Saturday, 31 August 2013

Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind by Andy Robb

Title: Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind
Author: Andy Robb
Published by: Stripes Publishing
Publication date: 1st June 2012
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the author.

Archie is fourteen years old and a geek to his core.

In the world of role-playing games, he's a Level 5 Mage, capable of summoning the Undead. In this world, things are rather different. With no rule book to navigate Life's Big Challenges - warring parents, a crass step-father, orc-like school bullies and crap hair - he's teetering on the brink...

Then a Beautiful Girl appears in his Geeky world...Despite the fact that the closest he's come to an encounter with a girl is painting an Elven miniature, Archie embarks on a Daring Quest to win her heart.

Geek meets Girl...what could possibly go right?

You can't help but love Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind. It is very realistic and full of witty humour! I was a bit overexcited when the author offered this to me for review, but it wasn't for nothing because this book is - for lack of a better word - awesome.

In terms of hobbies, Archie isn't your stereotypical fourteen-year-old boy. He is a full-time geek! The only social life he has is with his fellow geeks Matt, Ravi and Beggsey, and even then it isn't exactly social. They can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons, painting miniatures or dreaming of way-out-of-their-league Kirsty Ford. Until Archie meets Sarah, and boom - he is in love. The question is, will he change himself for her, or will he stay true to his geeky self forever?
In terms of teenage boy thoughts and feelings, I'd say Archie is definitely your stereotypical fourteen-year-old boy. Not that I'd know, because I'm not a boy (duh), but I'm guessing!
Then there are the sub-plots. For example: Archie doesn't get on with his step-dad Tony at all. In fact, he regularly refers to his step-dad as a Tosserwhich was quite amusing. Tony was an interesting character - sometimes I really disliked him, and other times I felt sorry for him because it was obvious that he just didn't know how to act around kids at all.

Not many people know this but I'm a big fan of the TV show The Big Bang Theory. This book reminded me a lot of the show - which is a good thing! It was like 'The Big Bang Theory: Younger Years' (actually that's not a bad idea...E4, MAKE THAT SHOW HAPPEN!) Ehem, anyway. There was a lot of dry humour and sarcasm present in this book which I loved because I don't see that in many books these days.

I found it interesting to read a book by a male perspective as most books I read tend to be from a female perspective. I was cracking up at every page whilst reading Geekhood: Close Encounters with the Girl Kind! I've seen a review that says the book isn't funny at all, so I have to point out that you must have a sense of humour to read this book. If you don't have a sense of humour, you should probably go back to reading your school textbooks or something, if that's what you find fun.

This book fits in really well with the current Geek trend so I think this book and its sequel will be devoured by teenagers all over the world! It was nice to read about a genuine geek and I agree with the quote on the cover, it certainly does make geekery sound pretty cool! I also love the cover, it's very eye catching, bright and fun.

In the long run, this is a book that will have you in stitches. The characters are believable and likeable, and every situation felt real. It captures the agony of being a teenager perfectly, whilst still being a fabulously funny read. Personally, I found no flaws in this book. If you're after a fun time, read this!

My signed copy. :)
Friday, 30 August 2013

Amber by Julie Sykes

Title: Amber
Author: Julie Sykes
Published by: Curious Fox
Publication date: 12th September 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Young Adult/Sci-Fi/Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

There are spoilers in this review - it was near impossible to review it without them. However, I have blacked out the spoilers which means if you want to see the writing underneath, you have to highlight the black lines with your mouse. That way, if you don't want to see the spoilers, you don't have to. :)

A teenage girl wakes up with no memory of who she is or where she comes from.

The only clues to her identity are a dead mobile phone in her pocket and a beautiful amber necklace around her neck.

Suddenly, 'Amber' has a brand-new life, a brand-new name and a whole lot of questions. Disturbed by strange visions and powers, she struggles to understand the rules that everyone else seems to know. How can Amber make sense of the person she seems to be? Does she even want to be that person any more? And by falling in love with her new friend Dan, is she breaking the one rule that really matters?

Amber has retrograde amnesia as a result of being a victim in a car crash. The driver of the car she was in died, but Amber doesn't know who the driver was, or where they were, or even who she is herself. That is, until she discovers who rescued her from the crash. From then on, everything changes.

