My Catchphrases

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Saturday Spotlight: Guest Post: A Letter from Glenda Millard


Two young boys, an old tramp, a beautiful teenage dancer, and the girl's baby-ragtag survivors of a sudden war-form a fragile family, hiding out in the ruins of an amusement park. As they scavenge for food, diapers, and baby formula, they must stay out of sight of vicious gangs and lawless solders. At first they rely on Billy, the only adult in the group. But as civil life deteriorates, Billy starts to fall apart. Skip, who is barely into his teens, must take over and lead them on a search for sanctuary.

Blog 30 April 2011

Dear Book Angel,

Thank you for your invitation to write a guest blog. I've decided to write it in the format of a letter, albeit one you may share with your followers. This way I hope to express my feelings more personally, about the topic you've chosen for me. I hope you'll read this letter as though it were from a friend, a concerned ally or an associate in the business of bringing books to a wider audience.

I was dismayed to hear of the situation in the UK regarding funding cuts and closure of public libraries. It made me think for a moment of an Australian television series titled 'The Librarians' - a comic drama about the lengths to which a librarian will go to keep her library from closure. Selling guided tours, providing morning teas and becoming an agency for a commercial video store might be funny to watch on television, but not so humorous in reality. Could these be the sorts of things our public libraries will have to resort to in future to keep their doors open and stock their shelves?

In Australia the government is funding the development of massive new secondary schools to be populated by students trawled from smaller, soon-to-be-redundant,schools. Big is better we are told. There is money to be had for state-of-the-art buildings, up-to-the-minute technology, sporting facilities and so on. But I was shocked to learn from teacher friends and associates that libraries are not being given priority in the design of these new buildings. The space allocated must often be shared – in one case as an annexe to the canteen to double as an indoor eating space during lunch hour! Thankfully, a more suitable arrangement was negotiated. But even sadder than these sorts of compromises, many schools no longer have dedicated librarians.

If the number of public libraries (including school libraries) decline, where will the disadvantaged get their fix of books? Where can readers gather in their lunch breaks, after school or work or on weekends? What will happen to those no longer able to find refuge, delight, reassurance, inspiration, courage and respite in borrowed books?

In a series of novels I've written for younger readers, the Silk family choose not to have a television or to be connected to the internet. For them, real books and reading, both alone and to one another, are an integral way of life. We are not all so fortunate as this. In A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, Skip, the homeless hero of the book discovers a whole new world in a public library. Things he'd never experienced in his life as a foster child, as a runaway. Things that give him hope for a better future, that make him determined to succeed.

Of course these examples are fiction, but here is true instance of how libraries and librarians play an essential role in nourishing community. Last year I visited an inner-city government school with a high population of migrants. I went because I'd read a newspaper article about a young teacher from that school who had single-handedly started a movement to get books for her students, most of whom came from homes where English was not spoken. The teacher explained that she asked her students to bring their favourite book from home. To her dismay, most of them had no book to bring. One of the few, who came with anything, brought a sample chapter of a book that had been taped to a cereal packet. When word of this sad fact was made public by the teacher, books came from everywhere; book shops, other schools, authors, but mostly, just ordinary, everyday, concerned people. The joyful outcome was that these children now read to their parents, teach them English, from these most treasured possessions...books.

Those of you who have read A Small Free Kiss in the Dark might have guessed how much I love libraries. The one depicted in the book is actually a real one in Melbourne, the capital city of the state of Victoria where I live. When I was a child, there wasn't much money to spare and books were usually given as gifts at Christmas and for birthdays. But I still had access to books through the public library system. I left school at 15, but credit my ability to write to my love of reading and being read to. That was how I found out about beginnings, middles and endings, similes and metaphors. That was how I learnt the rhythm of words, the poetry, and the music of them.

I'm lucky now, I can buy books whenever I want to, yet I still think of them as gifts. But sometimes I believe a book can be more of a gift when it isn't owned. If it's taken from the shelves of a public library by someone who owns no books, it is indeed a precious gift.

You and I, Book Angel, and our families live in privilege and plenty. Yet we share the same beautiful planet with people who have little or no access to books. This is a tragedy. Politicians purport to understand poverty, but I wonder if they understand that the soul must be fed as well as the body. Perhaps it is up to us, you and I and our community of book-lovers, to do what the young teacher at North Carlton in Melbourne did - cause a public outcry to effect change. I wish you well in your quest to bring books to the world.

With kind regards

Glenda Millard.

