Saturday 29 June 2013

News! The Tower of Books Edition

This week has been ok. Nothing that much happened in terms of life events for me.  Big events in America though- Wendy Davis filibustered for nearly 11 hours to stop the anti-abortion law getting passed, and the Supreme Court chucked out the Defence of Marriage Act and Prop 8 got killed in California and essentially I have hopes for America.

The biggest thing that happened was I made a tower of books. Of my TBR. And it's taller than me.  It's 181cm. IT'S NEARLY SIX FOOT HOW DID I ACCUMULATE THAT MANY???
Unfortunately, it fell down before I could get a picture of me with it. But it's taller than me. I am nowhere near six foot. 

Other booky news for me is getting books!  This week I got Lou Morgan's Blood and Feathers-Rebellion from the publishers (Thanks, Michael). I also got Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, Malinda Lo's Huntress and Steve Berman's Vintage:A Ghost Story (Thanks, whoever pays attention to my requests at the library and gets them bought!)

Interweb news-Google Reader is dying tomorrow. Sad sad times-I've relied on that for over two years. So, obligatory "follow me elsewhere!!" Bloglovin, Feedly and email, are the ways I'm trying to promote, but here's the raw feed you can use in any reader.

Rainbow Reads news- still accepting signups for guest posts and guest reviews! Form is here.
If you don't  want to do one of these, please please fill in THIS form!

The YA Crush Tourney's still going strong!

Literary event in Sunningdale with Laura Dockrill, Holly Smale, Rob Lloyd Jones, Will Hill and Conrad Mason. Happens 13 July. More info at Bookzone for Boys.

Tim Burton's going to do the film for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children [source] This was my first ever physical review book, and you can find the review here, so it's quite close to my bloggy heart, and I generally love Tim Burton so... hopefully this will go well!

Awesomeness of the week. A list of translated graffitti found in Pompeii/Herculaneum. I'm going later this year, but I'm fairly sure we won't be going looking for these... Some of my favourite repeatable ones are  " Learn this: while I am alive, you, hateful death, are coming."  and "On April 19th, I made bread". Some of my other favourites...aren't.    Link not suitable for younger people.

Have a great week!

Thursday 27 June 2013

Book Review-The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Hey, Wendy Davis spent 11 hours on her feet speaking to filibuster the anti-abortion law that they wanted to pass making abortion illegal past 20 weeks, regardless of medical complications, and elsewhere both DOMA and Prop 8 got killed. This news made me very happy. 

Title: The S Word
 Author:  Chelsea Pitcher
Series:  N/A
Published:  7 May 2013 by Gallery Books
Length: 304 pages
Warnings: suicide, rape, quite a few issues
Source: netgalley
Summary : First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.
But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.
Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Review: Lizzie  got Slut written all over her locker. After she kills herself, she gets Suicide Slut written on it-in her own handwriting. Although what started it was Lizzie being caught sleeping with her boyfriend, Angie still is upset at how her best friend has been treated and vows to find out who has been spreading Lizzie’s diary entries around. With drama and mystery at every turn, Angie discovers dark secrets from everywhere at her school.
When I saw the idea of this, I was instantly intrigued.  It’s a really heavy thing to label someone, and there’s a lot of ways it can be taken.
Angie, I liked for some of it. Not all of it. But thinking about how she handles the ending, I kind of respect her for what she does, but also dislike her for the fact that she did what she did that meant she had to do it. Jesse is a character I didn’t really like or dislike majorly. Lizzie is a major character in this, despite her being dead-journal entries really get her across and I think she’s my favourite character.
Chelsea has written the horrors of high school and what teenagers can do to each other via words and actions really well. The social politics of being friends and more and what it all means is evident, and Chelsea doesn’t  make high school seem a nice place to be.
The writing is good. I don’t normally pick out quotes from books that I loved, but one of the best things I’ve read this year is “Monsters are made. We make them, and when we don’t like what we’ve created, we play pretend”.
Really big plot twist! Obviously, I won’t tell you what it is, but it made me see a certain major character in a big way.
Issues such as sexuality and a bit of identity and betrayal and trust  feature quite a bit in this book. I liked it, I think it’s relevant to pretty much everyone,  and the discussion questions at the end are really interesting and I’d love to have a discussion about it at some point.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a gritty, real tale that every teen should read.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Waiting on Wednesday-Jana Oliver's Briar Rose

No post yesterday, because I spent all night adding a year's worth of reviews to the giant list. And it made me realise how many I'd written. Four hours in which my love of Cabin Pressure messed with my knowledge of the alphabet. 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we show off books that we want to read but have not been published yet. 