This book intrigued me as soon as I saw the title. May I just say that 'Amber' is the best name for a book and if you call your book 'Amber' then you are likely to get a five-star review. ;) Hehe I'm joking, the name didn't effect my review at all because the writing inside is STUNNING. Honestly, I am so glad Curious Fox gave me the chance to read this as I thoroughly enjoyed it and I wouldn't say no if there was a sequel and I was offered it to review. *ehem, hint ;) ...Please tell me there's a sequel?!*

Amber reminded me a lot of myself! Seriously, she was described to look like me, we share the same name, we have the same necklace...I was convinced this was my life story in disguise until I found out that she is an alien. She was funny, smart and even with her special abilities she always seemed to have a lot of fun. Even in difficult situations, she dealt with them really well!

I loved Dan. Chapters that included him tended to be more fun than the rest. I wish we could have witnessed more of Dan and Amber's relationship and I was heartbroken when they had to finish it. They never even officially went out. Somehow, sharing the same name as the main character made me empathise with her extremely easily as it was like it was happening to me. I was surprised that Dan took it so well when Amber told him who she really was. If something like that had happened to me, I would have freaked out and ran!

This novel is quite sci-fi, but with a sprinkling of romance (just a sprinkle). There were a few minuscule things that happened at the beginning, that actually turned out to be very significant - I loved the way that everything began to make sense!

Sykes has written a fantastic novel and I'm astounded that it's her debut! Your jaw will drop (not as painful as it sounds) with her incredible writing ability and how real the characters seem. I loved the concept of aliens sent to earth to study humans and I was sad to see Amber go back to her planet. The book is like a drug - it hooks you and you can't stop reading! 'Amber' is going to be a big hit when it's out in shops, and I can't stress enough how awesome this book is. Surely you agree that the cover is beauuuuutiful? Well multiply the beautifulness (it's a word now.) of the cover by 100 and that's how fab the story inside is! I highly recommend this. Fabulously crafted and unique - you've got to love it! And if you don't want to read it, well, there's probably something seriously wrong with you. ;)
Monday, 26 August 2013

Every Day by David Levithan

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Published by: Egmont
Publication date: 16th September 2013
Pages: 384
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Every Day I am someone else. I am myself - I know I am myself - but I am also someone else. It has always been like this.

Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There's never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

And that's fine - until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, he rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally  A has found someone he wants to be with - every day...

(In this review I refer to A as a 'he' because I can't keep calling him A, it doesn't read well.)

Every single day, A wakes up in a different body. He never knows whose body it will be and there doesn't seem to be any pattern. All A knows is that the person will be the same age and in roughly the same location each time. A has a set of rules - don't make connections and don't do anything significant that could effect the real owner of the body. But then A meets Rhiannon, a girl he wants to be with forever. But is that possible, when he becomes a different person every day?

This is yet another remarkable novel from the very talented David Levithan. Sometimes I'll read a stream of YA books and think 'They're all kind of the same, in one way or another' and then I come to a book that is completely different from the rest. Every Day was that book. Every Day is thought-provoking and original. In fact, it's almost like a series of short stories because we 're constantly seeing life through a different pair of eyes.

However, I did have one problem with the book. I didn't feel like I could relate/empathise/connect with A because he was constantly changing. A doesn't have a gender, family or a body of his own, so that was a bit strange but the good elements of this novel made up for that.

Levithan is the master of creating original scenarios and compelling plots - I really don't know how he does it! A lot of people refer to him as a genius and I completely agree with them.

I devoured this book in just a few hours. Every Day isn't perfect - I had a couple of faults with it - so unfortunately I can't give it my highest rating. However, 4.5/5 is a high rating anyway and I'm really pleased I was able to give it that, at least! If you buy this book, I highly doubt that you will regret it. Thought-provoking, original and compelling!
Sunday, 25 August 2013

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Title: Geek Girl
Author: Holly Smale
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 28th February 2013
Pages: 356
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

- Cats have 32 muscles in each ear.
- Bluebirds can't see the colour blue.
- The average person laughs 15 times a day.
- Peanuts are an ingredient of dynamite.
- Bats always turn left when they exit a cave.

But she doesn't know why nobody at school seems to like her. So when she's offered the chance to reinvent herself, Harriet grabs it.

Can Harriet transform from geek to chic?

I was sent this proof to review last year. I read it but I never reviewed it! I know, I'm terrible. But finally, here is the review, and the next book in the Geek Girl series will be out next month! Woo hoo!

