Tuesday, 31 December 2013

End of 2013 Book Survey

This survey was created by Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner and I was inspired to do this by Holly at A DayDreamer's Thoughts and Jack at The Book Stop. The images used in this post were designed by me, because Jamie's images wouldn't work on my blog for some reason. Anyway, on with the survey!

1) Best books you read in 2013? (If you have to cheat, you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist.)

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Pivot Point by Kasie West and The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I've probably forgotten a million books but these are the ones that first flew into my mind. Holy fudge these were awesome.

2) Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love but didn't?

I don't really see how this question can go in the 'Best in Books' section but whatever. A book I was extremely excited to read was Stella by Helen Eve, but if you read my review you'll know Stella was a huge disappointment. I gave it 1/5. SAD FACE x100.

3) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the plot completely took me by surprise.

4) Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, so after I'd finished it I recommended it like crazy! *cough* If you haven't read it, why not?.....

5) Best series you discovered in 2013?

Wow, I can see these books are going to pop up a lot in my answers...The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Sorry...

6) Favourite new author you discovered in 2013?

There are a few: Megan Sparks, Cassandra Clare, Annabel Pitcher, Karen Saunders, David Levithan, Stephanie Perkins, and Lisa M. Forester.

7) Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Dreams by Daniela Sacerdoti. I didn't give it 5/5 but it was about demons and things like that, which is part of a genre I read very rarely.

8) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Pretty Girl Thirteen by Liz Coley. A paranormal thriller, it was definitely unputdownable!

9) Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

I don't have time to re-read books, but if I did, I would probably pick one of the Harry Potter books!

10) Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11) Most memorable character in 2013?

Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. He's so loud and loveable. WE APPRECIATE YOU, TINY COOPER!

12) Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Keuhn. 

13) Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I thought I would include two books for this answer seeing as they are both on the same subject. Another book that had a great impact on me in the way that it re-fueled my dream of travelling Europe was Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

14) Book you can't believe you waited until 2013 to finally read?

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare! I should've read it long ago!

15) Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." 
"My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations."
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

16) Shortest and longest book you read in 2013?

The shortest book is actually a play, but it's in book form. That's not cheating right? The book/play I'm talking about is An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestly - it only has 81 pages! The longest book I read is City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare at 535 pages.

17) Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it? (A WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I'm trying not to mention this book too much but I'm clearly failing. THAT moment in City of Bones. You know the one. I went straight to Twitter and fangirled/died/hoped it wasn't true. 

18) Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)

I liked Lilly and Emma's friendship in Cyberstalker by Jens Hildebrand. Emma was very loyal to Lilly, even in the most challenging circumstances. I also loved Addie and Trevor's relationship in Pivot Point by Kasie West, and Annie and Jesse's relationship in the Roller Girls series by Megan Sparks! I SHIP SO MANY PEOPLE.

19) Favourite book you read in 2013 from an author you've read previously.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I had previously read Paper Towns when I first started this blog, but I was very young then so I didn't enjoy it as much as I would now. I now own a signed copy of The Fault in Our Stars - it's one of the best things I own!

20) Best book you read in 2013 that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else.

I don't really read books based on somebody else's recommendation, because we all have different opinions, so I might end up hating a book they thought was brilliant. I tend to read books based on my own judgement.

21) Genre you read the most from in 2013?

YA Contemporary.

22) Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Aaron from Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher and Will from Salvage by Keren David.

23) Best 2013 debut you read?

The Elites by Natasha Ngan.

24) Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Cross My Heart by Carmen Reid. The imagery was beautiful and I felt like I was really there...I'm glad that I wasn't, seeing as it was set in WW2!

25) Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?

Freaks by Lisa M. Forester. I just really enjoyed getting immersed in the story!

26) Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?

So many books. The Elites by Natasha Ngan, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare, the final Roller Girls book by Megan Sparks and Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. The last one made me nearly cry...from boredom.

27) Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out?

The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts. Not many people seem to know about this book but I was pleasantly surprised by it and thought it was truly stunning! I decided to review this book in the Guardian newspaper because it's a book that deserves a ton of publicity!

1) New favourite book blog you discovered in 2013?

There are four that particularly stand out for me, and in no particular order they are...

Feed Me Books Now! Ruby has such a distinct writing style and her reviews always leave me desperate to read the book (unless it's a negative review, of course, but those are written brilliantly too!)

Another favourite book blog I discovered this year is The Book Stop. Jack isn't afraid to speak his mind, so you always know you're getting his 100% honest thoughts.

Booklol16 is also a great blog. I think it's great that Jaden is book blogging at such a young age!

And finally, A DayDreamer's Thoughts is a relatively new but extremely awesome book blog, and Holly has quickly become one of my best friends!

You're all kind of awesome. SLOTHY HUGS.

2) Favourite review that you wrote in 2013?

My favourite positive review that I wrote in 2013 has to be my review of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (HOW many times have I mentioned that book? Sorry!) My favourite negative review that I wrote is Stella by Helen Eve.

3) Best discussion you had on your blog?

I loved the discussions I had on my blog this year, particularly 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Start a Book Blog.

4) Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else's blog?

I remember this post on The Book Stop (link removed due to blog no longer existing) being very thought-provoking because I think it perfectly sums up how every book blogger feels at some point. I'm also including Holly's post on bullying (link removed due to blog no longer existing) because I think it took a lot of courage to write the post and she raised a lot of good points.

5) Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I haven't been to an author signing or festival since 2011, but I'm hoping next year will be full of them. I don't really participate in virtual events or memes, either... does my blogoversary festival count? Next year my answer to this question will be better because I'm planning to go to the Hay Festival in May, where authors such as Cassandra Clare and Jacqueline Wilson are doing signings. Hopefully going to see Zoe, Rita, Lucy, Sophie, Georgia and Hawwa there too!

6) Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?

I got to interview David Levithan which was amazing but also extremely nervewracking and all kinds of scary as he's a very well-known author. I'm so glad to have been given such a great opportunity though; I'll remember it forever! I also got a job writing for an actual magazine which is my dream job, so to have been given my dream job before I'd even turned 15...well, I'm still speechless, even now.

7) Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

The most popular post on my blog this year by views was my discussion on Grammarly which got over 4000 views, with my post on how to start a book blog coming a close second. My most popular post this year on my blog by comments was when I was Parajunkee's featured blogger, gaining me over 100 comments, with my blogoversary kick-off post coming a close second with over 50.

8) Post you wished got a little more love?

Any of my reviews that got no/not many comments!

9) Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc)?

Ashley's new book blogging directory which I guest blog for. I'm so glad someone decided to make a decent directory, to be honest. The others were pretty useless, but Ashley's is a quickly-growing community of book lovers!

10) Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I don't participate in reading challenges because quite frankly, I don't need that kind of pressure. I know something like that would turn reading into a chore for me.

1) One book you didn't get to in 2013 but will be your number one priority in 2014?

Divergent by Veronica Roth. Maybe. I don't know, people keep pushing me to read it and that just makes me want to read it less. *edit* I'm reading Divergent now! I'd love to read The Book Thief but I don't own it...*hint hint*

2) Book you are most anticipating for 2014 (non-debut)?

The last book in the Chocolate Box Girls series by Cathy Cassidy. Sad to see the series ending, but I can't wait to read it! I'm also SO excited for City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare! AHHH! ....If anyone dies I will not be happy. JACE CLARY SIMON YESSS.

3) 2014 debut you are most anticipating?

Banished by Liz de Jager, out in February! The cover is gorgeous!

4) Series ending you are most anticipating for 2014?

Um...refer to my answer for question 2.

5) One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2014?

I just want to continue with it, really. I'd like to improve in my writing and perhaps hit 500 GFC followers. That'd be cool! It'd be good to get my quote in a couple more books too. You'll see more of my blogging goals in a blog post coming soon.

So...I finished it. Finally. Give me a medal. *gasps for water* *collapses* *dies from answering too many questions*

Feel free to link to your answers! I wish you all the best for 2014, I hope it's a good year for all of you. :)

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

My Bloggy Buddies

First of all, HAPPY CHRISTMAS! I know hardly anyone will see this post today, seeing as you're probably all being sociable and stuff. And eating lots. And possibly trying to wrestle a cat off a Christmas tree... okay, maybe the last one is just happening here. But I just wanted to do a special blog post for my friends, to let them know they're awesome and I love them and stuff *hugs* I was inspired to do this post after seeing Musings of 2013: Blogging Friends (or People I Just Love) over at Musings of a Blogder. This is in alphabetical order, sorry, Zoe C and Zoe B...

Amy - You live kind-of near me and you're funny! Your comments always make me smile and, even though I don't comment on your blog very often, I always read your posts. I'm glad we're friends!
Ashley - I swear you're an actual genius. Firstly, Nose Graze is so fun and different from everyone else's blogs. Secondly, you made the best book blogging directory there has ever been. And you're lovely! We may not talk a lot but I just wanted to say you're awesome. :D
Cat - I've known you for...8 years! We don't talk much anymore but I still read your blog all the time and I'm always here if you ever need a chat. :)
Charli - I can't believe I only 'met' you in June! Your blog is one of my favourites and you're my Twitter Niece. xD You're really fun to talk to! You're obsessed with sticky notes and I'm pretty sure you have them in every colour, shape and size... ;)
Debbie - You're so kind and generous, and you put up with my unicorn-ness/slothiness/craziness! You meet all the best people and you go to all the best events, it's really not fair. ;) YOU MET CASSANDRA CLARE. AND DAVID LEVITHAN. *screams* Also, you sent me more Christmas presents than one of my own relatives did. YAY DEBBIE 
Fiona - I love your videos so much! You sent me my first Rainbow Rowell book (thank you!), so now I'm desperate to read the rest.
Georgia - You're fun to talk to and, like Debbie, it's so unfair that you get to go to all the blogger events! TAKE ME WITH YOU. HIDE ME IN YOUR BAG OR SOMETHING. You're really pretty and I frequently find myself on your blog.
Hawwa - You're a fangirl, and I turned you into a unicorn. I also got you obsessed with Cimorelli, you send me books, and you hate the people I hate. Therefore, we are automatically friends ;) You really like Miley Cyrus which, y'know, is a bit weird but oh well. You're amazeballs. Oh and you're my Twitter sister, apparently ;P 
Holly - You are the kindest person I know. Seriously. We've been through some of the same things and you're so supportive and awesome and pretty and...uh...did I say awesome already?!
Jack - Fudge. We talk nearly all the time and you put up with my weirdness (like when I turned Wrecking Ball into a song about Christmas puddings). You're one of the nicest people I know, your blog is one of my favourites and you're really funny! Much asparagus.
Nova - We don't talk much but you're really nice and funny, and I love your blog! Plus you're a fan of Lorde. YES. 
Rachel - I've known you for a very very very very very long time. You're a Potterhead and your blog is booktastic! See what I did there? Aren't I hilarious...;P
Rita - YOU SANG ME HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN PORTUGUESE! You're usually on Twitter, so I fangirl with you a lot. I love your 'Discussion with an 8yr old' posts!
Ruby - Your blog is beautiful. The design, the writing...everything. I'm so glad I know you, and your blog is my #1 favourite to read. You're a genius when it comes to art!
Sophie - ROBERT SHEEHAN. We fangirl a LOT and we often end up just quoting The Fault in Our Stars, Harry Potter or City of Bones at each other. I like that whenever you send something to me, you sign it from 'Sophie and Simon' or 'Sophie and Jace'. ;)
Sunny - My sunny friend! You live in the future (uh...kind of...let's not go into technical details here...>.<) and you love Jamie Campbell Bower. WOOP! Your blog is so pretty and you're really nice. Thank you for being awesome. xD
Zoe B - You're insanely talented and you draw Pringles and sloths really well. I've known you for what seems like a reaaaally long time, because I remember reading your blog when you were on Cathy Cassidy's dream team! YOU AWESOME PERSON.
Zoe C - Zoe Zoe Zoeeee. You're my blogoversary twin! You're really nice and asdfghjkl I'm so glad to know you! If I had to use 4 words to describe you, they would be: Potterhead, Shadowhunter, and pure awesomeness. *throws books to you*

Now imagine a book blogger Christmas dinner. Holy fudge, that would be crazy. For the first three years of book blogging I didn't really interact with other bloggers, but this year has definitely been my best year of blogging and it's mainly down to you guys. Thank you :)

I probably missed a ton of people out, but I hope you have a really good day and a happy new year! See you on the last day of 2013 for my end-of-year book survey!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Salvage by Keren David

Title: Salvage
Author: Keren David
Published by: Atom
Publication date: 16th January 2014
Pages: 309
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Aidan Jones was my brother. But I couldn't really remember his face. I couldn't remember talking to him or playing with him. He was just a gap, an absence, a missing person.

Before she was adopted by a loving family and raised in a leafy Home Counties town, Cass Montgomery was Cass Jones. Her memories of her birth family disappeared with her name. But when her adopted family starts to break down, a way out comes in the form of a message from her lost brother, Aidan. Having Aidan back in her life is both everything she needs and nothing she expected. Who is this boy who calls himself her brother? And why is he so haunted?