Title:  Briar Rose
Author:  Jana Oliver
Release Date: 13 September 2013 by Macmillan
Link to / Summary from Goodreads: 
For Briar Rose, life is anything but a fairy tale. She's stuck in a small town in deepest Georgia with parents who won't let her out of their sight, a bunch of small-minded, gossiping neighbours and an evil ex who's spreading nasty rumours about what she may or may not have done in the back of his car. She's tired of it all, so when, on her sixteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she is cursed and will go to sleep for a hundred years when the clock strikes midnight, she's actually kind of glad to leave it all behind. She says her goodbyes, lies down, and closes her eyes . . . And then she wakes up. Cold, alone and in the middle of the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of. Now Briar must fight her way out of the story that has been created for her, but she can't do it alone. She never believed in handsome princes, but now she's met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up.
Why I want it: I love fairy tale retellings. I love Jana Oliver. Put them together...I won't be missing this!

What are YOU waiting on this week?

Monday 24 June 2013

Book Review-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Title: Brave New World
 Author: Aldous Huxley

Series:  N/A
Published:  December 2007 by Vintage. First published 1932
Length: 288 pages
Warnings: sex and violence
Source: gift from family
Summary : Far in the future, the World Controllers have finally created the ideal society. In laboratories worldwide, genetic science has brought the human race to perfection. From the Alpha-Plus mandarin class to the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons, designed to perform menial tasks, man is bred and educated to be blissfully content with his pre-destined role.

But, in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, Bernard Marx is unhappy. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, feeling only distaste for the endless pleasures of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…
Review: In this dystopian, the population are sorted into  classes, Alphas through to Elipson and are this class for life. The conditioning happens even before they’re born-only Alphas and Betas are individual, whereas Gammas, Deltas and Elisions are mass-cloned. They are then conditioned to think the things typical of their class, and to be useful to the society.  Through recreational sex and drugs in free time, everyone is happy and no-one wants to leave. Except Bernard Marx, an Alpha who wants to visit a Savage Reservation. There they meet John, the Savage, who changes his world view completely.
I was excited to read this one. I read 1984 a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and was looking forwards to the other big classic dystopian around. The idea of this, the cloning and the keeping everyone happy, is entirely different, and seeing it all keep everyone satisfied is interesting. You can see clearly how Huxley is parodying the consumer society of the time, taking it to ridiculous lengths. The world of worshipping Ford, the idea that making a new thing is better than mending it for the good of the consumer society, and such are obviously taking off boom-time America.  The first thirdish of Brave New World is the best.
The middle of the novel, the visiting the Reservation, is a complete contrast to the Britain in the way of thinking. John is a character who is a bit interesting, the rest of the Savages also. But I was kind of bored throughout this section. The ending, a confrontation between John and World Controller Mond, brings back the interest a bit, but not that much.
Characters, I didn’t really care for them. Maybe at a push Linda and John. But those from the Britain were just a bit samey, boring and they didn’t help you get into the  story at all.
The plot is mainly characters questioning world views. Others may enjoy this, I didn’t.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book with a wonderful new world, but a story that wasn’t that interesting.

