Monday, 10 September 2012

Review: The Chosen One

First of all I want to say a big thank you to Jenny from the amazing blog Wondrous Reads. Seriously, check out her blog! I wouldn't have even had this book to review if it wasn't for Jenny. I won a competition on Wondrous Reads with the prize being a copy of "The Chosen One". I'd heard great things about "The Chosen One" and was really excited to read it. The second point I want to make is an apology for being away. I have a habit of blogging a lot, then leaving for months, then returning again. For that, I apologise. Thirdly, I will be setting up another blog, but there wll be more details on that in another post. Onwards with the review.

For those of you haven't heard of this book or don't know what it's about, here is the blurb:

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in her isolated community without ever questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters; without ever questioning the strict rules imposed by 'the Prophet' who leads them.

But now Kyra has started keeping secrets. She reads books that are forbidden and sneaks away to meet Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself, instead of having a husband chosen for her.

Kyra knows that it's only a matter of time before her two secret loves are discovered. And when the Prophet decrees that she is to become the seventh wife of her sixty-year-old uncle, Kyra is forced to make a desperate choice. But saving herself means endangering everyone she's ever cared for.

How far should she go for freedom?

The subject mater is what initially attracted me to this book. It had also received quite favourable reviews from other bloggers. I found the idea of a cult quite intriguing. I have rarely come across cults in the news and have never read books on them before. Therefore, I found this book informative as well as enjoyable.

Kyra is a strong character that I admire. I was impressed that growing up in a cult hadn't affected her psychologically. She had a strong sense of right and wrong and longed for freedom. In many ways, all she really wanted was equality. Kyra's secret love, Joshua, is mentioned quite a few times in the book. He seems to really care for Kyra in a way more than a simple teenage romance. Joshua comes across as a decent guy and I found myself rooting for him and Kyra throughout the book.

The cult itself made me so angry. It was a polygamist cult (the men were encouraged to have many wives). If memory serves me correctly, they were told they had to have at least three wives to pass in to the gates of heaven. The men get to choose their wives. They are not allowed to read literature other than that given out by the Prophet. Men and women can not have a casual relationship. You do not disobey the Prophet. Women couldn't go in to a neighbouring town by themselves. Kyra grew up having to follow these rules and saw the injustice of it all.

Kyra's real problems arise when she is 'chosen' by a man i.e. she has to become their wife. Kyra is in love and can't stand the thought of marrying another man. She tries to get out of the marriage through various methods. I won't say how because that would completely ruin the plot. The plot itself is intriguing and I couldn't put the book down. I wanted to know what would happen to Kyra. I loved Kyra as a character. She is strong but wants to protect her family. In the end, she has to make a difficult choice.

Overall, this book was heartbreaking. I felt so much empathy for Kyra who continuously had to make difficult decisions. I felt sorry for the world she was born in to and the life she experienced. I feel that you can really connect with Kyra on an emotional level. This book deserves all the favourable reviews it has received and more.

Review: Wicked Lovely

Rule 3: NEVER STARE AT INVISIBLE FAERIES. Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world.

Rule 2: NEVER SPEAK TO INVISIBLE FAERIES. One of them, a beautiful faery boy named Keenan, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule 1: DON'T EVER ATTRACT THEIR ATTENTION. Now it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King and is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost. Without her, summer itself will perish.

I've heard a lot of good things about this series. I bought this book about a year ago and have only just got around to reading it. I also loved the cover. Onwards to the review...

I really wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I think I've only read one other book about faeries. The beginning confused me. There were quite a few characters (Seth, Aislinn, Donia, Grams, Keenan, Beira) and I had trouble working out who was who and how they related. However, as the book progressed, everything fell in to place and it all made sense.

My favourite character was Aislinn. She is a fiery person with a good heart. Aislinn has lived by certain rules all her life and not been adversely affected them. She also has the Sight which is a gift that runs in her family.

Seth is a caring individual but I felt like I didn't know enough about him. He was just, well, too perfect. Keenan is a character I could truly hate. I know he has to do certain things, but if I were Aislinn or one of the Summer Girls, I would not be able to forgive him.

The book centres around one main plot and as such I found it made slow reading. I could put the book down very easily.

Overall, I found Wicked Lovely to be an average book. It was readable but my interest never particularly peaked at any point in the story. I own the series so I may continue, I just hope it improves.

And I have one question for anyone who has read this book: why is it called wicked lovely?

Review: Fortune

Madison is so over New York. Her mom won't let her have botox and she can't leave the city because her step-father is sick. Snoresville. So when she gets a mysterious invitation to a private party in Capri, held by billionaire music mogul Brad Masters, she's determined to go.

Simonetta wants her mamma off her back. Of course she's not going to give up modelling in Rome to go back to her dull little village. When she gets her invitation, she sees the chance to lose her roots forever.

Sapphire just wants to write songs and hang out in the London record shop where she works. When she's invited to Brad's party, she doesn't even want to go - but her mum seems strangely excited about it.

Madison, Simonetta and Sapphire: three girls from different worlds who are about to find out they have more in common than they think...

"Fortune" is what I'd describe as a good summer read. And for me, it helped me escape England's summer, or lack of it. After reading it, I now really want to go on holiday. So if anyone can smuggle me in their suitcase, just let me know! On to the review...

As described in the blurb, the book centres around three main characters: Simonetta, Madison and Sapphire. Madison is an American who is used to wealth. That's about the best thing I can say about her. She is manipulative, sneaky and at times a real air-head. At one point she is described as a "grade-A bitch". I couldn't agree more. Madison is a character that you love to hate.

Simonetta doesn't appear much nicer. I did warm to her though. She isn't stupid and is trying to escape the life she was born into and better herself. Simonetta is extremely devious. She'd rather get other people to do the dirty work so she couldn't be implicated if a plan failed. Simonetta has a certain dignity that Madison lacks and her mysterious way had me intrigued. She was a difficult character to work out but I liked her.

Sapphire was my favourite character. She was English, a sweet person and appreciative of beauty when she saw it. However, this also led to Sapphire being too trusting. She was easy to manipulate. But Sapphire only takes things to a limit before she gets really angry. She is not a petty person but this also means she'll take a certain amount of insults from other people. This is the disadvantage of Sapphire's sweet nature.

I enjoyed the plot of this book. It was set against a stunning background which made me even happier. I don't know if I've mentioned before but I love reading about beautiful places. As the story unfolded, I decided I hated Brad Masters; you'll have to read the book to find out why. The story moved at a good pace with enough action to keep you engaged. Fortune was an easy and enjoyable read. As soon as I put it down I wanted to return to the beautiful world inside "Fortune".

Overall, "Fortune" is the ideal summer read for those lazy days under the sun. It's easy to read and the ending will leave you with a smile on your face.

Review: Torment

How many lives must you live before you find someone to die for?

Lucinda is sure that she and Daniel are meant to be together forever. Now, in this sequel to the bestselling Fallen, they are forced apart in a desperate bid to save Luce from The Outcasts - immortals who want her dead. As she discovers more about her past lives Luce starts to suspect that Daniel is hiding something. What if he has lied to her about their shared past? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

Before I start with the review I just want to say one thing... LOOK AT THAT COVER! Seriously, I fell in love with it when I first laid eyes on it. It's beautiful.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Torment but I did have a few niggling issues with it so I'm going to have a different layout for my review today. I'm tired and so my review today may seem a little haphazard. I'm going to apologise in advance for that. I like to end on a positive note so I'll start with the negatives.


I had been rotting for Cam in the previous book before I knew what he was. And although my opinion of Cam may have changed, I still don't like Daniel. In fact, I was warming to him at the end of Fallen. Now, however, Daniel really irritates me. This may turn in to a rant. He never tells Luce anything which is dangerous. If he knew her well, he'd know that she will just search for the truth, even if that leads to dangerous situation. He also seems quite happy to leave her at the end of an argument with no consideration of her feelings and not once do I recall him saying sorry.

This paragraph is a spoiler so please move on to the next one if you don't want "Torment" ruined. I've never really been a fan of love triangles. In "Fallen" it was generally quite intriguing. In "Torment" it felt a little cliche. Two guys swooning over one girl who thinks she is nothing special. It brought back memories of "The Twilight Saga". Of course, you can't compare the two in my mind, after all, I didn't read "Torment" wanting to repeatedly bang my head against the wall as was the case with "The Twilight Saga". *hears die hard twilight fans unsheathing their swords and hides in my room* *also wonders why I think they'd have swords *

In my mind it's natural to draw similarities between books. So when Luce entered a world where she was famous and didn't know why, I thought of Harry Potter. It was "The Twilight Saga" I mainly thought about. Spoiler coming up -----> Particularly when they talked about Team Miles and Team Daniel shirts.


