Thursday, 29 August 2013

All Our Yesterdays

Em is in a cell, dreading visits from the man she calls the Doctor. Her only comfort is the boy in the cell next door. Marina is living a privileged life, her only worry is if the super intelligent boy-next-door likes her back. But Marina’s life is in the past and today is Em’s world and she has a chance to change things. She can travel back in time and take out the man who changed everything.

All Our Yesterdays is gripping and genuinely unputdownable. I loved making the connections between Em and the past she is trying to change. Whether or not you work any of it out sooner rather than later does not impact on the enjoyment, because you’ll be turning the page to see what happens next…it is never predictable.

I’m glad they put in that they’d already been back and tried other things because as I was reading, I kept thinking of better ideas. It’s a clever way allow the story to run its course. I did want more on the story of how James changed so much; it’s a big jump from the boy who is hurting to who he becomes. Although that may have tripped up the pace a bit…maybe we can have a novella? It’s a mark of how much I got into this book that I want to know all the ins and outs.

It tries to explain away the inevitable paradox…I’m not convinced but you have to read time travel stories with an open mind and I think the way it is resolved actually makes it make sense. And yes it does have a resolution. As I was halfway through it, someone told me there was a sequel and I got really annoyed that the story wouldn’t end in the way it needed to end so it could run on. Never fear, it is not one of those books. It feels like a self-contained story…which also makes me wonder how they’re going to do the sequel.

More YA like this please!

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Also reviewed @ A Dream of Books | Uncorked Thoughts | Winged Reviews

Source: Won from @BooksUndergrnd

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

It's Raining Men

May, Lara and Clare instantly bonded when they met at work but they never seem to have time to meet up any more. They decide they need some time away and book ten days of pampering at a luxury spa. But a mix up in the booking means they end up in the village of Ren Dullem. They don’t like strangers and there appears to be a strange lack of women.

The characters of It’s Raining Men didn’t seem like Milly’s normal choice; high flying business women, working themselves too hard in London and in a good place with their relationships. I started to wonder where it was going as it takes a very long time to get to the part that’s mentioned in the blurb; the holiday gone wrong, which was much more her normal style. Although there is maybe a move towards magical realism too. All in all, it’s a fun book and I think my favourite of hers so far.

I loved Lud at the start. I was all nooooo don’t break up (although in my head, I’m thinking I wouldn’t want to move to Dubai because their laws are not good for women). My main emotional investment went into Lara who I loved as well as her romance arc. She provided most the laughs for me. Clare’s over enthusiastic love of cleaning was a bit bizarre, I’m not sure that’s how I’d want to spend my holiday…and if they were expecting a luxury spa, why on earth take her kit with her?

I liked the fact that these were three women who met a bit later in their lives and it showed a glimpse of how difficult it can be to make new friends once you’re past university years. They are reluctant to talk about their problems with each other as well as not having the time to bond and get to that point. Which is partly what the holiday is for.

Joan’s parts bored me a little. A typical snooping, money grabbing stereotype and her only purpose was to uncover the secrets of the village. I just think there were better ways that could have been done and I skipped over some of her chapters to get back to the holiday makers. Although at least some of it explains the unrealistic business model of the village shops. It’s so common these days in chick-lit that everyone has these quaint, perfect businesses that no way they would make a profitable living from. So that made me smile.

It's Raining Men is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now in paperback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Also reviewed @ Jess Hearts Books | A Reading Corner

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Glass Republic

The Glass Republic is the sequel to The City's Son and therefore this review may contain spolers for the first book (which you really should read).

Pen’s a survivor. Returning to school, she dreads showing her scarred face among her classmates and them finding out about her and Salt. Her best friend Beth isn’t around much anymore either; what Fil wished for her is transforming her into a daughter of the city. Then Pen sees her reflection in the school bathroom, the other her who she has come to call a friend, and she’s in trouble. She must find a way to get beyond the mirrors and find Parva before it’s too late.