I glance at the paper. There's a big picture on the front page. A girl with dark red hair. A girl with eyes that might have been green or they might have been grey. I sit down and stare at Cass, and it is her, it is. My stolen sister.

Aidan's a survivor. He's survived an abusive step-father and an uncaring mother. He's survived crowded foster homes and empty bedsits. His survived to find Cass. If only he can make her understand what it means to be part of his family. . .

Cass Montgomery has the perfect life: a big house, perfect grades, lots of money and great friends. She has a politician-father and a stay-at-home mother who can usually be found in the salon or doing pilat├ęs, and life is good. However, Cass's life isn't so perfect under the surface. Cracks are beginning to show, and her house is constantly full of tension...but then she meets her biological brother Aidan, and slowly their story unfolds.

I finished this book about an hour ago*, and I haven't spoken since then because I'm literally speechless. Keren David has always been a favourite author of mine, ever since I read When I Was Joe and Almost True. Salvage is stunning, realistic, and everything I'd hoped for; it flows so brilliantly, and it wasn't over-the-top. It was normal. Relatable.

Salvage is written from both Cass and Aiden's points of view, giving us an insight into the life of a seemingly perfect girl, and in contrast, a boy who has had a terrible past. Aiden was brought up in various children's homes and lived with different foster parents for weeks or months at a time, moving from one to the other like a bee going from plant to plant. He spent his childhood getting abused, neglected and rejected, and I felt a ton of sympathy for him. Of course, I related to Cass more because even though I haven't had the perfect upbringing that she had, I haven't spent my time in children's homes like Aiden. It was good to read from Cass's point of view because she's like me; neither of us truly know what it's like to have Aiden's upbringing.

The characters are wonderful, and I really liked the addition of Will Hughes - bright, bouncy and full of life. There never seemed to be a dull moment with him around, and I feel that if he hadn't been in the book, Salvage might have been a bit depressing. He really livened it up and gave that extra sparkle to the already gleaming book.

Salvage is completely brilliant as expected! You'll laugh, you'll cry, but most of all you'll enjoy it. I highly recommend it!
*This review was written on December 1st.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Stella by Helen Eve

Title: Stella
Author: Helen Eve
Published by: Macmillan
Publication date: 2nd January 2014
Pages: 361
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Seventeen-year-old Stella Hamilton is the star blazing at the heart of Temperley High. Leader of the maliciously exclusive elite, she is surrounded by adulation, envied and lusted after in equal measure. And she is in the final stage of a five-year campaign to achieve her destiny: love with her equally popular male equivalent, and triumph as Head Girl on election night.

By contrast, new girl Caitlin Clarke has until now lived a quietly conformist life in New York. With the collapse of her parents' marriage she has been sent across the Atlantic for an English boarding-school education, only to discover that at Temperley the only important rules are the unwritten ones. It's a world of the beautiful and the dangerous, and acceptance means staying on the right side of Stella Hamilton, the most beautiful and dangerous of them all.

Not everyone is happy to be under the Hamilton rule. But fighting the system means treading the same dark path as Stella - and if Caitlin puts a foot wrong, it's a long way to fall...

Hmm...where to begin. The summary is long and detailed enough that I'm just going to jump straight in with what I thought about Stella, and wow, do I have a lot of thoughts on the matter.

Stella started off promisingly with a fresh voice that took me pleasantly by surprise and my first thought was 'This is good!' Sadly, it all went downhill from there and the prologue was honestly the only bit of the book I found myself enjoying.

The language in this book is more Middle-Grade than YA - it was boring and flat, and more often than not I found myself drifting back onto Twitter which doesn't happen when you're reading a good book! Good books keep you engrossed in the story and sadly, this book just didn't deliver. I didn't care about any of the characters; I'd liked Caitlin at first but to see her change into such an annoying and transparent character was almost unbearable. All of the little love triangles were confusing, too. Luke, Edward; a countless amount of boys whom Stella was either dating or secretly liked. She had a secret agenda with each of them - some of them she used to get more popular, some of them she used to help her in the school election - and I'm still not overly sure whether she actually liked any of them.

When writing a book, there's generally a rule: 'Don't give characters similar names." This book was plagued with similar names and I now understand why that rule is in place - it's so confusing! All of the names in Stella's family begin with S. There's her mother, Seraphina, and her sisters Siena and Syrena. For half of the book I thought Siena was Stella's younger sister, but she's actually older, so there's a hint for you if you're going to read it. Another confusing thing about this book is that towards the end, Caitlin, Stella, Siena and Syrena kind of merged together in the way they looked, which made it very difficult to tell them apart. There's a particular scene where no names are mentioned and we can only tell who is who by the way they are described. Well, guess what? They all look the same and it's not like either of them had their own voice.

Quite frankly, this book is boring. If you've been reading this blog from the start, you'll know how much I hate writing negative reviews. I always try to point out positives so the review ends up balanced, but I just can't with this book. I really don't recommend it at all and I feel like reading it was a complete waste of time. If you like plot driven books then Stella isn't for you, but then again there isn't much description either. It's really quite bland, like cornflakes. This book did have some funny, snappy one-liners but that hardly makes up for the lack of enjoyment I had whilst reading this. At the time of writing this review (December 11th) the book has an average rating of 1/5 on Goodreads and I can't say I'm at all surprised.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

BLOG TOUR: Freaks by Lisa M Forester + Giveaway!

Title: Freaks
Author: Lisa M. Forester
Published by: Self published
Publication date: 28th November 2013
Pages: 228
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the author.

Nobody's perfect... or are they?

Abigail always knew that she was different, but what she didn't know was just how different.

That was until her 16th birthday, when her parent's revealed a devastating secret that confirmed her worst fears and changed her life forever.

Abigail is an Allelobrid: one of five children born as a result of their parents illegal science experiment in genetic engineering. The aim: to create a perfect human.

Yet perfection comes at a price.

Forced into a life on the run, Abigail finds love, danger and an organisation that will stop at nothing to get what they want.

When lives are at risk and freedom is threatened - could being perfect be enough to survive?

I can't stop freaking out - no pun intended - over how awesome this book is. Back when I participated in the cover reveal in October I was fangirling pretty hard. Now, after finishing the book, I'm fangirling even more.

Abigail has always been different - she is incredibly smart, she never gets ill and her physical fitness is so perfect she could run forever if she wanted to. Her parents have never allowed her to excel even though she could get A* grades in all her subjects so she's always had to maintain average grades at school. However, everything she has ever known changes on her monumental sixteenth birthday. She is an Allelobrid, of which there are only 5 in the world, and people are coming after her.