I am so in awe of this guest post. Beautifully written and truly unique, there was just no introduction I could make. A huge thank you to Glenda for writing it.  

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Musical Moments: Songs I Get Obsessed With: Current Obsessions


Do you ever have songs that you have to listen to everyday for ages, you sing along too and as soon as they come on the radio you crank the volume up and sing at the top of your voice. Lol, well these are a few of mine, even my girls know the words *sniggers*

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Review: Die For Me by Amy Plum

Title: Die For Me
Series: Revenants
Author: Amy Plum
Publisher: Atom
Publication Date: 5 May 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon
My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything. Suddenly, my sister, Georgia and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent. Mysterious, sexy and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies...immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

Due to the compelling nature of this book I did not make as many notes as I usually do while reading. Typically I jot stuff down as it wafts through mind like a cool breeze and gets lost just as quickly. Hence I am trying to piece together a comprehensive review from words randomly written down such as OMG, awesome, *swoon* including little stars by it. At least you know I liked it right [ ; D ]

From the synopsis you can already see that the narration is first person from Katie's point of view. At 16 she has gone to live in Paris with her sister and grandparents following the untimely death of her parents in a car crash. Her grief and desperation are palpable from the pages, so realistic and identifiable, instantly bonding me with her, especially where she prefers to escape into a fantasy world to relieve the pressure of the real one. She has such a strength of character that really progresses her character through the prose, level headed and mature in her attitude.  She embarks on an emotionally turbulent journey with extreme highs and lows.

The rich descriptive imagery brought Katie's world to life in my imagination. The reference to Armani underwear models had me snorting with laughter, lightening the atmosphere. Her grandparents are what I imagine to be typical older generation french, very laid back and elegant, wonderfully supportive yet surprisingly liberal in attitude. I was irritated by Georgia, Katie's sister, she was shallow, narcissistic and immature but you could not escape the fact that her love for Katie was her real driving force.

The plot is revealed in little nibbles spaced tantalising apart, perfectly spaced for compulsive page turning; I practically devoured this feast of a book in one sitting only putting it down at 2am in order to get some sleep before school the next day.

Although the Revenants are referred throughout as zombies I just could not reconcile the idea of them being zombies to the image I had in my head. To me the Revenants were akin to Guardian Angels - giving their lives to save others souls - doesn't get more guardian angel than that. OK so they are the walking living dead with the ability to regenerate - who cares - to me they are definitely angels. Making the Numa (the evil zombies) the devils. So if you have angels and devils fighting for the souls of humans what kind of story that I love do we have - yes you guessed a giant battle of good and evil *sssswwwooonnnn*

Be warned there are some serious romantic moments throughout, thank goodness it's a paranormal romance cos I am pretty sure I have not met a man can live up to this kind of ramance. I tip my imagery hat to Katie for being so level headed and not going all completely gushy. She is determined to take her time with the relationship she and Vincent are forging. Savouring every moment of their time together.

As I stated at the beginning of this review I didn't take many notes so I hope my review makes some sense. Unfortunately I am struggling with how to sum it up unless I use the note words I had written - OMG, awesome and *swoon*. And on a personal note to Amy and Atom - you guys are killing me by making me wait an entire year for the next book [ ; D ]

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Current Creeptastic Trailers


The tiny town of Cryer’s Cross is shocked when a local schoolgirl disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, sixteen-year-old Kendall is freaked out by seeing the empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on… until Kendall's boyfriend disappears.
Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects the missing. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk that they both sat at… Then she begins receiving messages. Can her boyfriend be alive somewhere? How can Kendall help him? The only person who will listen is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating…and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into the mysterious disappearances only to stumble upon some ugly – and deadly – local history.
Kendall is about to find out just how far people will go to keep their secrets buried…

Something deadly waits beneath the waves off Winter Harbour, and this summer, no one's safe. Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of the dark. And heights. And the ocean. And pretty much everything else. Fortunately, Vanessa’s fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to comfort her. That is until Justine jumps off a cliff near their family’s holiday home in Winter Harbour, her lifeless body washing ashore the next day. Everyone assumes that the tragedy is an accidental result of Justine’s adventurous ways. Everyone, that is, except Vanessa. Vanessa returns to Winter Harbour alone, looking for answers from Caleb Carmichael, Justine’s summer love who was with her when she jumped. But when Vanessa learns that Caleb has been missing since Justine’s death, she joins forces with Caleb’s older brother, Simon, to try to find him. Soon, it’s not just Vanessa who is afraid. Panic sweeps through Winter Harbour as more bodies wash ashore, all male, each victim found grinning from ear to ear. And as the death toll mounts, Vanessa realises that to save Caleb and solve the mystery of her sister's death, she has to confront a secret she’s kept for years - one that could end her summer romance with Simon and even life as she knows it. An utterly gripping paranormal romance for Twilight fans sick of copy-cat vampire novels but in love with paranormal romance.