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads

Saturday 22 June 2013

Book Review-Stray by Monica Hesse

Title: Stray
 Author: Monica Hesse
Series:  N/A
Published:  6 June 2013 by Hot Key Books
Length: 352 pages
Source: publisher
Summary : Lona Sixteen Always is not herself - quite literally. She lives her life virtually through the experiences of Julian, a boy who was chosen as a role model for the Pathers of Quadrant 1 - troubled children who have been 'rescued' by the government and put 'on-Path'. But one day Lona finds she can think for herself. And on top of that, the face of a familiar boy appears on her screen - Fenn, who she thought had moved on to a different stage of the Path last year. But he didn't. Fenn and other rebels like him have strayed from the Path, and now Lona must stray too. But life off-Path is strange and difficult, and Lona uncovers a secret that will threaten all their lives. Can there really be life after the Path?
Review:  In this world, children who would otherwise be lost are put into the Path system, and spend 23 hours a day being Julian, a boy who lived fifty years ago and had his life deemed perfect. Lona has been on the path for sixteen years, and can’t imagine any other life. Until Fenn, a boy from her past, appears in the simulation. Deemd to have gone Off-Path, Lona is taken out of the program and thrust into a new world, uncovering secrets regarding other Off-Pathers who die before they’re nineteen, things about who she is, and where the Path will lead you.
This is an amazingly original idea. The world of the Path, the idea of it, immediately raises questions and makes you think. The system is set up well, and can we just talk about the names? On-Path, even they are simply a way of organising (Monica has an explanation here), and that’s a really intriguing idea, that leads to creative names like Ilyf and Byde and Czin.
Lona is inquisitive and believable and likable. She develops the most being the main character, and also because she goes from having no knowledge of the outside, real world to having some, and it’s fascinating to watch her gain that knowledge,  feel the intenseness of the real life in comparison to the virtual one they’d been kept on. My second favourite was Talia, a Path worker-there’s more to her than you first think. All the characters are something different.
The plot goes in a lot of different directions, and halfway through someone turns up who is a really big plot twist. Genevieve and Lona together are good at discovering things, and also the relationship between them is interesting to watch develop. The Fenn x Lona one is also good, developing naturally.
 The writing was really good at getting across the idea that these children hadn’t had their own lives. They’re all rather accepting of their situation, and the use of the pronoun We to refer to both themselves and Julian, the thinking of Julian’s birthday being their own, and the games show that despite them being Off-Path, they do still think of themselves as one with Julian.
Where  it ended made this book feel complete, but there’s a lot of room for a sequel, and I really hope, with the writing of Stray, that there will be one.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a highly original book  with mystery, friendship, and what it means to follow, or not follow, a path.

Links: Amazon | | Goodreads | Author twitter

Thursday 20 June 2013

Mini-reviews for The Sweet Dead Life, Devilish and The Eternity Cure

Today- mini reviews for paranormal YA- The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble, Devilish by Maureen Johnson and The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa.

 Title: The Sweet Dead Life
 Author: Joy Preble
Published:  May 14 2013 by Soho Teen
Source: edelweiss
Review: This is the diary of Jenna Samuels. After feeling sick, Jenna goes to hospital. With her brother. Who crashes the car. He doesn’t survive, instead becoming an A-word (Jenna has issues with the word angel) Jenna finds out that she’s being poisoned and also starts uncovering information about her missing father.
Afterlife stories are really fun. Well, afterlife/mystery stories. You know what I mean. The whole “I was dying” thing in the blurb is a definite draw in.
The Sweet Dead Life is a very quick read. The language is light and simple and easy to get through. I didn’t really enjoy it though-it got on my nerves quite a bit, but it’s good for those not looking for something not too serious.
Jenna was a bit annoying at times, just her way of narrating and all. She is very cheery. I liked Amber a lot, because she’s very different to your stereotypical angel.  Casey too.  We get a good antagonist. Jenna’s mum added a bit of grim reality.
The plot kept developing throughout, with something happening all the time.  you get frequent sumups of what’s happening so it’s easy to keep up with.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a light, fun afterlife story.

Title: Devilish
 Author: Maureen Johnson
Series:  N/A
Published: June 2012 by Harpercollins
Source: won from Much Loved Books
Review: Jane and Allison have always been best friends. They’re practically all the other has. So they’re in their senior year, and they’re meant to pair up with a new girl. Jane doesn’t get anyone, but after a small fuss, Allison gets Lanalee. And then Allison  really changes. No transformation should be this sudden. Jane does some investigation. And discovers that Allison has done a deal with a devil.
I was looking forwards to this- Maureen Johnson plus devils. It’s definitely an original and amusing take on such an old topic of selling your soul to the devil.
Jane is quite cool. She does so much for Allison, which is nice. She’s still getting over the breakup with Elton. She’s very funny, and a great narrator. Allison is a bit annoying in that she doesn’t do that much on her own. Lanalee is a really great version of a devil, tied up in bureaucracy  and sassing her way through most conversations. Owen was really sweet and the teachers at Jane’s school, once we got to know them for real, were pretty awesome.
Devilish is a really quick read. It’s well paced, and things happen quickly. the friendly narration works well and speeds it up further.
I would have liked to know the characters and their relationships a bit more before Lanalee showed up.
It’s mainly for younger people, but there are some unexpectedly violent scenes.

