Waiting On Wednesday: Fateful by Claudia Gray

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine and allows us to spotlight upcoming books we are eagerly anticipating.

Fateful by Claudia Gray

                                              US                                     UK


A tragic tale about falling in love on the world’s most infamous ill-fated sea voyage as heroine, Tess, discovers darker secrets that lie beneath the doomed crossing… and a hidden brotherhood that threaten to tear her lover from her forever.
The RMS Titanic is the most luxurious ship ever built, but for eighteen-year-old Tess Davies it’s a prison. Travelling as a maid for the family she has served for years, Tess is trapped in their employ amid painful memories and family secrets.
When she meets Alec, a handsome upper class passenger, Tess falls helplessly in love. But Alec has secrets of his own… and soon Tess is entangled in a dangerous game. A sinister brotherhood that will do anything to induct Alec into their mystical order has followed him onboard. And Tess is now their most powerful pawn.
Tess and Alec fight the dark forces threatening to tear them apart, never realising that they will have to face an even greater peril before the journey is over…


********

This one is published September 2011 by HarperTeen in the US and March 2012 by Harper Children's Books in the UK. What do you think of the different covers? I have to be honest and say I'm not all that fussed about either but probably prefer US. Even so, this sounds awesome!


Book Review: Betrayal by Amy Meredith

Betrayal (A Dark Touch Novel) is the fourth book in a series by Amy Meredith. It was published by Red Fox (Random House) on 2nd June and the book is 288 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Plot
Things have never been better for Eve Evergold. She has an awesome boyfriend in Luke and a fantastic best friend in Jess, who gets to go to senior prom with her boyfriend Seth. There haven’t even been any demons in Deepdene for ages so Eve is enjoying the peace and quiet and generally enjoying life for once.

Of course, nothing ever stays quiet in Deepdene for long and quickly, Eve’s life is turned upside down once again. Strange things are happening and Eve finds herself on her own. Jess and Luke have turned against her, thinking that the demon in her is a bad thing. Without her friends by her side, how will Eve figure out what is really going on and save Deepdene for another time.

What I thought
After hating this series to begin with, I have come to really like it now and had been looking forward to the newest instalment from Amy Meredith.

Throughout all of this series so far, there is a lot of action and it doesn’t stop with Betrayal. I love how kick ass the characters are, even the ones who don’t have superpowers. Jess is learning Kung-Fu to be of some kind of help and Luke is in possession of an almighty sword which I am quite jealous of. I love that although Eve is the main character with all the powers, the other characters are given enough to do to keep them interesting and exciting. I think I actually enjoy the scenes where Jess is trying to kick some major demon ass with her awesome kicks rather than Eve being able to zap them to death. These kinds of things really give the other characters something extra and something to make readers like them.

What really bugged me about this book was the fact that Jess and Luke were so quick to judge and not believe Eve. Eve and Jess have been best friends for a hell of a long time and I really didn’t think that Jess would be the kind of person to trust someone she doesn’t even really like over her best friend. This part of the book really upset me because the characters who have been getting better and better through each book suddenly went massively downhill. It was kind of like the author just forgot anything that was previously written about them and reinvented them. I understand that this was to go along with the plot but I think it could have been done better, without compromising the characters I have grown to love.

Because of this, I ended up feeling quite sorry for Eve. She was pretty much all alone trying to figure out what the hell was going on and without her friends, who are normally always there to support and help her, that must have been tough. Even though Eve is still quite shallow, not quite as shallow as in the first book, I cant help but love her. I can see past all of the things that bug me about her in order to see what is really so good about her character. She obviously cares a lot about the people around her and what is happening and truly wants to do something good with her powers and those things definitely redeem the shallowness.

This is a series that seems to be quite hit and miss. I didn’t like the first book very much at all but really enjoyed books 2 and 3. Now, book 4 has left me with mixed feelings. That being said, this is still a quick, entertaining read and I will still be reading others in this series and probably anything else by Amy Meredith.

Book Review: Velvet by Mary Hooper


Velvet is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she is an orphan and has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry is scalding, back-breaking work and Velvet is desperate to create a better life for herself. Then Velvet is noticed by Madame Savoya, a famed medium, who asks Velvet to come to work for her. Velvet is dazzled at first by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But soon Velvet realises that Madame Savoya is not all that she says she is, and Velvet's very life is in danger ...A romantic and thrillingly exciting new novel from an acclaimed and much loved historical writer for teens (from Amazon.co.uk)

I came across Mary Hooper last year when I was sent Fallen Grace for review and enjoyed it immensely. I love historical fiction, particularly set in the Victorian era, and Hooper’s evocative style, sympathetic characters and accessible writing won me over immediately. I investigated the author’s other novels and was excited to learn the plot of her new book was set against the back drop of the Victorian spiritualist industry, something I have a read other books on and found fascinating.

I’m glad to say Velvet was just as good as Fallen Grace and I enjoyed every single page. After a couple of weeks of the dreaded reading slump, it’s gripping story line and fascinating characters were welcome relief and I couldn’t put the book down. Often historical fiction can come across as heavy going but this certainly isn’t the case with Velvet at all. It’s engaging and exciting yet remains very much in its time, throwing up many fascinating snippets of historical detail along the way.