Ari can't help feeling lost and alone. With her teal coloured eyes and freakish silver hair that can't be changed or destroyed, she has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is. When her search for answers uncovers just one message with the word 'RUN' from her long dead mother, Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it's impossible to protect herself when she doesn't know who or what she's running from, or why she is being pursued. Ari knows only one thing for certain: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Here, Ari discovers that she is seemingly normal; however, every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, appears to be afraid of her. Determined to find out why, Ari begins to uncover the truth about her life, but it seems that some truths are too disturbing and too terrifying to ever be revealed.

Aren't they just brilliant. I want to read them instantly.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Saturday Spotlight: Guest Post: Libraries are Calm, Knowledge, Inspiration and Freedom by Clover (Fluttering Butterflies)


This weeks beautiful post about libraries comes from the talented Clover from Fluttering Butterflies. I will hand over to Michelle:
My dad used to always tell me stories about how I'd always pester him to read and re-read my favourite books to me over and over again before I learned to read by myself. He'd tell stories about how different my older brother and I were - how he'd always be outside running around playing, and how I could always be found somewhere reading a book. I've loved books my entire life, I really don't know where or what I'd be without them.

Growing up, my dad could never keep up. He'd buy me books and I would fly through them and ask for more (I still have battered old copies of Charlotte's Web and the Ramona Quimby books!). So very early on, he would more often than not rely on the local libraries to keep me satisfied and with enough books to read. And oh, how I've always had very fond memories of libraries growing up. When I was very little, I'd love the bright colours and the posters on the walls. I loved browsing the shelves and finding new surprises.

When I was 6, I wandered into the non-fiction section and picked up a book about Louis Pasteur, the man responsible for the process of pasteurizing milk and making milk safer to drink. I wouldn't talk about anything else for weeks and my dad and teachers were surprised as it was a book usually only older children would pick up and only when required to write a book report of some sort, not generally read for fun. Finding that book at the library inspired me, if only for a short while, to pursue an interest in science. Later, I remember picking up a series of books about historical American girls that had me fascinated. There were so many interesting facts and things to learn that I had no idea about. The library inspired that knowledge.

Without libraries, I'm not sure that I'd have had such a lifelong interest in learning or for reading. While having good intentions, my dad always tried to steer me down a path of reading stodgy and boring classics that he thought would 'benefit my mind' whereas for the most part, I just wanted to read something fun. In fact, I clearly remember distinct phases growing up of the books and series that I read and loved and discovered at the library that my dad probably wouldn't have approved of - The Babysitter's Club. Goosebumps and Fear Street by RL Stine, books by VC Andrews! I don't think that it matters that I was reading books like these at all, because they instilled in me a love of reading! How excited I was to find a new book in my favourite series amongst the New Arrivals shelves! It would make my entire day.

Late in elementary school and into middle school, I went through a phase of only reading books about Native Americans. I had just started becoming aware of own heritage (of being half Native-Alaskan on my mother's side) and I found that reading books about other Native American girls made me feel a lot less alone. And at this point in my life, I desperately needed that. As our family moved around a lot, I had to live through more first-days-at-a-new-school too many times to count. I was never very sociable, more the anxious, quiet child and I didn't cope very well with so many changes. But I always thought of libraries as my 'happy place' - a place where I knew who I was - a bookworm as opposed to being the new girl in a strange new environment. At one particularly awkward phase of my life, I'd suffer from terrible anxiety and panic attacks at the idea of walking into a new classroom and in order to breathe again, I'd visit the only place on campus where I felt OK - the library.

And in the library, I could go anywhere in books and forget about my life for a little while. I remember reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi for the first time and The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell and I was transported to different times and places and I became Charlotte and Karana. And libraries gave me access to that sort of freedom.

