Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 28th March 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Buy the book

Surviving a near fatal attack by a ghostly killer will leave its mark.

Seventeen-year-old Rory Deveraux has painful scars and deadly new powers at her fingertips.

But without her secret ghost-fighting squad she feels brutally alone.
She's lying to her boyfriend, failing in class and, worse still, Rory fears that a terrifying horror stalks the streets of London.

The main character is called Rory and we start the book where she is in therapy, we don't yet know what's happened to her. She goes to boarding school in London and it becomes clear that her trauma was caused by a violent ghost who wanted something she had but all was not as it seemed as Rory was a member of a ghost-hunting team. The encounter Rory had with the ghost has given Rory a gift and she becomes invaluable to her team.

The main character Rory was like-able enough. She was quite funny at times, and she was also determined and very brave. I found it confusing that she is American because the book is set in modern day London and I didn't understand why she was in England (although that may have been explained in the first book in the series, which I haven't read.) Her past wasn't clear to me and I didn't really know much about her life.

I found it hard to imagine her school, because I've never been to boarding school and unfortunately I personally don't think it was very well described.

The plot was very interesting - good, but complicated! There are ghosts in it, but I wouldn't say it's scary. Some parts were really hard to believe and the ending isn't particularly happy. Also, the dialogue kept changing between accents e.g some characters were American, one was Scottish and the rest were British. That made it a bit difficult to read, but that's just my opinion!

The book left on a cliffhanger. It finished like there should be a book after it (again, I'm not sure if there is one). However, overall I quite liked it and I give it a rating of 3.5/5. I know I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had read the first book beforehand. It's a very intriguing story! I recommend it to readers - girls aged 13+ because it is a pretty complex story and female oriented.
Monday, 27 May 2013


Kate Maryon's new book, Invisible Girl, focuses on the issue of living on the streets. In her novel, a young girl is forced to live on the streets when her parents leave her, alone, with only a brief idea of where her brother may be. The Big Issue mission is to connect vendors with the vital support and solutions that enable them to rebuild their lives; to find their own path in their personal journey away from homelessness. To find out more about The Big Issue and what you can do to help, go to their website by clicking here.

Today we have a guest post, which shall be called 'Peter's Story'. Peter was one of the vendors.

"I awoke to the sound of a road sweeper. Man, it was cold. I had absolutely nothing at all, and I was all alone in the world. An unkempt young lady on the street took me to a day centre, a place to eat and wash. I was in a desperate world. I didn't feel able to tell anyone how I ended up living on the streets. I drank tea. I was lost, I was homeless.

Soon I was sleeping out under the footpath to the Tate Modern with a friend - without him I would have not been able to survive. He showed me all the different ways of living on the streets. Eventually he went into rehab and I was alone again. I missed him but I knew this was his best shot.

One cold night under the footway I saw a small bedraggled fox; I threw it a few sandwiches and watched as ‘Foxy’ ate some and then bounded off some distance to eat the rest. For months this went on and each night she would come a little bit closer until eventually she took it from my hand. We had a mutual respect and when I woke one morning to find her a few feet from me curled up, I welled up. When I moved, she shot off . Night after night this went on until I had to move - the curator had found my little den, and one day when I returned all my blankets had gone. My alcohol dependency had taken over, I was drinking day and night not caring about the damage I was doing to myself.

I was almost always drinking. Many people won't understand how cold it is for people living on the streets, you feel constantly chilled to the bone. The drink helps. I began walking, looking for hope. I circled London and ended up at Waterloo, and it was here my life would change. On Waterloo footbridge I met a man selling The Big Issue, his name was 'Peter' and he was well known by many - he was a homeless help desk. We got chatting and I resolved to try selling the magazine.

We went to the Big Issue offices and they told me that I could have 10 magazines to start me off . Peter told me to stick by him to learn how to make some sales, and how to keep the right amount to buy more magazines. I slept next to Peter for many, many nights, rising at the crack of dawn to catch the early commuters through Waterloo. And one day when I was selling I met Alison. She would stop and chat and sometimes buy an Issue, and then she would go off to work. I sometimes saw her going home, but not often, as I would be looking for somewhere to sleep.

