Saturday, 29 September 2012

On My Bookshelf (7)

You know the deal by know: based on IMM, etc. This is the final part of the stack of books from Sophie - really looking forward to this lot, even if some of them look mighty scary!

And, I'm going to be honest, some of them don't look like the kind of books for me (plus I have so many other books I have to read, half of them for university), so if anyone fancies a swap, let me know! Oh, UK only. And, you know, I hold the right to turn you down if it's a book I do want to read.

Between The Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah. And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom. Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.

Shadows by Ilsa J. Black
Alex has escaped from Rule - but what new horrors face her in the ravaged world outside? Tom is safe - but what will he risk to find Alex? Chris - how much does he really know about the terrible darkness of Rule? And what are his true feelings for Alex? Ellie - where is she? 

Fire City by Bali Rai
Twenty-five years ago the world changed forever. A great war, which had raged for three years ended, and the reign of the Demons began... Within the crumbling walls of Fire City, fifteen-year-old Martha is a member of the resistance, a small band of humans fighting for freedom in a lawless and horrifying new world. Amidst the chaos of battle arrives Jonah, a handsome stranger with a thirst for revenge and a power to destroy the Demon rulers. As Martha and Jonah’s lives collide, the future of the resistance is altered forever. The battle for humankind will now begin. An epic story of catastrophe, survival and the power of humanity.

Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
Big Mouth. No I did not. I did not, I did not. I did not say those things, and I did not plan those things. Won't It anyone believe me? Ugly Girl. All right, Ugly Girl made a mistake. I'd told my mom what I'd heard in the cafeteria, and she'd told Dad. Evidently. I'd thought for sure they would want me to speak up for the truth.

Creature of the Night by Kate Thompson
When Bobby's mother moves the family into a rented house in the country, a neighbour tells him that a child was once murdered there. Bobby doesn't care. All he wants is to get back to Dublin and to resume his wild life there, stealing from the crowded shopping streets and racing stolen cars at night. But getting his old life back doesn't turn out to be so easy, and the longer he spends in the old cottage, the more convinced he becomes that something very strange is going on there. Was there really a murder? And if so, was it the one he has been told about?

The Demon Collector by Jon Mayhew
Edgy Taylor sees demons when nobody else can. He also works all hours for the most brutal and abusive master in London. One night, when Edgy fears his master's temper may spell the end, a mysterious bespectacled old man intervenes to save him. The man does not think Edgy is insane. Instead he takes Edgy to the Royal Society of Daemonologie. Here Edgy discovers that chance had nothing to do with their meeting. And that chances are something he is about to run out of.

Star Crossed by Jo Cotterill
This summer, Fliss is playing Juliet opposite her dream Romeo. If only she could tell him how she feels! But unless she finds some inner confidence, she's going to miss her chance with him. Because some else has her eyes on Fliss's role - and her leading man...

Crypt: The Gallows Curse by Andrew Hammond
When a crime is committed and the police are at a loss, CRYPT is called in to figure out whether something paranormal is at work. Jud is their star agent. Jud has just landed his biggest case yet. People have been disappearing in mysterious circumstances while others are viciously attacked, yet there are no suspects.

Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
Her father has quit his job to sell vitamins at the mall, and Kate is forced to work with him. Her best friend has become popular, and now she acts like Kate's invisible. And then there's Will. Gorgeous, unattainable Will, whom Kate acts like she can't stand even though she can't stop thinking about him. When Will starts acting interested, Kate hates herself for wanting him when she's sure she's just his latest conquest. Kate figures that the only way things will ever stop hurting so much is if she keeps to herself and stops caring about anyone or anything. What she doesn't realize is that while life may not always be perfect, good things can happen -- but only if she lets them...

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
On remote Rollrock Island, men go to sea to make their livings--and to catch their wives. The witch Misskaella knows the way of drawing a girl from the heart of a seal, of luring the beauty out of the beast. And for a price a man may buy himself a lovely sea-wife. He may have and hold and keep her. And he will tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she. He will be equally ensnared. And the witch will have her true payment. 

Black Arts by Prentice and Weil
Elizabethan London: a teeming city of traders and thieves, courtiers and preachers, riff-raff and quality, cut-throats—and demons. When scrunty Jack the “Judicious Nipper” picks the wrong pocket at the Globe Theatre, he finds himself mixed up in an altogether more dangerous London than he could have imagined—a city in which magic is real and deadly.

Tiger's Destiny by Colleck Houck
With three of the goddess Durga's quests behind them, only one prophecy now stands in the way of Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan breaking the tiger's curse. But the trio's greatest challenge awaits them: A life-endangering pursuit in search of Durga's final gift, the Rope of Fire, on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.  It's a race against time--and the evil sorcerer Lokesh--in this eagerly anticipated fourth volume in the bestselling Tiger's Curse series, which pits good against evil, tests the bonds of love and loyalty, and finally reveals the tigers' true destinies once and for all. 