Overall:  Strength 3 to a relatively light take on Faustian contracts.
Links: | Goodreads | Author website |

Title: The Eternity Cure
 Author: Julie Kagawa
Series:   The Blood of Eden #2
Source: publisher
Review: After leaving Eden, Allison is looking for her maker, Kanin, after sensing he’s in in trouble. Along the way, she meets her blood brother, Jackal, and they go along together. They discover lots of things , like what’s been happening to Kanin, scientific research regarding cures, and that the plague is getting rather bad. Fun!
Character developments were happening really well. Allison is still fighting with herself about being a vampire, and trying to be good about who she drinks from. The first part of The Eternity Cure is  mainly Allison travelling on her own, so we get to know her a bit more. Plot picks up when we meet more people. Jackal has changed a bit, and gets more intriguing as we go along. Sarren provides a constant antagonist. Zeke was eternally sweet. 
Plot was rather predictable at times. what with the ending of The Immortal Rules, I was guessing that Zeke would show up again. The story  developed well, with the whole family blood ties thing going on on one level and then there’s the sciency bit with the plague and they fit together well.
You can easily see the close bonds between Allie, Zeke, Kanin and Jackal, all of different types that change. On the flip side, there’s the breakdown of the bond between Allison and one of her friends from The Immortal Rules, which I found was a really good way of showing how changed they’ve all become since the beginning of the series.
The ending, when it happened, was a shock, but I guessed the twist cliffhanger as the playout of the event for it was happening. It seemed like a little bit of a repeat from somewhere else in the series, but it’ll definitely keep me reading.
On cover related note, thank *&*% that they sorted it out.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a vampire book with a completely different world and awesome characters.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Guest Post-How Book Covers are Created by Levi Stack

While skimming over book covers on shelves or scrolling through them online, have you ever wondered how these works of art are created? How illustrators collaborate authors? How artists reinvent the heart and life of a story – only in a different medium? I’m writing to give you an inside look at that unique process. I was lucky enough to work side-by-side with my illustrator, Owen William Weber, so you’ll get to see firsthand what went into the artwork of my award-winning novel, The Silent Deal.

Here’s a summary to give you a feel for the story:

When Viktor and Romulus, two peasant boys in the Russian Empire, dig too deep into their town’s strange past, they awaken the wrath of a mysterious overlord. On a quest for answers (and survival), the blood brothers navigate gambling parlors, Gyspy camps, and dark forests full of wild animals and men alike. But can they escape the deathly experiments their foe is creating in Staryi Castle?

So you get the idea – this is an Old World story, stuffed with thieves and beggars all the way to the fortune-tellers and fire-jugglers of the Romani Gypsies. This is important to recognize because it’s essential to match the time period of the story to the appearance of the cover. If I had written a flashy modern story, I might have a pop art style cover, but because I wrote historical fiction, I wanted an older medium, and an oil painting seemed like the perfect choice.

This is where Owen William Weber came in. He’s an excellent painter, and after viewing his gallery, I immediately wanted him to do the cover art. Because the book deals so much with gambling, I requested the book’s cover resemble a king of spades playing card, with Viktor and Romulus, the two main characters, displayed as the king figures. Owen read my descriptions of the characters, and came back with several potential designs.

We agreed the fourth design was the most balanced, so Owen did a more detailed sketch, including attributes of both the characters. Romulus keeps a wolf as a pet, and carries blades throughout the story. Viktor is the son of a miner, and has to dig for buried items in certain scenes, hence the shovel. Both boys experiment with explosive weapons, as their enemy has banned firearms in their town.