When I was older, I began volunteering in my school libraries. My high school librarian, Nicola, in particular gave me wonderful recommendations (she was the first person to introduce me to the Collected Works of Jane Austen and how I am grateful to her for that!) and she'd actually listen to my suggestions for what to stock in the library. As I was going through my social justice phase during the early years of my high school career, on my suggestion, the library became stocked with books about self-harm and the autobiographies of Waris Dirie, the model who underwent female genital mutilation in Africa. Nicola and I would bounce our favourite books off of each other and I'd end up reading books by authors that I'd never consider before - Isabel Allende and John Steinbeck and Sylvia Plath.

I will always have very fond memories of libraries from my childhood. Libraries are absolute havens of knowledge and inspiration and freedom. It gave me an escape from the difficult aspects of my life, libraries gave me hope and a place that I could breathe and be myself. They opened new worlds to me and helped me to be comfortable with who I am.

Many thanks to Michelle for that beautiful guest post.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Review: Personal Demons by Lisa Desroches

Title: Personal Demons
Series: Pesonal Demons
Author: Lisa Desroches
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: 4 Oct 2010

Source: UK Book Tours

Synopsis: From Amazon
Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She has spent years keeping everyone at a distance even her closest friends and it seems like her senior year is going to be more of the same...until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can't stay away from him. What she doesn t know is that Luc is on a mission. He's been sent from hell itself to claim Frannie's soul. It should be easy all he has to do is get her to sin, and Luc is as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn't stand a chance. But Luc has to work fast, because if the infernals are after her, the celestials can't be far behind. And sure enough, it's not long before the angel Gabriel shows up, willing to do anything to keep Luc from getting what he came for. But if Luc fails, there will be hell to pay...for all of them.

As I have stated many times I love angels, demons and the good old fashioned battle of good against evil. Therefore thsi was a perfect book for me. A hot angel, a hot demon and a completely relatable love triangle (even with the burn-out).

Written in first person narrative with alternating perspectives of Frannie and Luc. Oh boy don't get me started on Luc *super swoon* having spent 500 years perfecting the art of being the spawn of the devil he is bad to the core or is he [ ; D ] An intellectual bad boy OMG Gimme [ ; D ] Luc's dilemma and his internal monologues are both funny and endearing *double swoon*.

Frannie on the other hand retains an air of mystery, pieces of her puzzle are strategically placed and don't actually fit together until near the end adding to the plot. I was really moved by her diary to her dead brother, Matt. A sub-plot in its own right, the discovery of what exactly happened to Matt and why Frannie feels responsible. The description of her visions and the physical effect it has on her raised my sympathy even more for her. She carries so much guilt around with her that it affects her ability to love, so realistically portrayed my heart ached.

I loved the use of putting smells to emotions, I am positive there really is something to that, the effect of pheromones on the subconscious as proof that it really does happen.  The inspired use of hell references within the narrative added a sense of humour to the prose. The weaving of religious history within the plot was very interesting adding substance to the story. There is a lot of information to take in regarding the different divisions of heaven and hell but it added insight into the battle of good against evil, showing that there isn't just black and white but shades in-between. I thought it was funny the way in which Luc and Gabe's appearance paralleled their nature, it did make me giggle.

Although I do think there are a number of cliches with the appearance, nature and especially the decorating in Luc and Gabe's homes, it is humorous and intentionally obvious, so much so that it is like a signpost to their personalities/nature and it did make me snigger.

The music references throughout were amazing and sent me scurrying to YouTube. The reference to the band Incubus paralleling the actual Incubus in the story was hysterical and added a lightness to what could have been a very dark moment.

One 'religious' thing I do honestly believe in is the existence of a soul. The way it was described in this book was truly beautiful.

So if you want a book that will give you sizzling chemistry, fast paced action, loyal and realistic friendship, the giant battle of good versus evil as well as truly awesome music references then this is the book for you. I loved it.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Musical Moments: Guest Post: Colin Mulhern: Rebellion


I am so excited to host a guest post by Colin Mulherne on his musical influence for his book Clash:

Alex: school psycho and under-ground cage-fighting champion. Kyle: talented artist, smart school-boy and funny man. When Alex witnesses a brutal murder at the club he can't go back to The Cage, but without fighting, he starts to lose control. He soon sets his sights on Kyle, a boy he thinks can help. But Kyle has his own problems and he's convinced Alex is one of them. Boys can play dangerous games when they're scared and this one will haunt everyone involved. What will it take for each boy to confront the truth?

Over to Colin:

The Rebellious Writer

I really wanted to include a quote at the beginning of Clash. The quote I very nearly went for was by a punk band called Subhumans, and the track was People Are Scared.