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic
Published: 1st January 2011
Pages: 496
Sam has always loved Grace. As a wolf, he watched her from afar. As a boy, he held her in his arms.

Now facing the possibility of a life without her, he will do anything to keep her safe. Even if it means facing his demons. Even if it risks everything he has.

Anything, as long as their love can survive...

This epic finale threatened to rip my heart out. Even though I did not connect with some of the characters the way I wanted to, I still felt for all of them. Especially Sam. He had some issues to go through after some truths came out about Beck. Do not make me hate Beck! It is impossible!

Maggie's writing style kept me entranced, its heartfelt and lyrical prose lulling me into her world of wolves. The multiple narrative as well adds to the strong characterisation that makes this series so brilliant. Isabel and Cole really come into their own in Forever; their parts are crucial for the continuation of the pack and for Sam and Grace. Though a little hard to understand, they both are amazing characters and I really felt for them.

Because this book was more about the wolves as a pack, it did not deal with Sam's 'demons' and his relationship with Grace as much as I'd thought. Giving equal page space to Isabel and Cole worked for the plot and the story as a whole, especially considering what Cole did for the wolves, but I am a romantic and just wanted a happily-ever-after for Sam and Grace.

I can't say too much about the story without giving so much away, but I will say how much I love Sam and Grace's relationship. Even though they were separated, not through choice, for plenty of parts of this book, they were still so in balance and respectful of each other while still being teasing and young.

My heart was in my throat for the last final push of the story - let's just say things did not happen the way I thought they would, though not that all of those surprises were necessarily bad. The ending is not one you'd expect - and did not exactly leave me happy - but gives an air of hope to Sam and Grace's relationship.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Rebel Heart Launch Party

Thursday night saw Bath's Waterstones overrun with family and friends for Moira Young's launch party of Rebel Heart. Sophie was invited through her publishing contacts and, knowing how much I love the book, asked me to tag along. Duh!

While waiting upstairs, we met a some awesome people, fellow readers and even two of Moira's nephews from London! Then we got started. Marion Lloyd, yes THE Marion Lloyd, introduced Moira and spoke a little about how she knew she wanted to publish Blood Red Road and how excited she was for Rebel Heart and how proud she was of Moira. It was all very heart-warming!

Moira then talked about Saba, DeMalo and her imagined landscape, based loosely on her childhood memories of holidaying around Canada. She said that Saba was getting to the point that she couldn't stop her, she was so out of control and complex. Moira also said that because of Saba's complexity, she needed an equally intriguing antagonist, someone who was appeared bad to the reader but at the same time, you could understand their motivations. Well that explains the drama of Rebel Heart!

Moira told us about her memories of summer holidays, how her mother could remember sombre stories of particular mountains, you know plane crashes and stuff. She also told the story of when she around 8 years old, they visited a village called Frank and one night in 1903, the little mining town was crushed under a limestone landslide and all little Moira could imagine was the village under her feet, still asleep in their beds. And her mother wonders where she gets her dark imagination from!

Moira read aloud the first page of Rebel Heart, beautifully I might add. Finally, Marion asked for some spoilers for the final book in the trilogy. I can unofficially reveal that Moira has titled it Raging Star, it apparently opens with a fight scene and, teasingly, Saba does something bad.

We then got our books signed, I actually managed to talk to her like a normal person and congratulated her! Although I didn't get a chance to say how awesome her shoes were. Then Sophie and I hung around to talk to Julia Green, also in attendance, as Sophie had meet her earlier in the summer. We also properly introduced ourself to Hannah, Sophie's contact from Scholastic, and - get this - she's actually heard of me! I was very, pleasantly, surprised!

All in all, a fabulous evening, we had loads of fun hearing about books and book news and meeting awesome people! Can't wait for what other events Waterstones has to offer!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Linger by Maggie Shiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic
Published: 20th July 2010
Pages: 420
Grace and Sam must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping dangerous secrets. For Sam, it means grappling with his werewolf past ...and figuring out a way to survive the future.
But just when they manage to find happiness, Grace finds herself changing in ways she could never have expected...

Following on from the practically heartbreaking love story of Grace and Sam, this time it's Grace in trouble. With Sam cured, for now, of his wolfism, he now has new wolves to deal with, especially Cole: the new ridiculously insane wolf with more issues than Sam - why in the heck did Beck pick him? I like Cole but he does seriously annoy me, in a playboy but so messed up kinda way. As head of the pack without shifting, Sam is going through some stuff that he didn't think would ever happen: he's growing up. Not only that, but as Sam is beginning to understand his permanently human form, Grace is slowly losing control of hers.