This has officially become one of my favourite series so I can't put into words how excited I am for GG2! The cover for the next book was revealed on Twitter by none other than Holly Smale herself and Twitter exploded. All of the book bloggers were going crazy. Authors were going crazy. Even my cat was going crazy, although that could have been something to do with his toy mouse and not the cover reveal. But let's pretend it was the cover.

Let's get straight to the facts. This book was freaking awesome! I'm pretty sure it must be this book that set the geek trend. I'm actually trying really hard not to descend into capital letters and exclamation marks (what? Fangirling is my occupation.) *takes a deep breath* Okay. Geek Girl is one of the best contemporary novels I've read this year (well...I read it last year but whatever) and I loved that fashion, modelling and geekery were all rolled into one fabulous book.

If you're scrolling through reviews of Geek Girl, trying to find faults in the book, you won't find any and especially not in this review. Harriet, the female protagonist, is so funny, geeky and accident-prone! Holly Smale made sure that Harriet doesn't conform to the stereotypical female protagonist and made her truly unique.

I didn't have to re-read the book to write this review, even though it's been over a year since I read it. That just goes to show how brilliant this book is and how it stays with you long after turning the final page. I give this book 5/5 and I think everyone will enjoy it because it has a bit of everything, from fascinating facts to crazy catwalks! This book says 'Be proud of who you are' and I think that's a fantastic message for a book to have.
Saturday, 24 August 2013

GUEST POST: Top 10 Blogging Tips by Hollie from Music, Books and Tea

Hi, I’m Hollie! I blog over at Music, Books and Tea, and I’m here to share with you my top ten blogging tips. What makes me qualified to give you these tips? Well…not a whole lot really. I've been blogging for nearly two years, so I'd like to think that I kind of know what I'm on about when it comes to blogging!

1) Don’t pressurise yourself into posting every single day if you don’t want to. 
If you only want to post a couple of times a week, that’s fine. If you want to post every day, that's fine too. It's your blog, after all. But if you force yourself into posting when you really don't want to, you'll end up resenting blogging and you're probably more likely to get burnt-out from blogging, which isn't good at all.

2) Find out what works for you and stick with it. 
If you like creating video reviews, great! If you prefer bullet point filled lists, perfect! If you want to fill your posts with funny gifs, good for you! Don’t feel you have to write a 500 word long review just because that's what the other blogs you follow do. When you enjoy what you're posting, people will enjoy reading it.

3) Numbers are just that – numbers. Not a measurement of your success. 
When I first started blogging, I got obsessed by my number of followers. And it was silly of me, because your number of followers does not equal how successful your blog is. Once I learned that, blogging became a much more enjoyable hobby for me.

4) Blog because you love your topic – not because you want freebies.
Pretty much every single book blogger out there blogs because they love books, they love reading and they just want to talk about anything and everything book-related. They couldn't care less about whether or not they get free books; they just want to spotlight the ones that they love. Yes, the free books are a perk if you’re lucky enough to receive them, but please, don’t go into blogging expecting them.

5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. 
Seriously, if you've got a problem, book-related or otherwise, the blogging community is there to help. Don't be afraid to ask a question, even if you think it's a little silly, because there's probably already someone who's been in your shoes already and will be willing to help you with your problem.

6) Spend time commenting and getting to know other bloggers. 
Don't do what I did for the first couple of days after creating my blog, and just sit there expecting people to come to you. Because they won't. If you put in the legwork of getting your name out there to begin with, other people will come and visit you. It might take a little time, but it'll happen, I promise!

7) Enjoy yourself. 
Make sure you have fun when you blog, otherwise, what's the point in blogging? It's like forcing yourself to read a book you're really not liking, you end up hating it, and you don't want that to happen.

8) Always be open for post ideas to appear at random times. 
Seriously, the amount of times I've had an idea for a post hit me when I'm in the shower or doing my hair is beyond ridiculous. But it's kind of awesome. I just make sure I have a scrap of paper and a pen close by so I can jot it down as soon as possible, then I'm away.

9) Don’t Plagiarise! 
I know Amber's already mentioned this one in her Blog 101 Part 3, but seriously, it's so important. Although really, it seems kind of obvious, doesn't it? Copying anything from anyone without their permission is bad. Don’t do it. Because you will get caught out, and you probably won’t have a lot of sympathisers on your side.