Told in the first person from Velvet, I felt drawn to this character straight away. Despite having been abused and orphaned as a child and now working tirelessly in a laundry to scrimp her way through life, she remains ambitious and determined to stand on her own two feet. This seems to be a common trait in Hooper’s female lead characters and I enjoy the strength she portrays, especially in an age where women weren’t expected to want more. Sometimes I felt her ambition and desire to better herself made her a little too naïve at times, particularly where her new employer was concerned, although I think had I been in her position I too may have easily been so overawed at the life being offered to me to question it much.

I thought the character of spiritualist medium, Madame Savoya was incredibly well created. The reader is encouraged to build distrust of her by frequent passages involving clients away from Velvet’s eyes, in an almost conspiratorial way from the author. I liked how these sections gave shock factor and a sense of ‘behind the scenes’ rather than just Velvet’s biased and bedazzled view. Despite these insights, there where several twists along the way I didn’t see coming. There’s also a little bit of romance, although this never really takes of into a passionate love affair and remains very much in the background of the story.

At the end of the book Mary Hooper shares her inspiration for Velvet as well as some information on some of the people and places that appear in the book, which was very interesting. I’ve never come across Baby Farming before for instance and the fact this shockingly cruel practise took place little over 100 years ago stunned me. Clearly, Hooper puts a lot of research into her books and it’s this detailing along with her beautifully engaging writing style that makes Velvet a success. A truly intriguing and genuinely fascinating book, which I promise will pique the interest of all who read.

Published by Bloomsbury 5th September 2011
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.

Come back on 12th September 2011 for my stop on the Mary Hooper Blog Tour and a chance to win an amazing prize!

Book Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead is the first book in the spin off series from Vampire Academy. It was published by Razor Bill (Penguin) on 25th August and the book is 432 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

Plot
Moroi princess, Jill Dragomir’s life is in danger and it is up to Alchemist Sydney to help protect her from harm. Forced to go undercover, Sydney, Jill and a couple of others begin their new lives in Palm Springs although not exactly how anyone imagined. Taking their places at a private human school, Sydney and Jill start to realise that keeping Jill safe may be the last of their worries.

Human high school is far more scary than anyone could have ever imagined but Jill and Sydney must find a way to fit in without drawing attention to themselves. That would be a simple task if it weren’t for a large chunk of the other students having metallic tattoos, very similar to Sydney’s Alchemist tattoo. How are they getting something so very similar and what is it doing to them?

What I thought
I was a bit late to the game when it came to reading Vampire Academy and ended up reading the whole series within the space of a few weeks just before the release of the final book. I loved this series so much and I was dying to get my hands on a copy of Bloodlines so the very day that it came in the post, I started reading and finished it!

The biggest problem really is that we’re supposed to be able to read this book even without having read the VA series. Many people who have read this said you can but I really don’t think it’s a very good idea. Too many characters from VA are brought back at some stage or another and there are a lot of references to plotlines that the other series explored. This wouldn’t have been a bad thing for me if they had been mentioned in passing but some things have quite a large effect on the plot of this book so if you haven’t read VA, you are going to end up quite confused.

That being said, as someone who has read VA, I was happy to see certain characters being brought back, Adrian in particular. I was always a massive Adrian fan in the previous series and hoped and prayed for better things for him and this series looks like it might just give him that! His character is a bit mixed when it comes to how he acts in this book due to how events in VA affected him but I still loved him anyway. I quite liked that he wasn’t completely there and he had a lot of problems but that just means he has no where else to go but up (I hope) from here so things should get better. As one of the main male characters, Adrian has a lot of interaction with the other characters and this really makes him somewhat of a focal point. He seems to be the person holding things together in a strange kind of way.

I wasn’t too sure about Sydney to begin with but that is how I felt about her during VA. Luckily, she really did grow on me quite quickly as you get to find out a lot about her within a very short space of time. The beginning of the book made me realise that there was a lot more to this character than I had first imagined and I loved that she had some real depth to her. As Bloodlines carries on straight from the end of VA, Sydney is in the bad books of the Alchemists because of how she acted towards the vampires and I don’t think I really thought about how she would be received after all the drama was over. That soon becomes clear though and I think Sydney was really brave and strong to react the way that she did and to fight for her place as an Alchemist. From here though, Sydney seemed a little weak to me at times, being a little bit of a pushover when it came to certain things so I would have liked for her strength to carry on the whole way through the book.

I loved the different storylines in Bloodlines. Not only do we have the main idea of Jill being in danger but there are a few other really important things going on as well. Teenage girls are being murdered for some unknown reason and the strange tattoos students have are a massive deal. It was great that everything wasn’t really all about Jill like I thought it was going to be. Instead, she kind of takes a bit of a backseat in this book which leaves time for more exciting things to happen. I’m sure that something bad is going to happen to her down the line though otherwise what would be the point of this new series.

Richelle Mead has a fantastic way of creating tension and action all at the same time. Her action scenes are some of the best in this genre and there is always a fantastic build up to the main event. Bloodlines is no exception. The pacing was pretty close to perfect for me as the beginning of the book gives us time to reacquaint ourselves with old characters while getting to know the newer ones at the same time. Bloodlines then slowly draws out the main plot, allowing us to fully surround ourselves in the world she has created and then BAM… she hits us with some amazing action and excitement. Towards the end of Bloodlines, I was already excited for the next book in the series due to how the ending was panning out and I had a million ideas in my head about what could happen next.

