Saturday, 25 August 2012

Torn by David Massey

Title: Torn
Author: David Massey
Published by: Chicken House
Publication date: 2nd August 2012
Pages: 304
Genres: Young Adult/War
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher


In the heat and dust, young British army medic Elinor Nielson watches an Afghan girl walk into a hail of bullets. But when she runs to help, Ellie finds her gone.

Who is she? And what's happened to her?

What Ellie discovers makes her question everything she believes in - even her feelings for the American lieutenant who takes her side.

At first, I didn't think I would enjoy this book at all. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might have noticed that there aren't many reviews of war books. However, when Chicken House sent it to me, I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised!

'Torn' deals with issues such as child soldiers, in such a way that it's easy to understand and the book doesn't become too heavy. At the end there was a small twist, which I loved - it made the ending a lot more cheerful!

Throughout the book, Ellie forms a crush on American Lieutenant, Ben which adds a bit of fun to the story. I think there could've been more romance though, as it was only towards the end.

My favourite characters were Ellie, Ben and Chip (another soldier who Ellie becomes friends with). It's hard to decide who my absolute favourite out of those three is. Possibly Chip - he was nice to Ellie and made everything into a joke to make her feel better in serious situations.

'Torn' is perfect for readers who don't like too much blood and guts and it's fine for any age. It's such a good book! 5/5.
Thanks to Chicken House for sending this to me, I loved it!

Official Publication Date: 2nd August 2012
Note: Sorry this was such a short review, I'm leaving to go on holiday in half an hour so I had to rush it a bit. You can buy this book HERE.
Thursday, 9 August 2012

Revived by Cat Patrick

Title: Revived
Author: Cat Patrick
Published by: Electric Monkey
Publication date: 2nd July 2012
Pages: 336
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

The world fades to nothing, and before I have the chance to think another thought...I'm dead.

My name is Daisy West and my whole life is a lie.
I'm part of a programme to test a drug called Revive - a drug that brings people back from the dead. I have died five times. I've been Revived five times. With each revival comes a new home, a new name, a new town...a new life.

But this time I won't let myself die. This time, I've found a love that I can't let go. This time, I'm going to make my life my own.

Wow, wow, wow. 'Revived' is definitely one of the best books I've read in a while! It has such a unique plot, and the idea of the drug that brings people back from the dead is fascinating. Maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea in real life though - everywhere would get so crowded! But in this story, it works as it is only tested on a select group of people.

Daisy West was in a bus crash with nineteen other children when she was younger. That was only the beginning of a life-long adventure. Every time she dies, she gets revived. Daisy and her family move thousands of miles away each time, changing their last name and Daisy attends different schools. She hasn't found anywhere she particularly cares about - until they move to Omaha, Nebraska. That's when everything changes.

I really like the cover of this book. It ties in with Cat Patrick's other book, Forgotten, so you can tell they were written by the same person.

One of my favourite characters was Audrey, Daisy's new best friend. She was so cheerful and positive, that *spoiler alert* when she announced she had cancer, you just didn't see it coming. It made me sad when I found out, I could empathise well with her. Her brother, Matt, was also pretty cool and I think it was nice that he was there for Daisy, and she was there for him. Even when they were 1,200 miles away from each other, he still managed to save her life.

There were also some surprisingly sinister characters in this book, which added some interesting twists in the story. Honestly, I was awake until 2am last night reading Revived because I just couldn't put it down!

My review of this book really hasn't done it justice. It's a way better book than my words can describe. Teens and adults would enjoy this book - I give it a rating of 5/5. I loved it so much!
Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes by Lauren Child

Title: Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes
Author: Lauren Child
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 2nd August 2012
Pages: 432
Genres: Children's
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Here's the low-down on Ruby Redfort: she's a genius code-cracker, a daring detective, and a gadget-laden special agent who just happens to be a thirteen-year-old girl.

She and her slick side-kick butler, Hitch, foil crimes and get into loads of scrapes with evil villains but they're always ice-cool in a crisis.
Normal life is a total yawn. Break out of boredom with super-awesome Ruby Redfort.

The cover of this book is awesome - I like how you can only see Ruby's eyes as it makes the cover look more mysterious. The green and pink add a nice splash of colour.

This book is full of exciting adventures, murderous villains, perplexing codes and difficult missions. Ruby is meant to be thirteen, and even though she's a 'genius', sometimes I thought she seemed more like an eleven year old. However I don't think this really matters as some people don't act their age, and that includes characters in books! My only problem with this book is that it was very slow-paced in places.

I read this all in one sitting. It was a fun book to read, and I liked imagining how Ruby would get out of the dramatic, near-death experiences she would get herself into. The secret codes Ruby and her friend used were so good that I couldn't decipher them - maybe it would've been good if the translation had been at the bottom of the page in small print or something.