It's not just the wolves Grace and Sam have to contend with, it's also Grace's parents. The initial shine they had for Sam has gone, and they no longer trust Grace to make decisions as a young adult. Her parents really annoyed me and I agreed with Grace when she said they can't just change between room mates and parents when they feel like it.

Different voices, not just Sam and Grace, added to the dynamic between characters and to get a better understanding of their motivations. Although, I'm going to be honest, I still have no idea what Isabel and Cole are thinking, even when inside their head! Maggie made sure it didn't get confusing with four voices, all with individual problems and issues to deal with that added up to the overall impact of the story.

I knew the book was going to end the way it did. It didn't take the suspense out though; in fact, it just made me not want the ending even more! Part two of Grace/Sam was not as... strong as the first but definitely worth it to get some answers about the wolves and to get a step closer to a possible happy ending for a perfect couple.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic
Published: 1st August 2009
Pages: 438
When a local boy is killed by wolves, Grace's small town becomes a place of fear and suspicion. But Grace can't help being fascinated by the pack, and by one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. There's something about him - something almost human. Then she meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away...

A chilling love story that will have you hooked from the very first page.

I've heard plenty of good things about this series and have admired the covers for years. Then why did it take me so long to finally pick it up?

It tells of the bewitching love story between Grace and Sam. As a girl, Grace has watched with fascination the wolf with yellow eyes, to suddenly find him hurt on her doorstep. Embarking on a relationship that both knows will end badly, they also have to deal with a stupidly angry new wolf how refuses to accept his fate and put them all in danger. To put it lightly, I was gripped from page one!

It is beautifully written, with alternate chapters to get both Grace and Sam's perspective. Grace was easy to relate to, had problems with her parents, chatted to her friends, but was strangely obsessed with the pack of wolves after nearly being killed by them all those years ago. And Sam was adorable, sweet, feared he would literally lose himself when he changes into a wolf for the last time. My heart broke for him.

Along with secondary characters that engrained themselves in the story but did not distract, Grace and Sam fight to be together, to keep their secret safe and even try and find a cure for Sam's wolfism. Yeah, that's a word now.

I really fell in love with these characters. Coming across as so real, it was easy to get lost in the story, not seeing snow-covered woods and dark wolves outside! Completely gripping and touching love story, Shiver is an obsessive read.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Unfed by Kirsty McKay

Publisher: Chicken House
Published: 6th September 2012
Pages: 307
The good news: Bobby survived her Undead school trip. Bad news: her best mate, Smitty, is missing. Bobby knows she's got to find him even if it means risking it all and going out into the starving-zombie-infested wastelands again. Even if it means taking fellow survivors including a couple of old frenemies along for the ride. And even if the zombies are not the only ones who are chasing them this time.

Ever since I read Undead, all those months ago, I have never looked at school trips the same way! Unfed promised to be just as exhilarating and terrifying as its predecessor and I could not wait - I read it in two days!

It began six weeks later. Bobby's just come out of a coma after the rescue bus crashed, Smitty's gone missing and the rest of the gang, along with newcomer Russ, are stuck in a zombie-infested military (or possibly Xanthro) hospital, cut off from the rest of the world. Scary for different reasons, they try to escape and figure out just what the hell has happened to them, while fighting off creepily clever zombie kids.

Kirsty McKay's characters are incredible. Told from Bobby's perspective again, we feel her anger and fear as clearly as it was happening to us. Actually, I would not be as capable in a zombie apocalypse as she is! Alice was just as reluctant, Pete was as fascinated with the details as before and don't forget the strangely capable Russ, who I really was not sure about. But let's not go into that. There was also a distinct lack of Smitty for the first half, whom I missed, but once he returned, he was just annoying and reckless as before, making me wonder what I ever saw in him. But he has his moments!

As well as the characters, there is of course the amazing writing of wit and humour and, obviously, the definite gross details of the zombies made to be weapons by the evil company Xanthro. With the added grossness of decaying zombie cows and a redhead girl who apparently woke up half way through her autopsy. *shudder*

An amazing twist ending, just to keep us interested (as if I wasn't!), with the promise of more disgusting adventures to come.

This copy was sent to me by Chicken House publishing. Thank you!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Publisher: Marion Lloyd Books
Published: 2nd August 2012
Pages: 393
Saba has rescued her kidnapped brother and defeated the fanatical Tonton. But the price to be paid for her violent victory is terible. Jack has disappeared – and can no longer be trusted. A new and formidable enemy is on the rise in the dustlands. No one is safe. And Saba must confront the terrible secret hidden in the darkest depths of her soul.