10) Ignore these tips and do things your own way! 
As I said at the start of this post, I am no blogging expert. At the end of the day, it's your blog that you created for yourself.

So, those are my top ten blogging tips. They're mainly things that I've learned over these months of being a book blogger that I think the earlier a blogger knows, the better the whole blogging experience is for them.

Thank you to Amber for giving me the opportunity to write a post for her fab blog!
Thursday, 22 August 2013

Roller Girls: Hell's Belles by Megan Sparks

Title: Roller Girls: Hell's Belles
Author: Megan Sparks
Published by: Curious Fox
Publication date: 18th July 2013
Pages: 208
Genres: Young Adult/Sports/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Ladies, get your lippy and your skates on!

Annie Turner's roller derby team, the Liberty Belles, is finally on a winning streak. Full of confidence, the girls plan a Halloween bout with the High Rollers, their tough and cheeky arch-rivals. There'll be costumes, gruesome make-up and plenty of trash talk to look forward to. But when Annie's crush asks her to a Halloween dance on the same night, she finds herself torn between her girls and her man.

Will Annie's first American Halloween turn out to be more 'trick' than 'treat'?

After reading the first book in the series Falling Hard (review here), I had very high expectations of this one, and it didn't disappoint!

In this book we see the lead up to Halloween for Annie, Lexie, Jesse, Tyler and everyone else in Illinois. I loved reading about the American Halloween preparations because Halloween just isn't that big of an event for us in the UK. Annie has become a character that I genuinely care about and I think that shows how good the author is.

But this book was also a bit frustrating because *spoiler alert* WHY AREN'T ANNIE AND JESSE TOGETHER YET. WHY?! THEY ARE SO PERFECT AND JUST UGH IF THEY DON'T GET TOGETHER IN THE NEXT BOOK I'LL....EAT MY HAT. OR SOMETHING. *spoiler over* 

I am really looking forward to reading the next two books because they are so lovely and I can't get enough of it! Sorry this review is so short but I expressed all of my love for these books in the other review and this book has put me in a bit of a book hangover. I'm sad because the book is over but in awe because the writing is so perfect! Seriously, if you haven't read this/aren't planning to read this, why not?!

This is a book you will fangirl over. If you're looking for a more coherent review, read this one that I wrote about the first book. Obviously I'm giving this book 5/5! LOVED IT.
Sunday, 18 August 2013

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Title: Beauty
Author: Robin McKinley
Published by: Corgi Children's
Publication date: 6th January 2011
Pages: 272
Genres: Children's/Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Beauty has never lived up to her name. Pale, thin and awkward, she has no interest in pretty gowns or handsome suitors, and spends her days lost in the books that are her most treasured friends.

But all that is about to change. For when Beauty's father loses his way in the dark forest and finds himself in the clutch of a terrible Beast, Beauty becomes entangled in a story more bewitching than any she has ever read: one of bitter revenge, dangerous magic, a powerful curse and of a love so transcendent that it can reveal the true beauty in everything.

Why on earth didn't I discover this book when I was younger? I'm pretty sure that if I had read this when I was 10 or 11, I would have become a big fan of Robin McKinley and enjoyed the book even more than I did.

The story itself is pretty simple. This re-telling of Beauty and the Beast is given a new life with Beauty herself as the narrator. There were a lot of interesting twists and turns in this re-telling which is good because if it had been exactly the same as the original, I would have put it down straight away. Luckily, this was completely different. I'll be honest, I'm not really a fan of fairy tales anymore. I prefer re-tellings! Robin McKinley is a very gifted writer, with an intelligent and elegant writing style that leaves you waiting to read what happens next. She has a knack for creating something new, yet still showing pieces from the original. I didn't expect to like this book, but it was really fun to read! She's really good at portraying each character's feelings - this is definitely one of her best works.

In this version of the story, Beauty doesn't live up to her name as she is not very beautiful. Her real name is Honour (to go with Grace and Hope, the names of her sisters) but then she changed it to Beauty. One of the things I love about this story is that Beauty loves books and reading, and one of the things Beauty likes about Beast is his massive library. Not enough books include characters who enjoy reading! Another thing I liked was that Robin McKinley included family. The family is quite close and I think that makes the story a lot better.