Nobody says anything on buses

And it's not the noise the engine makes

You can watch them all staring nervous

Sit at the back it's the safest place

The majority of the song is about people’s fear of change, of being controlled by your own paranoia. It seems so safe on a personal level, but it escalates and spreads, poisoning the whole of our society. Clash was a reaction to the side of me that kept trying to conform again and again and write what I thought Young Adult fiction should be. I kept getting messages from agents saying I was very close, that my writing was good but the story just didn’t have the edge they wanted. In the end I thought, ‘sod them all,’ and decided to write something purely for myself. Such a rebellious approach (rather than giving up) was fuelled by all those childhood years of listening to punk bands. In writing the first few scenes of Clash, I quickly realised that I’m still the kid who jumped about to the Sex Pistols, Stiff Little Fingers and Angelic Upstarts.

The same theme runs through the story. Both boys have to make difficult choices and learn to stand up for themselves. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but each is put in a situation where they either bottle everything up or fight back. As the book is set in the nineties (though this is never really stated) it was the bands that I listened to in the nineties, not the seventies, that came to mind. So Subhumans was one, the other quote that came to mind is from a band called Napalm Death, the track is called Mentally Murdered:

Do you posses the strength,

To recreate your own life?

I used to have this printed on the back of a t-shirt. Essentially, it means the same as the first quote, but it really sticks out because the band themselves were testament to that attitude. Not many people got Napalm Death, in fact, many metal fans saw Napalm Death as a joke, but they were cutting new paths, trying to convey aggression and social frustration through grinding guitar riffs and distorted vocals. I still think their track “Rise” has the best musical introduction of any rock song.

In the end though, I decided to hold back on a quote and let the book stand on its own. After all, inspiration is just the starting point of a long journey. For me, both quotes are still there, hiding behind the words. So rather than spell it out, I’d prefer readers to pick up on that feeling of rebellious independence for themselves. Who knows, maybe someone out there with a guitar and a few friends might be inspired to pen their own lyrics. That would be class.

Thank you Colin for that insight into the musical influences behind Clash I have to tell you the music choices take me back to my late teens when my walkman (as it was then) was filled with Metallica, Anthrax, The Sex Pistols and even a little Napalm Death. Thanks for the trip down memory lane [ : D ]

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Review: Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Title: Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance
Author: Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 7 Mar 2011

Source: Publisher - thank you

Synopsis: From Amazon
Teen TV celebrities Jenna and Jonah (real names, Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers) make more money in a month than most people do in a lifetime. They can't stand to be in the same room as each other, but to boost the TV ratings their agents make them a 'real life' couple. Then the deception is uncovered by the paparazzi, and Charlie and Fielding have to disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realise there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

Firstly it is easy to fall into the assumption that this is a girlie book due to its vivid pink cover, although I do think it is a predominately 'girl' read it holds appeal to males who might be put off by the pinkness of said cover.

As you might imagine with both a male and a female author partnership the story is told in first person narrative with chapters written from Jenna's point of view complimented by chapters in Jonahs perspective. I adored the different effect and tone of voice that each character had. Jenna has a more direct snarky narrative voice whereas Jonah has a softer, contemplative voice. Surprising if you go by male and female stereotyping. The direct address to the reader made me personally invested in the outcome of their relationship.

This is one of  those books that will draw you in, I actually devoured it in one sitting. I just couldn't let the story go until it had reached its conclusion. I felt as if the story were an emotional roller-coaster ride as I followed Jenna and Jonah get to know each other and themselves. Having to redefine their relationship after so many years of faking it, and without a script to guide them. Talk about not seeing the wood for the trees [ : D ]

The insight into celebrity life and the paparazzi was realistic and added to the feeling that Jenna and Jonah no longer knew who they really were, the sense of loss at their screen persona's being taken away. This was reinforced by the description of them only being known by their screen names and not their real names.

The use of Much Ado about Nothing and the parallels in personality and situations between the characters they play and their true self was genius. the realisations they both experience via this play was fantastic to follow.

This is one of those books that will make you laugh and cry along with the main characters in other words I loved it.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Trailer Tuesday: The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees and Giveaway

Violetta and Feste have come to London to rescue the holy relics taken from the church in Illyria by the evil Malvolio. Their journey has been long and their adventures many, but it is not until they meet the playwright William Shakespeare that they get to tell the entire story from beginning to end! But where will this remarkable tale ultimately lead Violetta and her companion? And will they manage to save themselves, and the relics from the very evil intentions of Malvolio.

