Saturday, 30 May 2009

Catching Fire cover

I was just taking a break from revision, when what did I stumble across but the beauteous UK cover for Catching Fire!
What do you think? I think it has more character than the US cover, but I can't really work out what it's meant to be! Snow maybe? I think the purple is a nice touch though - it's definitely eye-catching.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Book review - The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Nina’s been stuck at fifteen years old since 1973, when she was turned into a vampire. She’s also been stuck in a vampire support group with a group of vampires she’s sick of, including Casimir, the one who turned her. Nina may find other vampires irritating and hate going to their Tuesday evening meeting, but when they find one of their group staked, she realises it could get a whole lot worse. Rising to the challenge, the group are determined to find the slayer. Along the way, they get entangled with a computer geek, a couple of thugs, and a lot of adventure. And Nina discovers that maybe vampires aren’t as bad as she thought.

Mostly from the title, I was expecting The Reformed Vampire Support Group to be a fun vampire parody with not much plot. Instead it’s a humorous story full of adventure and interesting characters. It’s incredibly refreshing to encounter vampires that aren’t superhuman, sexy people who can do everything. Instead, Catherine Jinks makes vampirism a kind of handicap. Because they don’t drink human blood, the vampires aren’t very strong. The characters of the vampires, especially their self-elected leader Sanford, make the group seem like a bickering parish council or something.

The idea of being stuck with people that you would never choose to be stuck with, talking the same thing over and over isn’t a nice one. Nina may have lived for fifty-one years, but in many ways she’s still fifteen and the rest of the group treat her like it. This is extra annoying when she decided that something is the right thing to do and the rest of the group assume it’s because she has a teenage crush with no evidence. However, Nina’s more than up to challenge of proving to them all how capable she is and I love her attitude. She’s understandably scared, especially of being shot – she wouldn’t die, but losing half a brain or her lungs wouldn’t really improve her quality of life a lot – which just makes her more relatable than all the super-vampires around nowadays.

There’s just the right amount of romance, but the book is mostly adventure. I really enjoyed The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Not too serious, but not completely light and fluffy either, I think this book will appeal to a lot of people. It's also refreshing to have a good young adult book not set in America (not that I dislike books that are, it's just nice to have a change of scene). And of course, no vampire book is complete without a werewolf, so keep that in mind!
Sorry for neglecting the blog so long. I'm in the middle of exams, so going a little crazy. The good news is that from Monday onwards, I'm freeeee for the summer!! Other good news is that apparently one of my favourite ways of putting off exam revision is reading, so I've got a massive pile of books to review. They'll be up as soon as I can get them up.

Monday, 18 May 2009


Thank you to the super lovely Jo who gave me the Kreativ blogger award! Jo has a great blog with fantasy book reviews - go check it out!

* Post 7 things you love

* Give award to 7 other bloggers who are creative.

As I've said before, I don't think I'm as creative on my blog as I could be, but that is GOING TO CHANGE! Starting with my layout and banner, which I've still not got around to doing. I accept this award as a reminder of how creative I am going to be.

7 things I love:
* tea.
* sunshine
* friends
* books
* scarves
* different coloured highlighters
* finding out I have more time than I thought (I thought I had to be at uni for 12, but it's actually 1 we have the room booked for. An extra hour to spend catching up on my blog!)

I'm not going to pass this on to anyone in particular as it seems to have already made the rounds, so I'm throwing this open to anyone who hasn't had it yet. Go and be creative too!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Book review - Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Laurel has always been a bit different – she doesn’t like to eat much, she doesn’t need much sleep. Moving house and starting school after being homeschooled for years isn’t her idea of fun, but she goes along with it because her parents have started their dream business. David knows there’s something different about Laurel. He knows she’s special and he’s drawn to her. Now something is happening to Laurel, something impossible, something magical. And they have to find out what’s going on.

Wings is a fun, light read. It has an interesting take on faeries, but I felt there was something missing from this tale. We’ve only seen a sliver of a world that Aprilynne Pike clearly knows very well. My biggest problem is that the plot is fairly straightforward and stretched out for the size of the book. However, the plot that we do get is nicely written, with a refreshingly original take on faeries. Often books have 'original' takes on mythical creatures that are incredibly similar, but Aprilynne Pike has created a whole new species with the faeries in Wings.