Oh poor Pen. My heart breaks for her in the opening chapters. As if she didn’t have enough to go through in The City’s Son, she has the horror of high school with a scarred face. But before you start writing that hate mail to Tom, this is a book to rescue Pen; I’m not sure anything else but what happens in this story would have done it, but by gods, it does.

London-Under-Glass is the city created by our reflections, with the Mirrorstocracy created out of the infinite reflections of a person caught between two mirrors. But as well as the upper ruling class, there are the half-faced, created out of fragments of reflections. And the half-faced are perfectly symmetrical. This means that their perception of beauty is also a mirror to ours. Instead of symmetry being the pinnacle of beauty, it makes them ugly. Imperfections are beautiful.

So as well as being a creative and fantastical adventure in the mirror world, it also cleverly explores self-image, class systems and the ridiculousness of celebrity. If you can’t gaze upon your own face, should you base your self-worth on how others see you? Pen’s own experiences in our world are reflected and turn upside down in the experiences of those who are shunned in London-Under-Glass. It’s always good to see things from the other side.

Meanwhile, Beth takes the backseat a little but her world is changing too. Their stories cross over and tangle together…and the end of the book will have you reaching for your time machine.

The Glass Republic is published by Jo Fletcher Books, an imprint of Quercus, and is available to buy now in hardback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Also reviewed @ onechaptermore | Utter Biblio

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Books to Movies Giveaway Hop

Hosted by BookHounds

I have been pondering the idea of a book/movie bundle giveaway for a while so when I saw the Books to Movies Hop, I had to join in. As DVDs are not quite as universal as books, please read the guidelines below. However it IS international and you can just win the book if you prefer.

Never Let Me Go is one of my favourite books and they didn't do too shoddy a job with the film which is wonderfully atmospheric. I even didn't mind Keira Knightley too much in it! Definitely read the book first as the power is within the slow reveal.

Sunday, 25 August 2013


AKA Showcase Sunday

I had a lot on the blog last weekend so I skipped Showcase Sunday (no it wasn't because I broke my book buying ban). I did make it through to payday which was my aim and didn't throw myself into the Kindle sale in a catastrophic relapse. I did buy a couple of books from The Works though (see, the fact that I didn't buy three shows progress). They had The Shambling Guide to New York City which was fairly high on my wishlist and despite having a pile of unread Rebecca Chance books already, I have been tempted by reviews to read her latest. Yes, the new one is in The Works.

There's been a bit of an influx of women's fiction from Penguin, as well as post addressed to Ellie Warren (chick-lit blogger) which made me laugh. It is also a sign that you shouldn't worry that publishers are monitoring you carefully. Out of the three, Coco's Secret has gone onto the definitely will read pile as blurb reminds me a bit of A Vintage Affair.

I was excited to receive a copy of The Vampyre Family which is a non-fiction book about Byron and his friends (including the Shelleys). I already had it on my must-read non-fiction list (yeah, that list that is constantly forgotten, must try harder).

I think I've mentioned a few times that I'm a bit bored of generic crime fiction but this week I got a couple of crime books through that sound right up my street. Letters From a Murderer is a based on the premise that Jack the Ripper fled to New York to continue his crimes. I have been receiving mysterious postcards for the Game trilogy the last couple of weeks and finally one of the books turned up; they sound really dark and interesting plus I think the whole trilogy is being published in one go, which is always a bonus if you get sucked in.

There may have also been some over-excited NetGalley clicking. I'm still sticking around the 80% feedback mark so it's allowed. Honest!

For review:
The Vampyre Family by Andrew McConnell Stott (Canongate)
Game by Anders de la Motte (Blue Door)
Monsieur le Commandant by Romain Slocombe (Gallic Books)
Letters From a Murderer by John Matthews (Exhibit A)
Seven For a Secret by Lyndsay Faye (Headline)
Coco's Secret by Niamh Greene (Penguin)
Tempting Fate by Jane Green (Penguin)
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (Penguin)
All is Fair by Emma Newman (Angry Robot)
Tainted by A.E. Rought (Strange Chemistry)
Tempt the Stars by Karen Chance (Signet)
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (HarperCollins)

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty
Killer Queens by Rebecca Chance

Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits & Tea.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Win Earth Star by Janet Edwards!