Thanks to the generosity of the publishers I have a copy of this fabulous book to give-away. To enter just fill out the form below. Open until Midday Friday 29th April. You do not have to be a follower to enter but I won't stop you if you want to be [ ; D ] Open Internationally. Winners to be announced Saturday 30th April.


Monday, 18 April 2011

MG Monday: Review: Wolven by Di Toft

Title: Wolven
Series: Wolven
Author: Di Toft
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: 3 Aug 2009

Source: Library

Synopsis: From Amazon
WOLVEN is a fantasy firmly rooted in the mysterious present. A boy and his eccentric grandparents live near a strange wood - apparently cursed. He longs for a dog - but the dirty ungainly farm creature finally found by his grandfather hardly fits his image of the perfect pet. And it howls in the night. But it's only when his dog starts to grow human ears that he realises that something is seriously wrong. The truth is stranger than his wildest dreams -the boy who appears, alarmingly unpredictably, is a kind of special werewolf in reverse. A noble, almost heraldic breed of WOLVEN - the kings own werewolves from ancient times, who have been in hiding until rediscovered by evil government scientists who are trying to breed werewolves as weapons.

This book just jumped out at me from the instant I set eyes on it. The cover is holographic and a lot of my pupils played with it much to my annoyance when I was trying to read it in a free lesson. The basic premise of the story gives the saying 'man's best friend' a whole new meaning. Plus there is a nefarious secret government society, you know I love conspiracy theories.

Following an intriguing start the story begins to fill with an array of colourful characters glorious to imagine. The ingenious use of Greek mythology added to the basic storyline giving the narrative another dimension.The use of third person omniscient narration allows insight into the multi-levels of the plot without being distracting or losing focus.

The descriptive writing style appeals to all the senses - not particularly appealing when you have a horrific, smelly werewolf in you imagination. The colloquialisms and regional dialect used added to the realism and three dimensional quality of the characters. The realism of the prose was also aided by the topical references to farming, animal experimentation and hunting. Some of the imagery conjured with regard to the tortured wolven was quite horrific and might not be suitable to more sensitive children.

The weaving of medieval history into the narrative was a masterful stroke; the similarities expressed between the Templar's and witches including their persecution was fascinating. The way in which education was depicted via television has humorous but also quite scary on a subconscious level. the funny references and one liners from commercials and TV shows lighten the atmosphere. I felt really, really old at the mention of The Wurzels (my mum used to listen to them).

The suspense is well paced, little tidbits of information are scattered through the narrative developing the background plot. The depiction of bullies being cowards underneath really shone through the story. 'Man's' cruelty in the pursuit of power brought up images of Hitler and the atrocities and horror he caused in his quest for domination.

There are a few surprises along the way but the conclusion to the story was nice, the open ending promising adventures to come. I for one will certainly be picking up the next book to see what is in store for Nat and Woody.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

In My Mailbox #14-11

In My Mailbow is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. This weeks mailbox has special thanks to Kirsty at The Overflowing Library, Sya from The Mountains of Instead, Lyndsey from Heaven, Hell and Purgatory Book Reviews and Susan from Susan K Mann. Thank you for feeding my book addiction and the school library [ ; D ]

For Review:

Gifted from the lovely Kirsty of The Overflowing Library
I was supposed to go to The London Book Fair - I even had permission from school to attend but couldn't afford the train fair - so Kirsty kindly got me this signed book <3 - Thank goodness for friends

Gifted from the wonderful Sya at The Mountains of Instead

I read The Chosen One (click link for review) last year - Carol Lynch Williams writes such difficult topics with such insight that althoug I am sure this will take me out of my comfort zone I HAVE to read it

I popped into Tesco to pick up some things for the Librarian end of term get together and came out with 2 books as well - curse you BOGOF [ : D ]

Sounds really good for my MG feature

For an event - thank you Atom

Gifted from beautiful Lyndsey at Heaven, Hell and Purgatory Book Reviews 


Charity shop find [ : D ]

Gifted for the school library by the generous Susan K Mann

Some fabulous books for both me and the school library. Off to catch up on commenting. I love your blogs <3 Thanks for visiting mine *hugs*

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Saturday Spotlight: Guest Post: Simon Mason: Libraries are Precious


As a Librarian I love hearing stories about how other people view libraries and the influence it has had on them. Today it is my pleasure to host Simon Mason author of Moon Pie with his feelings about libraries. Over to Simon:

When I was a kid growing up in Sheffield in the 1960s and 1970s I went once or twice a week to my local library in Ecclesall, a small and unassuming place full of wonders. Here I read all the Enid Blyton novels I could lay my hands on, and the Brer Rabbit stories, and the Moomintroll books, and Wind in the Willows, and, later, the ‘Narnia’ books and The Lord of the Rings – and dozens of other books whose titles I have forgotten but which worked their magic on me just the same. I went there to events and activities too, and to hear recordings of books on vinyl disks – and, of course, I took it all for granted.