Laurel is a sympathetic protagonist and her need to fit in will be understood by most teenagers. Her chemistry with David and Tam was believable, and her relationship with her parents was also nicely played out. The 'bad guys' of the book were a tad formulaic, their motives were never really explained. Other than that though, Wings has a cast of believable characters.

As I’ve said, the faeries are a stroke of genius. I just wish that Pike had packed more plot in. This is a fun, entertaining book, but I have to say that I see it appealing more to younger teens than older. Usually I ignore the distinctions between teenage books, because children’s books can be totally suitable for older readers too. In this case though, I’d say young to mid teens are the ideal audience for this book if they’re looking for light, magical entertainment.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Book review - The Falconer's Knot by Mary Hoffman

Chiara is a young girl sent to a convent by her brother after the death of her father. Silvano is the son of a Duke, on the run from accusations of a terrible crime. When a friary is plagued by a series of crimes, they and the neighbouring convent are horrified. Accusations are being thrown, secrets are being dragged up out of the past. The two reluctant novices find themselves in the centre of a dangerous mystery. Chiara and Silvano have to help to solve the mystery and fight to protect the friends they have surprised themselves by making. Because there’s a murderer on the loose.

Mary Hoffman’s area of expertise seems to be in creating medieval Italian intrigue, and she does it well. In Falconer’s knot this isn’t court intrigue, but far more complicated, spanning all ranges of class from the nobility to merchants to friars. This complexity is handled well. Although I had suspicions about one crime, for the most part I didn’t know who the murderer would turn out to be, making it more page-turning.

Chiara and Silvano were a nice pair. Because the friars and nuns were separate, their relationship begins slowly, with each noticing the other around and speculating about them. I appreciated this slow start as often with young adult books the relationships begin at breakneck speed. The older characters were interesting role models. Those whose stories begin with no apparent correlation are very cleverly twisted together to reveal interesting relationships between the characters, and one complete story.

The Falconer’s Knot is a cleverly plotted tale with several separate strands twisted together. As a murder mystery it held my attention and entertained me. I don’t think I’ll feel the need to re-read this though. Despite the intricate intrigue, I found that the writing itself feels underdeveloped. Somehow the characters are complex enough for a first glance, but I felt that looking at them further would make no difference; their characterisation was only page deep, as it were. I can’t imagine them as people outside the pages of the book. This isn’t a problem for the first read though, especially as they are very interesting 2D characters, if that makes sense. It’s worth reading for the intelligent plotting and mystery element.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


I've emailed all of the winners for the Extreme Kissing giveaway. has spoken, and the winners are...

Sarah K
Lauren Michelle

I have most of your addresses, but I still need yours Llehn, so check your inbox!

Congrats to the winners. Hope you enjoy the book!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Gayle Forman's European tour

I've really not been on top of posting this week. I've just started my revision for end of year exams and it's a bit crazy. I am reading though. I have a nice big pile of library books next to my text books and I'm working my way through both!

To tide you over, I have some good news for any UK readers who feel like all the good YA events happen in the US - Gayle Forman, author of the lovely If I Stay, is coming to the UK this week! On Monday 11th of May she's in Glasgow and on Thursday 14th she's signing at Harrods. Then on to Paris and Amsterdam. For more details and other events check out her events page. I can't get to any of them as I'm busy this week unfortunately. But anyone who can, go and have fun!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Book review - Newes from the Dead by Mary Hooper

A terrified girl is hanged for the murder of a baby. She denies the accusations until the end, when she is hanged. Her body is cut down, one of the five corpses a year that the Oxford physicians are allowed to dissect. As interested scholars and doctors gather, they get a horrible shock. Her eyelids flutter. Could she still be alive? And yet she doesn’t move. The doctors are mystified. Should they try to revive the seemingly dead body? And if they managed it, wouldn’t she just be hanged all over again?

This is a really unusual storyline. It’s rather unbelievable, I agree. But even more unbelievable is the fact that it was based on a true story. As soon as I discovered that I wanted to get myself a copy of Newes From the Dead. Not only is it based on a true story, but it feels accurate. I’m sure Mary Hooper embellished the story a lot, but she did this with discretion. It doesn’t feel sensationalised, just more personal.