Loved Earth Girl? Now's your chance to continue with Jarra's story in Earth Star. If you haven't read the first book yet, you can get it super cheap from most ebook retailers, just to prepare yourself for winning! Please read my reviews of Earth Girl and/or Earth Star (and then come back to enter).

This giveaway is open to European residents only.

You don't have to follow me to enter but you will earn extra entries for following/sharing and the like. Please use the Rafflecopter to enter and do not leave any personal details in the comments.

Big thanks to Harper Voyager for providing a copy of the book to give away.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

When the World Was Flat (and we were in love)

Lillie is dreaming of her death, over and over. But the important news in the small town of Green Grove, Nebraska, is that there’s a new boy in town. Whilst Lillie has a niggling sense of recognition, Tom ignores her, instead hanging out with Melissa and her popular crowd. He seems bored by life in their sleepy town. Yet his arrival changes everything.

When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) takes a YA cliché (instalove) and turns it into something special. As the story starts, it could be any contemporary story set in a high school. The small town is a buzz with the news of a new boy and on first sight, Lillie is drawn to him. Imagine if there was a scientific reason for this being so common?

The books starts with a quote from Einstein and there are a few references to him that will give you a clue. It’s an incredibly romantic story without being full of romance. If that makes sense at all.

I think the trick is not to overthink the theory too much. There were a couple of things that just didn’t make sense to me, but much further on, something is revealed which explains it. There’s still something that bothers me, wouldn’t there be more than one set of evacuees? Or is it just the chances of them being in the same place at the same time are just so slim… See, don’t think too much about it, you’ll be fine. Although it will be a great discussion for book groups.

The final lines are so simple yet so powerful. It’s a book I’d like to read again if I had time. There were parts I wasn’t convinced with but in hindsight I might be more accepting of. It is still an excellent book, you just need a bit of patience.

When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) is published by Strange Chemistry and will be available in paperback and ebook formats on 5th September 2013. There will also be a hardback US edition. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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Also reviewed @ Uncorked Thoughts

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

How to Survive a Horror Film

Guest post by James Dawson, author of Hollow Pike and Cruel Summer.

It’s nearly twenty years since the first Scream film arrived in cinemas. Since then post-modern teens in horror have been dissecting the clichés of the genre. Cruel Summer is no different. Early in the novel, main character Ryan notes the remote Spanish villa could be a horror film set and his words prove chillingly accurate. But how to survive a horror film or indeed novel?

1. Check reception
If you’re thinking of taking a rural diversion or having a secluded getaway, just check you can get at least one bar of phone signal. Or at the very least wifi.

2. Don’t put the weapon down
You might think the killer’s dead and yes, you may be disgusted at the gore on your hands, but never EVER cast the weapon aside.

3. Do the head
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve stabbed or shot the killer’s chest, if the head is intact, they’re coming back.

4. Don’t go into the basement
Because there is evil there.

5. Don’t investigate the ‘strange noise’
Because it is a murderer.

6. Abstain from drink, drugs and sex
This one is less reliable now, but, especially if you’re a girl, it pays to play it safe morally. You have to at least be in some way aspirational to survive.

7. Don’t split up
Does saving five minutes by investigating separately justify the dying? Answer me that.

8. Beware anniversaries
Did something really evil happen one, ten or a hundred years ago? If so GET OUTTA TOWN that weekend.

9. Choose your friends carefully
If one of your chums recently survived a massacre, it seems likely you’ll be drawn into a sequel. Avoid.