Following up the intense and action-filled Blood Red Road, Rebel Heart did not stop for a moment. Saba's voice was just as beautiful and awkward as I remembered it, only this time, Saba's broken. She's tormented by the ghosts of the dead and she can't help herself. She needs Jack. But Jack isn't where he said he would be, then they hear news that he's joined the Tonton. He can't be trusted. Along with the return of DeMalo, Saba's new start for her family was looking even less likely.

Jack quite simply broke my heart. All I wanted was a happy ending for both of them and even my pure romantic notions couldn't fathom how that was going to happen. And even baring in mind that Saba's haunted, she made some... interesting choices that confused me and even made me angry on a few occasions. But now I'm just worried what these choices mean for Saba and Jack's future. Not to mention Tommo!

Even though, as a general rule, I don't like sequels very much, Rebel Heart was just as fast-paced and gut-wrenchingly heart-felt as Blood Red Road. Highly recommended. Simple as that.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Got Caged? Blog Tour: Amber Lynn Natusch guest post

As part of her blog tour for her fourth book in the Caged series, Scarred, coming out in e-book on 24th September, I am honoured to welcome Amber Lynn Natusch! Enjoy!

When I was asked to compose a guest blog post, I had no idea what to write. As an author, it was an especially low moment. Then a great friend suggested that I take an excerpt from the first novel in my series, Caged, and explain what I loved about it. Genius! Times like this illustrate my need for a team of levelheaded people around mean entourage of rational thinkers.
The unfortunate reality for me was that my favorite scenes from Caged all contain spoilers, but I still managed to find some good ones :)
For this blog, I chose a scene that highlights one of the two mysterious men that Ruby finds herself caught between. They both have alluring qualities, but are equally shrouded in lies, leaving Ruby to sort through them on her own. Getting a straight answer is completely out of the question as you will soon see.
Without further ado, I give you Ruby, Sean, and Eric, in the notorious club scene.

His face was close, breathing my air.  Every time I made eye contact with him, I lost myself in the most literal sense.  I said things I'd neversaid before, and did things I would never have done; I was a completely different person.  I was so influenced by his energy, his power, asif it was seeping out of him and into me.  I knew I could sense the feelings of others as well as I could my own, but this was entirelydifferent and new.  The feeling was heightened exponentially with eye contact so I tried my best to avoid it. I did an amazingly poor job ofit.
I heard a voice from behind me but didn't acknowledge it until a hand clamped down onto my arm and jerked me around in a not-so-friendlyway. Sean's look was murderous.  He was visually communicating his desire to creatively remove certain body parts from the guy he'd justpeeled me off of, making sure the process was intolerable.  There was something personal about his stare, like the two had been at acrossroad before.
"Do you two know each other?" I asked, not really expecting an honest answer. I needed to diffuse the situation before the pissing contestgot any more heated.  The man laughed and said nothing.  I abruptly turned to look at Sean, not sure how he would react to the man'sexpressed humor with the situation. He did nothing but stare him down.
"You never truly know anyone, Ruby," he said, calmly.  "But no.  I don't know him."
Sean's emphasis on the word "him" seemed strange, but so was Sean sometimes.  I shrugged as I audibly exhaled.  Boys can be so tryingsometimes.
I looked back at the man causing such a clear air of tension between them. I wanted to know who he was.  However, as soon as I lookedat him I no longer cared, I just wanted to be with him regardless of the cost.
"I'm Eric," he said without being prompted.
"Ruby," I managed as I struggled against Sean's very strong grip to get closer to Eric.
"We're leaving," Sean stated as he whirled me around and marched me towards the door.  My feet barely made contact with the floor and Irealized he'd picked me up around the waist to drag me out of the dance hall.  Eric followed closely behind with a wickedly amused lookplastered all over his face.  The situation was more personal than either of them was letting on and I was furious at being in the dark aboutsomething that so clearly involved me.
Sean stomped through the lobby, pushing through innocent club goers with no regard.  As we broke through the front door, Eric slipped asmall piece of paper into my hand as Sean continued on towards the parking lot.  He didn't see me take it so I managed to quickly slip itinto my shirt and down my bra even with the restricted range of motion I had in my arm. I doubted that Sean would strip search me to findit even if he had seen what I did.  Eric slipped out of sight into the bar while I continued to be hauled away like luggage to the car.
"I'm quite capable of walking, you know," I said with as much ferocity as I could muster.
"I've seen what you're capable of tonight," he scoffed.
"Why are you so angry with me?" I asked trying desperately to figure out what offense of mine he'd suffered.
"It's nothing," he answered.
"Nothing?  This is how you act about nothing?  Remind me never to do something to you then, because I shudder to think what yourreaction would be to that," I said, trying to wiggle away from him.