After a while I would buy her a Boost bar to give her energy (she always seemed worn out) and she’d chat if she had time. A summer passed and each day I bought a Boost for Alison. Sometimes during the day I sat in the Peace Garden at the Imperial War Museum and drank White Lightning. I had some coloured pencils and a pad of artist’s paper and I would sit there drawing whatever came into my head. A rabbit, a hare, birds, snails. One day I drew a picture of Foxy (right), had it framed, and gave it to Alison.

Our friendship was growing but I would get on Peter’s nerves talking about her and one day he said either ask her for a coffee or shut up! So I asked her, the very next time I saw her, to go for a coffee with me on the station forecourt. She said she would think about it.

A few more weeks passed and one day out of the blue she said yes, let’s go for a coffee. I nearly fainted. I didn't have any clothes for a date so the staff at a hostel let me go through the ‘lost and found’, from which I got a pair of white trousers and a white jacket which I washed and ironed at least three times - I looked like Lawrence of Arabia.

When I walked to Waterloo station to meet her my knees were wobbly, my mouth dry, I must have walked around Tie Rack about 22 times. And then, to my delight, there she was. We eventually went for a drink at a little bar not far from the station and it was in here that we both relaxed and really got talking, we just had so much in common. As I walked Alison to the bus stop I so wanted to kiss her, yet I didn't want to, I didn't want to spoil the night we had had. That evening was probably one of the happiest times of my life. It’s now almost 11 years on, and Alison and I have our own home, an amazing 8-year-old daughter, three cats, and even though we face the same problems as everyone else making ends meet, I couldn't want for anything more in my life. Alison is still as beautiful to me as when I would see her on that bridge at Waterloo East."

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Coco Caramel by Cathy Cassidy

Title: Coco Caramel
Author: Cathy Cassidy
Published by: Puffin
Publication date: 6th June 2013
Pages: 288
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Coco may be the youngest of the five Tanberry girls, but she can be as tough as big sister Honey and as determined as either of the twins, Summer and Skye.

Coco is always trying to save someone, whether it's the giant panda, a bullied boy or her favourite pony.

If only Lawrie, the moodiest guy in the school, would stop getting in her way, things would be fine.

But has Coco bitten off more than she can chew this time?

After reading the other books in The Chocolate Box Girls series, I was unbelievably excited to read this one!

Coco is the youngest Tanberry sister, and finds that people often don't take her seriously. She is kind, caring and passionate about saving endangered animals and can usually be found doing cake sales at her school and painting big banners to raise money. She is such a sweet, refreshing character - Coco is determined to save the world, and she's become one of my favourite female characters of all time. She's not obsessed with boys and make-up, she's just proud to be who she is, which is also a great message to be sending out to readers.

This is a nice light-hearted read and a good distraction break from revision! It was fun to read and I enjoyed reading about Coco's adventures. Coco Caramel is a sweet story (excuse the pun...) with a sprinkling of romance so I think older readers would enjoy this, too.

I really liked the character Lawrie. I didn't like him at first, because I suppose I judged him without really knowing the character properly - which is one of the morals of this story! Once I knew more about him, I understood why he had acted the way he did, and the chapters he was in were always lovely.

This book is perfect for readers aged 9-15. Cathy Cassidy's books are thought to be for a slightly younger audience, but I'm 14 and I still enjoy them! This book is brilliant and I loved every word. A treat for everyone - especially animal lovers! 5/5.
Saturday, 18 May 2013


Recently I was sent The Drowning to review from Chicken House, and I was astounded at how brilliant it was. So today it is my pleasure to host The Drowning blog tour! I hope you enjoy Rachel Ward's guest post - don't forget to tell us your thoughts in the comments, below!

Website • Twitter • Goodreads • The Book Depository

I wrote ‘Numbers’ in blissful ignorance. I knew nothing about anything – I simply told myself a story. When I started I had my main characters, a beginning and an end, but no idea how to get from one to the other. I didn't write any of it down in a plan. I held it all in my head, started writing and made it up as I went along. Nothing fancy, no flashbacks or dual narratives. Just the story of a girl with a mind-blowing gift - the ability to see death dates.