After so much of a build up before the release of this book, I am very happy to say that it didn’t disappoint me at all. I do think this is going to be more for VA fans than new readers but now it makes me really glad I did finally get around to reading the series!

Book Review: The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

The Water Wars is a dystopian YA novel by Cameron Stracher. It was published on 1st January by Sourcebooks Fire and it is 240 pages long.

Plot
Vera and her brother Will live in a country still trying to recover after the Great Panic. The environment is in tatters which leaves them with little/ sometimes no water at all. There isn’t any rain, people, especially the government, hoard water like it is gold and the rivers have run dry.

When Vera meets Kai on the side of the road, she knows that he is special. He doesn’t go to school and it is clear that he does as he pleases which is quite unheard of in these times of despair. Kai knows where there is fresh, running water that could save everyone and knowing someone with this kind of secret can be deadly. When Kai disappears, Vera and Will set off on a rescue mission but on their way, they find out much more about what is happening than they could have ever imagined. Who would have thought that water could be the sole cause of all of this destruction and chaos?!

What I thought
The premise of this book instantly had me wanting it as soon as I discovered that it existed. Even the cover is so stunning that I would have bought it there and then in a shop had it been released over here in the UK. Luckily, my good friend Kirsty sent me her copy and I couldn’t wait to get right into reading this one.

Unfortunately, as interesting as the premise is, it doesn’t stay amazing for very long. The story starts off extremely fast and never really has chance to slow down. So much happens in so few pages that it all seemed far too rushed. The characters would move from one place to the next within the space of a couple of pages and I never really thought there was enough time spent in each place. This book would have worked so much better as a trilogy or at least two books to slow down the pacing and to spend time on the things that really mattered.

The idea though, is where the book excels. Dystopian is a genre in the YA market that is extremely popular now and I think had this one been done better, it would have been a huge hit. The Water Wars is set in a time where fresh, real water is a rare commodity and it has people at war. The world is a changed place and with the rivers and lakes drying up as well as a massive drought, water is so hard to come by that people will kill for it, literally. As well as this, people are getting sick due to the lack of real water and all of the other things that come with that problem. The thing about this book is that the possibility for this is happen is so real and so possible and that is what I found so good about it.

Where do I start with the main character?! Vera was supposed to be a strong, confident and exciting girl but she fell so, so short. What started off well, with the promise of her character growing an awful lot, went downhill extremely quickly. I did like Vera to begin with but it didn’t take long for me to want to slap her. It isn’t that she is stupid or anything and she is quite brave but she does make some silly mistakes and runs into danger at every possible chance she gets. Also, there wasn’t that likeability factor with her that I was wanting to get. The times where she is supposed to show her courage are the times where she appears weaker than anyone else in the book and I think that she could have been written a hell of a lot better.

As dull as the main characters are, some secondary characters make up for that. The water pirates were characters who were really fascinating and funny at the same time. As a whole, they had all of the fight, charisma and attack that Vera was supposed to have but didn’t. These characters, along with a couple of others, make the book go from passable to being OK for me. Without characters like these, I think I would have given up on this book quite early on and although I said the pacing was off earlier on, here is a spot where it did work. Without the fast pacing, these characters may not have appeared until much later on.

The Water Wars was definitely not a book for me due to its uneven pacing and weak characters but the initial idea is what made me read it the whole way through.

Book Review: Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

Shift is the second book in the Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready. It was published on 9th June by Simon and Schuster and the book is 384 pages long.

Plot
For a teenage girl, Aura has had to go through a hell of a lot, way more than any normal teenager would. Her rock star boyfriend Logan died not that long ago and now switches in and out of two different states, being a ghost and being a shade. Since his death, Aura has found it extremely difficult to deal with what has happened and can’t quite figure out how to move on, especially as she knows how much he needs her help. Even though Aura loves Logan, there is a connection with the hot Scottish guy Zachary that she cannot deny…and doesn’t want to.

Both boys are fighting for Aura’s attentions but only one of them can have her heart. Before she can decide anything, Aura needs to figure out the mystery of the Shift and how it all connects with her past…making her exactly who she is now. As the mystery unfolds, Aura’s decision only gets more difficult.

What I thought
The first book in this series, Shade, was the first book I ever got for review and it was also my favourite book of the whole of last year. I have been dying to read the sequel since putting down Shade a whole year ago and I was so happy when I finally got it in my hands.

Love triangles seem to be done to death in YA books over the last year and I honestly thought I had had enough of them but Jeri Smith-Ready makes me change my mind. The Aura, Zachary, Logan love triangle is such a fabulous thing to read about because it is so different from any other I have ever read about. As Logan is already dead at the beginning of this book, I was really wondering how the relationship between him and Aura could even continue but I was pleasantly surprised with how this was figured out. I really thought that the love triangle was going to be solved in a really simple way but as I was getting into the story, I realised that it was still anybody’s game when it comes to Aura.

As much as I loved Logan, (because who wouldn’t want a rock star hot guy playing a guitar with a swoon worthy singing voice?) the soft spot I had for Zachary just would not go away. I think that a big part of this was due to how real he was to me and that I could picture him perfectly. Having a (now ex) Scottish male best friend really helped me to picture Zachary and after years of hearing his weird slang, I knew exactly what was being said. The use of language was damn perfect for me from this character and it really helped me to have a whole picture of him in my head.