I loved the sketch, but we both agreed that because Viktor and Romulus are serfs, their clothing needed to be rougher and less detailed. They also needed to look a bit younger. Owen carried out one more sketch, and this time it was perfect, save for the fact that we favored Romulus’ face from the first sketch.

The last step was for Owen to actually complete the oil painting. We agreed that rich reds and greens would give the book an older feel, so he handled the color scheme, and finished the work. After the typography was carried out, the cover art was finalized.

I hope you enjoyed this inside look at how a book cover is created! If you want to read The Silent Deal, it’s available on Amazon. Or if you want to learn more about me, check out my website, Happy reading!

Monday 17 June 2013

Book Review-Pantomime by Laura Lam

Title: Pantomime
 Author: Laura Lam
Series:  Pantomime #1
Warnings: attempted rape, domestic abuse, violence
Source: netgalley
Other info: This is Laura’s debut. There’ll be a sequel, Shadowplay
Summary : R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.
Review: Iphigenia Laurus, aka Gene, is a girl from a noble family. Micah Gray is a boy who runs away to join the circus. In a world surrounded by mysterious penglass, and having to hide from those looking for them, they discover that they have something in their blood that could change their world.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this. It must be said that I wasn’t expecting this though!
From the beginning, you’re pulled fully into the magical atmosphere of the circus. The genre is kind of fantasy but light on the fantasy, steampunky but without the steam. I’d say... faerie punk? But without the faeries. But anyway. It’s a genre without a name and I love this kind of world.
Our main character. So much love!! In the first very short chapter, you see their (I use they as a singular, non-gendered pronoun) rebellious side, refusing to get down after climbing the heights of the circus (which they weren’t meant to do) and refusing to get down and then jumping.  Throughout, Micah struggles with intersexuality and bisexuality. It’s all handled really sensitively, going through a lot of questioning, questions about what their body makes them, what gender they present as,  figuring out their place and their identity. Micah/Gene’s full story is revealed slowly in the form of flashback.
The whole cast of Pantomime is varied and original. Generally, I preferred the circus crew, they’re more full and have better backstories, but those from their life as Gene were also interesting, sticking to formalities mainly and giving Gene a place to break out from.
The romance was a nice side story. I’m fully on the MicahxAenea ship, because the adorableness. Drystan is an awesome character too, and the ending to this subplot was a satisfying one, if a bit... [cannot say due to possibly spoiling]. Totally, fully in love with all three characters involved in this love triangle..
The plot is  very very character driven. The whole Penglass thing that is drawn attention to in the blurb doesn’t come into it very much, a couple of times during the main book and a bit more at the end. There’s subplots in the relationship between Frit and Bil, and Arik choosing a new direction, and  Gene’s parents getting them to go through a procedure to make them one gender.
Gender identity and sexuality are treated as two separate things (huzzah!) and this book addresses a lot of question anyone who may be struggling with these things may be wondering.  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about intersexuality and to a lesser extent bisexuality being treated as a twist. In plot terms, it makes sense, because Micah/Gene’s parents want them back and they want to not be sent back to be forced to become one gender. In terms of real life implications, it’s different.  In terms of getting readership it may work to attract those who would be put off a book that features a MC not tied down by the gender binary. But it also makes it seem like it’s something that should be hidden. And it isn’t. The thing about Pantomime is that it’s a gentle plotline and a  fantasy thing,  and intersex is just something that the main character is and the story is more than that. This is more a comment on the blurb of this book.
The writing is absolutely beautiful. It’s descriptive and full and carries the tone of Pantomime perfectly.
The ending. The drama picks up for the end of it, adding in more action. There’s a bit of violence, and then something happens that just left me in shock for a bit of time. Laura is firmly on the list of evil evil writers that I am in love with. It then moves on further, leading to a cliffhanger.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a magically written story covering lots of different things.  Can’t wait for Shadowplay.

Links: Amazon | | Goodreads | Author website

Sunday 16 June 2013

News and excitement!

So, last week I had a bit of a clear out. I took some books to the shop...and came back with some more.