To conclude, this was a very good book that I enjoyed, but I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I read it a few years ago. Everything is well described and there were some truly magical moments, but sadly I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. For that reason, I am giving this book a rating of 3.5/5.
Friday, 16 August 2013

The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts

Title: The Year of the Great Seventh
Author: Teresa Orts
Published by: CreateSpace
Publication date: 6th July 2013
Pages: 308
Genres: Young Adult/Greek mythology/Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the author.
Buy the book

Sophie has always felt out of step - an outsider, even amongst friends in her high school with all the hype about celebrity culture.

Her life in LA seems to have been already written for her, but when her junior year starts, it all takes a drastic turn. When she crosses paths with the school's heartthrob, Nate Werner, they fall for each other in a way neither can understand.

What they don't know is that by giving in to their desires, they are unlocking an ancient Egyptian prophecy that threatens to return Earth to the dark ages.

To undo the curse, Nate and Sophie embark on an adventure that takes them across the country.

But their quest is not only to save the world as they know it. It is also a fight for their very survival.

Behind the scenes, there are those that are counting on them to fail.

Sophie is an average girl from LA. Constantly surrounded by her actress friends and a-list parties, all she cares about is achieving A grades and a scholarship to NYU. She leads a simple life...until she meets gorgeous but mysterious Nate Werner. Sophie's friends (Emma, Chase, Tyson and Megan) are creeped out by Nate and don't understand why there is such a deep connection between them. With spooky Egyptian prophecies, curses and Cleopatra's secrets, Sophie and Nate are brought together in a way that neither of them can understand until they are forced on a New York adventure in a race against time. It's a matter of life or death.

The main protagonists, Sophie and Nate are like a modern day Romeo and Juliet. Or Harry and Voldemort (worst comparison ever but there you go.) For one to live, the other must die. I fell in love with them and I would just like to say I am #TeamNate. :D

I didn't really like Sophie's friends - Emma, Megan, Tyler and Chase. They seemed a bit distant and I didn't know much about them. The only times they were in the book didn't give me a very good impression of them. Maybe if they had appeared more in the book, I would have liked them more?

Don't be fooled by the cover, showing an image of a movie premiere. That only happened once and that was at the start of the book. It makes me wonder if that particular image was chosen to glamourise the book and make it more appealing to readers, which makes me a bit sad. I am not a huge fan of the cover, but you know what they say - don't judge a book by its cover. Read it anyway!

'The Year of the Great Seventh' is refreshingly different and I can't believe it is the writer's debut novel! I was blown away with this original tale. It's really hard to pin it down to a specific genre as it includes romance, Egyptian history, horror and there is certainly a lot of mystery. Personally I am not a fan of historical novels but this was an exception, perhaps because it also includes two of my favourite genres (romance and contemporary.) Plus I usually love anything set in LA as anyone who knows me will know that I am desperate to go there.

Orts has created a delicate world, which weaves Hollywood glamour, the city that never sleeps and Egyptian history together. In fact, I'll go as far to say that Teresa Orts could be the next J.K Rowling - seriously!

Altogether, this is a truly remarkable read and I loved how Orts weaved Egyptian mythology into the story. Some parts really tugged at my heartstrings, especially the bit towards the end (people who have read this will definitely know what I'm talking about.) The realism and emotion in this novel was astounding. I have to say that when I first started reading this, it took me ages to get into it, but once I did....WOW. I was extremely impressed with this enriching novel and it was like the book suddenly turned into a magnet - I couldn't put it down!

Even now - the day after finishing the book - I am still thinking about it. It annoyed me that the book ended on a cliffhanger, but now I am desperate to read the next book in the series (yes, there is a next book, thank god.) With richly detailed chapters and multiple genres tied into the book, this novel will leave you in awe with Orts' beautiful writing and incredible story-telling ability.
Thursday, 15 August 2013

Interview with author Natasha Ngan

Today I am delighted to have one of my new favourite authors on the blog, Natasha Ngan! I read her debut novel The Elites a few days ago and WOW. You can read my review of it here! But for now, read on to find out about Natasha's new book coming out next year and her most embarrassing moment involving a revolving door...