Freaks is a unique blend of science and romance; I loved it. The characters were well-developed and interesting and I especially liked the dialogue between Abbie and Max, another Allelobrid. This book is full of action and I truly cared about everyone...except the bad people, obviously. Everyone had their own voice and I adored being able to witness the characters develop! Something else Forester is good at is imagery; I could see everything happening so clearly in my head because her descriptions are so good! I'm really impressed with how Forester maintained the scientific and coming-of-age sides of the story whilst also developing the characters so realistically.

Forester writes with flourish and Freaks left me awestruck - this book definitely needs more attention! This is one of those rare but awesome occasions where I couldn't find anything wrong with the book. Perfect pace, perfect characters, perfect plot...maybe the book is secretly an Allelobrid too! ;) Seriously though, this book blew my mind and I cannot wait for the sequel. This book is definitely one to watch out for!
You are a lucky lot today because guess what? You have the chance to win a signed copy of Freaks for yourself as well as some extra goodies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday, 28 November 2013

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Title: Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West
Published by: Harper Collins 360
Publication date: 1st November 2013
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult/Romance/Dystopian/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the author.

Knowing the outcome doesn't always make a choice easier...

Addison Coleman's life is one big "What if?" As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It's the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie's parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with - her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the "Norms," or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One search six weeks into the future proves it's not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive,  artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school - but she never wanted to be a quarterback's girlfriend. When Addie's father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she's unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she's willing to live through...and who she can't live without.

'Pivot Point' is a novel in which two worlds exist; the paranormal and the normal. The paranormal is a world contained in Texas, but normal people can't see it; only people with the special mind powers can. In the paranormal compound, everyone has powers whether it's Telekinesis like Duke, mind erasing like Laila or lie detection like Addie's dad. In the normal world, well...we all know what that's like, because we live in it!
I love how the worlds kept getting closer and closer, making you anticipate the climax when both worlds would eventually collide. I think Kasie West could have done a bit more world building with the compound, but other than that it was excellent!

I loved the protagonist Addie. She was smart, independent, funny and I loved her power (which I've forgotten the name of but it's similar to Clairvoyance). At the beginning she didn't have a crush on the quarterback, Duke - in fact, she despised him - which I also liked because it avoided a classic cliche!
Laila, Addie's best friend, was nice at the start but towards the end I started to question whether she was a good friend or not. I couldn't really decide, so I'm hoping that will become clearer in the second novel.
I really didn't like Duke and I had suspicions about him from the start. Even his name irritated me (sorry if your name is Duke!) He was too full on and he always got what he wanted, including Addie.
Trevor, the other main male character, was lovely! I adored him and I definitely ship him with Addie. He is so sweet and genuine, whereas Duke isn't.

In 'Pivot Point', there is insta-love with Duke and Addie. I'm not a fan of insta-love but in this case it had to be done and it definitely benefited the story. Through using insta-love, West was directing the reader to prefer Trevor and Addie's relationship over Duke and Addie's, and it worked!

Sometimes I was confused by the alternating chapters - one chapter would be in the paranormal compound and the next would be in the normal world. It got harder to distinguish between the two as the parallel worlds got closer because I would forget what had happened in the last compound chapter and so on.

I knew I would love this book as soon as I saw the beautiful cover. Yep, I judge books by their covers, guilty as charged! I'm desperate to read the sequel which will be out in February - I need it NOW! I'm absolutely delighted at how it turned out. *Simon Cowell voice* "It's a yes from me."
Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Interview with author Karen Saunders

Today I am delighted to welcome Karen Saunders, author of Me, Suzy P, to The Mile Long Bookshelf! Keep reading to find out about the publishing process of her book, the details on her new book coming soon, and a certain incident she had with some skis...

Hi Karen! Welcome to The Mile Long Bookshelf! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your book, Me, Suzy P?
Hi, Amber! Thanks so much for inviting me on to The Mile Long Bookshelf. It’s fab to be here. I’m Karen, a writer with a fondness for guinea pigs and a rather unfortunate addiction to Haribo. I’m also the author of Me, Suzy, P. The Suzy P of the title is 14 year-old Suzy Puttock, a girl with an embarrassing surname, embarrassing family, and all-round embarrassing life. She’s a walking, talking disaster zone. Luckily she’s got great friends to help her through these mortifying times, and a lovely boyfriend, Danny, too. Problems arise for Suzy when a cute new boy, Zach, starts at her school and seems to like her. Now Suzy’s got to decide what to do – yikes! I've been told it’s funny and romantic.

I agree with that! How long did it take Me, Suzy P to get from inside your head to retailers, readers and reviewers?
A very, very long time! It was several years before it got taken on by a publisher, and people are often surprised how long it takes between an author getting a book deal and the book actually being available to the public. I think in my case Suzy was brought by Templar at the beginning of 2012, and then after the rewrites and the copy edits and the line edits and the cover designing, it was ready to publish at the beginning of 2013. There’s a huge team of people working on each book at a publishing house, and I really landed on my feet with Templar, they've been fantastic.

If Me, Suzy P was offered a movie deal, who would you pick to play the main characters?
I would LOVE Me, Suzy P to be made into a movie, so if any film producers are reading, get in touch anytime! But…I don’t think I can say who I’d pick to play the main characters, because I like people to form their own mental images of characters and settings when they’re reading. So if I give you celebrity names, you’re going to picture them instead of letting your imagination do the work, which to me, is half the fun. (This is why I think you should always try and read a book before seeing it as a movie!)

Reading a book before seeing the movie is definitely the best thing to do. Is there a book by someone else that you wish you had written?
Hmmm, there are some books that have made an awful lot of money that it would be nice to have written, as that sort of bank balance would be nice! The problem is that writing a book is a very different experience to reading a book, so if I’d written a book that I've loved, I wouldn't have had the pleasure of reading it, if you see what I mean. Maybe I need to find a book that’s made a lot of money that I wouldn't enjoy reading, and say that one…

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Read everything you can get your hands on. Write, write, write all you can. And persevere. It’s so important to keep going. Don’t give up!

What is the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you?
Hah! How long have you got?! Just like Suzy, I’m a walking, talking disaster area. I had my nose broken in a tickling fight, broke my arm opening a window, walked into a lamppost checking out a cute boy and not looking where I was going, fell into a snowdrift while on skis, got stuck and had to be pulled out by the ski instructor, gave myself concussion on my birthday this year getting into my car, got smacked in the face by a football while I was watching a school football match… do you want me to go on?! Because I can, y’know…

Haha, oh no! Can you describe Me Suzy P in three words, each beginning with the letter P?
Argh! This is possibly the hardest question anyone’s ever asked me! And, erm, I don’t think I can. I might have to cheat a bit…

Properly funny, heart-warming.