It was always full. Thatcher closed it in the eighties. Not needed, apparently. Which is odd because, as soon as possible, a great deal of fuss was made locally to start it up again – and, twenty years later, it’s still going strong. I bet it’s still full too.

Now I live in Oxford. When our children were small we went once a week to the Children’s Section of the Central library, to get books. Picture books at first, then ‘chapter books’, then proper novels. Lots of different stuff. One of the great beauties of a library is the choice it offers, the freedom to follow your nose, to just grab something and run with it. We used to grab indiscriminately: ‘What about a spy thriller? What about a book of African folk tales? How about this facts book on the Arctic?’ We found authors the kids liked, and read all their books. We found a subject the kids loved – on Whales or Birds or Victorian Poisoners – and read everything on it we could (there was always lots). And if we ran out of ideas or energy, there was always the librarian to ask. She looked a bit fierce, but she was lovely – and incredibly knowledgeable.

Now my children are grown up. I go to the library on my own, once or twice a week, getting books for myself or my wife. I follow my nose. I try this, I try that. I know now that the library is something so rich I will never come to the end of it. Unless the council, forced to make cuts, decide to close it down. And they might well, actually. After all, people can buy books if they want them, can’t they? I’d love someone from the council to spend a bit of time in the library. See how full it always is. See people, not just borrowing books, but borrowing DVDs, CDs, using the internet, using the local history centre – see ideas taking hold of people, see thoughts growing in the minds of the children.

Something so precious is surely worth preserving.

Simon Mason is a novelist for adults and children. His novel for 9+ readers, Moon Pie, is out now. He is also the author of The Rough Guide to Classic Novels – a book about some of the fantastic books he has borrowed from libraries.

Someone has to keep their head, as Mum used to say, and 11-year-old Martha is used to being that someone in her family. Her little brother, Tug, is too small. Her dad has been acting too strange. And Mum's not here anymore.
So when Dad falls off the roof, it's Martha who ices his knee and takes him to the doctor. And when Dad doesn't come home, it's Martha who cooks Tug's favorite pie and reads him his bedtime story. And when Dad passes out, it's Martha who cleans him up and keeps his secret.
But eventually Dad's problems become too big for even Martha to solve, and she realizes it's not all up to her—there are people and places she can turn to

Get the lowdown on the best fiction ever written. Over 230 of the world’s greatest novels are covered, from Quixote (1614) to Orhan Pamuk’s Snow (2002), with fascinating information about their plots and their authors – and suggestions for what to read next. The guide comes complete with recommendations of the best editions and translations for every genre from the most enticing crime and punishment to love, sex, heroes and anti-heroes, not to mention all the classics of comedy and satire, horror and mystery and many other literary genres. With feature boxes on experimental novels, female novelists, short reviews of interesting film and TV adaptations, and information on how the novel began, this guide will point you to all the classic literature you’ll ever need.
(I think I really want this book)

Thank you so much to Simon for such a terrific and topical guest post.

Saturday Spotlight: Trash Winners


Raphael is a dumpsite boy. He spends his days wading through mountains of steaming trash, sifting it, sorting it, breathing it, sleeping next to it.
Then one unlucky-lucky day, Raphael’s world turns upside down. A small leather bag falls into his hands. It’s a bag of clues. It’s a bag of hope. It’s a bag that will change everything.
Soon Raphael and his friends Gardo and Rat are running for their lives. Wanted by the police, it takes all their quick-thinking and fast-talking to stay ahead. As the net tightens, they uncover a dead man’s mission to put right a terrible wrong.
And now it's three street boys against the world...