10. Avoid third act parties
Parents out of town for the weekend? That’s not a house party, it’s a massacre. Stay home and watch TV.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 Goals + Updates

Woohoo it's nearly Bout of Books time. Instead of waffling in text I have an 8 minute waffle on video to introduce you to my goals and what books I'm reading. I am so rubbish at video editing so I apologise for the huge pause between the title sequence and the video start, plus it's quiet as always so turn up the volume if you can't hear me!

P.S. I do not know where the horse impression came from at the beginning. It's meant to be a YAY. o_O

In brief, lots of reading, some blog visiting, some tweeting... I have 8 books on my pile but realistically? 5 would be good.

The Bone Season

The year is 2059. Clairvoyance is a crime. Those with the gift have three options; hide their voyance and try to live a normal life, turn themselves in to Scion and join the NVD hunting down their kind or turn to a life of crime with the mime-lords. Paige chose crime, now the favoured mollisher of Seven Seals, she uses her ability to effect the aether to benefit Jaxxon Hall, risking her life each time she does a job. Until one night everything changes.

Wow, where to begin? The Bone Season is the best urban fantasy of the year for me. Set in the future with an alternate past, so much planning has gone into this book and the world building is so well done. There’s never any feeling of info-dump and the history is woven into the characters’ stories. The monarchy was disbanded after King Edward VII went mad and Scion took over to control the voyant problem. It’s a cover story that may or may not have truth to it (really I would read a novel with just the backstory it’s so good) and Paige soon learns where Scion got their ideas from. There’s a place worse than the Tower where the voyants get taken.

Paige and many of the supporting characters have tough choices to make. There isn’t a black and white good or evil choice for them. I didn’t have a single eye rolly moment over what Paige does, she’s not stupid or thoughtless. But the home she is desperate to get back to isn’t all sunshine and puppies either. She doesn’t feel good about killing and she is caring; one act of compassion sets her on her way.

If you’re struggling with the terms at the start, there is a glossary in the back, but it all comes together quickly and most the voyant types have slang names which are descriptive of their powers. They can all use the aether to affect the spirit world, so there are ghosts but also other powers of the mind going on. I’ve not read anything quite like it before and it’s brilliant.

I won’t go into details on the Rephaim but what a fantastic creation. It’s so easy to pluck an existing supernatural creature out of your mind and use them but instead Samantha Shannon has given us a fearsome new foe. And the way they segregate the humans, marking out their status by colour, is something many have done throughout history. Turn them against each other and you don’t have to do the work yourself. But it's the interaction between Paige and her keeper, Warden, that really makes this book.

Apparently there are seven books planned and I cannot wait for more. It’s slightly depressing that the author is a mere 22 and has written such an accomplished debut. What was I doing at that age? If you like urban fantasy at all, please read this, you won’t regret it.

The Bone Season is published by Bloomsbury and is out now in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Earth Star

Earth Star is the sequel to Earth Girl and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous book.

The students of University Asgard’s Pre-History Foundation course are returning to Earth after a short break. Except for Jarra, who cannot leave due to her faulty immune system, and her twoing partner, Fian. They are moving from New York to the Eden dig site in Africa to continue their studies at Earth’s last new city. Surrounded by reclaimed rainforest, this site poses a whole new set of risks but Jarra and Fian are called away suddenly by the military; the Alien Contact programme has been activated.

I was quite excited when I started reading this and the alien sphere lurking above Earth was revealed. It could go two ways, destruction of planet earth or new found friends (was anyone else thinking they could be the key to a cure for the handicapped?). However the sphere isn’t doing much of anything and the military gather experts from all fields to work out what the risk of attack is. And what on Earth they should do about it. Literally on Earth, which has its own special problems. They can’t just evacuate the planet because the handicapped can’t leave, Jarra among them. Whilst some think the handicapped are an acceptable loss, the military is fortunately on Jarra’s side.

The realism maybe cuts down on the tension. It’s believable that there would be quiet times and it’s sensible for Jarra to return to normal life in-between things happening, but this is fiction and it takes away from the pace. This isn’t a race against time alien invasion but an archaeological adventure as before. And as we all know, archaeology done well takes time. I still enjoyed the history in the future aspect and the excavation scenes are oddly gripping. Earth has turned against humanity and the once safe cities are now death-traps. So moving some debris can be a life or death situation.