I'm done with the negatives and my ranting now. It's time to move on to what I loved about this book. It may sound strange but I love the setting of this book. I could actually imagine myself in this warm sunny place near a beautiful ocean. I love being transported to beautiful places in books. I also found it really easy to connect to Luce. Her emotions were understandable, she wasn't whiny and she wasn't afraid to confront people if necessary. As I'm on the subject of characters, I would like to talk about Shelby. I adored her. Unless you've read "Torment" you'll not have heard of Shelby before. She is bad-ass, caring and gifted at yoga. And then there's Miles: the cute, caring guy who listens to Luce and is there for her. I'm fond and a little bit cautious of Miles.

The plot ran quite smoothly throughout the truce. I was intrigued about what Daniel was doing but there was plenty of action going on in Luce's life. I enjoyed learning more about angels, demons and outcasts during the book. Everything was relevant to the story. As corny as it sounds, I felt like I was going on a journey with Luce.

"Torment" had me hooked. I started this book today... and finished it today. I couldn't put it down. When I read the Harry Potter series there was a feeling of tremendous joy that I got. A feeling I thought no book could even come close to delivering. I was wrong. The "Fallen" series have brought about the same magical feeling in me that I got when I read the "Harry Potter" series. And coming from me, that's a huge compliment.


I said earlier that I loved "Torment" and I wasn't lying. There were some niggling issues which kept popping up in my head during the book. As enjoyable as it was, I felt it would be unfair of me not to include these issues in my review. Overall, I loved "Torment" but I think I prefer Fallen. There's no doubt that in my mind that if you loved "Fallen" you'll enjoy "Torment". I would still rate "Fallen" and "Torment" as a couple of my favourite books and I think they should be part of a new smash hit series. I bought my friend "Fallen" for her birthday and she absolutely loved it. We then went shopping where she bought "Fallen" for another friend's birthday. The joy this series brings in contagious. So after reading this, please don't doubt I love this book. But feel free to make up your own minds on whether or not you want to read it.

Review: Beastly

I am a beast.
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright - a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever - ruined - unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly... beastly.
I'm going to start off by telling you why I wanted to read this book. Belle was always my favourite princess. I never did like the blonde ones. She loved books, was sweet by nature and able to see the beauty in people. So a book which is a modernised version of Beauty and the Beast caught my attention easily enough. The second reason is Alex Pettyfer. Okay, I'll admit now, I do like him. And I knew he was going to play Kyle in the film later this year, so I thought I'd read the book first. But onwards to the review...

The main character is Kyle Kingsbury. He is the perfect looking guy in school. Kyle is top of the social ladder and is son to a rich news-presenter. But to say Kyle was perfect would be a lie. Firstly, he lives a life where his father cares more about work than his son and takes little interest in his life. His father is concerned mainly with his life and his reputation. Secondly, Kyle is generally quite a nasty and spiteful person. He has a large ego and is aware of the power he has over people. What I liked about Kyle is that he was realistic as a character. There are shallow and spoilt people out there so it wasn't as if he was difficult to picture.

Having seen the film "Beauty and the Beast" before, I knew what the general plot would be. However, I didn't know any of the finer details or how Alex Flinn would modernise this classic. I think Alex Flinn did a very good job of keeping this book relevant. I did have a few problems with this book though. I felt that for such a short plot, the book was quite long. I enjoyed seeing the relationship between the beast and the beauty (I won't put the name so I don't spoil it) develop, however, I did think it was dragging on at parts. I'm generally not a very patient person so this may be less of an issue with other people. Knowing the plot also meant that I was waiting for certain parts to happen.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I love the story of Beauty and the Beast and I love the modern version. This book was good but not great. There was just something it lacked. If you like the story of Beauty and the Beast I recommend it.

Review: Trash

I was surprised and overjoyed to receive "Trash" by Andy Mulligan in the post. With such a unique title, I was intrigued before I'd even read the blurb. Here is the blurb:

I've been picking up trash since I could crawl, and people always say 'maybe one day you'll find something special'. Then one day I did.

Raphael Fernandez is fourteen years old and part of the slum that barely makes a living on the mountains of the dumpsite. No education and no prospects: a lifetime of sifting through rubbish.

Then, out of the blue, he finds a key.

Keys open doors, and soon Raphael and his friends are just one step ahead of a desperate and dangerous police force. The three boys hold the key to a deadly secret. It leads to corruption, unimaginable wealth, and one man's mission to put right a terrible wrong.

Children can't be children when their lives are at stake... they have to be heroes.

I said previously I was intrigued before I'd even read the blurb. After reading the blurb, I was hooked. Here is my review:

There are quite a few essential characters in this book but I will mention only three. The first is Raphael, a boy who has spent his life sifting through rubbish to find things to sell. Raphael is a caring character who is, in my opinion, rather intelligent. He sticks by what he says but at times seems fearful of following through. Raphael is a rather lovable character.

The second character I will introduce you to is Gardo, Raphael's best friend. Gardo is the more serious of the two friends. He is brave and prepared to stick with Raphael through thick and thin. The third character I wish to introduce you to is Jun-Jun AKA Rat. He is so named because he lives in an area surrounded by rats and people think he looks like one. Rat has no family unlike many of the other people on the dumpsite. He is easily my favourite character. Rat is smart, brave and has dreams of living a better life. He sticks with Raphael and Gardo is trusting.

The story is set in Behala, and in particular, the dumpsite where Raphael lives. It is clear that the country is an LEDC given the description of the slums. The story follows Raphael as he makes a discovery which will turn his world upside-down. To tell you what was found would be to ruin the story. However, I will tell you that the repercussions of this discovery are potentially fatal to all those involved. As the story continues, the situation becomes more tense and the results more dire.

This book had me hooked. If I had to describe it in three words I would probably describe it as a 'feel-good book'. The change in narratives meant it never grew dull and everything written was relevant to the plot. You have to read this book if only for the ending. I finished reading this book with a smile on my face.

Review: Solace of the Road

My first thought when I saw this book was how pretty the cover is. I love the dress (or skirt). "Solace of the Road" was released in 2009 but the new rejacketed version (as seen on the left) is released Spring 2010. Unfortunately, Siobhan Dowd passed away in 2007 because of cancer. So when you buy a book that's written by Siobhan Dowd, the royalties will go to the Siobhan Dowd Trust. The Siobhan Dowd Trust aims to bring the joy of reading and stories to children who have no access to books and reading, especially children in care and other unfairly disadvantaged young people.

Here is the blurb for Solace of the Road:
I put the wig on and I thought myself into Solace. I was Solace the Unstoppable, the smooth-walking, sharp-talking glamour girl, and I was heading into a red sky thumb out and fag in hand.

Holly is sick of being told what to do. She's ditching her old life and she's heading off. She puts on her blonde wig, blows herself a kiss and flutters her eyelashes. And now she's ready. She's Solace, Solace of the road.

I wasn't at all sure of what this book was about when I read the blurb. However, when I started reading things started making sense. The first chapter starts off at certain event. And then the next chapters are from beforehand and what has lead up to the event. Once you've caught up with the story, the story progresses. I prefer books where you just enjoy the story as it progresses and the time unravels in a linear way. Otherwise, I'm just waiting until I've caught up the entire time. However, I was intrigued as to how Holly had got in to her current predicament.

The main character is Holly. Holly was taken away by social services when she was young and has grown up in care. She has previously been fostered by a couple before who had other children and hated it. Holly's deepest desire is to meet her mam in Ireland. She has a key worker who she really likes but he has to leave. Holly is really insecure and struggles with her emotions. She is fostered by a new couple but she doesn't believe they really want her. Holly as a character is okay if you're reading because you can understand her emotions. But I imagine if you met her in real life you might get frustrated.

We aren't really told why Holly was taken by social services apart from her own reasoning. However, as the story progresses you get the impression that she has less than stellar memories. But she shoves them in to a box in her mind. The story unfolds quite quickly which I like. I don't feel like I'm waiting around for something to happen.