Now Aura was a character who I couldn’t help but feel sorry for. I can’t imagine everything that must have been going through her head when it came to choosing between these two fabulous boys. On each side, I could see why she would want to choose each one. Zach is obviously the hot foreign guy who is so completely different to her first love, Logan. There are also large parts of the story surrounding each character which makes her decision so hard. Aura can see the good in both Zach and Logan and in her head, has reasons for why she should be with each of them, even if there are difficulties on both sides too. There are some pretty major twists when it comes to the romance department in this book and I loved where Aura’s relationships were taken.

Shift is about so much more than a love triangle though. Learning more about the Shift was really what made this book for me. I had so many questions after Shade and while they weren’t all answered, a lot was. I really had no idea where the story was going to be taken and what the reasoning would be behind certain things but I was so happy with the way it did go. This aspect of the book made it so different from its predecessor but it also tied in extremely well at the same time. While not everything was a complete shock to me, most of it was and I really enjoyed finding out a little bit at a time instead of the whole answer being thrown at me in one go.

As well as learning more about what the whole series is about, there is something in this book for everyone. I really liked the fact that there was a large amount of mystery and action in a place where I wouldn’t expect it to be at all. Because of this change in pace, it makes the book a lot more exciting than the first and gives it a completely different feel. The pace of the book changes constantly due to the different themes running throughout and I thought that this was a nice touch. It always felt like the impossible could happen and that I would never know what was about to happen next. As well as the adventure side to Shift, it is also largely about love and loss and not just for Aura. Starting over and having to deal with some pretty terrible situations is something that a lot of the characters have to deal with.

The ending of Shift left me so full of hope for the third book, Shine but also with a lot of questions. A good chunk of the story was explained in this book but I can see that there is still a hell of a lot more to come and I can’t wait to see what is in store next for Aura. On a quick final note, Jeri Smith-Ready made me cry once again although not for the same reasons as in Shade. I really hope that Shine will be a tear free read but I can’t say that I am too sure that it will happen.

Shift is every bit as good as Shade and very high up on the list of my favourite books of this year. I wasn’t disappointed even a little bit!

Book Review: Watch Me by Lauren Barnholdt

Watch Me (also known as Reality Chick) is a contemporary YA novel by Lauren Barnholdt. It was published by Simon Pulse US 


Plot
Ally Cavanaugh thinks she has everything in control. She’s about to move away to college, live in a house with new people and take part in a reality TV show, broadcasting her whole life to the world. She isn’t worried about any of this as long as she still has her long distance relationship with high school sweetheart, Corey. What Ally doesn’t factor in is how hard being away from home and living in a house with people she doesn’t know will be.


Tensions in the house grow as everyone gets to know each other and as some of the housemates get to know each other a little too well. Ally doesn’t know who she can trust anymore and that includes herself. After spending more and more time with the house hottie, Drew, she is unsure of her feelings and what she actually wants out of life. Could being on a reality show ruin everything she has worked so hard to achieve during high school? 


What I thought
After reading Two-Way Street, another book by Lauren Barnholdt, I immediately wanted to read more from her. When looking through her books on Amazon, Watch Me was the one that stood out to me the most, due to the nature of the plot.


Ally, the main character, decides to try out for a reality tv show before heading off to college. The show itself is a mix between Big Brother and something like Jersey Shore. There is no prize money and no one is locked in the house but they do all live together and are filmed at all times. Now, there are so many reality TV shows around and I wondered how this would translate into a contemporary book. The Hunger Games also has a similar reality TV theme but set in a dystopian world so nothing like what Barnholdt has created. 


Ally’s situation, as well as her as a character, were really interesting. I’m not sure if I would have ever entered to go on a show like she did when starting college and moving away from home. Surely it would have been too much pressure to handle in one go but I have to say, I was impressed with the way she handled things to begin with. Not only does she have classes to go to but she also has to learn how to live with a bunch of people she has never met and people who have completely different personalities. The book is told through different views according to time; then and now. The start of the book states just how messed up Ally is after being on the show so right from the beginning, you know nothing is going to go smoothly and I liked this. I liked knowing that Ally was going to have to struggle and that she was going to have a hard time being in that situation. 


My only real problem with this book is the fact that you know the love triangle is coming and I would have liked for it to have been a little bit more of a shock. Drew was a lovely character though even if I didn’t get to know as much about him as I wanted to. As there is so much going on for Ally, he doesn’t make a real appearance until part way through the book and isn’t in it nearly enough. Drew had a lot going for him that would have made him amazing had the time been spent on his characterisation. He definitely would have been a guy I would have gone for myself due to his depth and compassion. Then there is Corey, Ally’s long distance, high school sweetheart boyfriend. I cant say that I liked him very much really though. Being in a long distance relationship, I thought that he would have made more of an effort with Ally but he just came across as full of himself and like he didn’t care either way most of the time. Because of this, I don’t really get what Ally saw in him. 


The secondary characters, mainly the other housemates, were fantastic. With such a range of personalities, forced together for a certain reason, there was a lot of humour. I loved the other girls who lived in the house and the fun they brought to Ally’s life. Jasmine is a Hooters Girl/ stripper tryout and is so outgoing and loud. Her presence cant really be missed and she comes to life on each page. Simone is the quieter of the three girls and stays to herself to begin with but it is clear that she is a good friend and only wants what is best for everyone. This book would have been quite boring without them I think. James, the other guy housemate, was terrible but I loved him. I like characters who mix things up a bit and cause chaos so here, James did his job really well. 