And finally, do you have a new book coming out anytime soon? Is there anything you can tell us about that?
Yes, I do! The sequel to Me, Suzy P, called Suzy P: The Trouble With Three, will be out early next year, and I’m just about to start on the third Suzy book. So watch this space!

Ooh, I can't wait to read that! Thank you Karen!
Thanks SO much for inviting me onto your blog, it’s been ace to talk to you!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

Title: Revolution 19
Author: Gregg Rosenblum
Published by: HarperCollins 360
Publication date: 30th January 2014
Pages: 265
Genres: Young Adult/Sci-fi/Dystopian
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

At first we called it system-wide malfunctions when the robots stopped fighting at exactly 2:15pm Greenwich Mean Time, August 17, 2051. For twenty-two hours the battlefields were silent. Then when the bots began killing again, now targeting their human commanders, we shook our heads and called it fatal programming errors. A day later, the skies over cities on six continents grew dark with warships, and we began to understand. When the bombs rained down and then legions of bot foot soldiers marched into the burning ruins, killing any humans who resisted and dragging away the rest of us, we finally called it what it was; revolution. 

Revolution 19 revolves around three siblings - Nick, Cass and Kevin - who live in a small settlement in the middle of nowhere. Life is good; ordinary. Little do they know that a mysterious black device Kevin picked up is going to alert robots to their whereabouts and their settlement will be under attack in a matter of hours. The bots capture their parents and the siblings decide to fight to set them free, but will they manage it? And how much trouble will they get in to along the way?

Rosenblum's writing very much reminds me of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness in the way that you are dragged into the story without much explanation of things, like: What is a Freepost? What is a Kidbon? These are both things that feature in the story and I'm still not entirely clear on what they are. They're obviously part of the world building but what actually are they? This doesn't effect the quality of the story too much, but I think it would be better with annotations or a glossary.

There was only just enough world building to keep me interested. Instead of going into a lot of detail with the descriptions the writer seemed to concentrate more on other things, like finishing the story. That's not to say the story was too fast-paced because it wasn't, it was just right. But maybe if the writer had spent more time setting the scene the book would have stayed with me after the last page was turned.

The characters didn't develop at all. Sure they were likeable, but if you asked me what each of their personalities were I wouldn't have a clue. I know their names and I know their ages. I know Nick likes to be the hero and....well, that's it. When they got into tricky situations I didn't feel nervous for them and I didn't particularly care if they lived or died. Also, what's with naming two of the main characters after the Jonas Brothers?...

There was a very subtle hint at romance but nothing actually happened. This would usually disappoint me but I think it benefited the story because the focus was more on survival and defeating the bots instead of crappy love triangles. Revolution 19 was very well thought out, plot wise - it was interesting, unique and plausible. I liked how it was set in our world but in the future and it had been taken over by robots. I mean, that could happen...I know in 2006 I was thinking we would have flying cars and other cool stuff in 2013! ;)

This review has been very hard to write because to be honest I don't remember much of it even though I finished it last night. It isn't a story that stays with you after the last page and it doesn't require much thinking either. Even though it's a really unique and enjoyable book it just didn't stand out for me amongst other books that I've read! Saying that, I would like a sequel because the characters - as undeveloped as they were - and the world and the robots interested me and I think a sequel could be better than this. Fingers crossed!

I have mixed feelings about this book as you can probably tell. I did enjoy it but unfortunately it lacked a lot. It's well worth checking out, anyway!
Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Bloggers on Bullying: My Experiences

I've been bullied a lot. Not as much as some people I know, but a lot. In primary school I was constantly being called 'fat' and not just by children, but by adults too. I wasn't even fat.  My Year 1 teacher was abusive - she would call the other kids horrible things and once when I did something that she didn't like, she grabbed me by the neck of my school jumper and shouted in my face. Yeah, I'm pretty sure she wasn't allowed to do that... 

In secondary school I was no longer called fat. Instead, people chose to call me any other name they could think of and occasionally it would be physical instead of just name-calling. They would make comments on the way I look and they would ruin my things. They didn't think there was anything wrong with hitting someone round the head for no reason. It even progressed to cyber-bullying.

However, that only lasted through Year 7 and 8. Year 9 was completely different because I no longer cared what they thought and I had a bigger group of awesome friends. I wouldn't say I've been bullied a lot. I was pretty popular in Year 9 for some reason; maybe because I finally knew who I was and because I had finally become comfortable with who I am - Jessie J's song 'Who You Are' helped me realise that. Because I know first-hand that bullying is a horrible experience, I thought I'd tell you what I did. Even if this post only helps one person, I'll be happy.

1) Laugh...
I know it sounds weird, but hear me out. If someone is bullying you, laugh at them. It will completely throw them off. They might think you're a bit weird for it but hey, they were bullying you before so they probably already thought it. Laughing makes it look like what they're doing is not getting to you. If they realise they're getting underneath your skin, they will carry on. They're just doing it for the entertainment, so don't give them any, you're not a TV.

2) ...or just completely ignore them.
Act like they're not there. Don't say anything, don't look at them. If they're as unintelligent and unimaginative as most bullies, they won't know what to do so they'll walk away.

3) Talk back.
Okay so maybe this isn't the wisest of my suggestions, but you need to stand up for yourself at some point. Plus, if you say something really intelligent, it's hilarious looking at the "whaa?" expressions on their faces afterwards. If you're full of clever comebacks and a pro at eyebrow-raising go for it. If not, might be getting yourself into more trouble.

4) Tell a trusted adult.
No, this does not make you a wuss, or a tell-tale, or a wimp. Telling an adult is probably your best bet at getting the person to stop bullying you. I'm not ashamed to admit that one of the tactics I used when I was being bullied in Year 7 was telling my parents and my head of year. Within a week it was sorted and the girl never came near me again. She never apologised for the endless list of things she did to me but you can't get everything in life. If the person bullying you is an adult themselves, this is a different kind of abuse and you should tell a different adult such as a teacher, parents or the police. Everything will be easier after that.

5) Remember why they're bullying you.
In all honesty, they're not bullying you because you look weird or because you talk differently or because you always have your head stuck in a book. They're doing it because either that's how they've been treated or because they're going through some tough things in life. It's no excuse but remembering this will help how you mentally face the situation. Don't be scared of them, pity them and remember there is nothing wrong with you. It's them.

I would like to end this post by saying you're special and you'll get through this. Unless you're one of the people who bullied me before, because I happen to know that some of them still read this blog. If that's you then I'm sorry you have such a hard time in life that you feel the need to take it out on others by bullying them. That's not the answer.

A fantastic eBook by YA author Siobhan Curham was published on November 18th. It gives you tips on beating the bullies, encouraging words of wisdom and it's FREE! One of my poems is also in there, which I wrote in the hope that it will help any victims of bullying. Click here to find out more!