I enjoyed this story and I really liked the ending. I've had mixed feelings over some of Siobhan Dowd's work before having loved "Bog Child" but not being as keen on "A Swift Pure Cry". Overall, I would recommend this book. I'm interested in becoming a social worker when I'm older so this book was particularly interesting to me. I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide

I've wanted to read "The Spiderwick Chronicles" for a long time. So I thought where better to start than the first book "The Spiderwick Chronicles Book 1 The Field Guide" by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. It's going to be a long time until I finish this series because I only have the first book and am cutting back on book buying. If you don't know what the first book is about, here is the blurb:

We are very proud (and a bit wary) to announce the publication of The Spiderwick Chronicles. But beware, the faeries will use all their power to stop you from reading these books. Book 1 of The Spiderwick Chronicles in which Mallory, Simon and Jared get acquainted with their new home but find many unexpected things. It all starts when Jared Grace find their great uncle's book, "Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastic World Around You." and realises that are not alone in their new house. Now the Grace kids want to tell their story but the faeries will do everything to stop them...Its up to you to spread the word about their discovery. But heed their warnings, wear some red, turn your clothes inside out - all anti-faerie devices - and get ready to enter a world that you never knew existed...Its closer than you think!

I wasn't entirely sure what this book was about before I bought it. I knew there was a film about it and I'd seen clips of it. I'd glimpsed an intriguing world so I thought I'd ask for this book for Christmas. The main three characters are Jared, Simon and Mallory. I occasionally got confused between Jared and Simon. Mallory is the one who loves fencing and is also the oldest. I liked Mallory because I've tried fencing and I can see why she loves it. Jared is the bravest of the boys and I like him. He seems to be the one who always gets the blame for things though as he's been in trouble lately at school. Simon is a great animal lover and is the reader out of the two brothers. But it's Jared who finds "Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide".

The plot of this story is quite good. However, not a lot happens in this book. I imagine the story will unfold a lot more in the coming books. But as a singular book, the amount of content wasn't particularly impressive. I'd like to read the remaining chronicles and then see the film. This book was enjoyable but I don't think it's worth reading unless you plan to read all the chronicles. I read this a few days after Christmas so my memory is a little sketchy but I flicked through it as it didn't take me long to read originally.

Overall, I'm giving this book 3 stars out of 5 stars. I'd like to give it more as it was enjoyable but there just wasn't enough content in the book.

Review: The Splendor Falls

I was really surprised to receive "The Splendor Falls" by Rosemary Clement-Moore in the post! I'm going to assume it came from Random House, so thank you Random House! Here is the blurb for "The Splendor Falls":

Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can't dance. A broken leg ended her career, but what broke her heart was her father's death, and what's breaking her spirit is her mother's remarriage.
Still reeling, Sylvie is shipped off to stay with relatives in the back of beyond. Or so she thinks, in fact she ends up in a town rich with her family's history... and as it turns out her family has a lot more history than Sylvie ever knew. More unnerving, though, are the two guys she can't stop thinking about. Shawn Maddox, the resident golden boy, is the expected choice. But handsome and mysterious Rhys has a hold on her that she doesn't quite understand.
Then Sylvie starts seeing things - a girl by the lake and a man with dark unseeing eyes peering in through the window... Sylvie's lost nearly everything - is she starting to lose her mind as well?
I'd read the blurb before but it was a while before I read the book. Before I read the book all I remembered was the end to Sylvie's dancing career. And in a way, I much prefer reading this way. I'm not waiting for certain events to happen and I can just enjoy the story as it goes along.
I like Sylvie as a character but I think there will be quite a few people who don't. She doesn't sugarcoat things and tells things as they are (rather like my own sister). I like Sylvie's cutting remarks and the way she responds when people insult her. She's also quite an intelligent person. I sympathise with Sylvie because she has just had her whole world come crashing down. I enjoy dance too but I'm nowhere near as passionate nor experienced as Sylvie. Rhys is a Welsh heartthrob. He's kind and Sylvie can't tell why he feels so familiar. There's also Shawn, a local gorgeous boy with a Tom Sawyer kind of charm. The town all seem to love Shawn who has his eyes set on Sylvie. But Sylvie is not so keen.
The plot follows Sylvie as she is shipped off to Alabama. It took me a while to work out my bearings. Sylvie had originally left New York. I worked out in the book that Yankee just means someone from New York (lots of us Brits or Limeys - we have many nicknames - believe it just refers to an American person). Sylvie starts seeing what can only be described as ghosts. She had previously had to see a shrink so she starts rationalising - after all, who wants to believe they're crazy. But as the presence she feels starts getting worse and there is actual violence towards a member of the household, Sylvie has to start unravelling the mystery of the woman who runs through the woods towards the sound of the baby crying and the man with black eyes who watches from the balcony.
This book is quite long (about 500 pages or so) and as such I could put it down, even if I do like reading a book in one sitting. I loved reading the story as it unfolded. However, there is a lot of history of the town involved. I could keep up but wasn't able to absorb all of the facts, and don't recommend other readers try. I got the gist of this book but there were some really fine details which - although it makes the story interesting - it seems to make the story too compact. If you're not familiar with ballet or dance terms, you may get frustrated reading this book as quite a few are brought up. I didn't mind this because I recognised a few terms and the others I googled.
Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars
- I also want to say that I really don't think this book will be liked by everyone. I think it's going to be a little like marmite, you'll either hate it, love it, or a little of both. -

Review: Girl, Aloud

I loved reading "Girl, Aloud" by Emily Gale. If you're not familiar with the story, here is the blurb:

This is serious.
This is big.
Dad has finally lost it.
He's entered me for The X Factor.
This would be slightly less of a crisis if:

1. I could sing.
2. Any part of me wanted to be a star.
3. I hadn't lost my two best friends over a boy in brown boots.

Inside I'm screaming, I just wannabe... me!

I loved this book. I picked it up and just expected a fun read. What I found was an amazing book. When I picked up this book I was a little prejudiced. I expected it to be light and fluffy. In contrast, I found a book with a lot of depth. It touches upon some important issues e.g. the effects of having a bi-polar parent and what can happen if a boy goes too far when you tell him to stop.

The protagonist is a teenager called Kass. She's a fun person who deals with everything the best she can. Kass also has two best friends: Izzy and Char. Izzy has been seeing a therapist since her parents split up and as such, tends to psychoanalyse people and their problems. Char is the quite and kind one.

I never realised that Kass' dad had bi-polar until it was pointed out. I guessed it was some kind of mental illness but had difficulty pinning down which one as my knowledge on the subject isn't that great. I think the book does raise a great issue. At one point it focuses on how people joke about mental illness. And I think it's still true to say there is a fair amount of stigma surrounding mental illness. Not far from the end another big issue is raised where Kass decides where her loyalties lie. However, I can't go in to this without spoiling the book.

I had real trouble putting this book down because I wanted to see how Kass would deal with all her problems and the mounting pressure as The X Factor drew nearer. Overall, I would give this book: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: Monster Republic

I was really curious read to "Monster Republic" by Ben Horton when I first saw it. The cover and bold font promise action and the challenge written on the front cover "Have you got the guts?" only spurred me on. Here's the blurb:

An explosion in a nuclear power plant.

Kids patched up with scavenged body parts and bionic implants.

A growing army of superhuman soldiers programmed for destruction.

Cameron Riley is about to discover that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger...

I can see this book as the perfect gift for boys who don't like reading. It's got action, it's not too long, the font is relatively big and at the end there is a comic version of everything that has happened in the story. I love the illustrations by Christian Scheurer.
The story centres around Cameron Riley. He's an athletic guy who genuinely seems quite sweet. Cameron's going out with prettiest girl in his class, Marie Lyons. Unfortunately, he has also made himself a bit of an enemy with the school bully Carl Monkton. My favourite character in the book is Smarts, a blind kid that cracks sight jokes. Things are simple in Cameron's world, that is until the day of the accident...
When a school trip goes wrong, Cameron awakens to see "mechanical components exposed through tears in his skin" and "the emotionless O of the mouth of a gun barrel". Obviously he's scared about what has been done to him. Cameron trusts a stranger to help him escape from the place that has done this to him. After being shunned by his family, Cameron finds hope in a group called the Monster Republic. There are others like him and he's not doomed to have to live alone. However, he must still stay hidden from the public. But what if the Monster Republic isn't everything it's cracked up to be?
The pace of this book is quite fast which I like. It meant that it was hard to put down as there was constantly something I wanted to see resolved. The ending left me on tenterhooks. Cameron is offered something by the man who took away his old life if he'd only change sides. This book is the start of a series. I'd like to see the story progress in the sequel and see how Cameron feels about the man who has changed his life forever. On the negative, I just wish a little more had happened. I could have done with the book being a little longer.