What I love most about Barnholdt’s work is the language she uses. The teenagers are real. They do things teenagers actually do like go to parties and get drunk and sleep around at times. They swear frequently and say exactly what is on their minds. Now, while I know this sort of thing is not to everyone’s tastes and that I can see parents of younger teens complaining about it, I think it is great! I hate to see teenagers, especially 18 year olds in books, shown to be something that they’re not. I understand that it doesn’t set the best standard but I don’t see the point in shying away from the real world and that is exactly what Barnholdt portrays in her books and I have to applaud her for taking risks and showing what life is really like. 


Watch Me will not be a book for everyone but I loved it and already want more from this amazing author! 

Book review: Vanish by Sophie Jordan

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever
(From Goodreads.Com)
****I have done my best to make this review spoiler free, but as a second book in the series there may be some for those who have yet to read Firelight****
Vanish was one of my most anticpated upcoming sequels this year, after I read and fell in love with the first book in Sophie Jordan’s series, Firelight. It was so fresh, introducing us to shape shifting dragons, full of impossible romance and packed with fascinating mythology. Then I saw this cover and was intrigued...who was the girl on the front? I had an idea, and I was right...but the story behind the mysterious girl was no less disappointing for it.

Once again I found myself fully immersed in the world of the Draki. The story picks up exactly where Firelight ends and slipping back in was effortless, like I’d never been away. This time round the majority of the story is set in amongst the pride and their town and I really enjoyed discovering more about the rituals and dynamics of the Draki’s, which isn’t always fair or pleasant but believable as an ancient group fighting for survival.

Tamra gets a big a share of the story this time round too and I loved her progression as a character throughout this book. In Firelight I didn’t really warm to her that much due to her jealously and lack of understanding towards her twin sister Jacinda. This time round though I’d say it’s with her my sympathy actually lay, she matures over the course of the book and shows herself to be far less superficial than I’d originally thought, and incredibly loyal too. Another character who surprised me was Cassian, I had hime firmly pegged as a bad boy with ulterior motives before...but again I actually liked him a lot more this time round, especially his loyalty and passion...he’s won a swoon from me anyway! Of course it’s the doomed love of Will and Jacinda that is central to the story once again, and I still really love the passion between the two, however I would have appreciated a bit more Will. Definitely more Will!

Vanish seemed to build up fantastically to a huge action scene, but as the pages (or percentage as reading on Kindle) left to the finish became few I started to wonder how this was going to fit in. And here comes my one complaint about this book, it ended on a huge cliffhanger and felt like it lacked that exciting and dramatic ending I was expecting! It almost felt as if the book was unfinished and now I have to wait for the sequel to finish this story, which was a little frustrating. Not frustrating enough to make me dislike the book, but enough to leave me feeling a little cheated and disappointed. Of course it does mean that I can now wait once again for the third instalment in this series, which at present I can’t find any information on.

So was Vanish worth the wait and a worthy follow up to Firelight? Yes and a little bit no...I loved Sophie’s easy writing style, how effortless it was to slip back into the story, the whole Draki world and developement of characters we met in the first novel. However I was a little disappointed and frustrated by the ending and the feeling the book wasn’t quite finished. I still *really* liked it, but wanted just that little bit more. Would I still recommend it? Well if you loved Firelight it’s a must read (and if you haven’t...what are you waiting for?) and from the cliff hanger there’s no way the third would make sense without it. Verdict? Definitely worth a read.





Published by HarperTeen (US) and OUP (UK) September 2011
EBook provided for review by Harperteen via Netgalley .

Book Review: Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

Glimmerglass is the first book in the Faeriewalker series by Jenna Black. It was published by St. Martin’s Griffin on 1st July 2010 and the book is 304 pages long. The second book in the series, Shadowspell, was released on 3rd February and the third book, Siren Song, was released on 8th August. 


Plot
Dana Hathaway doesn't know it yet, but she's in big trouble. When her mother, an alcoholic, shows up at her voice recital drunk, Dana decides she's had it with playing the role of her mother's keeper, so she packs her bags and travels to see her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the magical world of Faerie intersect. Dana is a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds. She has always known that her father is a big-deal Fae, but what she doesn't realize is that she could be the key to his rise in power. When she arrives in Avalon, Dana finds herself a pawn in the game of magical politics. Avalon is a place where both magic and technology work, and humans and Fae coexist in something resembling peace. How can she change the winds of fate, find a boyfriend, and make new friends when she's not sure who, if anyone, can be trusted? 


What I thought
This book had been on my wish list for a long, long time before I finally got around to buying it and I only wish I hadn’t waited so long now!


I immediately felt sorry for Dana. Her mother is an alcoholic which means Dana has a lot to handle on top of school and music. I could completely understand why Dana felt like she couldn’t cope anymore and why she felt like she had to run away to find the father she had never met. Having that much to deal with is a lot for anyone let alone a teenage girl. Although she has a nice, strong voice, Dana is a bit clueless at times. She hasn’t had a lot of life experience or experience with boys so makes some quite silly mistakes at times. These did provide a few giggles from my end though. Dana is far from weak and refuses to let anyone walk all over her, especially when she goes to Avalon and everyone around her tries to be ridiculously controlling. She wasn’t having any of that at all!! 