Hi Natasha! Welcome to The Mile Long Bookshelf! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your new highly-anticipated debut novel, The Elites?
I'm a half-Chinese, half-English girl who grew up living between Malaysia and England - as well as reality and my imagination! I studied Geography at university before working in London in social media. I'm also a fashion blogger over at Girl in the Lens, a website I run with my boyfriend, and now of course a YA author! Outside of my three jobs, I love spending time with my friends, travelling, reading, eating, and just enjoying life as much as I can :)

My debut novel The Elites is about a city in the future where no one ever enters, and no one leaves. It follows the story of Silver, a fifteen-year old girl who works as an Elite to guard the city's leaders, and her best friend Butterfly, as they do the unthinkable and leave the city, where they discover for themselves just what is outside its walls. The Elites is part adventure story, part romance, and with dashings of sci-fi, fantasy and social commentary thrown into the mix!

I know you have a really popular fashion blog. Love it! What made you decide to write about such a different topic for your book?
I've always loved sci-fi and fantasy novels. Perhaps it's the geographer in me, but world-building and exploring new societies is something I really enjoy doing through my writing, so for now, that's where my stories will go as that's where my heart lies. It's great to have a break from all the non-fiction fashion stuff I write for the blog too! Fashion does still find its way into my novels though - each of my characters have their own distinct style, and I see their outfits as clearly as everything else about them.

How long did it take The Elites to get from inside your head to retailers, readers and reviewers?
In total, around four years! But that's from the moment I first had the idea back in my second year in university to a few weeks from now, when the novel comes out in bookstores. I didn't actually start writing The Elites properly until February 2012. Before this, I had only jotted down a few snippets of scenes and ideas. When I started writing the story properly, it took around four to five months to get the first draft done. I landed an agent a month later, and then a publishing deal a couple of months after that! Over the last few months, I've not actually spent that much time with The Elites, as it's been my publisher's turn to work on it and prepare for publication. So starting from when I properly began writing last year, it's taken a year and a half :)

How did you come up with the beautiful names for the characters in The Elites?
Oh I'm so glad you like them! I've been overwhelmed by the response to my characters' names - I was genuinely a bit worried readers might find them too weird. Quite a few people snigger when I tell them there's a boy called Butterfly. But personally, I've aways loved different names - it gives stories an extra uniqueness. And as The Elites is set in the future, names would have evolved anyway.

Some of the names in The Elites (like Akhezo, Allum and Taiyo) came from trying to find names that sounded as though they suited their ethnicity. All the characters who are Elites also have meanings to their names. Allum actually came from a mix of researching African names and as a reference to aluminium, because he's so strong! Then Ember's name matches her fiery temper (and her flame-red hair), and Butterfly's is of course from him having wings. Taiyo actually means bright or sun or sunlight in Japanese, which I think suits her personality perfectly. And Silver's name ... well, you'll just have to read the book to find out the meaning behind that ;)  

Characters names are so important to me. They often arrive along with the character, though sometimes I do need to have a feel around for the right name. I just can't write a character until I've found it!

If The Elites was offered a movie deal, who would you pick to play Silver and Butterfly?  
I've always imagined Silver as a young Kristin Kreuk - she's got that mix of ethnicities that give her a really exotic look, and she's small and slender, but still has a sense of strength. I guess Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars would make a good Silver too in that way, though she's a bit too sexy looking! As for Butterfly, I've always thought he'd look like a mix of Adam Brody and Henry Cavill (but maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part, hehe ...)

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
I've got some writing tips up on my author blog, but number 4 is my favourite. Write for yourself. Only by writing the books you love as a reader will you write books your readers will fall in love with. I think this is so important. Write from the heart, explore issues that interest and challenge you, create characters that capture your emotions. Stay true to yourself. Don't try and mimic other writers' success (though definitely learn from the ones you admire), just focus on getting out the stories that are inside your own heart.

Another piece of advice - go for it! If you really want to write, then do it, and don't let anyone stop you. Of course, don't just quit your job (unless you're lucky enough to be able to afford to do so)! But make the time for writing. If you really want it, you'll scrape every spare minute in the day to spend with your story. I have three jobs now, one of which is writing, and so sometimes that means I'm typing away well past midnight, or early in the morning at the weekend. But it's worth the effort to be able to live my dream.

Are there any certain authors that have inspired you throughout your life?
Oh so many! I am constantly inspired by the books I read. Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's The Edge Chronicles was one of those childhood books that made me dream about jumping into the pages. It really opened my eyes to the creativity of the fantasy genre and how rich and unique world building could be. The same goes for Tolkien, Philip Reeve, and all of Enid Blyton's fantasy stories. Now, I'll read anything by Rainbow Rowell, Marcus Zusak, Ian McEwan, Lemony Snicket, Elizabeth Wein, and Patrick Ness. And of course, J. K. Rowling.  