I now have:
  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
  • Armageddon-the Musical by Robert Rankin
  • Joural d'un Vampire by Comte Dracula (French version of The Original Vampire Diaries by Viv Croot and others)
  • Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
  • Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
  • Sundays with Vlad by Paul Bibeau
  • The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas
  • This is Not a Book by Keri Smith
Also, very lovely people at publishing houses sent me
  • The Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffins 
  • Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve

Slightly old, but Ann Aguirre called out the sexism she faced at a SSF panel. This kind of treatment is shocking, but sadly not surprising, in a culture that claims to be equal but really isn't. 

RIP Iain M Banks. I've only read one of his books, but I know quite a few of you really loved his work. Best wishes and thoughts with his family.

Bella told me exciting things! Apparantly, I got quoted in Siege and Storm!! I still have to go see, but there's this

And here's my reaction
*searches everywhere to see what they put*

13 July, Charters School, Sunningdale will be having  Wonder of Words Young People's Literary Festival. There's going to be Laura Dockrill, Holly Smale, Will Hill, Conrad Mason and Rob Lloyd Jones- a fantastic selection of UK authors! I'll hopefully be there. Will you? For more info, go to Book Zone for Boys.

In November, there's going to be a big author event!  Nineteen of them, mostly indie ones, will be at the Hilton London Metropole. Tickets are limited. Go see if there's anyone there you like.

We have cool people signed up for Rainbow Reads. Anyone else want to go take a look and maybe sign up?

That's all I can think of right now.  I leave you with this.

See the thing about being an evil villain is that instead of letting your inner demons fester and weaken you, you can control them and ride your majestic, winged beasts of terror into battle against your enemies  ---Mary Rose, TheEverydayGoth

Saturday 15 June 2013

Book Review-The Quietness by Alison Rattle

Title: The Quietness
 Author: Alison Rattle
Series:  N/A
Published:  7 March 2013 by Hot Key Books
Length: 282 pages
Warnings: rape,
Source: publisher
Other info:  Alison has written other nonfiction stuff. This is her first YA novel.
Summary : When fifteen-year-old Queenie escapes from the squalid slums of nineteenth-century London, she has no idea about the dangers of the dark world she is about to become embroiled in. Initially thrilled at being taken on as a maid for the seemingly respectable Waters sisters, Queenie comes to realise that something is very wrong with the dozens of strangely silent babies being 'adopted' into the household.
Meanwhile, lonely and unloved sixteen-year-old Ellen is delighted when her handsome and charming young cousin Jacob is sent to live with her family. She thinks she has finally found a man to fall in love with and rely on, but when Jacob cruelly betrays her she finds herself once again at the mercy of her cold-hearted father. Soon the girls' lives become irrevocably entwined.

Review: Queenie is a girl who has lived life in the slums of London. Ellen is a girl who has not.  Both long to escape their families, and by doing so, become closer together, uncovering secrets that will make huge differences in their lives.
I’ve never heard of baby farms before. The author’s note explains her research and thinking and it’s definitely an interesting side for after reading the novel. Essentially, if a woman, often high class, becomes pregnant, and can’t afford to due to her social standing, she’ll go to a baby farm who’ll take it off her. scary stuff when you think about what could happen to that baby. It’s also interesting that this was based on true events kind of.
Queenie and Ellen are both really good characters. I preferred Queenie because she had a bit more drive and initiation to her. Mrs Ellis and Mrs Swift were villains that made this story work well. Jacob, I was eh-eh about him, and then he did what he did and I felt the need  to punch him in the face.  Mary was a really nice supporting character.
The plot was predictable in parts, but still really enjoyable. I got really invested in the story of the two girls, and just had to keep on reading to find out what happened and what would happen next. The order in which we learn things  is logical and keeps you engaged.
It switches between third person on Queenie and first person from Ellen. I preferred the first person for understanding the characters, but even with the third person, we got a good look at Queenie and everything else.
The ending was sudden and sad. The epilogue sweetened things a bit but still. Pain.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a book with two strong heroines and a really intriguing plot.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Book Review- Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne

Title: Follow Me Down
 Author: Tanya Byrne
Series:  N/A
Published:  8 May 2013 by Headline
Length: 368 pages
Warnings: tw-rape, also drinking
Source: publisher
Other info: Tanya’s debut novel is called Heart-Shaped Bruise
Summary : When sixteen-year-old Adamma Okomma, a Nigerian diplomat's daughter, arrives at exclusive Crofton College in Wiltshire, she is immediately drawn to beautiful, tempestuous, unpredictable Scarlett Chiltern. Adamma and Scarlett become inseparable - until they fall for the same guy. Soon the battle lines are drawn and Adamma is shunned by Scarlett and her privileged peers. But then Scarlett goes missing and everything takes a darker turn. Adamma always knew that Scarlett had her secrets, but some secrets are too big to keep and this one will change all of their lives forever.
Review: Adamma Okomma is sent to Crofton Collage when her parents, one of which is a Nigerian diplomat, move to England. After New York, Adamma isn’t expecting much from this bording school. That all changes when she makes friends with Scarlett Chilton, who rules the school and shows her all the secrets. Some of which are very dark indeed.
I really enjoyed Heart Shaped Bruise (no review yet, might reread and review one day) and so I was really excited to read this. The blurb makes you think it’ll just be a messy love triangle and a simple disappearance. Tanya’s other book makes you think it’ll be a lot more than that. When you read it, you find that it definitely is.
From the start, you’re pulled into the mystery with the use of the “before” and “after” timelines, told in alternate chapters. Before and after what?   Also, these headings mean keeping track of time is so much easier-very useful.
All the characters are wonderfully different and unique. And so very very real. It’s the complex relationships between them with all the different, varying dynamics, that really make this book though.
It brings up a lot of things-how  friendships survive, rape culture, testing boundaries; things that teenagers have to deal with, and the varying ways that they do.
The mysterie takes a lot of twists and turns and wanders down lots of different paths. I had my suspicions about the culprit of the disappearance from about halfway, but when it was revealed, it was using a different name to the one we’d met them as, and I had to re-skim it all and make sure I’d read it right. The other mystery, who Adamma’s getting involved with, was a complete surprise.
The writing was amazing. The timeskipping was really effective, as was the fact that for all of Adamma’s romantic scenes, we just get told it’s “him”. Everything gets revealed weaves together at just the right time and it works.
Overall:  Strength 4 tea to an amazingly written, intriguing thriller.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Waiting on Wedesday-Inhuman by Kat Falls

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we show off books that we want to read but have not been published yet. 

Title:  Inhuman
Author: Kat Falls
Release Date: 24 September 2013 by Scholastic
Link to / Summary from Goodreads: 
America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.

Why I want it: The world seems really really awesome-feral plants?? It does sound a little instalovey (handsome and roguish) but the rest of it sounds ok.
What are YOU waiting on this week?

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Mini Reviews-The Age of Satan and The Wasp Factory

So I sometimes read shorter books or just don't have the things to say about a book. Here, small reviews. For books that aren't for little people/  

Title: The Age of Satan (Pantheon series)
 Author: James Lovegrove
Published:  February 2013 by Solaris
Warnings: suicide, rape, violence. Very not for children.
Source: publisher
Review: Guy  Lucas, throughout his life has had multiple run-ins with Satan. There’s theistic Satanists at his school. After a Ouija board session, his girlfriend kills herself. Later, he finds another group of theistic Satanists who try and drag  him into their cult. Then he meets Petra.
I didn’t really know what I was getting into with this. I just saw that it was an offshoot of a series mixing modernish day settings with panthenons and religions of old, and I thought, yeah, go for it.
Guy, I didn’t really relate to. He was a good enough character to make the journey with, but I didn’t really enjoy him. He did develop a bit, after meeting Petra. Throughout, most of the characters blended in to one another, aside from Petra, who was by far my favourite character. Her view on philosophy is essentially the same as mine, and she’s also cool.
The pacing was ok, just touching on important events in Guy’s life. The writing was descriptive in all places, even in places where you probably didn’t want one. 
 The end bit seemed a bit rushed, with a timejump from pre-Thatcher to present day. The summary of what happened was more a setup to another book, not really an ending.
Overall:  Strength 3.5, more a 3, to an interesting novella. I will give the main series a try.