I used to read other books by Lauren Child when I was little, such as Clarice Bean and Charlie and Lola, so it's nice that she's finally written a book for my current age group.

This book is fine for girls and boys aged 10-14, and could probably be read to a slightly younger child. I give it a rating of 4/5 - a point deducted for the occasional slow pace. Overall though, this is a fantastic book!
Sunday, 29 July 2012

League of Strays by L.B Schulman

Title: League of Strays
Author: L.B Schulman
Published by: Amulet Books
Publication date: 1st October 2012
Pages: 288
Genres: Young Adult/Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

Charlotte has just moved to Kennedy High. No one bothers to make friends with her - why would they?. She keeps to herself and lives her life by following her parents suggestions and orders. She follows their dreams and not her own. One day, she gets a note telling her to join the League of Strays - a group of loners led by Kade, the boy with a troubling and dangerous past. The thing is...none of them know he is a stalker, a sociopath...a murderer. What kind of danger have they all gotten themselves into?

My favourite character was Zoe, because she was down to earth, kind and looked after her alcoholic mother. She tries to act tough, but sometimes you would catch a glimpse of her more vulnerable side. Zoe was a good friend for Charlotte, and not just because they were both part of the League. I also liked Richie, Kade's best friend and member of the League. He was funny, and got bullied for being gay but he wasn't afraid to be different.

My least favourite character was Nora. In the beginning she seemed nice and sweet, but towards the end of the book I began to dislike her. She wasn't loyal to Charlotte or the rest of the group - I think she was driven by jealousy (I would explain why but that would be a spoiler!). Also I didn't like how she was a straight A+ student, and then as soon as she joins the League she drops everything and lets her grades slip without a second thought.

I like the cover because it gives us an insight into what the characters Charlotte and Kade might look like. However, my edition is just a proof so I'm not sure if the cover might change when it's published in October.

I really enjoyed this book and read it all in one sitting. It's a mild thriller with a sprinkle of romance. I recommend it to readers aged 13+ and give it a rating of 3.5/5.
Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Published by: Scholastic
Publication date: 5th January 2009
Pages: 464
Genres: Young Adult/Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature.

The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...

Kill, or be killed.

This novel is really enthralling and captivating – you keep reading and reading and reading; even if you have better things to do! ‘The Hunger Games’ is fantastic, the plot is so unique and every emotion is contained in this story. Death, love, fright, heartbreak, anger, poverty, freedom; it’s all in there.

North America has been completely wrecked and is now run by the powerful Capitol and is divided into 12 districts, with district 13 having been destroyed due to a rebellion. In district 12 is sixteen-year-old hunter Katniss Everdeen, who, thanks to her excellent hunting skills and the fact that she is good at haggling prices, carves a meagre life for herself, her little sister Prim and their poor widowed mother. In order to keep the 12 districts aware of who runs the country, the Capitol arranges an annual game of death and survival in an elaborate, technologically advanced arena. Each district holds a drawing of one boy and one girl to go as Tributes. When her sister is picked to play, Katniss volunteers instead. Along with Katniss goes Peeta, the baker’s son, who grew up with her.

My favourite character was Katniss because she was strong and brave, and skilled when it came to survival. She had a good sense of humour and I liked how she looked after her family, by going out to hunt every morning for food and earning money for her mother.

I was surprised at how long the book was – it was about 400 pages – so it took a while to read, but I don’t think the story would have been as good if it had been shorter.

The cover of the book is mysterious and makes you want to pick it up to read, and you learn later that the burning mockingjay pin on the cover has great significance to the story.

This book, and the other two in the trilogy, are definitely my favourite books ever. I give it 5/5!
Sunday, 1 July 2012

5 Books I've Read This Year That I Think You Should Read

1. Shattered Dreams by Ellie James

Trinity has never known who she really is. Strange dreams haunt her nights, and she has always been able to sense things that others can't. When Jessica, the most popular girl at school, disappears, Trinity realises she will have to draw on her secret abilities to help find her. Soon, Trinity is subject to visions that terrify her and make the police sceptical. As her dreams grow darker and the visions more frightening, Trinity realises she must risk her reputation and her sanity to save a girl who hates her.