What is the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you? Sorry, I had to ask. :D
Haha :P I'm totally tactless, so there are always loads of embarrassing things happening to me! One of the times I still feel embarrassed about when I think about it was when I went for a job interview. The company had two buildings. My interviewer came to take me across to the other building for the interview, so we had to go out of the first one through a set of revolving doors. I still can't ever tell how many people one section is supposed to fit with those things! I thought these ones could take two people so I rushed in after my interviewer when he got in. Turns out, of course, each section was only really made for one person. He glanced over his shoulder in surprise and let out a surprised little, "Oh!", and we had to shuffle slowly round, my front inches from his back, until we could get out. It was mortifying, but pretty hilarious too. And he ended up offering me the job!

What is your favourite food?
I LOVE FOOD. Seriously. I cannot stress this enough. When I was editing The Elites with my agents, she was like, "I love all the food references, Tasha, but one on every single page is perhaps a little too much ..." :P It definitely comes from the Chinese side of my family - food is so important to our culture. I couldn't possibly pick just one favourite dish, so here are a few - tempura prawns, my mum's roasted belly pork, bangers and mash, chocolate, popcorn, blueberries, and Maggie Mee noodles.  

And finally, I hear your new book, The Memory Keepers, comes out in Autumn next year! Is there anything you can tell us about that?
Yes! I can't wait to share it with everyone! Like The Elites, The Memory Keepers is a YA sci-fi novel, though this time the setting is a futuristic London. Technology has progressed to the point where people are able to make recordings of their memories, and some of these memories are traded as commodities for people to 'surf' (i.e experience them for themselves).

The story follows Seven, a boy who steals memories to trade on the black market, and a privileged but sheltered girl called Alba, who is from one of the most prominent families in London. Alba discovers Seven when he breaks into her home one night to steal a memory. But instead of giving him away, and for reasons he'll later learn, Alba promises to keep it a secret if Seven takes her back to his flat to memory surf. Together, they end up discovering a memory about Seven himself, and they try and uncover what his hidden past means before they are found by those that want his secret for themselves.

I'm really enjoying writing The Memory Keepers and am so excited to see what everyone thinks :) I hope it'll appeal to readers who enjoyed The Elites as there's similar themes of friendship, conspiracy, social inequality, young romance, and characters who have to find the courage to rise up against forces far bigger than themselves.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The A to Z Book Survey

This survey was created by Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner. I'm fairly new to her blog but I'm already an avid reader of her posts, so when I saw this survey I was very excited to try it! Don't you think it looks fun?
According to Goodreads, the author I've read the most books from is J.K Rowling. I have to agree with that!

Swapped by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja. It's the sequel to Split by a Kiss. I've loved Luisa's books for a long time so when the sequel came out, I was really happy and it didn't disappoint! You can read my reviews of both books here and here.

Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike. Have any of you read it? I'm not sure what to think of it yet...

The only thing I'll ever drink is orange squash, so I'll pick that. Sometimes I'll drink fruit smoothies or milkshakes but we rarely have those in the house.

Physical books! I don't have a proper e-reader, just the Kindle app on my phone, but it kind of sucks so I don't use it. Physical books are the best, in my opinion!

Butterfly from The Elites. K? K.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. There, I said it. I only read the series in 2011 or 2012 (I can't remember) because they looked so daunting and everyone knows that genre really isn't my thing...with an exception to Harry Potter, of course. If I hadn't stuck with the first book, I never would have read the rest of them and neither would my Mum (she started reading them just as I finished the last two books).

The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts. It's extremely long but OMG. You must read it!

I'm going to go straight back to when I was a baby and say that the most important moment in my reading life is when my Mum used to read to me before bed when I was little. I'm pretty sure that's what sparked my love of books and if no one had read to me in those crucial developmental years, would I have ever started this blog?

Undeniable by Liz Bankes.

I won't read erotica. No. Don't even go there. I also don't read vampire novels or paranormal if I can help it, but I'll tolerate them.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell which is 1,037 pages. It took a loooong time...

I couldn't decide between The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts and Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone. So, both!