Overall, I would give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.

Review: Chrysalis: The Awakening

Today's book is one that I had not heard of before. And yet I was pleasantly surprised. I read, and enjoyed, "Chrysalis: The Awakening" by M.L. Lacy. If you haven't heard of it before, here is the blurb:

All families have secrets. But at 32 years old, Bree Campbell is discovering that her entire life has been a secret. Like most people, it never occurred to her to question her mortality; that is until she learns that she is a mortal born into a family of Magicals and begins to question everything and everyone in her life.

As the doors to Bree's new world fly open and she finally hears the prophecy told at her birth she must face the revelation that she is a Chosen Ones. And if this were not overwhelming enough, she has been charged with saving the earth by repairing the cosmic tear that binds the mortal world she has always known and the Magical world she is just now discovering.

Bree's journey will not be an easy one. She must face the realities of her new life and her new family; a clan of vampires who have been charged with protecting her for all of her mortal life. They have chosen her as a leader in their clan, a position that has really complicated things for her. For no sooner than Bree is finally reunited with her long lost love, Steven, Bree must learn how to navigate the jealousies and emotions within her new family.

Bree's arch nemesis is Esmerelda, a powerful sorceress in her own right who will stop at nothing until the Chosen One is dead. If Esmeralda can claim Bree's blood, heart and soul and restore her Demon to his body, she will be so strong that none will be able to oppose her and she will be free to rid the world of all mortals and rule as she chooses.

But with the help of the Guardians and her dreams, Bree begins to awaken the powers hidden within her and begins to embrace the responsibility she has been born to. And even while these changes make her body weak, Bree begins to find an inner strength she never knew she had within herself. Will it be enough to save the world?

Well that was a long blurb! I really think it should have been cut down. But on to the real review...

I loved this book, and I'll tell you why. I loved the strong female protagonist, the mix of magic, a prophecy, love, Magicals, vampires, elves, giants, gnomes and werewolves. Although these are all mentioned, not all appear but there are references to them.

The main character is Aubrey or as she is known to her friends, Bree. I liked Bree. She had dealt with the harsh realities of her life with acceptance, but when she found out who she was, or who she was going to become, she vowed that no one would ever take her choice away from her anymore. I also loved how confident she was in the way she spoke to people. Bree always seemed to know what to say, which is down to Odessa, who is guiding her inside her mind. Bree is a Chosen One, but she never knew through her childhood and when she saw strange things, she thought she was insane.

There are a lot of characters in this book. Although I never found it that hard to keep up with who everyone else was. The characters were quite distinct. Each seemed to be entranced by Bree. Well, that is apart from those who want her dead. Her existence seems to peeve some people off. There are many who would like to see her dead.

The plot itself is excellent. I loved every part of it. And I will warn everyone right now, there is a lot of sex in this book. But none of it is really that graphic. I enjoyed reading every part of this book. It was longer than I expected it to be. It comprises of 41 chapters, 589 pages. That's why it took me a while to read. But I love long books so it didn't bother me. This really was a great book with an intricate plot. I really want to know what happens to Bree in the next book. M.L. Lacy has created a superb book.


Review: Monkey Taming

Sorry this is a day later than originally planned. I ended up sleeping in on Sunday and only just completing my homework in time. Today's review is of the book "Monkey Taming" by Judith Fathallah. Here is the blurb:

When Jessica was thirteen years old, she met the Monkey.
The Monkey lived inside her: a driving, fiery voice telling her than thinness was the only way to be safe, to be acceptable and, above all, to escape from the looming threat of approaching adulthood. Jessica listened to the Monkey, and it consumed her.

Through memory, reflection and enduring black humour, this is the illuminating story of a teenage girl's wanderings in darkness: the spiral down into madness, the terrible realities of an adolescent psychiatric unit, and the final stark choice - either tame her monkey or die.

I picked up this book from the library when I saw it on sale. It was 10p (can't beat a library sale) and the cover initially intrigued me.

The main character in this book is Jessica, a thirteen year old anorexic girl. She wasn't always anorexic but she convinced herself that if she was slimmer, everything would be better. Jessica thought she was fat and was determined to lose weight. But then she started hearing the Monkey, a voice in her head, and it became an obsession. Jessica was struggling with emotions before she started her starvation regime. And everytime she wanted to get better, for other people rather than herself, the Monkey won.

Jessica's mother is also quite a big influence on Jessica. She used to be slim herself and initially encouraged Jessica to lose weight. I don't think she is mean at all when she said that Jessica should start doing something about getting slim rather than keep going on about it. No one really knows what impact their words will have. She also supports Jessica and tries to get her the help that she needs.

The plot of this story follows Jessica's downward spiral in to anorexia and the obsession food became with her. I don't feel I'm ruining the story for you by typing this next bit as it's in the blurb, Jessica is admitted to an adolescent psychiatric ward. Just reading about the ward I knew why Jessica hated it. Some people there cared about those who were admitted whilst others just seemed to be cruel and vindictive, particularly a woman nicknamed Eleanor the Troll. Eleanor seemed to think that Jessica could just decide to eat again, when in reality, it's not that simple. Hearing about others who had been admitted i.e. other anorexics and one girl called Bethany who was a self harmer, I felt that it was so sad these people weren't receiving the help they needed. The amount of anger Jessica has at the psychiatric ward and their unfair treatment sucks in the reader to agreeing with them. I felt that the emotions that were conveyed were so strong that it must have come from Judith Fathallah's own experience in a psychiatric ward and suffering from anorexia. It was truly powerful writing.

This book was impossible to put down. It really was. I read this book about 3-4 months ago and I still remember it. It is a book that will linger in your mind. I really recommend you read it.

And a really powerful paragraph from the book can be found here.

5 out of 5 stars.

(I'm currently thinking of changing my rating system, so it'll be out of five stars for the time being).

Review: Dancing with Ana

First and foremost, I just want to say how pretty Dancing with Ana looked when it arrived. I don't know if the author personally sends out the copies but it was packaged really nicely (had its own plastic wallet). And the letter was printed on that posh paper (there's probably a name for it but I don't know it).

Dancing with Ana is written by Nicole Barker and if you don't know what it's about, here is the blurb:

Beth is a lucky girl... She comes from a loving family. She has three best friends. She loves to surf and lives five minutes from the beach. She also recently discovered that the boy she's grown up with has the most amazing green eyes... Beth has every reason to smile. Every reason to be happy. Every reason to feel blessed.

Then why is she sticking her fingers down her throat?

There is no girl called Ana in this story and I didn't really expect there to be. When I read the title I thought of anorexia nervosa. Some people with eating disorders shorten or, in my opinion, humanise their demons by giving them a name. Ana can be short for anorexia nervosa whilst Mia can be short for bulimia nervosa. Upon reading the blurb, I thought this book would be much darker than it actually is. It definitely touches upon anorexia nervosa but I felt that there was something it lacked. I can't put my finger on it though. By all rights it was a good read. I think that it may also have something to do with the length of the book. Granted, it was 170 pages but the font was relatively large compared to most books I've read.

I liked the characters in this book. Jeremy, Beth's best friend (or is he something more?), cares about Beth. He notices the change in her and tries to stop her on her ultimately destructive path. As do Beth's friend's, Jenny, Melanie and Rachel. They all agreed to diet but stop when they've reached their target weight, which is in the healthy range. Beth doesn't. I particularly liked Rachel. She had her own problems going on in the story but still found the courage to fight back.

I didn't really understand Beth's path in the story but then again, I don't think you really can unless you've been down that path yourself. It started off as a diet and then spiralled out of control. She was determined to exercise self-control to the point where I don't think she even knew why she was doing it anymore. One of the reasons that is hinted at is the pain from when her father left. But it was many years ago and it is only mentioned a few times and then largely at the end of the book. I think this is the something I didn't like about the book. I didn't think it was believable that she would suddenly do it because she was dealing with her father's abandonment years after it had happened. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, I'm just saying I didn't find it believable.

The plot itself is interesting. I wanted to know what what would happen to Beth. Would she be able to overcome her obsession with food? Would her friends notice how much the "diet" meant to her? There's a scene where Beth collapses because her body just can't take it. But a more poignant scene is the first time Beth gives in to eating when she isn't meant to. She feels she has to make herself sick to get rid of it. The words afterwards describes some of the horrors of what she has just done, "Her belly felt empty again, but her throat felt raw. So raw."