The whole book revolves around the fact that Dana is a Faeriewalker, someone who can travel between the human world and Avalon. I didn’t completely get why this was such a big deal though. As soon as Dana finds out that she is a Faeriewalker, all kinds of bad things begin to happen around her due to different people wanting the power over Avalon. I understand that having Dana under their power will make a difference to whoever succeeds with this but I didn’t really understand what is so amazing about what she can do. Some of this is explained quite late on in the book but not fully. I hope that this is explained a lot more in future books of the series and for Dana to show what she can really do. 


Of course, there is always a hot boy. This time, there are two and not in your conventional love triangle kind of way. Ethan is the seriously hot fae boy who is trying to help Dana, kind of. He is rebellious, just like Dana, and has some immense power behind him. Ethan is charming, cocky and thinks he is God’s gift but honestly, I can see why he acts that way. He certainly has the looks and the power to back it all up. Even though he acts the tough guy most of the time, there is also a sweeter side to him. He knows how to try to make up for things when he messes up and he can admit that he makes mistakes along the way. Then there is Keane. Keane is not really a love interest (at the minute) but I’m thinking that he could be somewhere down the road. As Dana’s fighting instructor, he is seriously built and knows how to handle himself. He has a bad, I don’t give a toss, attitude which I loved! Although he doesn’t get much page time in this book, his character holds a lot of potential and I pray that he is focused on more in another book. 


The descriptions of Avalon and the diverse range of characters who lived there were described extremely well. So much time and effort has been put into creating Jenna Black’s Avalon and I truly thought of it as a real place. Well, for the most part. I’m not so sure about it being on top of a mountain in England just outside of London but hey, I guess Avalon could really exist just about anywhere. Not only was the world building fantastic but also its background. The difference between Earth/ Avalon, Seelie/ Unseelie court and who can do what magic and who cant sounds extremely complicated but really, it is all very simple to understand. Black has done such a good job of creating everything else around the plot. 


My only real problem with this book is that so much happened in such a short space of time. As this is a series, I would have preferred if some of the events had been spaced out a little more of if things had been explained in more detail. That being said, at least with the next two books in the series being released already, I can hope that these issues have been addressed and that a lot more is explained. I cant wait to read the other books in the series and to find about more about Avalon and what will happen there. 

Book Review: Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur


Elise and Franklin have always been best friends. Elise has always lived in the big house with her loving Uncle and Aunt, because Elise's parents died when she was too young to remember them.  There's always been a barn behind the house with eight locked doors on the second floor. 

When Elise and Franklin start middle school, things feel all wrong. Bullying. Not fitting in. Franklin suddenly seems babyish.  Then, soon after her 12th birthday, Elise receives a mysterious key left for her by her father. A key that unlocks one of the eight doors upstairs in the barn . . . (From Goodreads.com)

I haven’t read Suzanne LeFleur’s previous book Love, Aubrey but I was aware it had received a lot of critical acclaim. I’m determined to remedy that fact soon though, because I adored everything about Eight Keys - the beautiful writing, the simplistic yet touching story, the sentiments behind it and the believable characters with very real anxieties and concerns. 

What struck me about the book was how genuinely touching it was. Elise is an incredibly believable eleven-year-old girl. While set in the US, and going through the transition of moving to middle school, children of the same age in the UK will recognise and sympathise with the same big step of starting secondary. I was reminded of my own experiences at that age…moving from the secure, protective cocoon of my Junior school, encountering other children who were more worldly and tougher and even the same embarrassment of some of my seemingly babyish friends who only a few weeks ago I’d been happy playing dolls or chase with out in the street. It’s a daunting time, and LaFleur fully understands that, capturing those emotions perfectly in Elise.

Despite being aimed at middle grade readers, there are two striking and important messages in Eight Keys that I believe any one of any age can benefit from. Firstly is of family and belonging, what it means and how love is unconditional. Elise never knew her parents, and desperately needs to know if she was loved by them while accepting that the family she does have love her for herself and not because the feel obligated to do so. The second is of acceptance, accepting other people and trying to understand them and accepting yourself. I loved the idea of the eight keys, each revealing a philosophical piece of advice which isn’t just relevant to Elise, but even as an adult struck a chord.

Eight Keys is one of the most quietly powerful books I’ve read in a long time. The underlying messages are subtle and dawn on the reader along with Elise in her journey of discovery. I found it an emotional read, my heart breaking at times for Elise as she appears lost, but also extremely hopeful and inspiring. The story isn’t action packed, shocking or exciting…yet it crept right under my skin and stayed there. I’ll be putting this book away for my daughter to read when she’s older and hope she finds it as touching and as empowering as I did.








Published by Puffin August 2011
Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Book Review: Once A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Once A Witch is the first in the Witch series by Carolyn MacCullough. It was published by Houghton Miffin Harcourt (US) on 6th September 2010 and the book is 292 pages long. The second book in the series, Always A Witch, was published on 11th July.

Plot
Tamsin Greene comes from a whole family of extremely Talented witches. On the day Tamsin was born, her grandmother said that she would be the most Talented out of them all. However, now Tamsin is seventeen, her Talent still hasn’t shown up, leaving her to feel like she is now the unwanted and different member of the family. She even went as far as to move into the city to go to school instead of being with her magical family and doing the same kinds of things that they do.