We get the narrative split up between Anne and a young scholar, Robert. Anne has woken up not knowing where she is, unable to see anything or move. Afraid that she is either in purgatory or has been buried alive, she distracts herself by going over the events in her head, basically telling her own story. In between these chapters is the account of what is happening in the doctors’ rooms. This works well as the speculation from the doctors regarding her trial coincides with Anne’s own account.

As far as characters, some are interesting and some underdeveloped. Unfortunately, Anne felt too flat. The author apparently tries to make her innocence clear by making her overly naive. This was taken too far, especially for a servant in 1650. On top of this, Anne seemed immature and had little redeeming features. She was simply the embodiment of ‘innocent young girl greatly wronged.’ On the other hand, I loved the dialogue between the scholars and Robert especially. Robert is struggling with a stammer, unable to talk to people but he finds that he can talk to Anne’s motionless body.

Despite some small problems, I enjoyed Newes from the Dead. The time period was realistically portrayed and the lack of justice for the lower classes is shocking. Younger readers should be aware that the book deals with some seduction, hanging and giving birth. These are handled well so aren’t too gruesome, but are integral to the plot. It’s an interesting and well-written read, but not too hard-going.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Guess who's only a billion years behind everyone else?

That's right, me!

I've finally got a twitter account at
Sharon has compiled a good list of book blogger twitterers which I am slowly working my way through.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Book review - If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay releases in the UK as a hardback on 7th May. It's already out in several other countries.

Mia has a close family, friends, and a wonderful boyfriend. Sometimes this makes it harder for her to decide about the future. However difficult her decisions are though, her life is set to be full of music, happiness, love. Then in an instant, on a snowy road, her life changes forever. She faces the hardest decision of all, and she’s more alone than she’s ever been.

Just listen,’ Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can. And I listen.
Stay,’ he says.

I thought I knew what this book was going to be. Having read the reviews, I figured I knew the plot. I expected it to be an amazingly written book that could only really end one way.

Then I started reading. Mia’s family were so believable, especially her little brother Teddy. I could almost see the whole family chatting around the breakfast table. Thankfully the pacing at the beginning was fast – I was expecting a long and dragging build-up. And suddenly, I wasn’t so confident that it could only end one way. The writing gripped me and I was invested in the characters. Not just Mia, but also her grandparents, Adam, Kim. I not only cared what would happen to Mia, but I cared how it would affect all those who had joined together to support her. The past and present was weaved together nicely to give a greater depth to all of the characters.

The book reads quite quickly, maybe because I was paying so much attention to it. For a relatively small book (210 pages), it’s packed with breath-taking story and doesn’t feel at all rushed. There is just enough plot to sustain it, especially as it's so short, but If I Stay is more a character study, a snapshot of Mia's life and choice than anything else. I wasn’t quite sure about the ending at first. It left me wanting more, wanting to know how her decision affects everyone instead of cutting off so quickly. Now I’ve considered it, I feel that the book is a story about a decision – it’s about the choice itself. The difficulty of the choice as opposed to the difficulty of the effects of that choice.

Mia’s decision was especially poignant. I cried more than once reading this, and I don’t cry when I read books. I not only felt her sadness, but understood it. A good writer can make you care when their character is in trouble. A great writer can make you understand the trouble, even if it’s something that you yourself can’t personally comprehend. For me, If I Stay was an example of the latter. It was a beautiful, uplifting book. I recommend it for those looking for a book with substance and heart.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Giveaway Reminder

The Exteme Kissing giveaway ends this Wednesday, March 6th. I haven't had many UK entries, so if you are from the UK and want to read this fun book, enter! Or if you've already read it and liked it, please spread the word and give your friends a heads up about this.

The contest is also open internationally (the rules are explained here) So the upshot is, wherever you're from, you can win!

Friday, 1 May 2009

An update

Neon shoes + fabric paint = A Bad Idea


If my post yesterday wasn't enough, Steph Su has posted an interview with me as her Friday Featured Blogger! Her blog is one of my favourites, with very thoughtful book reviews - if she likes a book then I try to look out for it. Thanks for having me Steph.

Also also,

Lenore said she'd like to see my uninteresting cat. So here she is. She hates the camera, so this is actually quite rare to get a photo with her eyes open.

Despite what you might think from my description of her, I do actually like Sophie. But it can't be denied that she doesn't do very much. She's very good at lying but I don't think this counts as interesting like sitting in a pan does. And she definitely wouldn't let me put scrabble tiles on her.