‘The Chaos’ was more complicated. I wrote the whole story from Adam’s point of view and then my editor, Imogen Cooper of Chicken House, asked me to try writing it all from another character, Sarah’s point of view. ‘But,’ I choked, ‘that would mean writing the whole thing again! And it would be a completely different story!’
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Try it. Have a cookie.’

With ‘Infinity’, I decided to make things more difficult by continuing my dual narrative, but also swapping various gifts and curses between characters. I also panicked, and started writing too early, before I’d got things straight in my head. The first draft was pants, and so was the second and third. I ended up re-writing the whole thing five or six times. It was such a mess I needed two editors to sort it out. As the print deadline hurtled towards me, I was still having heated discussions with Imogen and Rachel Leyshon about the ending. Aaargh. I delivered it on time (just) and I’m really proud of the book, but my confidence as a writer was at an all time low.

Never again, I thought.

I’m never going to write another book.

Which mellowed in time to I’m never going to write another book that way again.

And so … ‘The Drowning’. This time things have been very different. For a start I asked for a sabbatical from my day job, so I had a whole year to concentrate on writing. Bliss. More time, less pressure. I also discussed the book at a very early stage with Imogen. We had a session looking at the main themes and how they might play out over three sections (I love the simplicity of thinking about a beginning, a middle and an end.) I wrote the first section and we reviewed it together with some BIG sheets of paper and coloured pens. I wrote the middle section and got a bit stuck and Imogen introduced the idea of a book map to me, which is basically a table, plotting themes against chapters. I can’t tell you how tedious it is to do a book map, but, irritatingly, it does help you to see the wood for the trees. It took me a long time to get to grips with Rob – the nature of him, how he would appear to Carl, why he was there and how his role would develop. Some of the key themes and ideas didn't emerge until the second draft; domestic violence, the real role of water within the book. Sometimes I felt properly stupid – why does it take me so long to see things, to understand? But writing The Drowning wasn't traumatic, or painful. It was challenging and interesting, as is Imogen Cooper, the amazing editor who has taught me so much.

And that is the end of the blog tour! If you haven't already, please do check out the other stops that have been on the tour. You can buy a copy of The Drowning using the link to The Book Depository (above).
Monday, 13 May 2013

Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

Title: Rules of Summer
Author: Joanna Philibin
Published by: Atom
Publication date: 23rd May 2013
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

There are two sides to every summer...

Rory McShane's signed on to be a summer errand girl for a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. She hopes she'll be able to sneak in some sunbathing too.

Enter Isabel Rule, who's not only up for sunbathing but set on having a breathless summer romance that her family would never approve of. Isabel has decided that this is the summer for taking chances, and she's dragging Rory along for the ride.

But when long-hidden secrets start to surface, their friendship will be put to the test.

Rory's life in New Jersey isn't fantastic. She is relied upon at just seventeen, to pay for all of the bills and to basically run the house. Her mum is frequently getting new boyfriends and Rory is always the shoulder for her mum to cry on at the end of the relationship. So Rory jumps at the chance when her Aunt Fee invites her to work with her, unpaid,  at a mansion in summer resort town, The Hamptons. It's like a different universe from poor New Jersey!

Rory and Isabel are two very different girls. Rory is responsible, level-headed and doesn't have a penny to her name. Isabel is moody, extremely wealthy and slightly off-the-rails. The moment they first meet each other is a disaster and leaves both of them vowing to avoid the other for the entire summer. However, that doesn't quite go to plan, and they soon become good friends.

It was lovely to see Rory and Isabel's friendship grow, and Isabel became a much nicer person. I didn't like her at all in the beginning but she ended up being one of my favourite characters. Rory was kind and down-to-earth, and I related to her a lot. I also liked Connor Rule, Isabel's brother, but it annoyed me that *spoiler alert* he asked Rory out so close to the end of the book. I would've liked to see more of their relationship. *end of spoiler* So hopefully there will be a sequel!

I would just like to add, that when I first saw the cover, I was sure the girl on the cover was me as it looks really similar to a photo that was taken of me on holiday! Obviously, it isn't me though!

There were some really interesting twists towards the end of the book, and it was clever how they tied into the story because I hadn't predicted them at all. This is the perfect book to read on the beach, although it is quite long...but maybe that would give you an excuse to go to the beach more than once...?