If you ever need someone to talk to, you can always send me a DM @MileLongBookS on Twitter. I don't judge. :)

Have you had any experiences with bullying? How did you deal with it?

'Bullying' image source.
Sunday, 17 November 2013

Roller Girls: Boot Camp Blues by Megan Sparks

Title: Boot Camp Blues
Author: Megan Sparks
Published by: Curious Fox
Publication date: 12th September 2013
Pages: 199
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Sports
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

This review contains spoilers, which I have covered up. To see spoilers please highlight the blackened text.

Ladies, get your glitter and your skates on!

Annie Turner is single again and it really kind of sucks. It doesn't help that her ex is now going out with a cheerleader! But she's also confused by her new feelings for skater boy Jesse. They're just friends...aren't they? Meanwhile, Annie and her roller girls are each desperate to make the cut for an all-star team. Tensions run high as the teammates compete against each other for roller glory.

Will the stars in Annie's eyes get in the way of her friendship?

In 'Boot Camp Blues' it's building up to Valentine's Day and Annie's spirits are running low as she recently dumped her boyfriend Tyler. With both of her parents dating other people, Annie can't help but feel depressed. Then she gets an anonymous Valentine's card and a CD. She instantly assumes it's from her Dad trying to make her feel better, but maybe she shouldn't completely rule out the whole 'secret admirer' thing. And then she's off to Roller Derby boot camp for a week with her friends, where we get to witness everything that could go wrong, going wrong...

This is the last book in the series but it doesn't feel like it's over. So much happened in this book that I feel there should be at least two more books in the series. I want to hear more about Annie and Jesse's relationship - I waited four books for that to happen - and Annie's place on the all-star team. I want to see more of Annie's Dad's relationship with Coach Ritter. There is so much potential for this series to carry can't be over, surely? I'm not the only one who feels this way!

I really liked this book, especially the dialogue between Annie and Jesse. I also liked the fact that Holly's more vulnerable side was shown because I hadn't liked her that much before. It's really obvious that all of the characters have grown into themselves which is really nice to see.

Overall, I really liked this book but I - along with many others - am so sad to see the end of the series! Fingers crossed for more Roller Girls books. They always manage to put a huge smile on my face!
Thursday, 14 November 2013

Cyberstalker by Jens Hildebrand

Title: Cyberstalker
Author: Jens Hildebrand
Published by: Warped Tomato
Publication date: 1st October 2013
Pages: 239
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the author.

"I love you."

Lilly's heart misses a beat when those words appear on her screen. Okay, she'd love to have a boyfriend, and when Ian sends her a friendship request, she eagerly accepts. He just looks so gorgeous in the pictures. But when she's about to meet him in person, things take a dramatic turn. Who is Ian really? And how far will he go to get what he wants?

It all starts with an Internet ban. Lilly gets a bad grade in her Maths exam and as a result, her mother bans her from going on the Internet. Lilly rebels and is online in no time at all, checking her MyWorld account where she has several friend requests. One of them is from a guy she doesn't know but she assumes he's from the sixth form and she accepts. Little does she know that she's putting her whole family in immense danger. Is he who he says he is? They chat regularly and soon Lilly wants to meet him, which results in a wild car chase and more drama than Eastenders packs in at Christmas...

Damn this book is creepy. Not in a bad way, but it creeped me out enough to make me delete several hundred people on Facebook! I think this book is great at raising awareness of how serious and common Internet grooming is. 'Cyberstalker' is frank and honest whilst thrilling at the same time, so I think it's an excellent book for teenagers and possibly even mature pre-teens as Hildebrand dealt with the subject in a mature way.

I'll be honest, I didn't like the main character Lilly. She didn't have to accept Ian's friend request; it's common sense not to accept people you don't know. However, a lot of teenagers add people they don't know because it's like a popularity contest; who has the most friends? Lilly just frustrated me. Her only ambition was to get a boyfriend and even when someone was outside her bedroom window one night, she didn't bother to let her parents know. It's like she didn't have any common sense at all.

There were only two characters I properly liked, and they were Emma (Lilly's best friend) and Lucas (Lilly's younger brother). Emma always seemed to be there when Lilly was in trouble and she was generally a lot nicer than any of Lilly's other friends. Lucas was sweet and you could tell that he truly cared about his sister, even though he was always grassing her up to their parents.

Lilly's friendship group confused me. For a start, I wasn't sure how old they were - on one page they were referred to as Year 8s, but on the next page it said they were Year 9s. Secondly, I couldn't tell if Lilly and her friends were popular or if they were wannabees...their actions and the dialogue just didn't add up. They acted popular but Lilly didn't act like the rest of them and it never mentioned whether any of them actually liked each other. This is the only time you'll ever hear me see me type this, but I think their friendships should have been more stereotypical. Otherwise, it just wasn't obvious what kind of people they were.

In 'Cyberstalker', there are a few illustrations of Lilly's MyWorld account that show her status updates and comments etc. I'm not sure if my copy is an ARC - if it is then I'm sure these problems will be sorted out sooner or later - but sometimes in the illustrations, Lilly was referred to as Lena Joelle. There were also a couple of grammatical and spelling mistakes, but I believe this book has been translated from German so that is expected.

Some parts were just unbelievable. Towards the end of the book one of Lilly's friends tells her that if she put the letter 'o' in front of a URL on a mobile phone, she'll be able to access the website for free. I know it's fiction, but I think Hildebrand could have come up with something more complex and believable than just putting a single letter in front of a URL. If it was true, none of us would be paying for Internet on our phones. (Oh, how I wish it was true...)

To conclude, this is a really good book that focuses on some serious topics that definitely need more limelight in the YA world, but there were a few faults. I give this book a 3/5 and I do recommend it. Why not check out the first chapter and see what you think?
Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Me, Suzy P by Karen Saunders

Title: Me, Suzy P
Author: Karen Saunders
Published by: Templar Publishing
Publication date: 1st January 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

This review contains spoilers. To view the spoilers, drag your mouse over the black text.

I'm Suzy Puttock (yes, Puttock with a P), fourteen years old and a total disaster magnet.

My life's full of ups and downs. My loved-up big sister Amber's getting married and wants lime green bridesmaids' dresses. I'm not happy about that.

But there's this hot new guy, Zach, just started at my school. I am happy about that. Only...I've had a boyfriend since forever, Danny.

So now I'm all kinds of confused!

'Me, Suzy P' is a hilariously cringe-worthy book which centres around - yep, you guessed it - Suzy P. Suzy is a walking disaster area, which is proved within the first ten pages when she slides onto a football pitch in the middle of a game and accidentally tugs someone's shorts down in front of everyone... Suzy has to deal with two sisters who are both different kinds of crazy. Her big sister Amber is bridezilla and her little sister Harry is always up to something, whether it's putting a bucket of ice water on Suzy's door or creeping everyone out with fake eyeballs!

