last book which I guess lost a little of the enjoyment factor. Any readers of this will find out more about Tally's world and how the cure of becoming Pretty came about. There is more mystery and surprises but not as much as I would have liked and only really latterly.

I admit that this book did take some time to pick up. The first quarter of the book is about Tally's new life before she discovers this message that reminds her of her ugly days. I found that it's only really when she discovers this message that the story picks up - before hand it is merely describing her dull, repetitive Pretty life of parties and clothes. The first chapter is, if you were not a fan of Uglies, hardly going to draw you in straight away. So my advice: even if the beginning seems rubbish, keep going because it is worth it.
The second half of the book is after something big happens which leaves Tally alone. I found this also quite interesting to learn about another aspect of the outside.

From the Uglies review, I stated I liked the mystery and intrigue from the world. Although the mystery I meant here is solved either in this book or in Uglies. However, in top of those, more mystery was created in Pretties as the reader, and Tally, find out more of this world she lives in. I must admit, it's a pretty intriguing world where a lot is hidden from public view.

I liked the character of Tally in Uglies, despite feeling a little detached at times because of the 3rd person narrative. The same here really, although something was different and lost on Tally this time. She wasn't as determined and strong-minded in this book as in Uglies and I think that is all down to the fact she is Pretty. I didn't feel attached again to her, but definitely less attached than before.
There are some new characters - both small and big as well as revelations about these characters - both small and big. I found the new characters okay and it is nice to have this mix of new and old characters that make more consequences in Tally's life. As I found in Uglies, Shay annoyed me so much in this book. She is someone the reader is forced not to like throughout this set of books so far - but her character is. SO. IRRITATING. She gets angry over the smallest things and the thing that gets her angry in this novel, I just think is slightly ridiculous. And what she does afterwards - seriously?!

Overall, I would definitely read this if you are a fan of either Scott Westerfeld or the Uglies series so far. Although this isn't as good as Uglies was, this is still pretty good and a good follow-up. I'm not sure if it has suffered from 'second-book' sickness but this book has definitely made me want to read Specials, the last in the trilogy. There are things that I missed from Uglies or things I didn't like about Pretties but overall, I think some of the bad reviews out there for this book are a little too harsh. This is one of the better sequels I have read.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://scottwesterfeld.com/
Pages: 370
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Challenges: None.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Books I HAD to buy...but yet to actually read

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


FREEBIE WEEK. I saw this as a past topic and thought it appropriate. 
For the last couple of weeks, I have seen reviews or people have asked me of books which I know are sitting lonesome on my bookshelf after me splurging on buying them - waiting for the day I will finally pick them up to read. It's actually really bad, the amount of books I need/want to read that I have available to me - yet I simply feel I have no time to read them in my life or that I put the book off seeing another book I want to read in the library. It's bad, I know. 
So here are some books that need some attention from sitting unread on my bookshelf waay too long (I do want to read them!):


1. What Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen - I pre-ordered this for its UK release last June. YES. LAST JUNE. I have nothing else to say apart from I am ashamed. 


2. Fever - Lauren DeStefano - I bought this only in February yet it feels like it's been gathering dust on my bookshelf for a long time. I read the first book in the series, Wither (review), at the end of 2011 so I was sort of still in the 'OH MY GOD WITHER' mood for the UK release of Fever


3. The Killables - Gemma Malley - When I heard that Gemma Malley was releasing another book after the success of The Declaration series (reviews for Book 1, 2 and 3), I was very happy and excited. So when at work, this was on sale, I jumped at the chance in my excitement. 


4. One Day - David Nicholls - since this release last year and then the sudden surge in popularity following the film adaptation starring Anne Hathaway, I had searched high and low for this book at the best price because I loved the idea. Eventually, I found this in a charity bookshop near my college for I think about £1.99/£2.99. Despite my delight for acquiring a copy for so cheap, I am yet to wallow in the cheapness of such a book (meaning I haven't read it yet...)


5. Alone in Berlin - Hans Fallada - Alone in Berlin. One of the novels that had intrigued me for years since starting to study the Second World War. Similarly to One Day, I bought this in the charity shop I worked in last summer after a customer told me it was the best book he had ever read when I was looking at it. I took that as a recommendation. 


6. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak - I bought this in Waterstone's infamous 3 for 2 offer that included Never Let Me Go (another one that could be added to this list) and If I Stay (review). I bought this as they recommended it to me for my History GCSE which was partly on Nazi Germany - the setting for this book. I am so rubbish. Here's the 'On My Bookshelf' that I posted it in - click here


7. The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han - Ah, the Waterstone's 3 for 2 offer strikes again. I bought this in my first 'On My Bookshelf' meme (click here to have a lookie) which was on 25th August 2010. THAT WAS NEARLY TWO YEARS AGO. AND THIS IS STILL ON MY SHELF UNREAD. I wanted to read it because I loved the synopsis and the cover. I can't have loved it THAT much though...(I am determined to read this before the 2 year mark)


8. A Company of Swans - Eva Ibbotson - I have all the Eva Ibbotson books. I wanted all of them because she was so good. Have I read them all even though she is my favourite author? Nein. 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Adorkable - Sarra Manning

Sarra Manning is an author I have grown up knowing she is a firm holder of being a British YA writer. I have read one of her other stand-alone novels previously, Pretty Things (review) from the earlier days of blogging (hence the...interesting review).
I enjoyed that book but I wasn't totally hooked to her writing despite hearing great things and seeing many of her books in libraries and shops.