2. The Rock Stars' Daughter by Caitlyn Duffy

At the age of 15, Taylor Beauforte has only met her father twice in person. After all, he is the lead singer of a world-famous rock band, constantly on the cover of music magazines and giving interviews on MTV. He pays for Taylor to attend the Treadwell Academy, a prestigious boarding school in Massachusetts, and provides her mother with monthly checks to cover her basic needs, but has never made much of an effort to play an active part in Taylor’s life. Taylor's mom Dawn is the only family she has ever really known, and because of Dawn's hard-partying Hollywood lifestyle, studious Taylor is happiest on the other side of the country in Massachusetts with her nose buried in a book.
When Taylor 's mom unexpectedly dies the summer before Taylor starts her junior year, she receives a crash course in fame. She has no choice but to join her father and his new family on their summer concert tour before she has even had a chance to mourn the loss of her mother. Life as the daughter of a rock star seems like it would be enviable, but Taylor can't figure her dad out. He seems like a supportive authority figure (even if he's kind of a fashion tragedy) , but she is collecting a growing pile of evidence that he's a liar and a cheat. Her stepmother, Jill, can’t seem to decide if she wants to treat Taylor like a girlfriend or a nuisance. Having had no time to grieve and say goodbye to her childhood before being thrust into the limelight, Taylor is suddenly finding herself in situations she could have never imagined before this summer.
With no one else to turn to, Taylor falls head over heels in love with Jake, the teenage son of one of the band's touring groupies. Taylor has growing concerns about Jake's background and the suspicious relationship between his mom and her own father, but is desperate for something real in her life onto which she can build a future. When Jake offers Taylor an opportunity to join him on a whirlwind adventure and leave her problems with her father far behind, Taylor has to decide – should she carve out her own way in the world, or try to repair the relationship she has with her only living parent?
Over the course of the summer with the band, Taylor learns the depths of her own strength, the difficulty of overcoming loss, and that the definition of family means much more than shared bloodlines.

3. Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot

Meet Kate MacKenzie…idealistic office worker, reluctant deliverer of termination notices and queen of instant messaging. As sweet as sugar. Meet Mitch Hertzog…ever-smiling corporate lawyer, defender of the downtrodden and king of aborted dinner dates. Good enough to eat. Meet Ida Lopez…cake, cookie and pastry-maker extraordinaire, purveyor of the dessert trolley and goddess of all things mouth-wateringly yummy. As nice as pie. Together they must battle tyrants and despots to find truth, justice and the perfect double fudge pudding.

4. Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Casey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this --she's accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward. Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just "brotherly" protectiveness? When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again. Which of course, she does.

5. A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler

If you could see into the future - would you look? Jenni Green doesn't have a choice. On her way to visit her best friend, Autumn, Jenni suddenly finds she's been transported exactly one year forward in time. Now she discovers that in the year that's gone by, tragedy has struck and her friendship with Autum will never be the same again. But what caused the tragedy? How did Jenni skip a year? And can she find her way back to the past to try to change what lies ahead?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Shattered Dreams by Ellie James

Title: Shattered Dreams
Author: Ellie James
Published by: Quercus
Publication date: 5th July 2012
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

I promised never to speak of the things I see.

Trinity Monsour has a rare, disturbing gift. Dark dreams haunt her nights, and her visions are more than just nightmares.

The things I see happen. They always happen...

When the prettiest, meanest girl at school disappears, Trinity knows she's in terrible danger. She's seen it.

They're not just dreams, are they?

As her visions become more sinister, Trinity knows time is running out. But in a city of secrets, can she find Jessica before everything shatters around her?

No one was supposed to get hurt.

Sixteen-year-old Trinity Monsour has been kept in the dark all her life, by people she loved. One by one, members of her family died, until only her aunt remained. Trinity starts to piece together her past, asking about her dead parents and visiting old family friends. But will she find out what she set out to find in the first place, or will her dreams be shattered forever?

I had no idea what to expect of this book when I looked at the cover and read the blurb. It sounded intriguing, and by the first couple of pages I was hooked.

People being psychic is a complex idea to write about, but the story actually seemed realistic and believable. The characters were typical teenagers, with moody, mean, popular Jessica and her equally mean best friend Amber. Kind-hearted, popular boy Chase who everyone likes, and new-to-school Trinity, who, every time she tries to fit in, seems to drift a way a little more.

The only fault I found with 'Shattered Dreams' was that some parts of the story confused me slightly as it was a bit quick-paced, but it was still extremely enjoyable and I loved every second of reading it!

I recommend this book to readers aged 13+. 5/5! ;)
Thursday, 14 June 2012

Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks Blog Tour: The Music Ellie Wrote To


Thursday 14th June 
Hairstyle of the Day: 

As a tribute to Vidal Sassoon I think that today's hairstyle needs to be the 1960's bob - as shown here.