INTERNATIONAL WINNER: No 16 - Karla Vollkopf
Re-drawn as no response to email: No 3 Diana
UK 1: No 6 Laura Williams
UK 2: No 2 Booketta
UK 3: No 4 Vivienne
UK 4 : No 5 Louise

Winners chosen by

The Winners have been contacted by email. Thank you all for entering and apologies for not asking for the country details until I was about to select the winner and realised that I was an idiot *headdesk*


Friday, 15 April 2011

Mini Review: Possessions by Nancy Holder

Title: Possessions
Series: Possessions/Evil Girls
Author: Nancy Holder
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: 8 Oct 2009

Source: UK Book Tours

Synopsis: From GoodReads
New-girl Lindsay discovers all is not right at the prestigious Marlwood Academy for Girls. Ethereal, popular Mandy and her clique are plotting something dangerous. Lindsay overhears them performing strange rituals, and sees their eyes turn black. It doesn't help that the school itself is totally eerie, with ancient, dilapidated buildings tucked into the Northern California woods, a thick white fog swirling through campus. There are hidden passageways, odd reflections in the windows at night, and scariest of all is the vast lake rumored to have captured the ghost of a girl who drowned many years ago.

What Lindsay doesn't yet realize is that Mandy and her cohorts are becoming possessed by spirits who have haunted the school for two hundred years. Spirits who want someone dead...
And that someone is Lindsay.

This is another book I wasn't overly animated about. I wish I had read the synopsis on GoodReads before signing up for the tour as the synopsis literally tells you the entire story in a few sentences what the book takes the whole story to convey. Actually I probably would have still wanted to read it, being completely honest, but not expecting the book to be an extended version of the synopsis.

The Gothic imagery and descriptions were richly woven, intertwining the sumptuous with the scary seamlessly. Although the pacing of the plot felt drawn out. Little pieces of background details are revealed but not enough for my taste; I was left feeling frustrated. The mood building was intense and often chilling. All the characters were flawed and unlikeable, I need some nice characters. The ending was very open as no real answers were given. This is one of those books that I feel as if I must read the sequel in order to gain closure (or throw it against the wall).

To combat the negativity of my review (I really do not like writing negative reviews but want to keep a reading record) please take a look at these reviews:

The Slowest Bookworm

Mini Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: 2 Dec 2010

Source: UK Book Tours

Synopsis: From GoodReads
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

I am going to cheat on this one a bit because out of the entire world (I think) I must be the only person that did not fall head over heals in love with this book. I will explain why but first take a look at Sya's review from The Mountains of Instead here as this is the review I wish I could write and I do agree with absolutely everything Sya says.

However, this is why I didn't totally love it:

1) I don't think I fully bonded with Anna from the start, she seemed quite insular in her attitude providing an uneasy road to self discovery.

2) I think that anyone that deludes themselves that much that they are just friends should be certified.

3) And possibly most importantly I really thought both Anna and Etienne were the worst friends to have. They were totally self-absorbed, only after their friends were hurt did they stop to consider the consequences of their actions. I really got on my imagery soapbox for this one.

What I will say is that all the characters were extremely well developed, the group dynamics were fantastic and provided insight into each character via their relationship to Anna. The chemistry between Anna and Etienne nearly sets the page on fire. I loved the comparison between European and American diets which was really interesting and funny.
So there you have it a really condensed review.
Go read Sya's you will be blown away.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Musical Moments: Guest Post: SisterSpooky Part 2

Don't forget to check Part One here
I know I have kept you waiting for the second installment of Laura's incredible Musical Moments, so without further ado over to Laura: 

I came late to The Beatles because they were never big in my family but this is my favourite Beatles track ever. Soft and gentle and just content to be what it is. Plus every list needs some Beatles in it!
The lyrics are fab

This band writes poetry to music. Such wonderful lyrics and so haunting. This whole album from start to finish is great but this track is my favourite for the lyrics alone ‘If looks could really kill then my profession would be staring’/ ‘I’m paid to make girls panic while I sing’

This was as near to a boy band I got to at school. My school mates and I used to play this on our CD player with borrowed plug in portable speakers on lunch breaks and dance on the tables in the Maths room.
That is funny.

I first heard this band at a festival when they first came to the UK and this is the last track on the 1st album. So heartbreaking and makes me think that this is probably one of the best ways to describe being in love with a band and being a fan too. I think it’s about being in love generally but I always think it relates to that feeling you get when you are in the moment at a gig and are just at one with the other fans, the band and the music.

These 3 bands and 3 tracks all remind me of my late teens early 20s and they are just great rock songs and are generally played once a month as a must for me  all sort of similar in genre and style: Hard rock/”emo” vibes but such great to play on repeat.
Quickly adding these to my ipod.

No reason needed. Just put it on, turn up the volume and embrace the dance moves!

Huge thanks to Laura for this amazing guest post and for adding to my second addicition MUSIC
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