Did this book keep me reading? In a word: yes. Even though I read this during the read-a-thon, I wanted to keep reading. I needed to know how Beth would turn out. Would Jeremy be able to help her? Would her mother or brother notice? There were so many questions I wanted answered. But the one question I don't think was answered was simply, why?

I would recommend this book, contrary to my rather mixed review. I would just advise you that it focuses more on one girl's journey with anorexia than the reasons behind it.


Review: Fallen

As promised, here is my review of Fallen which is written by Lauren Kate. Fallen was the first book I read as part of the read-a-thon. It's taken a long time to get this review up! Here is the blurb:

Daniel's gaze caught hers, and her breath caught in her throat. She recognized him from somewhere. But she would have remembered meeting someone like him. She would have remembered feeling as absolutely shaken up as she did right now.

But what do you do when the person you've spent your whole life looking forkeeps slipping out of your grasp? What if the person you are meant to be with can never be yours?

Dangerously addictive and darkly romantic, FALLEN is the ultimate gothic love story - a page turning thriller about fallen angels.

I. Loved. This. Book.

You can't comprehend my love of this book! I just... argh... what I mean to say is, I am sorely tempted to re-read this book. And I shall be getting it as a present for my friend for Christmas. It is also exactly a month until the release of Fallen in shops!

Characters? The main character is a girl called Luce. She is a very likeable character who has been sent to Sword & Cross by her parents. Sword & Cross seems to be a school for those who have had, or caused, bad things to happen. It's like a reform school. Luce was sent there after the night of the fire, but I won't say anymore than that. You'll have to read the book to find out what happened that night.

Cam is a good looking, sweet guy. He takes an interest in Luce and is always looking out for Luce. Unfortunately, everytime Luce wants to have a proper conversation and get to know Cam, she is interrupted by Gabbe, a blonde girl who Luce can't help but take a bit of a dislike too.

The other main male character is Daniel. He is "sublimely gorgeous". And Luce feels like she knows him, even when she believes she would remember someone like him. But any attempts to get to know Daniel are shunned by his outward attempts at distancing himself from her. So why does Luce feel drawn to Daniel if he clearly doesn't want to get to know her?

The plot of this book is amazing, I never would have guessed the truth of what was happening! It had me hooked until the end and I had to take a minute at the end of reading this (during the readathon) to just smile and remember how great the book was - and maybe some squealing and yearning for the next book Torment.

The ending? I'm sorry but if you choose to buy this book and read to the end, you will be left in suspense for the next book, Torment.

Overall, this book was superb! I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved it! And I'm buying it as a present for my friend for Christmas!

Characters - 10/10 (and I've worked out that I'm not a good judge of character)

Plot - 10/10 -but I'd give it more if I could-

Hookability (ability to keep you reading) - 10/10

Yup, that's full marks - 30/30
I really did love it =)

Review: The Dresskeeper

I read this book a few days ago and it's taken me a while to get the review up (through sheer tiredness and bone-idleness). But I did actually read The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus fairly quickly. Here is the blurb:

Have you ever pretended to be someone else?

Picky Robson thought things couldn't get any worse. Her life is a boy-free zone, she's being bullied at school, then mum announces she has to look after gran every weekend for the foreseeable future. One night, unknowingly tempting fate, Picky slips into a flouncy old dress from the depths of an ancient chest and finds herself back in 17th Century London. But she is not alone. A weirdo in a wig is trying to kill her - mistaking her for a girl called Amelia.

Who is Amelia? Can Picky change the past by exposing the murderer? And will she make it back alive?

The main character in this book is Picky Robson. Picky and I had our moments. I didn't like how she kept referring to herself as a hefty because she was size fourteen. But I did find it funny when she referred to the bitchy skinny girls at school (you know every school has the uber-bitchy clique of skinny girls) as not hefty. They are also called The Demon Worshippers. Here is one of the quotes I loved: "FYI: a hefty is a girl who weighs more than an emaciated five-year old - which means most of the class, with the exception of The Demon Worshippers."

Picky is a funny character and I loved her teenage attitude. There are a lot of quotes I want to pull out of this book because they're just really humorous. But I shall settle with one. I thought the ending was both sad and happy. I can't say why as I don't intend to spoil the book.

The plot in itself was really interesting. I was hooked and was willing Picky to get back to her present day life everytime she went in to 17th Century London. However, the premise of this book was really interesting and I don't think I've ever read a book that was at all similar to this.

This book scores high marks for its ability to keep me reading. I read it in the space of one night. It was quite a quick read. Or maybe the time flew by. Either way, it was hard to put down and I wanted to know what would happen next.

Plot - 9/10 (Very original)
Hookability (abiliy to keep you reading) - 9/10
Characters - 7/10 (I could have done with more information about Luce and Edwina).

Total - 25/30

Review: Wicked Dead Lurker

I borrowed this from my library because it's approaching Halloween and I wanted something that would scare me. I love being scared =D
And this cover was really attractive. Wicked Dead Lurker is by Stefan Petrucha and Thomas Pendleton. Here is the blurb:

Four ghost girls.
A nightly ritual.
When their precious bones are rolled, the ghosts tell of deaths so horrifying even the rats in the orphanage walls cringe.

Tonight's Tale:
Seventeen-year-old Mandy has everything: popular friends; a hot boyfriend; plans for college, travel, the future. But after classmate Nicki is gruesomely murdered, Mandy is shaken to her core. Soon she's jumping at shadows and having nightmares of Nicki's killer - the Witchman. Mandy tells herself she's just imagining things - but nothing in her imagination prepares her for the terror that's about to attack.

It is actually scarier than it sounds. Although I didn't think the nickname Witchman was particularly scary. Although the description of him was. I also like reading books I've never heard of before (and that many other haven't) and reviewing them. This is mainly because I think there are so many great authors out there who don't get mentioned.

The plot starts off with the death of a girl called Nicki. The main character in this story is Mandy. She is the one who feels upset about the death of a fellow classmate (along with other people of course). She has recently broken up with her boyfriend and starts talking to a stranger online called Kyle. Mandy isn't stupid and after the murder of her friend, she asks Kyle to send her a picture with a very precise position. Kyle complies and everything seems normal. But then strange things start happening, she gets a text at Nicki's candlelight vigil saying "hahahaha" but she hasn't given her number out to anyone new recently. There is also no number attached so she assumes that her ex has got someone smarter to do it for him. The picture Kyle sends seems as though it's changing, but it's a jpeg file. I guessed who was behind the murder easily but I didn't know what would happen and what did happen really shocked me.

This book is quite a quick read (you could read it in a sitting) but I read it over two days. Unfortunately this will be quite a short review as I think I will ruin it if I reveal anymore.

Plot - 9/10 (I'm a sucker for horror. It loses a mark for being unrealistic -but I can't say how- ).
Characters - 8/10 (I got confused at certain parts at the start.)
Hookability (ability to keep you reading) - 9/10 (It was quick and I wanted to know what would happen).

Total - 26/30

Review: David Inside Out

I read "David Inside Out" by Lee Bantle last night and this morning (I'm thinking that it was because it's quite a short book). Here is the blurb:

My mom can be confusing without even trying. If I tell her I have to do something because everyone is doing it, she says, just be yourself. She says people respect that. But what if you send fan mail to romance writers? And get teary-eyed at chick flicks? What if you still get spooked during thunderstorms? These are not things you want to share with others. Being yourself might make people reject you. People you desperately care about. Being yourself only works if you're basically cool. Which I'm not.

There's another problem with Mom's advice. How can you be yourself if you don't know who that is?

Before I start, I just want to say that I don't really understand this cover. I get that it's two guys but I don't understand who they are, where they are and what they're doing? I originally got halfway through this book but got sidetracked (too much work at the time). On to the review...

The protagonist of this book is David. He is the one who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. I like how David's confusion is clearly shown in this book. He fears becoming gay and outright like his best friend Eddie. Eddie has recently admitted he is gay and even tried to start an alliance at school. David tries to do a lot of thingsCheck Spelling to suppress his sexual preference/sexual urges. He tries sticking with a girlfriend, looking at Playboy, distancing himself from Eddie and snapping a rubber band on his wrist when he has "gay" thoughts.