Music is really important in our house.  My partner is a musician, my son plays piano and drums – so if we're not playing it we're listening to it or going to see it.  I'm the least musical in my family and have appalling taste when left to my own devices (allegedly)  so I take instruction from everyone else.  We listen across a huge spectrum of music  you couldn't define it, but when I write I do like calm, meditative tunes.  I'm lucky; I can write anywhere.  I can write with the TV on, sat in the lounge – scribbling on a pad or at a desk on a laptop in silence. 

In this case I wrote to Ruth Moody's The Garden, Alabama Shakes Hold On Tinariwen AmassakoulEfterklang Alike Active Child You Are All I See, Bon Iver HoloceneSigur Ros GlosoliAmy Winehouse Stronger than me, Richard Hawley For Your Lover Give Sometime Stina Nordenstam Another Story Girl, Parry Gripp Hamster on a Piano, Mandalay It’s Enough NowThieves Unworthy, Cocteau Twins Heaven or Las Vegas.

Thanks Ellie! I hope you all enjoyed this post. The next stop on the blog tour is in the 18th. You can see it HERE.
Saturday, 12 May 2012

Interview With Siobhan Curham

Last week I was given the opportunity to interview Siobhan Curham, author of 'Dear Dylan'. Here she talks about Snickers bars, writing from the heart and her crush on Prince Harry - enjoy!

What inspired you to write 'Dear Dylan'?
I was inspired to write a YA novel after running a lot of writing workshops for teenagers following the publication of my novels for adults. I wanted to write something teenagers would want to read. Plus, working with young people reminded me of what a tough time the teenage years can be. I wanted to write a novel about issues such as friendship, love and loss, to try and help and inspire any teenage readers who might be going through the same.

Roughly, how long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about a year from having the very first idea to having a completed manuscript. The first 3 months I spend 'percolating' the idea - fleshing out the characters, figuring out the main plot points - and then it takes about 9 months writing the first and second drafts.

If you could have a famous grandma / grandad, who would it be and why?

It would be kind of fun to have the Queen as a grandma, but only because I have a bit of a secret crush on Prince Harry.  But then, if the Queen was my grandma, Prince Harry and I would be related, so that would be a bit wrong, wouldn't it?!

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?
1) Write from the heart. Write about something you feel passionately about, not what you think a publisher wants. If you write from the heart, your words will leap off the page and your characters will live.

2) Read, read, read! Let other writers and books be an inspiration to you. One of my favourite YA novels is 'The Sky Is Everywhere' by Jandy Nelson. The writing is so beautiful reading it always makes me want to raise my game as a novelist.

3) Do not take rejection personally. This one is very hard - especially when you are starting out - but it's so important. Everyone's tastes are different and you are never going to write something that everyone likes. This is why my first point is so important - if you write about something you feel passionately about it will keep you going through the disappointments.

What is your favourite snack?
Snickers bars.

What kind of things do you do to help you write, i.e. listening to music, etc.?
I do use music to help me get into the mood of a book when I sit down to write. So every book I write has a kind of theme tune that I will play when I need a bit of help getting back into the flow of it. For 'Dear Dylan', that song was 'Lose Yourself' by Eminem because it sums up the importance of following your dream no matter how tough life gets, which is the central theme of the story.

If you weren't an author, what would you be instead?
I always dreamt of being an author, even as a very young child, but when I was a teenager I lost my confidence a bit, so I dropped out of uni and went to work in a video store. Then I worked in the complaints department for a frozen foods company and people would send me all kinds of gross things they'd found in their frozen peas or ice-cream! It took me ten years after dropping out of uni to finally get the confidence to pursue my dream and become an author. If I wasn't an author, I would love to be a dance instructor - and I'm actually training to become one at the moment.

Tea or coffee?

Facebook or Twitter?

Reading or writing? 

UK or USA?

Chocolate or cake?
Cake. (Chocolate cake!)

Yellow or green?

Thanks Siobhan!
Thanks Amber!

You can buy Siobhan's books HERE.
Saturday, 28 April 2012

Goddess Girls: Athena the Brain by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Title: Goddess Girls: Athena the Brain
Author: Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
Published by: Little Brown
Publication date: 3rd May 2012
Pages: 176
Genres: Children's/Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Buy the book
Meet the girls of Mount Olympus Academy...

Brainy Athena has never fit in at Triton School, but who would've guessed that's because she's actually a goddess? Zeus's daughter, to be exact.

So when she's summoned to Mount Olympus Academy, Athena thinks that she might fit in for the first time in her life. But school on Mount Olympus is not that different from down on earth. Will Athena be able to deal with Medusa, the baddest mean girl in history?

 A brand new tween series following the adventures of goddess girls-in-training Athena, Persephone. Aphrodite and Artemis at Mount Olympus Academy.

Goddess Girls is a wonderful take on the story of the Greek gods and goddesses! The story kind of reminds me of Harry Potter - a girl finds out she is a Goddess and is whisked away to a magical boarding school.

