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Friday, 30 September 2011

Special Follower Lucky Number Give-away - Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date: 29 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Goodreads
Featuring necklaces made of wishes; an underground shop dealing in teeth; magical tattoos; a wishbone on a cord, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is a thrilling story about Karou and her secret life as an apprentice to a wishmonger. Karou manages to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she is a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to an inhuman creature who deals in wishes and is the closest thing she has to family. Her life is surrounded by mysteries she is desperate to unveil.
Review here

Other trailers here [ : D ] You know you desperately want it YES.

Fill out the form below to enter.
Followers only as it is Follower Lucky Numbers and at last count it was 269 so pick a number between 1 and 269 don't forget to enter it on the spreadsheet here by pressing F2 and adding your name.
International as I want to be able to reward my lovely followers.

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date: 29 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Goodreads

Featuring necklaces made of wishes; an underground shop dealing in teeth; magical tattoos; a wishbone on a cord, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is a thrilling story about Karou and her secret life as an apprentice to a wishmonger. Karou manages to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she is a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to an inhuman creature who deals in wishes and is the closest thing she has to family. Her life is surrounded by mysteries she is desperate to unveil.


I will be honest with you I don't usually read fantasy, it takes me a while to get used to the strange names but I am so glad I read this book. The writing style is just so gloriously descriptive it surrounds your imagination totally. I had absolutely no problem picturing the world Laini Taylor wove in the story. A dual world kept apart by a thin veil accessed through the doors around the world. So powerful it felt real.

Written in third person narrative but focalized from Karou perspective. Instinctively the reader is aware that Karou is different and not just because of her blue hair, yet I have to admit I did feel protective of her from the beginning. I adored the way in which Karou didn't lie yet her delivery of the truth and nonchalance make it seem as if she is being sarcastic and we all know how much I love sarcasm. And I have to say how totally awesome to have naturally blue hair, can you guess what colour I would want to be - go on I am sure you can [ : D ] Karou's honesty even in describing herself 'foot smell' brought a smile to my face as I was reading.

I am going to rave about the writing in this book, it is just absolutely gorgeous, sadly there were a great many snakes in the first section of the book *shudders* but even I as a total snake hater have to admit that their descriptions were beautiful (if shudder inducing). I would even go so far as to say that the words flowed sensuously off the page like a waterfall to drench my imagination creating a reservoir filled with three dimensional imagery. The emotion builds sweeping you along with it like surfing the crest of a wave (or what I imagine it would be like as I haven't surfed). The story flows beautifully and the plot unravels smoothly, go back to my waterfall analogue here [ : D ] I just want to use the words STUNNING WRITING a hundred times.

There a large number of plot threads making the 3rd person narrator a necessity. Subtle plot hints are placed sporadically to be picked up on. The book is divided into sections and the progression of both the plot and the characters from one section to the next is breath-taking. The relationships and interactions are so well developed not just in the main characters but in the peripheral ones as well really adding to the dynamics of the story. I found myself thinking of Romeo and Juliet with the relationship between Karou and Akiva, something that only escalated the further into the story I got. The use of 'Rapture' within the story was ironic considering the events in the news earlier this year and had me sniggering into the book.

Personally, I thought there was quite an important message woven into the fantasy - today we live in a world of conflict and war; could we imagine and hope for a world at peace. No differentiation between races. all are equal, socially and economically. No one race should be superior.

Utterly brilliant how the plot threads weave together to produce a magnificent tapestry of a story. the way in which the title was placed into the plot was astounding. Literally jaw dropping moments as the story unfolded. I had to go to check when the next book is due for publication.

For someone who doesn't generally 'do' fantasy this book has carried me away with its beautiful writing. I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Musical Moments: Book Theme Songs: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Series: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd
Publication Date: 2 May 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon
Clara has known she is part-angel since she turned fourteen two years ago. But only now, through fragmented visions of a terrifying bush fire, is her Purpose - the crucial rite of passage for every part-angel - becoming clear to her. When Clara meets Christian, the boy in her visions, he is everything she could wish for - so why does she also have feelings for her enigmatic classmate, Tucker? Clara discovers that her Purpose is only a small part of a titanic struggle between angels and their destructive counterparts, the Black Wings. And when the fire her vision erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

Review Here

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Title: Divergent
Series: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Publication Date: 3 May 2011

Synopsis: From Goodreads

Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger.


I have had this book on my tbr shelf for ages and was put off reading it by all the hype. Yes, it does have the opposite effect for me, instead of pushing it up the pile the more people raved about it I buried it until the fuss died down. I am now kicking myself for waiting for so long. Honestly, in this instance the hype is perfectly justified. This book is utterly awesome and I will probably gush like a geyser in my review so you have been warned.