Despite this, I was interested by Adorkable from seeing the front cover. Although I don't really like it particularly and would maybe bypass it if I saw it on a shelf, it looked like something contemporary that I would enjoy. The reviews on the blogosphere are what hooked me totally. I wanted to read this book and even considered buying it at work, until I found it alone in the corner of the library where I quickly picked it up.

Synopsis: Jeane Smith is 17 and has used her dorkiness to turn herself into a self-made teenager with a lifestyle brand, blog, half a million followers on Twitter and consultancy business. She writes for style columns and the Guardian about the new type of teenager and unique trends. All this while studying for her AS levels. yet despite having all this cool stuff happening, lots of Internet friends and a cool boyfriend, Jeane feels alone and that no-one quite understands her. So, when she continuously talks to Michael Lee, a popular, well-rounded guy who lives in Abercrombie & Fitch, it is surprising especially as the only thing they have in common is Jeane's boyfriend secretly seeing Michael's girlfriend. So, why can't they stop seeing each other?

Review: If you wanted a a very British novel, I think you've found it. If you wanted a modern novel, you've also found it in this book.
After finishing this book a couple of nights ago, it struck me how much of this book I can relate to and how cram packed it is of popular culture references and of English references in general, some of which I think only those that have visited London would understand. This is truly what I call a British novel for the 21st Century. 

In all honesty, I have no idea how I felt about this book at all. I have no strong emotions or opinions for it. I have been putting off this review because of that very reason so I hope the next few paragraphs are something readable and comprehensible.

Characters: A lot of reviews I read prior and after reading this novel said they didn't like the obnoxious and 'I am so amazing' attitude of the main character, Jeane. It's true, she is a bit...'out there', shall we say, but it's what makes her so likeable. Jeane is not your normal teenage heroine. She does not wallow around her house all day waiting for the guy she likes to come along, the same goes when she finds out her boyfriend is two-timing her. No, Jeane is a feminist and an independent woman at that. And wow, some of the things she has done with her blog, Adorkable, most bloggers could only dream of doing. A clothing line, millions of readers and followers all wanting to hear your every word and then writing for big newspapers and making money out of it. So, it may be a little idealistic for any 'real blogger' because I don't think there is any blogger to date who is like this. But Sarra Manning has created Jeane as a 'what if?'. Yes, Jeane could be percieved as irritating and demanding, even by Michael. But I liked that feminist stance about her - she's a YA protagonist of her own.

Michael. Ah, Michael. Well I can see why he could be quite a catch and also why he is someone who Jean would detest. Overall, I did like Michael. There are moments where he really lightens the tone of the book and others when he is a total idiot and he seemed way too sensitive at times. However, it was nice to have an alternative portrayal of both the events and of Jeane. He has a great sense of humour and it was him that made me laugh or smile at various points throughout the novel. I think if the POV had been completely Jeane, this book wouldn't have been enjoyed by so many - she is a bit much at times even just reading about her. In short, Michael added a more realistic view for the reader because he is just a normal or 'stereotypical' teenage guy. Without his POV, I don't think I would have been on the fence as much.

Writing: It seems finally an adult author understands the cliques of teenagers. Once I was telling a family friend of the 'popular' people more dominant at secondary school but still in the background at college now. Their reaction was a reference to the teenage films such as Clueless or Mean Girls which depict an American high school which is run by these cliques or groups that everyone belongs to, headed by the 'popular' guys and gals. However fictitious that may seem, perhaps more unlikely in an English school, it's far from fiction. Anyway, I've seen some reviews slating the use of these two groups that Michael and Jeane belong to - the popular people and the, um, non-popular people.
It is true that probably Michael's 'clique's' reaction was a little exaggerated (Heidi made me want to punch her with hers) but I can understand it when they joke of the perhaps existence of Michael and Jeane's relationship. In short, it is clear Manning understand teenagers and their independence. She understands two groups - those that always shop at Hollister and those that want to be different and go to vintage shops or other high-street chain stores. She gets teenage problems and how they would react. This book shows a pretty spot-on portrayal of teenagers, and that is from one themselves. I don't think it is totally realistic but I think Michael and Jeane represent an exaggerated version of the two different types of teenagers.

Overall, this book is a totally British book. It is also a totally YA book. Plus a book for bloggers. I think only some bloggers can lust over Jeane's internet life. And teenagers perhaps over Michael's - who knows?
The use of 'English words', blogging lingo, teenage slang really make this book what it is and those are the reasons I think people would enjoy it. The cover is bad - sorry, but I would not approach this book if I hadn't seen the reviews and read Manning before. The cover looks like a bad teenage fiction novel - but this is far from that.
Teenagers are misunderstood a lot. But this book shows teenagers aren't those bad kids the media drones on and on about. Manning understands teenagers, like many other YA authors.
Blogger? English? Teenager? Any of those - then, give this a read.


I'm still on the fence about this - I sound like I love this book but it's easier to be positive than negative. So my rating is in the middle. 


I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.sarramanning.co.uk/
Pages: 387
Publisher: Atom
Challenges: BBC

Other Books by Sarra Manning:
Pretty Things