I love how all of the well known Greek gods and goddesses go to the same school (Mount Olympus Academy) - it's fascinating to think about how Medusa, Poseidon and Aphrodite might have acted when they were younger.

The characters are well developed and likable (except Medusa and her sisters, of course!). My favourite characters except Athena, the main character, are Pallas - Athena's mortal friend - and Aphrodite. When Athena left to attend Mount Olympus Academy, I felt sorry for Pallas as she had lived with Athena for her whole life and they must have been like sisters. I liked Aphrodite because she looked after Athena when she started her new school.

The best thing about this book is that the authors have mixed old myths with modern times. For example, Athena and her friends try out for the Mount Olympus cheer leading squad, and the goddesses love fashion and music just like most of the teen majority these days.

I recommend this book to children aged 8+ - maybe to children who just want a good story, or maybe who want to know a little more about Greek mythology but in a child-friendly way. 4/5 - a point deducted as it's not exactly my age range but it's still very enjoyable! :)
Monday, 9 April 2012

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Published by: Electric Monkey
Publication date: 6th February 2012
Pages: 464
Genres: Young Adult/War
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine - and I will do anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I'm going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France - an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

I really didn't think this would be my kind of book. I don't usually read books set in the war era, so when it arrived through the post to review, I gave it to my mum as she said she was happy to review it for me as a guest review. After she read it, she strongly recommended it to me, saying that I really should give it a try and that it was really interesting. So I read it, and my mum was right - it is fantastic!

It's set in the second world war, from the point of view of two women in the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force). Eventually, they go their separate ways, with one woman going to the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) to be an Air Transport Pilot and the other was chosen to become a SOEA (Special Operations Executive Agent.)

There were some spectacular plot twists, especially near the end. I didn't want to put the book down! It was a fascinating insight into women's roles in the war. I never knew about the ATA or the WAAF before so it taught me something new - it sparked my curiosity. It was a very interesting and exciting story, because you never knew what was going to happen. There were lots of sad, moving parts, but I won't say what they are as that will spoil the story. It was a fantastically written book, really well researched - the author is a pilot herself so she knew enough to make the book plausible.

It was really interesting to read about the French Resistance and how they helped the English. They were just normal people who did an incredibly brave thing - if they had been caught, they would be killed or tortured.

Half of the story is told by Julie, who is an British spy caught in Nazi-occupied France. She is imprisoned by the Gestapo. The story is a report written by her to SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden, with 'facts' about the British War Effort. The second half is told by her best friend Maddie, who is not only English, but also Jewish. Therefore she is hiding in a French Resistance barn waiting to rescue Julie.

I loved this book! It's the best story I've read in a while. 5/5! I recommend this to readers aged 12+, as there is some strong language and descriptions of torture.
Sunday, 18 March 2012

You're Invited to a Creepover: Truth or Dare by PJ Night

Title: You're Invited to a Creepover: Truth or Dare
Author: PJ Night
Published by: Atom
Publication date: 5th April 2012
Pages: 160
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

During a round of Truth or Dare, Abby Miller confesses her crush on Jake Chilson.

The only people who know her secret are her friends at the sleepover - and whoever sent her a text message in the middle of the night warning her to stay away from Jake...or else!

But Abby isn't going to stay away from Jake, especially not after he asks her to the school dance.

As the night of the dance comes closer, some very creepy things start happening to Abby. Someone definitely wants to keep her away from Jake. Is it a jealous classmate or, as Abby begins to suspect, could it be a ghost?

Truth or Dare is a creepy short story full of ghosts, graveyards and creepy, girly sleepovers, not to mention a dead girl and a mysterious lock of red hair! 

My only problem with this book is that it's too short which meant that a lot of the plot and characters were left out or undeveloped. It would have been better if there were more chapters. 

Saying that, I really enjoyed Truth or Dare. It was a nice, quick read and it was my favourite kind of book - romance/mystery/horror all mixed into one! 

I found that I could relate to the main character Abby quite a lot. I can't remember how old she was (or if her age was even mentioned in the book) but she sounded about my age. One of my favourite parts of Truth or Dare is when Abby and her friend Leah are buying things for their sleepover. It's mysterious because they are being watched by someone who we meet later in the book.

I love the cover. Pink and black go really nicely together. The girl peeking from behind the cover is a nice touch too - or is she under a duvet? Either way, they are both appropriate to the plot. 

My rating for Truth or Dare is 4/5! This book is suitable for girls aged 9+. 
Saturday, 10 March 2012

Butterfly Summer by Anne-Marie Conway

Title: Butterfly Summer
Author: Anne-Marie Conway
Published by: Usborne
Publication date: 1st May 2012
Pages: 336
Genres: Children's/Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.