Title: The Wasp Factory
 Author: Iain M Banks (RIP)
Published:  February 1984 by Macmillan
Warnings: murders, gore, squick, animal cruelty
Source: bought
Review: Frank is a killer, but he’s stopped on people now. He now just uses his Wasp Factory, a device which makes the wasp die in whatever way it happens to, and kills other things like seagulls. Here he is, relatively happily, and his brother Eric breaks out of an insane asylum, and starts making his way home and Frank must deal with secrets surrounding his family and himself.
Anne recommended this to me and I really was looking forwards to reading it. When I started it, I was intrigued. I soon found myself not really caring about Frank, mainly because of the way he acted towards everyone else. The book went slowly, I’m not sure whether it was because of the plot or the writing, but both were hard to get through. The last few chapters just came out of nowhere, turning my view on my head and leaving me really confused.
It did deal with interesting topics, ie death, identity and who you are, in a frank, brutal way.  
Overall:  Strength 2 tea to a story that I just didn’t get the point or plot of.

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Monday 10 June 2013

The Next Big YA Book Competition

Promo post for all you writers who have writings that you are willing to share with the world!

Hipso is looking to publish the next big YA book, and then give the author all the perks that we possibly can. We will open our submissions to any writer who believes they have created the next YA sensation. No agent/credentials necessary. The important criteria are that their manuscript must be finished and not already published somewhere else. The open submissions will begin on June 10th and end on July 10th.

To the selected author, Hipso is offering the following:

- A publishing contract with Hipso
- Their book available as an eBook on all major retailers - Kindle, NOOK, iBooks, Kobo, Sony, etc.
- A badge to next year’s BOOK EXPO AMERICA
- A book signing at next year’s BOOK EXPO AMERICA
- A ‘BOOK BLAST’ blog tour, which will be posted on 50 blogs.
- Exclusive front-page podcast on (which gets close to a million hits a year)
- Customized downloadable Bookmarks from Gina @ Behind A Million and One Pages
- 15 advance author copies
-The option of digitally enhancing their eBook with photos, music, videos, etc…

If you're interested, find more information here. 

Hopefully this is useful for anyone who wants to get published, and need a direction to go :)

Friday 7 June 2013

Book Review-Blameless by Gail Carriger

Title: Blameless
 Author: Gail Carriger
Series:  The Parasol Protectorate #3
Published:  September 1 2012 by Orbit
Length: 374 pages
Source: library
Other info: I have reviewed some other things by Gail! Soulless manga,  Changeless and Heartless.
Summary : Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.
Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.
While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

Review: Alexia's life is really not looking good. Conall believes she's been cheating due to the fact werewolves can't procreate,  Victoria's chucked her off the Shadow Council, and Akeldama's left. Alexia has no choice other than going across Europe to find the Templars, who may or may not be useful.
Blameless is a perfect follow on from Changeless, starting with an upset Alexia and an even more upset Loontwill family. We soon see more of the Pack, Madame Lefoux, and everyone else. It gets going quickly, and is very fun to see develop.
Alexia's travels across Europe means she meets a lot of new people, each with their own funny things about them. It seems that every one of Carriger's characters have some little quirk about them that makes them likable, and the clock guy and  the German guy and the Templars are no exception.
The Steampunk technology in this is a little bit harder to understand. I like the flying things that crop up, but the train like things in the mountain-I really can't imagine them working.
What happened to Biffy. I won't say what happens, but him and Akeldama are really cute at the end, but I am a complete LyallxBiffy shipper. 
Conall's getting drunk is, put simply, hilarious. Formaldehyde isn't the usual method of getting intoxicated, but it works for him. Lyall's reaction to this, the challenger, and the whole mess that  his Alpha gets him into is why I like him.
Alexia shows off her independence a little more, as she isn't reliant on her werewolf husband. Yes, she's still with her butler and an inventor, but she does sort out things on her own a bit more than in Changeless.
The ending is really sudden. While the subplots are either resolved naturally or left to be resumed in Heartless, the driving plot line is cleared up within a couple of pages, which doesn't really do it justice.
However, by the end, you still want to carry on and see the further adventures of our preternatural heroine.
Overall:  Strength 4 tea to another instalment in a great steampunk series.