Suzy is great. She gets into a lot of embarrassing situations (I can definitely relate to that...) and she's really funny. I felt so sorry for her at times, like when she found out she had to wear a lime-green bridesmaids dress, and when Zach dumped her in front of Danny. Which brings me on to Zach. What an idiot. I thought he was really nice at the beginning but it was soon obvious that that wasn't the case. I also really liked Millie, Suzy's best friend. She was really energetic and hyper all the time yet always there for Suzy.

This book really was everything I'd hoped for and more! With likeable characters (except Zach...grr) and a relateable plot, 'Me, Suzy P' is great for those rainy days where you just want to snuggle up with a good book! It doesn't matter if you only have ten minutes to fit in some reading before you have to go out or something, you won't be able to resist reading the whole book in one sitting. It wasn't over-the-top-spectacular but it's a fun read that you won't be able to put down. Plus, the cover is gorgeous. Now I'm eagerly anticipating the next book in the series!
Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published by: Quercus Books
Publication date: 7th November 2013
Pages: 308
Genres: Young Adult/Crime/Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Name: Cassie Hobbes
Age: 17
Skill: Profiler
Status: Recruited

Cassie Hobbes is joining The Naturals: a secret FBI programme for exceptionally talented teenagers. But when a new serial killer strikes close to the Naturals HQ, Cassie starts to learn all about mortal danger - outside the classroom.

Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse, Cassie and her friends will have to use all their skills just to stay alive...

Cassie's mother was murdered five years ago, but the killer was never found and neither was the body. Cassie has always been good at reading people; her mother taught her to look for BPE - behavior, personality, environment - so when Cassie is approached by a mysterious guy in a cafe who invites her to be part of The Naturals, a secret FBI programme for people with special abilities, she jumps at the chance. Maybe she can find her mum's killer and put her skills to good use at the same time.

I know we all say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I did. As soon as I pulled this out of the jiffy bag I knew I would love it. Turns out I was right! Cassie is an awesome, badass member of the FBI whilst still being relateable and having a relatively normal life. I loved how unique everybody was! Cassie and Dean, able to infer the personality and intentions of people by Profiling them. Michael, able to detect every emotion someone is feeling just by looking at their face for a second. Sloane, who is constantly spouting statistics and facts, and Lia who can spot a liar in the blink of an eye. All of these rare kinds of people made the book even more interesting - I just couldn't get enough of it!

A lot of people have complained about the love triangle between Cassie, Dean and Michael. I agree that it did seem unnecessary, but I liked it at the same time and it will probably develop later on in the series anyway. I think Cassie and Dean belong together - if any of you have read 'The Naturals', what do you think?

I found the psychology side of 'The Naturals' really fascinating. It was interesting to read how each character formed their individual opinions on the criminals, and how they could link clues to form the bigger picture.

I actually didn't have any problems with this book at all. 'The Naturals' is SUCH a good book and I can't recommend it enough! I love all of the characters and it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The ending in particular blew me away - I really didn't see that coming! Full of thrilling action, surprising plot twists and a sprinkling of romance, this is sure to be a big hit in the YA market. It's a shame the next book in the series doesn't come out until November 2014 because I need to read it now! *fangirls and then cries because of the long wait*
Friday, 1 November 2013

HALLOWEEN WEEK: The Long Walk by Stephen King (written as Richard Bachman)

Title: The Long Walk (a short story in The Bachman Books)
Author: Stephen King (written as Richard Bachman)
Published by: Hodder
Publication date: 1st August 1987
Pages: 992
Genres: Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Stolen Borrowed from the biggest SK fan ever my Mum

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as "The Long Walk". If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying... 

This is only the second book I have read by Stephen King, and it really defined how far apart YA books and Adult books are. It is written in a very different style to what I'm used to, which resulted in me having mixed feelings about this book.

The 'Long Walk' is a fictional annual event in the US, where 100 teenage boys from all around the country participate. They walk to the death - no breaks, no opportunities to sit down, just pure walking until there is only one boy left. If you sit down, or slow down, or try to run away, you will be shot, no questions asked. The boys get a few tubes of concentrate every morning, but that has to last until the next morning. If they need the toilet, they have to do it whilst they're walking, no matter what exactly they have to do...

This isn't really a horror story, but it is very gory, quite brutal and scarily realistic. Stephen King is also renowned for generally being a horror writer, so I thought one of his books would be perfect to review for Halloween Week. I read one of his other books, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon when I was 9 (I was a pretty mature reader for my age) and really, really loved it. However, 'The Long Walk' wasn't quite as good, in my opinion.

This book is kind of like The Hunger Games, in the way that a group of teens are competing to the death. At the same time it isn't like The Hunger Games at all because a group of the boys actually make friends even under such dire circumstances, which I liked. The book showed how - under pressure - your mind can push you on past limits you never even knew you possessed.

A lot of the things in this book went way over my head. I think it's partly because it's set in America so they used American terms (although I've never had this problem with American books I've read before). I was constantly asking my Mum - who read it years ago - what things meant and her answer was usually 'They say that over there.' Had I completely understood everything, I'm sure I would have enjoyed this loads more. Obviously that's not the author's fault, but mine! Another problem I had was that this seems to have no sub-plots, which is something I haven't experienced before, so I always felt like something was lacking. 'The Long Walk' is officially a short story (even though it's 400 pages...) and short stories  generally only have one main plot, so I understand that.

This story was so slow. Honestly, it's a 400 page book and about 200 pages in, I felt like it should have finished already. I only kept reading because I wanted to find out who won the walk (so I guess King did something right). The slow pace made the story lose tension, I thought, and that really disappointed me. I think I would have enjoyed the novel as a whole a lot better had it been faster paced or a bit shorter. Because of this, I'm going to have to give 'The Long Walk' 3/5. The concept was brilliant, but sadly it just wasn't for me! I know people who absolutely loved it though, so I guess it's one of those books that is a bit like Marmite. ;)

Have you reviewed a spooky book recently? Link to it here for everyone to see!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

HALLOWEEN WEEK GUEST POST: A Bookish Halloween by Cat from Life Through a Cat's Eyes

Halloween is TOMORROW! Are you a bit stuck for costume ideas like I am? Today I am pleased to welcome Cat from Life Through a Cat's Eyes to Halloween Week at The Mile Long Bookshelf! She will be showing you the best book characters you can dress up as for Halloween so please give her a warm welcome! Over to you, Cat. :)

Hello! I'm Cat; resident blogger over at Through A Cat's Eyes and I feel very honored to be guest posting on Amber's amazing blog! I really look up to Amber and have known her for a long time so this is pretty awesome. ^__^
Tuesday, 29 October 2013

HALLOWEEN WEEK: Dreams by Daniela Sacerdoti

Title: Dreams
Author: Daniela Sacerdoti
Published by: Black and White Publishing
Publication date: 18th April 2012
Pages: 432
Genres: Young Adult/Paranormal/Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Seventeen-year-old Sarah Midnight has never had a normal life. To the outside world she is a typical teenager, but on the inside, Sarah holds an unimaginable secret. Her parents are demon hunters, part of a web of Secret Families who have sworn to protect the world. When they are mysteriously killed, Sarah's world is shattered but she knows she must now take up their fight.