Some secrets last a lifetime. When Becky and her mum move to the tiny village of Oakbridge, Mum is hoping for a new beginning. But when Becky discovers an old photo of her mum in hospital clutching a baby, twelve years before Becky was born, Becky becomes haunted by the thought that her mum is keeping something from her. Stifled by her mum's over-protectiveness and depressive moods, Becky feels more alone than ever. The only place she finds comfort is at the beautiful local Butterfly Garden with her new friend, the wild-spirited and impulsive Rosa May. But Becky can't shake off the unanswered questions. Why can't she swim? Where is her dad? Who is the baby in the photo? And why is her mum lying to her? As the two girls spend more time together however, Rosa May's unpredictable temper and possessive streak suggests that she is hiding something as well...and in the heat of the sun-drenched summer, it seems that Becky is the only one in the dark.

This book is beautiful. I have the ARC version as it isn't published until May, so it has a different cover to the one that will actually be published. It is white with blue, shiny writing on the front and little blue silhouettes of butterflies. It's gorgeous and I prefer it to the final book cover (above.)

'Butterfly Summer' is very predictable. Straight from the start, I knew that Rosa-May must be Becky's sister. There were so many clues in the text and in dialogue that when Rosa-May told Becky that she was her sister, it wasn't really a surprise to me. It would have been nice to have a bit more suspense building up to it. Saying that, though, there were still a lot of surprises and twists in the story to make up for it.

I loved the sub-plot of Becky and Mack. I would have loved to read more about them together, but maybe there will be a sequel? Hopefully!

My favourite part of the story was when Becky found a photo of a baby under her mum's bed, and when Becky realised Rosa-May wasn't entirely real.

I loved this book so much! I recommend it to girls aged 10+. 4.5/5!
Saturday, 18 February 2012

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Title: Unravelling
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 7th June 2012
Pages: 416
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.

And killed.

Then someone is leaning over her, healing her stopped heart. But if she was brought back to life, it must be for a very good reason.

That reason?

Unless Janelle can stop it happening, the world is going to end in twenty three days.

The countdown has begun. 23:57:06...



Janelle's mother has Bipolar disorder and her father works for the FBI. Ever since she can remember, she's been either looking after her mum, or snooping around in her dad's office playing spies. Sometimes she would come across a case about a mysterious murder, or perhaps a photo of someone with radiation burns.
Or maybe a countdown to the end of the world.
Janelle can only think of one thing - if she was brought back to life, surely there was a good reason?
Can Janelle and her friends stop the world from ending before their very eyes?

This novel is very original - I have never read a book that even comes close to how amazing this book is. I like how there is a countdown instead of a chapter title.

The plot was really good. It started off sounding like a normal book, with a teenage girl at the beach with her boyfriend, everything calm and happy. And then she gets hit by a truck which starts to 'unravel' (see what I did there?) a whole truck-load (I really should stop with these bad puns...) of secrets.

I can't decide who my favourite character was - they are all amazing! You can tell that the author thought loads about them, and spent time gradually developing them.

It was really sweet how Janelle looked after her little brother throughout the story, especially near the end when things got dangerous. I would have liked to hear more from his point of view, though.

I'm not too keen on the cover, it's a bit too plain for my liking although I do see the relevance between the cover and the story. It's as if the girl is melting away - ceasing to exist.

I think the 'moral' of the story is that things aren't always what they seem. The three boys in the story seemed like messed-up druggies at the start, but they turned out to be intelligent boys who were 'out of this world'...

This book is brilliantly written. It's amazing! I give it 5/5. I recommend this to anyone 13+ - adults would like this too.
Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Top Five Romance Books

Happy Valentines Day! I thought I would share a few of my favourite romance novels with you, here is a list of my top five.

1. Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin 
Teen TV celebrities Jenna and Jonah (real names, Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers) make more money in a month than most people do in a lifetime. They can't stand to be in the same room as each other, but to boost the TV ratings their agents make them a 'real life' couple. Then the deception is uncovered by the paparazzi, and Charlie and Fielding have to disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realise there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.  

2.  Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy

Scarlett's not red like a sunset, she's red with rage. She cannot BELIEVE her mum's sunk so low as to pack her off to Ireland to stay with the dad who left them. Surely he's the reason for everything going wrong, her never being able to stay in a school, rules always just, somehow, seeming to get broken? Ha! They won't get round her so easily.
But she hasn't reckoned the gorgeous Kian, and he might just find a way to change Scarlett's mind. There's a chance that - this time - things will be different . . .