When a very handsome professor mistakes Tamsin for her older sister, and asks her to help him find a very specific item, she cannot help but to agree. Wanting to prove to her family that she isn’t worthless, Tamsin sets out to find this old family heirloom. What she doesn’t bargain for is exactly what she has been asked to find and the person she needs to ask for help in order to find it. Send on a treasure hunt through time, Tamsin is coming to realise that there is so much more to being a witch than she could have ever imagined.

What I thought
There aren’t nearly enough books in the YA genre which focus on witches for my liking. I love a good witch story, especially when they can do such amazing things so I was really excited after I stumbled across this one on Amazon.

Tamsin was a great heroine. All she wants is to act like a normal teenager now she has come to terms with the fact that she is Talentless. She has a strong voice, knowing exactly what she wants, and it stands out from the first page. She is gutsy, brave and very courageous. She is also extremely rebellious which is one of the things I loved the most about her. I thought that Tamsin was a very well written character and by far, the most likable out of the whole book. There were a couple of things about her which I loved even more, things which I have never seen done in a YA book before but I don’t want to give them away for anyone wanting to read this book. I wonder if anyone who has read it can guess at what I loved the most?

The different Talents that the family members had was a great addition to this book. Each family member can do different things and while most of them are helpful or useful at times, others seem to not be as great. The diverse mix of Talents was one of the things that made this book for me. The fact that Tamsin doesn’t have a Talent made her stand out from the rest of the family and I can only imagine how this must have made her feel. Having a family full of people who are successful is hard enough but to have a family who can all do magical things apart from you must be horrible. Tamsin does explain her reasons for going away to Manhattan for school though, mainly because she feels like a bit of an outcast after her grandmother proclaimed her the most powerful of them all… which didn’t amount to anything.

Tamsin’s relationship with her older sister, Rowena, was a great thing to read about. Even though they are witches, their relationship is just like that of any sisters. They bicker, they disagree a lot of the time and they fight. As the story developed, the relationship between Tamsin and Rowena slightly changed and I was glad to see that there was more between them than I had originally thought. Tamsin’s relationships with other characters were also interesting. The fact that she felt like the black sheep of the family put some distance between her and her mother, knowing that Rowena was always going to be the favoured daughter. It isn’t only Tamsin and Rowena’s relationship that changes though. As Tamsin goes through a number of things in this story, she realises that people in her family are not all that they seem and by finding out new things about them, it changes how she sees them.

Aiding Tamsin in her quest to find a particular item for the professor is long time friend, Gabriel. Even though the two used to be best friends, they lost touch when Tamsin didn’t gain her Talent. Gabriel didn’t seem bothered about this fact at all. He only wanted his best friend back and couldn’t understand why Tamsin hadn’t kept in touch over the years. I really loved Gabriel. He’s a witch, plays in a band and is pretty damn hot. What’s not to like? He was also sweet and sensitive though when it came to Tamsin and it was obvious how much he cared about her. I also loved how he stuck by her, no matter what they were doing or what she was attempting to do and he really was her rock throughout the whole book.

Once A Witch has a fantastic mix of contemporary and historic parts in relation to the witches. The nature of the plot follows Tamsin on her quest to find the missing item through time. Getting to see witches in different eras was a favourite part of the book for me due to liking anything historical as it is. It was interesting to see different characters in different time periods and to see how they had changed over time and how they reacted to particular things. As Tamsin travels through time, it makes for a very exciting read. Finding the item isn’t easy at all and this provides a lot of action, mystery and tension which was great.

Once A Witch is one of the best books focusing on witches that I have read in a long time. Carolyn MacCullough has definitely put a spell over me!

Blog Tour: Barry Hutchison's Invisible Friends-Doc Mortis Book review

The fourth thrilling book in this darkly funny, horror series Darren Shan called ‘deliciously nightmarish’.

The first book, Mr Mumbles, is shortlisted for the Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books

Kyle wakes up in hospital – which is strange, because he doesn't remember being ill. And that's not all. He's also deliriously flitting in and out of the Darkest Corners, and in the shadow version of the hospital the surfaces aren't clean, and the sharp instruments aren't used for healing.

It's Kyle's most terrifying experience yet, and it's about to get much, much worse.

The doctor will see him now… (from Amazon.co.uk)

I'm not keen on starting books mid series, so was a little nervous about starting this one. I did find it a little confusing, the book seems to jump straight into action and carry on from the previous book and it took a while for me to get to grips with what was going on.

That said I did find it incredibly easy and gripping to read, even if it isn't my usual kind of book. Hutchison's writing speaks directly to it's intended audience of children age 9+, and boys in particular will love the gruesome and horror packed adventure. It's very visual and direct in approach, with absolutely no flowery prose to distract those who like their reading fast paced and exciting.

It is creepy, with some disturbing scenes...monster baby in a bottle for example! Although remains completely age appropriate. I think this series is a brilliant introduction to horror for younger readers, with enough scary moments to to thrill without giving too many sleepless nights. Although more sensitive readers may want to avoid!

Doc Mortis is the fourth installment in the Invisible Friends series, and judging by my experience I would suggest checking out the others first as I felt I missed a lot of background and had many questions about the situation Kyle was in. If you're looking for books for boys especially aged 9-10 plus I think this is certainly one to consider!

Published by Harpercollins August 2011
Many thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.