In the first book it felt a lot more like the world was against Jarra but now everything seems to fall in her lap. Things were just solved a little too simply in many ways, however I was very glad during a certain scene in the hospital where Fian veered her away from a stupid life choice. Which might have seemed like the perfect solution to her. Maybe the easy solutions were to contrast Jarra’s dramatics and over-thinking. She worries about something, but as soon as it stops being Jarra against the world and she trusts someone, things turn out to be easy.

There were some lovely scenes with the supporting characters and I loved the new locations on Earth. Especially Jarra’s brief visit to the pyramids. Do we meet aliens? Well that would be telling but one thing, the end will make you wish the next book was here right now. Bring on the future.

Earth Star is published by Harper Voyager and is available now in paperback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for for review via NetGalley.

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Also reviewed @ For Winter Nights

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Night School: Fracture

Night School: Fracture is the third book in the Night School series and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous books.

Following Jo’s murder, Allie is frustrated that no one is doing anything to find Gabe and Nathaniel. Life seems to go on as normal at Cimmeria Academy and she just can’t stand it. She devises a plan to escape and get justice for Jo. But how far will she get in the real world and is it safe beyond the gates?

Another page turning read in the Night School series. I don’t want to give too much away but Allie’s escape made me chuckle at the stark reality she faces. There’s no magic fixes in this world. It also sheds some more like on how deep the organisation behind Night School goes. As the story progresses, there is a real feeling of powerlessness against an entire world that is outside of their control.

Allie is a bit conflicted about her feelings for Carter and Sylvain. I loved Rachel’s explanation of friendship love and romantic love as well as the way it deals with the awkwardness of break-ups. The sort of break-ups that are more normal for teenagers that is. It was also nice to have one of Allie’s old friends back briefly, even if it just highlighted how far she’s come.

I’ve really been enjoying this series this month, so it’s bittersweet that I now have to wait for more. I’d definitely recommend to those who want a break from the paranormal but still want a good dose of intrigue and action. Now excuse me whilst I go back to pretending I actually went to a cool boarding school…

Night School: Fracture is published by Atom, the young adult imprint of Little, Brown, and is out today in paperback and ebook formats. Thanks go to Midas PR for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Night School: Legacy

Night School: Legacy is the sequel to Night School and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous book.

Allie is enjoying her short break at home before returning to Cimmeria Academy for the new term when she is followed by mysterious men in suits. Her quick thinking saves her this time and she is whisked back to the apparent safety of the school. As she is inducted into Night School, Allie starts to learn that the organisation is bigger than she thought as well as learning more about her family; the legacy that brought her to the door of Cimmeria.

I can’t promise you’ll have all the answers, but a lot more does become clear in the second instalment in this thrilling young adult series. We learn the main reason Allie was sent to the school and find out about her brother’s involvement with Nathaniel. Although I did feel Nathaniel was a bit of a forced villain, writing this after reading the next book, I understand his character better. I suppose that’s what comes out of holding information back. The students aren’t told everything just that he’s a bad man that wants to seize control.

I know a few people might be rolling their eyes at the return of the love triangle but I liked how Sylvain became the better boy despite what he did in the first book. Which let’s face it, everyone decided was unforgivable, but then he saved her life and throughout this book, he is forever doing and saying exactly the right thing. Whilst Carter starts to act controlling, something that is just as bad and can lead to so much worse. Whilst some love triangles are a bit silly, this one genuinely feels like a normal girl struggling with relationships and feelings. Because I’m pretty sure everyone fancied more than one person at school!

Allie has to face some tough decisions and do a lot of growing up. It all snowballs into a shocking climax and you’ll be reaching for the next book straight away. I did.

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Also reviewed @ Serendipity Reviews | Me, My Books and I

Source: Library