3. Split by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja

Jo has just moved to America with her mum. She's always been a fairly average girl - not a nerd but certainly never one of the popular kids. But on her first day in her new school, she seems to be adopted by the It girls - and is invited to one of their parties. There, she meets Jake Matthews, officially the hottest boy in school, and when they begin to play the kissing-in-the-closet game, Seven Minutes in Heaven, amazingly Jake picks Jo join him in the closet! She can't believe her luck. But the reality of being kissed and groped by Jake is not quite as great as the fantasy... Jo has a choice to make: should she carry on, kiss Jake and secure her position in the It crowd - or should she tell him where to get off and risk relegation back to the land of the ordinary . . .

At this moment - Jo splits. She's Josie the Cool - girlfriend of Jake, member of the It crowd. She's also Jo the Nerd - rejected by the It crowd, single . . .
Will her two halves ever come back together again? Is Jake the guy she's meant to be with or could some of the other people she meets along her journey - Rachel the scary goth, David the misfit or Albie the rocker - be the answer? 

4.  Echoes of Love by Rosie Rushton

What would happen if Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' was set in the twenty-first century?
Anna Eliot adored the gorgeous Felix Wentworth , but still called an end to their relationship. As time passes, Anna wonders if strict parents, interfering friends and misplaced loyalties had more to do with it than she wants to admit...
Now he's back from fighting in Afghanistan and Anna longs to rekindle their relationship - but will he give her a second chance? Or will the echoes of the past prove too difficult to overcome?
An evocative tale of the perils of listening to others, instead of your own heart.

5. Sweet Hearts: Star Crossed by Jo Cotterill
'You did WHAT?' screamed Mari.
'You turned down the cutest boy ever? Are you crazy?'
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 someone else has her eyes on Fliss's role - and her leading man...
Could he be her real-life Romeo...?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Lolly Luck by Ellie Daines BLOG TOUR: Forgetting my Lines - One of the Worst Moments of my Life

In Lolly Luck, the main character Lolly wins the part of Pollyanna in her primary school play. On the night of the play everything goes to plan and Lolly delivers a superb performance. If only the same had happened to me for my school play. Like Lolly I too was in my last year at primary school and our summer play was going to be a musical production of Pinocchio. We certainly had a lot to live up to after the previous Year 6’s excellent production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
I didn’t actually do any acting for my audition – I just needed to sing ‘London’s Burning’ twice. I actually was only supposed to sing it the once but as I didn’t quite nail a couple of the notes, my teacher Mrs Tunbridge requested that I sing the song again. Still, I did manage to get the part that I wanted which was Geppetto’s wife, not that I ever remember Geppetto having a wife, but this was Mrs Tunbridge’s spin on Pinocchio and an interesting spin it was. The play came with its very own Bruce Forsyth impersonator-narrator who during the play would shimmy on at random moments saying Brucie catchphrases like ‘Didn’t he do well’ and ‘Nice to see you, to see you, nice’ and at one point shouted ‘Shut that door’ even though there was no door on the stage to actually shut. However I later learnt that this particular catchphrase didn’t even belong to Bruce Forsyth, it belonged to a presenter called Larry Grayson but again this was Mrs Tunbridge’s version of Pinocchio, which even had Pinocchio doing a couple of lame rap songs, lyrics written by Mrs Tunbridge who I doubt had any rap music in her collection of albums at home. Nevertheless, the parents found the whole thing hilarious. For me, however, the play turned out to be one of the scariest moments of my young life. Even though I’d been in several nativity plays from the age of five, up until this point I’d never really had any lines to say.
In those nativity plays I’d either played a sheep (so it was mainly just bah-ing I had to do) or a silent angel in Gabriel’s angelic posse. But this time I had a major part with lots of lines. For weeks I’d practiced and during the rehearsals I was perfect, I didn’t forget any of my lines at all. So I guess when it came to the big night itself, seeing all those faces in the audience, the huge lights above my head and the expectation in Mrs Tunbridge’s face made everything just fall to pieces. My stage fright was so bad that I could barely remember my own name let alone my lines. And thus I had no choice but to experience the dreaded whisper or should I say the dreaded hushed angry bark from Mrs Tunbridge as she sought to guide me through each and every line from behind the stage. It was so embarrassing especially as I even struggled to correctly repeat what Mrs Tunbridge was saying. And hearing the scattered laughter from around the room as I messed up only made everything feel ten times worse. At least I got a lovely hug afterwards from my gran who insisted that my acting was really good. But even though there was a time when I longed to one day become an actress; I swiftly changed my mind after my unfortunate Year 6 play – and I haven’t been seen on a stage since.