There are a few other characters who are of great importance to the story. Kick, David's girlfriend, is one such character. Kick wonders why David is so slow and blames herself. She is also the first person David admits he's gay too. It's hard on Kick and she takes a while to accept it. At one point she even seems to try to go on as normal with David.

Eddie is the character who becomes openly gay. He tries to start an alliance and writes to romance writers. David doesn't want to remain friends with him. Another main character is Sean. Sean sparks David's interest and it seems Sean may have feelings of his own. But it's never simple and with Sean having a girlfriend, David doesn't know what to do.

The last character I wish to mention is David's mom. She seems to be able to understand when there is something wrong with David and is generally a caring character. I really liked her and how accepting she is. The characters in general were quite well crafted. I would have liked the book to be a bit longer though so I could get to know the characters more.

This book is really short and easily kept me reading. The story was quite fast paced so I didn't have to wait around for something to happen. The only thing is, I didn't like that the story was over so soon after starting it. But that's my issue with short stories. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn't.

The plot is really good. I think it portrayed a teenager struggling to come to terms with his sexuality quite well. I also liked the complication between Sean and David, and David and Eddie. The relationships made the book really interesting and I wanted to know what would happen in the end with David.

Overall, it is a very good but short read. However, I think it would be very useful and comforting for young men who aren't so certain about their own sexuality. But the book is more than that, it is also a great read for anyone. I'll warn you now, this book does have some sexual and graphic scenes. Nothing too awful but it's better you know now and make your choice.

Characters: 7/10 (more development would have been better)
Hookability (ability to keep you reading): 9/10
Plot: 10/10

Total: 26/30

Review: Tender Morsels

I have been reading, and enjoying, Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. Here is the blurb:

"You are pure-hearted and lovely, and you have never done a moment's wrong. But you are a living creaure, born to make a real life, however it cracks your heart."

Liga raises her two daughters in the safe haven of an alternative reality, a personal heaven granted by magic as a refuge from her earthly suffering.

But the real world cannot be denied for ever and when the barrier between the two worlds begins to break down, Liga's fiery daughter, Urdda, steps across it...

This unforgettable novel is sure to shock and amaze. Constantly shifting from beauty to horror, darkness to light, Tender Morsels will take you to the very edge.

I really haven't enjoyed a book this much in a long time. I enjoy long reads if it's a good story and I thought this book was brilliant. Before I start gushing, I'd better start reviewing.

The characters in this book are well crafted. Although, it has to be said, there are a lot of characters. And at certain points I had to stop to remember who they were. I liked the style they were presented in though. You were clearly given a main character and other characters had their own section. At the start they all seem completely unrelated but I like the way their paths intertwined.

Liga is the main character. The story starts when she is a young girl. She knows nothing but work and pain. Her one chance of joy is taken away by her father. This is what starts Liga off on her journey. I don't want to give anything away but I'll tell you that Liga has two daughters, Urrda and Branza. Both daughters are unique and bring Liga joy. They live with Liga in a safe haven where no harm should be able to befall them.

Urrda is the loud one whilst Branza is the quiet one. The sisters are both very different but at the same time very close. Tender Morsels is a darker retelling of Snow White and Red Rose. Branza is Snow White whilst Urrda is Snow White. Urrda longs to explore the haven whilst Branza is content to stay at home or in the nearby forest with the animals (namely a bear and later a wolf). There are too many charaters for me to mention them all but they all fit together nicely.

This book kept me reading. The only reason I took a while to read it was because, a, it's long and b, I had to schedule it between homework and revision. But even so, I think I read it at quite a fast rate. I was sitting at school today thinking "I'm going to read Tender Morsels when I get home". As long as you follow what's going on, Tender Morsels is a book that keeps you reading.

The plot itself is ingenious. It is a very well thought out story, and having not heard Red Rose and Snow White before, I loved it. I think the reason I loved this book so much is because it was long. I could get in to the story for a lengthy amount of time. I also loved how extremely cleverly it was plotted (it was detailed for everything to fit together).

I will add a word of warning though. The book jacket says "this book is not suitable for younger readers". I think it depends on your level of maturity rather than your age. But I will warn you about some of the material it contains so you can decide for yourself: incest and gang rape. It's not too graphic and I prefer a book with realistic material, life isn't always fun or right, and the author gets this across.

The ending can be either sad or happy, depending on your own opinion. It seems free to interpretation. I personally think it's happy for some of the cahracters and sad for others. You'll have to read the book to make up your own mind.

Characters: 9/10 (a little too many complicated names but I got there in the end)
Hookability (ability to keep you reading): 10/10
Plot: 10/10 (Loved It)

Total: 29/30

Review: Selina Penaluna

As promised, here is my review!
Selina Penaluna is written by Jan Page. Here is the blurb:

Dropped as a baby into a deep pool on the Cornish shore, Selina Penaluna emerges a different child - a mermaid changeling - and is forever drawn to the sea. Abandoned by her mother, neglected and abused by her father, she desperately wants to escape her lonely life.

Ellen and Jack are twins, evacuated from East London to Cornwall at the start of the war. The family that takes them in are well - off and a little stuffy. Ellen relishes this opportunity to better herself, but Jack finds his new life stifling and seeks freedom in the arms of Selina, the mysterious fisherman's daughter whose wild beauty turns every man's head.

Selina's siren song has Jack captivated - but leaves his sister cold with jealousy. Can the young lovers find solace and build a new life together? And how will Ellen deal with being left behind?

The main three characters in this book are; Selina, Jack and Ellen. Selina was a pretty interesting character. She was painted as this beautiful character who enchanted those around her (very much like a mermaid). However, she had her faults like everyone else. Selina hid the troubles in her life, namely her father abusing her, and lived a dismal life. If it weren't for her hope that she would turn in to a "merrymaid" (the Cornish name for mermaid) and the attention she got from the guys, I dread to think of what would have happened to her.

Jack is Ellen's twin. He falls in love with Selina and tries to save her from the Cornish life she is living. He neglects Ellen and defies the Rosewarne's wishes that he look for someone who is of a higher class. But Jack follows his heart and is enchanted with Selina.

Ellen, who is nicknamed "Nellie" by Jack, is excited to go to Cornwall. Jack and Ellen stay with the Rosewarne's. Ellen loves staying with the Rosewarne's but Jack sees them as substitutes for their real parents. Ellen wants to stay friends with Jack but feels that Selina is stealing him away. I feel quite sorry for Ellen. All she wants is Jack and to be loved by the Rosewarne family. She tries so hard to please those around her and gets litle in return.

The book switches between the POV of these three characters. Unfortunately, the chapters don't state which character's POV it is in so you have to work it out for yourself. I found this a tad irritating, especially at the beginning when I wasn't really familiar with any of the characters. This book also switches between past and present. I think this is one of the reasons it took me so long to read this book. i don't like having to work when I read a book, it is meant to be relaxing.

The plot of this book was actually quite good. I genuinely wanted to know what would happen between Selina and Jack. Selina seemed drawn to the sea whilst Jack wanted to go back to London. The main plot of this book though is a mystery. But I can't say anymore without revealing a main part of the story. For those of you who want to know, READ NOW: Selina and Jack go missing. It is assumed that Selina and Jack have drowned on a stormy night when they tried to go out on the boat. There is a search for the bodies. I refuse to reveal anymore. SPOILER OVER.

I also really enjoyed the ending of this book because it sort of confirmed what I thought. Although I got one part totally wrong. You'll have to read the book to find out if you can work out what happened.

This book took me a couple of months to read. I must confess that I was trying to schedule reading in between working and the first few weeks of sixth form (who knew AS level was so hard). But at the same time, there was something too easy about putting this book down. Everytime I picked it up I grew interested. And yet I could easily forget about it.

This book focuses a lot on imagery. If you like descriptions of the location then this would interest you. But the story isn't that the fast. At the start I wasn't too keen on the long-winded descriptions. However, at the end I found myself picturing everything in my mind. I could see it as a film and how it would be played out.

Characters: 9/10 - the characters were really intriguing and I like the way they were all connected
Hookability (ability to keep you reading): 4/10 - some interesting parts but two months is a long time
Plot: 7/10 - pretty good plot but a litle slow

Overall: 20/30

Review: The A-List: Malibu Sun

I picked up "The A-list: Malibu Sun" by Zoey Dean as I thought it would make a fun, light summer read. I wasn't disappointed. So what is it about? Here's the blurb:

Anna Percy is film-star gorgeous. Which is just as well, because she's new to Beverly Hils, and being beautiful in LA is like Manolo Blahnik heels - simply a must...