I have one medium sized bookcase and one bookshelf in my room (no, the shelf is not a mile long...) and then I have one medium sized bookcase in the living room, too. There are also seven piles of books in my room and each one is as tall as me! *drowns in books* Hellllpppp!

When I was younger, I was constantly re-reading Cathy Cassidy's books. I think the one I read most out of those was Gingersnaps. I'll never get bored of it!

I prefer to read in bed at night. It's comfier, quieter and I can read until the early hours of the morning and nobody will notice...

"I, for one, am ready for a lot more adventure and a lot less nothing." ~ Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone. So truthful. So inspiring. So many feels.

I didn't grow up reading Harry Potter and it seems like the majority of other people did. I FEEL SO LEFT OUT. But at least I went on the studio tour. Boom.

The Roller Girls series by Megan Sparks. Curious Fox sent me the first two books to review, and I need the other two before I die of curiosity! (Heh. See what I did there? Curious Fox? Curiosity? No? Okay...)

The Elites by Natasha Ngan, Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone and the Harry Potter series. Do NOT ask me to pick one book from the series....-_-

Cimorelli (a band). Oh, you meant books? Damn. Probably Geek Girl by Holly Smale.

The last book in the Chocolate Box Girls series by Cathy Cassidy. I've been reading this series since I was 10 or 11 and I WANT TO FINISH IT! :D

Forgetting to review a book after reading it. :(

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.

I don't buy fiction anymore because 1) I get lots of review books and 2) Review books come first and 3) I have to spend my money on other things. But I did buy the textbooks I'll need for Year 10 a few days ago. :)

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher.

If you do the A to Z Book Survey, leave your link in the comments so I can come and  visit yours!
Monday, 12 August 2013

The Elites by Natasha Ngan

Title: The Elites
Author: Natasha Ngan
Published by: Hot Key Books
Publication date: 5th September 2013
Pages: 368
Genres: Young Adult/Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

"There is a rumour that the Elites don't bleed..."

Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea levels have destroyed the old civilisations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures - and racial tension. Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA.

She'd never dream of leaving - but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo-Babel's president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could have ever imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly, Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel - and to survive.

Neo-Babel is a bizarre city set in the future. The people of Neo-Babel have their DNA tested straight away at birth to see whether they have the superior genetics to be an Elite - the advanced, privileged, trained fighters of the city. It all sounds fine, if not slightly strange, but under the surface is discrimination and deceit. But how long will it take for Silver to find that out for herself and will it be too late to do anything about it?

Wow. The names of the characters in this book are beautiful! Silver, Butterfly, Domino, Little Mae, Ember...I love them so much! And the names perfectly matched the personalities. Silver is strong, Butterfly is gentle and has wings, Domino has two sides to him, Little Mae is little and Ember is feisty and has hair like flames. You can tell a lot of thought went into every tiny detail of this book and it really paid off.

This really is a fantastic roller coaster of a book. It blew my mind! The writing was beautifully breathtaking with a great range of characters that I truly cared for and I always felt a  real sense of danger due to what was happening. I just wanted to jump off the sofa and walk straight into the story to help them! Natasha Ngan really involves the reader, if that makes sense; I almost felt like I was there. The Elites is a stunning novel and it had something that made it a really rare treat of a book. Each scene was painted perfectly and I could picture everything really well. The Elites is like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows mixed into one legendary book!

The Elites also deals with tough subjects (which I wrote about on Lucy's blog here, saying how I wanted more books like this) such as racism and death. The only fault is that I wanted to see Butterfly and Silver's love grow even more, but it was still very sweet.

I spent all day reading this book and I don't regret it at all. This was my reaction after completing the book, which caused my Mum to burst out laughing:

Once you've started reading this, you won't be able to stop. It's absolutely phenomenal, with a compelling plot and a Dystopian world disguised as a Utopian world that Ngan has expertly crafted. I loved every second and it grabbed me from the very first page! It's a really refreshing book because it's not a cliche, and most books are, in all honesty. Everything was believable and that's a fantastic quality in a book. The descriptions were rich and...gah, let's just say if I had the author's autograph I would frame it and worship it every day. Yep.

Natasha Ngan is the next big thing. She'll be up there with writers such as J.K Rowling and Suzanne Collins, just you watch! I'm very proud to say that I was one of the first to read this book. It would make a fabulous film...*hint hint, publishers* Beautifully crafted and compelling - a must read. 5/5!