'Rules of Summer' is a fun, light-hearted book, with a few serious issues tied into the story. This is the first book I've read by Joanna Philbin but hopefully I'll get to read more by her.
Monday, 6 May 2013

The Originals by Cat Patrick

Title: The Originals
Author: Cat Patrick
Published by: Electric Monkey
Publication date: 6th May 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

I glance at the three baby portraits in thick wooden frames.

I feel a familiar prickling on the back of my neck.

Because I know there's another picture somewhere - and the baby in that photo looks identical to the babies on the wall.

Somewhere, there's a photo of the Original.

Ella, Betsey and I look like sisters: triplets, you might think. But that's not what we are at all. We are clones in hiding. We split our lives and exist as one person in the outside world. And we've always been happy.

But now I've fallen head-over-heels in love...and that changes everything. Because, to let love in, I need to be allowed to be Me.

Three girls. One life.

I was so happy and surprised when I received this in the post from the publisher! I think I screamed a bit. And a happy dance may have been involved. Ever since reading Revived, Cat Patrick has quickly become one of my favourite authors. She writes about original (excuse the pun) topics, and there are always amazing plot twists. Her books are definitely not predictable, which is great!

Usually, I don't comment on the cover of a book in a review, but this review will be an exception. The cover is interesting and intriguing and I think the cracks not only show that they are different people, but also the fractures that start to appear in the girls' relationships with each other.

Cat Patrick's style of writing is thrilling, and is always guaranteed to leave you on the edge of your seat. This is the book that got me out of my reading slump, so it must be good! This story is intense, but also really fun and exciting to read at the same time.

In a review, I usually write who my favourite character was, but I'm finding that hard to do as the three female protagonists are clones! Other than Ella, Betsey and Lizzie, my favourite character was Sean, the boy Lizzie likes. When he found out about them being clones, he took it in his stride and it didn't affect his relationship with Lizzie too much. If anything, it made it stronger.

I wish there was a sequel to this book, because I'd love to know what happens to the characters in the future. Sadly, I don't think that will happen. Overall, I give this book a rating of 5/5. A thrilling roller coaster ride of a story that you will never forget!
Wednesday, 1 May 2013

You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett

Title: You Don't Know Me
Author: Sophia Bennett
Published by: Chicken House
Publication date: 7th May 2013
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

It was all so good.

Sasha and Rose.

Best friends in a band, singing together.

Right up to the finals of Killer Act when the judges tell them one of them must go.

Suddenly their friendship is put to the ultimate test on TV in front of millions.

Two girls.

One huge mistake.

Can they ever forgive each other?

Sasha, Rose, Nell and Jodie are best friends. They are usually dancing around in their bedrooms, filming funny videos and singing. That is, until someone steals Sasha's iPhone - which just so happens to have videos of the girls singing on it. A couple of days later, the video has gone viral, and the girls' friendship starts to unravel.

Before I tell you what I thought of the book, I would just like to say this: Have you ever tried to review a book that has no faults with it? It's so hard! I'm finding it difficult to put how awesome this book is into words. So if my review doesn't quite do it justice, just know this - IT'S REALLY REALLY GOOD AND YOU SHOULD BUY IT. Ehem. Okay, on to the review...

The cover is gorgeous and it definitely stands out in a shop. In real life, it's shiny and it looks like it's glowing which is really cool. Also, the edges of the pages are sprayed blue, which looks good!

The characters were really fun to read about and there were a few really surprising twists. I really liked Dan (one of the love interests) and scenes that included him were great! Sasha was relatable although I think I would have acted a lot differently if I had been in her situation.

'You Don't Know Me' is set in a fictional town called Castle Bigelow and it was described so well that I felt like I was there. Mrs Venning's vintage shop sounded really lovely and I wish it was real so I could go inside! It reminded me a bit of Cornwall, and that's one of my favourite places so that's a plus.

I've been a fan of Sophia Bennett's books for a few years now so I was so excited when I received this to review. Her other books have always been fantastic and this one was no different. This is a must read, especially for summer. It's perfect for reading on the beach and if you don't read it, you're missing out, big time! Fabulous, poignant and relatable! 5/5.