Just when Anna thought life in LA couldn't get crazier she finds herself working on the hottest new TV show in town. Fortunately, partying with the cast and crew and hanging out at the beachside set is all part of the deal. Now, if she could only shake off the Beverly Hills High witches... But there's no way Cammie is letting Anna off the hook - Little Miss East-Coast Perfection won't be stealing the show this time...

When I picked this book up, I never realised it was part of a series. I don't like reading a series in a different order. However, my bookshop doesn't have the other books in the series so this'll probably be the only one I read in the series anyway. For those in the US, Malibu Sun is called Blonde Ambition in the US. I couldn't find a decent picture for the UK version so I used the US cover. On to the actual book review...

I really enjoyed this book. I tend to go mad on books and then have a break. And then go mad on books again etc. Every so often, I want a book which is easy to read and fun. Most importantly, the book matter isn't deep so my brain isn't left reeling and whirring whilst I ask myself questions about the book.
The main two characters are Anna and Cammie. The book changes point of view at certain points, from Anna to Cammie and vice-versa. Anna and Cammie hate each other, which makes the shift in point of view even more interesting. Anna is meant to be the nicer of the two but I thought that she seemed a bit flirtatious for my liking. Cammie is meant to be the ice queen but as the book explained, there is a little more depth to her, although not as much as I would have liked. I want to know more about the characters and their history. Then again, I am to blame for not starting at the beginning of the series. I both love and hate Anna and Cammie and find them interesting characters. It would have been fun to read the whole series.

I don't really remember a main plot. Anna and Cammie had their own individual problems. The only time they really had any connection was if they saw each other, through exboyfriends and current friends. Oh, and I forgot another connection. Anna's boss is Cammie's dad. This book kept me reading. Maybe it was because it was short. Maybe it was the setting. Or maybe it was because it's a fun read. I picked up several books I planned to read over the summer, this being one of them. It fit my criteria. There are some books you pick up because you want to learn more about certain situations e.g. homelessness, eating disorders, self-harm etc. "Malibu Sun" isn't this kind of book. I'll warn you now though: it does include some sex, nothing too graphic though.

I've already mentioned that I wasn't able to stop reading this book. In honesty, I should have had this review up a long time ago. But I half started this review and then decided to come back this afternoon. If you want a fun, light and enjoyable read, then you will probably enjoy this. I know you can't put an age rating on books but I felt like this was a teenage read.

Characters: 7/10 - It's a love/hate relationship.

Plot: 8/10 - I like the use of suplots.

Hookability (ability to keep you reading): 9/10 - Over too fast :(

Total: 24/30

Review: Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great

I was sent "Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great" by Emma from Don't Lose My Place when she held a trial giveaway. All you had to do was ask for the book and you would receive. I've had this book a while but picked it up randomly. Basically, the book I was reading has been left in the car and there was this lovely book waiting to be read in the meantime. I also fancied reading something by Judy Blume as I've heard a lot of good things about Forever but never read it. I'm so thankful to Emma for sending me this and am really glad I decided to read it today! Here is the blurb for "Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great":

Sheila can do no wrong. Sheila Tubman is not quite sure who she is. Sometimes she feels like confident, brilliant Sheila the Great and other times she's secret Sheila, who's afraid of spiders, the dark, swimming and, most of all, dogs. When her family decides to leave the city for a summer in the country, Sheila will have to suffer everything from long-eared dogs to swimming lessons to creepy spiders. That's enough to drive any city girl nuts! If she can survive the summer at all, Sheila may be forced to admit that she's no supergirl.

This was a nice light read. It was fun and only took me just over an hour to read. Sheila is the main character and suffers from a wide range of fears, not that she would admit it. She is afraid of lightning from thunderstorms hitting her, spiders, the dark, swimming and dogs. Sheila also has a sister, Libby, who is older and spends her time dancing around, singing and acting like a mature and bossy sister. Sheila often lies to avoid admitting her fears. However, this isn't the best tactic and often leaves Sheila in embarrasing situations. There are some morals to this story but they are fun e.g. it's better to admit a fear and face it than lie about it. Sheila's confrontations with her fears though were really funny! The way she refused to admit she was scared made for fun reading. She also met some friends when she is sent on holiday, by the names of Mouse and the Twins. I like Mouse as she is a genuinely nice person. The Twins were okay but I didn't feel I knew about them as much as Mouse. Then again, it is a short story and is definitely aimed at younger reads.

The plot is pretty simple and aims for fun reading. A main part of the plot is Sheila's fears but there is also a great deal more going on. Sheila's family move in to a country house in the summer and Sheila and Libby decide to attend the summer camp that's run nearby. They both gain new friends and there is a sleepover near the end which was my favourite part to read! The sleepover was just really funny and now I want to have a sleepover! Sleepover at mine: for those of you who live outside of the UK, get a plane, hot air balloon, rowing boat or your preferred method of travel!

This book scores high for hookability. It was over so quickly, about 70 minutes of my time! For those of you who want a short, fun and light read, this is the book for you. If you are looking for something that's a little older, you might not enjoy this. I'm not doing a rating for this book as the last time I did a rating for a book that was too young for me (and that I didn't like) I had to deduct marks. And I believe that if I was the right age group I might have given it more marks. So it's up to you decide. However, this is a fun and short read and is good if you want to escape some of those books which deal with heavy topics.

I've loosely laid it out in sections: characters, plot and then hookability.

P.S. Hookability is a book's ability to keep you hooked (reading). Yes, I did make up that word :)

Review: The Agency: A Spy in the House

You may have noticed that I haven't reviewed anything in a long time. I confess, I was in a reading slump. Thank you Y S Lee (the author) for getting me out of it. Here is a blurb of The Agency: A Spy in the House:

Mary Quinn leads a remarkable life. At twelve, an orphan and convicted, she was miraculously rescued from the gallows. Now, at seventeen, she has a new and astonishing chance: to work undercover for the Agency.

It is May 1858, and a foul-smelling heat wave paralyzes London. Mary enters a rich merchant's household to solve the mystery of his lost cargo ships. But as she soon learns, the house is full of deceptions, and people are not what they seem - including Mary herself.

The plot centres around Mary, an intelligent and adventurous girl. I can't read a book unless I like the main character. I should also mention that this book is set during the Victorian times. Mary is a Victorian tomboy. She grew up around boys before the tragic loss of her father. As mentioned in the blurb, she was saved from the gallows and has recently been enlisted at The Agency. Mary has her first task: to work undercover as a female's companion and gather information about the girl's father. After all, who would be concerned by a female?

I feel that sexism is portrayed in this book. Mary continues to break the inferior stereotype of women in this book that were common in the Victorian times. She's not uncivilised, she knows how to act properly in society and does so in her position at the house. But I love that there's this side to her that people are too narrow-minded to acknowledge. Another character, Angelica, is Mary's companion. Angelica comes off spiteful and nasty and a bit one-dimensional. However, as we learn more about her, there is clear character building. We are slowly introduced to her story and why she acts the way she does amidst Mary's quest to find out the truth. There is but one other character I want to introduce you to, Mr James Easton. He appears to be quite a minor character at the beginning but his importance in the novel becomes significant after a short while. I liked James because he is outspoken, charming and intelligent. He cares for his family and can be at times, a real gentleman.

The plot was interesting and the mystery surrounding the ships intrigued me. I love detective novels and the way you have to wait until the end to find out the truth. It's just one adventure. But this isn't a simple case of who-dunnit. The story twists and often leads to dead-ends whilst you are intrigued by sub-plots. This book got me out of my reading slump and I think this is a book to be read out over two days. I don't usually put reading estimations in as everyone is different. However, with detective-style books, I prefer to mull over the information at night and then find out the truth the next day.

Characters - 10/10 (breaks stereotypes)

Plot - 8/10

Hookability - 8/10

Total - 26/30

Just thought I'd add this is the first in what I believe to be a gripping trilogy.

Review: Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy is the first in a series by Richelle Mead. Here is the blurb for Vampire Academy:

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi, the fiercest and most dangerous vamires - the ones who never die.

The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.

After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking Academy hearts.

Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's - inside the Academy's iron gates, their world is even more fraught with danger. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals, and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...

Now that, was a vampire story. I've only read one vampire series before this book, and it was too happy for vampires. But anyway, we're not talking about that unnamed series. Vampire Academy was a really enjoyable read and I actually cared for the characters.