My top five favourite actresses:
  • Meryl Streep
  • Angela Bassett
  • Judi Dench
  • Renée Zellweger
  • Julia Roberts
Thanks Ellie! You can read my review of Lolly Luck HERE.
Thursday, 12 January 2012

Chocolate S.O.S by Sue Limb BLOG TOUR: Why Funny Books are Good for You!

The Mile Long Bookshelf is delighted that today we have Sue Limb here with a guest post on 'Why Funny Books are Good for You!'

Here’s a challenge for you.

Imagine two sisters: Lauren likes to go down the gym for a workout. Her sister Chloe prefers curling up on the sofa with a funny book. Which of them is doing the healthy thing? The answer may surprise you.
Obviously Lauren’s doing a healthy thing: we all need exercise. But Chloe is doing a healthy thing too. Reading a funny book can actually improve your health.

Laughing lowers your blood pressure and helps your heart. It smooths away stress, and the effects last for 45 minutes after your giggling fit. Comedy even boosts your immune system and antibodies so you can resist infections and bugs more easily, plus it triggers endorphins which give you a real feelgood buzz and can relieve pain.

I’ve always thought of endorphins as a bit like microscopic dolphins, leaping and plunging through my bloodstream and playfully tossing beachballs about. Ah! Bless!

Apart from the medical benefits, comedy can help you to triumph over the awful things in life. We’ve all experienced skin-creeping embarrassment and attacks of terror.

I was babysitting once, heard a strange sound, freaked out and locked myself in the bathroom. Then I had to climb out of the window and run next door for help. The strange noise turned out to be the central heating. At the time I was terrified and embarrassed, and had a wardrobe malfunction because I ripped my dress climbing out of the window – but afterwards it made a great story and my friends all seemed to find it highly amusing.

Comedy does spring from difficulties and we love to read about somebody going through some kind of dire torment, for example falling off their high heels at a posh wedding, having a coughing fit in the High Street or walking into a lamp post. When we laugh at their dilemma, in a way we’re recognising the trials of being human and exorcising demons of shame and anxiety we can all identify with.

That’s why comedy is better for you than vampires and horror – it’s actually life-enhancing, both medically and psychologically. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m a comedy writer!

Thank you, Sue! :)

Chocolate S.O.S is Sue Limb's latest Fred and Jess book - and I'm quoted in it! :D
Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian

Title: Goodnight Mr Tom
Author: Michelle Magorian
Published by: Puffin
Publication date: 1981
Pages: 304
Genres: Children's/Young Adult/Adult/War
Format: Paperback
Source: School.

The gruff and surly Mr Thomas Oakley is less than pleased when he is landed with a scrawny little city boy as a guest, but because it is compulsory that each villager takes in an evacuee he reluctantly agrees.

It soon becomes obvious to Mister Tom that young Willie Beech is hiding something, and as the pair begin to form an unlikely bond and Willie grows in stature and in confidence he begins to forget the past.

But when he has to return to war-torn London to face his mother again he retreats into his shy and awkward ways once more.

My English homework is to write a book review on Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian so I thought I might as well post it here too.

Willie Beech is a scruffy, quiet, abused boy who is evacuated to Little Weirwold in the second world war. He is given to a grumpy old man called Mr Oakley - or as Willie calls him, 'Mr Tom' - who is less than pleased to be lumbered with the child. Soon though, an incredible bond grows between them and Willie comes out of his shell.

This is a heartwarming story, although it uses very old-fashioned vocabulary and it's really slow to get into. I found that sometimes the descriptions of people/objects/places were too long and too detailed so I got bored quite easily. Also the dialogue in this book is written in the accent of where Mr Tom lives which I struggled with.

On to the characters. Tom Oakley seemed grumpy, horrible and annoying at the start of the novel - I thought he was a bit rude. As I read on, I started to like him because he started being nicer to William and he got more cheerful. It is like he changes into a new person throughout the story - Tom asks a neighbour if she would be kind enough to knit Will a jersey as he arrived only with the clothes on his back.
"You ent gotta clothe em," she said but Mr Tom was persistent which shows his love for William.

I liked William from the start, and I had a lot of empathy for him. It was easy to visualise him from the descriptions and just by the way he acted. You find out a lot about him just from this quote: "The sores will heal. They healed before. It's the wounds inside that will take the longest to heal." His mother is extremely religious and is always going on about how Willie is a 'sin'. She has mental issues and beats Willie which I suppose explains his behaviour - timid, shy, scared of everything. 

Overall, I quite liked this book although I'm sure I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had read it at my own pace and not just a chapter being read to us each lesson. Also we missed out a few chapters because apparently 'nothing much happened in them anyway' so I can't say this is a thorough review. I give this book a rating of 3/5 and recommend it to people aged 11+ - adults will like it too.