Unprepared for the task ahead, she finds herself thrust into a world of incredible danger, full of things she never even knew existed. Including her enigmatic long-lost cousin who, out of the blue, turns up on her doorstep just when she needs him most. He claims to be there to help and protect her, but how will she know who to trust in this perilous new life? And can she stay alive long enough to complete her parents' quest when they have left her so defenceless?

Sarah has to learn, and learn fast - the demons are all around her and death waits for no one...

Sarah Midnight's dreams are utterly terrifying. They are plagued by demons, but that isn't all; they come true. Sarah is the 'Dreamer' of the Midnight family, which means that her dreams - or shall we say nightmares - guide her parents' demon hunts. Sarah's parents rarely have time for her unless they're getting the gory but necessary details from one of her dreams, which is why at the age of seventeen, Sarah still doesn't know how to do any spells. Of course, her mother will have all the time in the world to teach her them! ...Wrong. After Sarah's parents' sudden death, she is pushed into a cruel world of death and fear, as she continues their 'Midnight Mission'. Young, alone and naive, it would be easy for her to make the wrong choices...but one wrong choice could mean instant death. Or a slow and painful one...

Okay, I'll be honest. This book freaked me out at some points. Partly because it's about demons that were so well described they seemed real, and partly because I was sat in my bedroom, on my own, in the dark at midnight. Probably not my best idea!

The characters were well formed and very realistic. I really liked Sarah because she wasn't over-confident; instead she was quiet and vulnerable. It was great to watch her grow as a person and become more ruthless! I also liked Harry/Sean, her cousin. He brought a nice 'safe' feel to the novel, if that makes sense, because he cared for and protected Sarah. It was a bit weird that he loved Sarah more than family, but if you read the story you'll understand why it's okay for him to feel like that, it's just not....normal for the feelings to be recuperated, shall we say. Despite this, I was rooting for them from the start! I SHIP SARRY! 

Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed by Aunt Juliette. She was quite prominent in the story at first, but as more characters were introduced she quickly faded into the background and only popped up once or twice later in the book. It felt like she had been forgotten about. To be honest I'm glad she didn't get in the way too much as I wanted Sarah and Harry to get on with their demon hunting, but at the same time I feel like it would have seemed more real if she had checked up on them more often.

There were about six or seven chapters from other POVs, for example Mike, Niall and Elise - other people who, like Harry, were protecting others. I didn't think these chapters were necessary to the story and they felt a bit like fillers. This book was around 400 pages long and, without the extra POVs I think it could have been a more bearable size and the story could have flowed better.

Sarah had OCD, which I liked. Wait...that came out wrong! Hear me out. I liked it because there aren't many books that deal with things like that. 'Dreams' didn't really go into it properly, but it was still there and I liked that sub-plot a lot.

Unfortunately, the novel ended with a cliffhanger which frustrated me. I was offered the next book in the trilogy from the publisher, but sadly I had to turn it down because of the amount of books I have to review. I suppose I'll never find out what happens next. :( However, I think this book was spectacular and it introduced me to a new genre, which it turns out I love! The writing was exquisite and I definitely recommend this. 3.5/5!
Monday, 28 October 2013

HALLOWEEN WEEK: The Harry Potter Studio Tour!

I cannot believe I never blogged about this! But better late than never, right? This time last year* I turned 14 and to celebrate I went to the Warner Brothers studios in London to do the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was the best day of my life!
Friday, 25 October 2013

Roller Girls: In a Jam by Megan Sparks

Title: In a Jam
Author: Megan Sparks
Published by: Curious Fox
Publication date: 12th September 2013
Pages: 181
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Sports
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Ladies, get your fishnets and your skates on!

Life couldn't be better for Annie Turner. Not only is she going out with the dreamiest boy she's ever met, but her roller derby team is riding high in the league. But OF COURSE, just when things seem to be working out, it all starts falling apart. Annie gets left on the bench at a big bout, her best friend can't stand her boyfriend and her mum wants her to quit the team!

Will Annie listen to her heart? And what is it saying, anyway?

'In a Jam' is the third book in this four-book series and, whilst being sad about nearing the end of the series, I was also very excited to be reading about Annie and her life again. The Roller Girls series is such a good set of contemporaries and they're amazing at getting you out of a reading slump! Funny, realistic, exciting...I just love them.

Annie is still thoroughly enjoying her time on the roller derby team, but her boyfriend? Not so much. As time goes on they start to realise how different they are. In this case, opposites definitely don't attract. And then there's Annie's parents' divorce drama to deal with over Thanksgiving. How will she deal with it all?

I think this book was better than the others in the series and my reason for this will sound weird but hear me out! I think it's better because it's not so perfect. The other books are perfect, the characters all act in the right way and conflict is a hurdle that is quickly jumped over. 'In a Jam' seemed far more real. Annie slightly annoyed me sometimes because her boyfriend wasn't a good person and she just couldn't see that he was manipulating her. Tyler, her boyfriend, annoyed me a lot, too. He was always bossing her around and calling her friends 'freaks' just because they dared to be different. But these things aren't faults with the book; in fact, they make it a lot better. These conflicts go on for a while so it's more realistic than conflicts in the other books, where it'd all be over two pages later. I don't think any of that made sense but I hope some of you understand what I mean!

I loved reading more about Illinois, too. I've been there but I hadn't been born yet *spooky music* Anyway, I think it's cool that it was set in Illinois because a lot of contemporaries set in America are in the most glamourised places like Los Angeles or Florida. Again, this contributed to the feeling of it being more realistic and I just.... I loved it, so, so much!

Definitely a good series to read if you're up for a fun contemporary or if you're in a reading slump! I'm about to start the last book in the series and I really don't want it to end. Megan Sparks has quickly become a favourite author of mine but I don't think she's written any other books separate from the Roller Girls series. Hopefully she'll write some more books because she's very talented. I highly recommend this, if you hadn't guessed that already! ;)