The main two characters in this book are Lissa, the Moroi princess, and Rose, the Dhampir vampire. Rose is Lissa's guardian, or at least she wil be after completing her training. Rose is a kick-ass heroine which is something I liked. However, I found her to be irritating at times with the way she acted. Overall though, I liked how much she cared for Lissa.

Lissa is a caring invidual who I liked and cared for. She trusted Rose completely and didn't like to see her upset. Rose was quite sacrificing when it came to Lissa's needs. And another character I want to mention is Dimitri. He is another guardian who appears in the book. Is it wrong to have a book crush? I have always had a thing for guys with a Russian accent. But this guy can kick serious ass as well. But you shall have to read the book to find out more about him.

The plot of this book is really interesting. I wanted to know what was happening to Lissa and why. Why did they have to leave the Academy in the first place? Who is pulling pranks on Lissa? And why does the girl called Mia hate Lissa so much? It's really intriguing and was just an all-round good read. I love reading about worlds which are different to our own and I'm interested to learn about different types of vampires and how they needed one and another.

Hookability? I had to stop reading this book because I've been busy (hence the lack of posts). But I know that if I had the chance, I would have read this in a maximum of two sittings. You were just watching events unfold and it was one of those instances where you NEEDED to know what would happen.

Overall, an extremely enjoyable vampire read which everyone should sink their teeth in to. Sorry for the pun. It was just a really good read and a proper vampire book. I cared for the characters and think this is the start of a great series!

Characters - 10/10 (a Russian kick-ass guy here)
Plot - 10/10 (kept me interested)
Hookability - 9/10 (I would have been able to get in to it more had I not had to put it down)

Total - 29/30

Review: The 13 Treasures

After attending the author talk at Uxbridge library, I felt compelled to read this book, and I’m glad I did. “The 13 Treasures” is written by Michelle Harrison and is the first book I think I’ve read about fairies. Here is the blurb:

While visiting her grandmother's house, Tanya discovers an unsolved mystery. Fifty years ago, a girl vanished in the woods nearby - a girl Tanya's grandmother will not speak of. Fabian, the caretaker's son, is tormented by the girl's disappearance. His grandfather was the last person to see her alive, and has lived under suspicion ever since. Together, Tanya and Fabian decide to find the truth. But Tanya has her own secret: the ability to see fairies. Can it help them to unravel the mystery? Soon they are facing terrible danger - could the manor's sinister history be about to repeat itself?

I am not entirely sure if I like this blurb. I don't think it really does the book justice but I do love the last line of it, "Could the manor's sinister history be about to repeat itself?" That line is the hooker, the one that means you have to read this book. I had originally owned this book for a while and had picked it up because of the award it received from Waterstone's. I regret not reading it before now.

I love the way that fairies are introduced in to the book. First impressions are always important and boy do these fairies make an impression. They are introduced as evil, mischievous creatures. I loved learning about the fairies as the book progressed, especially how the Seelie and Unseelie court came to be and what exactly the 13 treasures were. I'm not telling you, you'll have to read it to find out. Tanya, the main character, was a likeable character and I felt for her, especially through her confusion of what was happening and her dislike of the fairies. Fabian is going through a lot. He is the misunderstood character who you can learn to understand when certain things are revealed in the book. This is how Tanya and Fabian eventually become friends. And one character I love: the strange lady in the forest. If that isn't a cool character, I don't know what is. I also liked Tanya's dog, Oberon, but that's because I like dogs.

This book centres around Tanya's ability to see Fairies and the mysterious disappearance of the girl in the woods. Who was she? Why won't her grandmother speak of her? All of this makes for an interesting plot. This book keeps your interest with subplots until you get to the main event. The ending was amazing. I really enjoyed the fast pace at the end and thought the rest of the book was nicely paced.

Hookability? I read this book in a day - although I was already quite determined. A character is introduced later in the book called Red. I really cared for Red and wanted to know what would happen to her. The mystery of the disappearing girl and my interest in knowing more about the strange lady in the forest kept me reading. However, I can see other people being able to put this book down for a while.

Overall, "The 13 Treasures" was an enjoyable read. It is about fairies and mystery and I recommend you read it if you like a bit of fantasy. I really enjoyed this book. It is the first book I've read about fairies.

Plot - 9/10

Characters - 10/10

Hookability (ability to keep you reading) - 7/10

Total - 26/30

Michelle Harrison Author Talk

Before you jump to conclusions, Michelle Harrison is not doing an author talk here. Michelle Harrison, author of "The Thirteen Treasures" which was the winner of Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2009, did an author talk at my local library in Uxbridge.

Unfortunately I was late because I finished TheatreTrain at the time that Michelle Harrison started her author talk. I then took 10 minutes to work up the courage to go sit down even though she had already started answering questions. Here is what I did find out (I didn't have a notepad so the details are a bit sketchy as they are from memory). The author talk took place at Uxbridge Library, Hillingdon on Saturday 6th June.

Who is your favourite fairie?
Michelle Harrison said she had two: the Mizhog and the drain-dweller. The Mizhog because it was something her mother used to say. My parents say it too so that answer made me happy. If you weren't very happy, you were caled a Mizhog. And the drain-dweller because it's a fairy that lives in the drain and just likes stealing shiny valuables. It reminds me of a magpie. Michelle Harrison liked the idea of a drain-dweller, something that steals your most valuable things and hoards them in its drain.

Something worth mentioning:
Michelle Harrison works for a publishing house.

Michelle Harrison was asked a question that went along the lines of would you ever get your book published by a publishing company you worked for?
Michelle Harrison said no. She did know people who had had it done but she thought it would be a bit awkward. People have had to leave the room before when they were discussing how much money should be spent on publicising a book because money can be a very delicate topic.

Would you become a full time writer?
Michelle said she could do it but she enjoyed her job. Writing is quite a lonely job because she has to sit there in silence to write. It isn't very social. When you write, you're alone. She noted that the author talk events were sociable. Michelle's overall opinion was that she could do it but wasn't sure if she wanted to.

Is "The Thirteen Treasures" going to become a trilogy?
Initially Michelle thought not because a lot of people were doing trilogies at the time. She is now working on "The Thirteen Curses" which is a follow-up to "The Thirteen Curses". It may become a trilogy, it all depends on what the publishers think.

Michelle Harrison made a point about originally wanting to have a fairie on the front of the cover but the publishers strongly said no. She claimed that she wasn't sure if that was the right decision. Some lady in the audience said that she thought it was the right decision. She said if she put "Knife" and "The Thirteen Treasures" together, she would pick "The Thirteen Treasures" everytime. Michelle said that it was interesting to hear that.

Someone in the audience asked, "When you created the book how did you put everything together? If I was writing I would just have lots of bits."
Michelle said that she just had to go over everything so much and rework parts that it eventually all came together.

Did you ever put your foot down when asked to change something you really didn't want to change?
Michelle (I think) said that there weren't really any scenes that they cut that she really had to put her foot down on. She talked about how many different times she had to edit things and how it went to this really important person at the end (they may be called a copy editor) and they spot all the little things that will need to be changed for another country's edition. She couldn't think of any examples for her book but noted one she had heard of before, post being changed to mail for the US audience. Michelle also said there came a stage when you just had to say enough was enough. She had noticed a continuity error which she said she should have told her publishers about. I think she said it isn't there in the German version. Basically, (spoiler if you haven't read "The Thirteen Treasures") Fabian is able to see fairies at one point and he sees the fairie in the kitchen which should have already disappeared. It's not much of an error and I doubt I would have really noticed if it hadn't have been pointed out.

I don't know what this question was but I remember some of the answer.
Michelle was talking about how she had often heard about the Seelie and Unseelie court in books. However, what she felt hadn't been covered that well, was how they came to be. This is explained in "The Thirteen Treasures".

Sorry for my bad and sketchy notes, this is all from memory and is nearly a week old in my head (this is a pre-scheduled post, so I'm actually writing this in the early hours of Friday).

Michelle Harrison was selling her books for £5 (quite a good price I think) and signing them. I already had my own copy but Michelle Harrison was kind enough to sign it anyway. She was a really nice lady who asked me if I had read "The Thirteen Treasures". I confessed that I hadn't but I had started it yesterday.

One more thing, I just want to say, I never realised how pretty Michelle Harrison is. Just look at the picture. I would upload a picture of the signed book but I don't know where my camera is or my phone lead. I lose things really easily!