Book Review: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Texas Gothic is the second YA book from Rosemary Clement-Moore. It was published by Corgi (Random House) on 7th July and the book is 406 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Plot
Sisters Amy and Phin (short for Amaryllis and Delphinium) have been stuck with the task of looking after their Aunt Hyacinth’s ranch for the summer. Even though they are not too impressed with looking after the goats and dogs, the sisters think that their summer could be spent in worse ways. Phin thinks it is the perfect time to mess around with her (paranormal) experiments while Amy doesn’t want anything to do with the paranormal at all. In fact, she wishes she could get as far away from paranormal as possible. Unfortunately for Amy, her whole family are magical in one way or another…apart from Amy.

The summer spent at Aunt Hyacinth’s ranch is going to be one they never forget, especially if a certain ghost has anything to do with it!

What I thought
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Rosemary Clement-Moore’s first book, The Splendour Falls, but after hearing about this book, I decided to give this author another shot and I am very, very glad that I did now.

Amy (Amaryllis) was a great female main character and one I enjoyed reading about immensely. She is the more outgoing of the two sisters and the one who seems to be the more responsible, at least that is what everyone else thinks anyway. That is quickly dismissed a little bit though when she is chasing things around outside in her underwear. The beginning of the book showed that Amy is a great many different things and being shown this early on was a wonderful thing for me. Amy was also outspoken, strong and confident for the most part but sensitive and caring when she needed to be. She also let down her guard at times, even when she really didn’t want to, and showed that she wasn’t invincible and that there was a lot that did worry and scare her.

Ben was a seriously HOT cowboy. He had a lovely mix of arrogance and cockiness but it was also clear that there was a lot more to him than meets the eye. I did like both sides of his character though and I think that Clement-Moore did a great job of adding in lots of different traits that many people will find attractive. One of the greatest things about him though was that he was able to give Amy a serious run for her money when it came to come backs and insults. Because of this, the banter between the two characters was funny and entertaining at the same time and I could feel the chemistry between them from the very beginning. Speaking of chemistry, there is one scene in particular that is especially steamy and I LOVED it!

Due to the situation, there are quite a lot of secondary characters. I thought I was going to get so confused as more and more started being introduced but this wasn’t the case. Each secondary character has a very distinct and unique voice that it would have been extremely difficult to mix them all up. The characters that come along with the archaeological dig were really fun and interesting and really reminded me of something out of something like Scooby Doo. Although they all have a job to do, they are more than interested in the paranormal things going on and are very much up for some kind of adventure and I loved this about them.

This book has a fantastic mix of magic, ghosts, legends of a small town and is about the people who either do or don’t believe in any or all of these things. I loved that the author was able to fuse together all of these things and take real aspects of history and slam them right into the middle of the story. I usually love any book that uses history in some form or another and Texas Gothic was no exception. I also really enjoyed the whole deal with the ghosts and finding out what was really going on with that, whether or not it was legend or whether it was an actual ghost doing particular things. Because of this, there was a lot of mystery in this book as well as lots of other great things.

With a name like Texas Gothic, I should have expected it to be creepy. However, I didn’t and when I was reading this at 2am, I was getting a little creeped out. Ok, more than a little. Every single little noise outside was scaring me and as there were no flatmates around either, everything seemed to be amplified. There was no way that I was expecting for this book to scare me as much as it did and I love Ms Clement-Moore for doing that to me! I love any book that is able to shock me and give me the unexpected and that is definitely what she did.

Texas Gothic is a great book that has a lot to offer for everyone! Highly recommended.

Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty



When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.(from Goodreads.com)


Bumped was one of my highly anticipated books this year. I’d tried desperately to get a copy via Netgalley early on, to no avail so was more than ecstatic when it turned up unannounced through my mailbox several weeks ago. So it is with regret I say I didn’t like it.

Didn’t like it/didn’t get it…it was a bit of both. I honestly thought the idea was such a fantastic one that I felt I was missing something by reacting so strongly against it. Maybe I am, the book has very mixed reviews so clearly it’s a marmite one. The problems I found with it was believability. I just could not believe that in twenty years in our future we’d be willing to glorify kids as young as 13/14 having sex. I could believe in the idea that only under eighteens could carry children, but I didn’t really get why we (society) would have lost all morals and would pit young kids against each other as they fought to win the best surrogate deal. And also, surely with the amount of technology that’s present in this world it could be done without the actual act of sex. It honestly made my stomach heave.

I could see what the author was trying to say about our culture, but sadly I just don’t think that message came across in the brash, in your face style it was written. I cringed my way through this book, at times feeling physically sick…but not in a thought provoking way, more in sheer disgust. I also really hated the new slang littered throughout this book, which was annoying to say the least. I wanted to vomit every time I read the word Fertilicious

I did like the contrast between Harmony’s old-fashioned devout church puritan upbringing and Melody’s bubblegum world, where pregnant teens are the new celebrities and reality TV stars. And I also thought some of the futuristic inventions were pretty clever, such as the internet contact lenses…now I can believe in a population who’s eye’s flicker gormlessly as they can’t pull themselves away from the virtual world. I’m kind of like that now as I crash into stuff with my head gazing down at my phone!

Unfortunately I can’t recommend this book, it just made me feel too uncomfortable but for all the wrong reasons. I felt the author had so much fun creating this world, she forgot to give it a sinister edge and the result is a book that appears to make teen pregnancy attractive rather than what I guess was the original goal. For me, it was just too weird.
If you think you may be offended in anyway by the topics I’ve mentioned then I scream AVOID to you. 


Published by Random House Children's Books Aug 2011
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review

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