I have specifically used the Goodreads synopsis in order to show the different factions that exist within this society and the virtue it represents. I couldn't help but picture each faction as a different religion, and if the conflicts depicted in the news daily are anything to go by, different religions tend to think that theirs is the only true religion even though they all have the same fundamentals. I am getting very deep and philosophical but this is exactly what was running through my mind at the time. And where does this lead us, to conflict. What really stood out for me within each faction there is no room for freewill, the depiction of the group/gang behaviour there is absolutely no individuality. Making a very volatile repressed society on the whole. The creation of the factions was supposed to being peace to the society yet the way in which each faction tries to undermine each other is vividly portrayed within the narrative.Bringing to mind the question - is it mankind's nature to continually try to assert its authority over all things via conflict.

Written in first person narrative form Beatrice's (Tris) perspective, at 16 she starts off as seeming so much younger due to her petite appearance and inconspicuous demeanour, always trying to blend into the background, this is probably due to her sheltered upbringing. Tris has a superb narrative voice and her inner monologues make her very relateable, we all question who we are and what it is we want from life at points. She is very conflicted (which does make her a typical teenager). Tris seems to be one of the only people so far within the story to realise that people aren't just one virtue or another but a mixture of all of them, making her very astute and perceptive.

I am not going to go into details about the plot as I think it will spoil your reading experience as just take my word for it YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. I will say that there are some thrill ride-esque twists within the plot. Revelations unfold dramatically I can only describe it like a cold bucket of water being poured over your head; shocking and bringing instant alertness.

The description of the tattoos was completely awesome. I read this book shortly after getting my own tattoo and can identify with the idea that the tattoo you choose is a visual symbol of who you are on the inside. Plus yes it is completely addictive, it is like having artwork on your skin. The adrenaline rushes were palpable via the narrative. The notion that being pierced and tattooed instantly makes you a Dauntless which in the eyes of the other factions is the equivalent of being a rebel made me giggle so hard, there is obviously no hope for me [ : D ]

I have always been a girl that goes for the bad boy, OMG, this bad boy is also a geek on the inside. So completely adorable. I am utterly in love with Tobias. *swoonarrific* More than that the relationship that blossoms is equal, they save each other in different and completely amazing ways. The scene from Pretty Woman comes to mind where at the end Richard Gere climbs the fire escape to rescue the damsel and she recues him right back. (Again I am showing my age in my reviews *sigh*)

Instead of telling you about the plot I will say this book is about finding where you belong. Although it might not necessarily be where you envisioned. It's about building friendships/relationships. It's about learning to trust other people; this can be one of the hardest things to do if you haven't had particularly good role models. It's about learning to work together and how important it is.

This isn't just one of those books that gets under your skin - it goes way beyond that. It made me question who I am and where I belong. For me, I think, I really am a mix of all the factions, obviously some are more dominant than others. Where would you belong??????

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Trailer Tuesday: After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E Wedel

Title: After Obsession
Author: Carrie Jones and Steven E Wedel
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 5 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon

Aimee and Alan have unusual pasts and secrets they prefer to keep hidden. Aimee's deceased mother struggled with mental illness and hallucinations, and Aimee thinks it could be hereditary. After all, she sees a shadowy river man where there isn't one. And then there was that time she and her best friend Courtney tried to conjure a spirit with a Ouija board ...Alan is Courtney's cousin. His family moved to Maine when Courtney's father went missing. It's not just Alan's dark good looks that make him attractive. He is also totally in touch with a kind of spiritual mysticism from his Native American heritage. And it's not long before Aimee has broken up with her boyfriend ...But it's not Aimee or Alan who is truly haunted - it's Courtney. In a desperate plea to find her father, Courtney invites a demonic presence into her life. Together, Aimee and Alan must exorcise the ghost, before it devours Courtney - and everything around her.

Review coming soon

Totally creeptastic 

Monday, 26 September 2011

MG Monday: Review: Prince of Dorkness by Tim Collins

Title: Prince of Dorkness
Series: Diary of a Wimpy Vampire #2
Author: Tim Collins
Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books Ltd
Publication Date: 19 May 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon

In his latest hilarious diary, Nigel starts the new term as one of the most popular pupils in school, and he's finally got a girlfriend after more than eighty years of being single. But his life soon unravels when a new pupil, Jason, joins the school, and has his sights set firmly on Nigel's girlfriend. Oh, and did we mention that Jason is a werewolf? Vampire and werewolf go head to head in the pursuit of love ...with hilarious consequences!


Please bear in mind this is book 2 in the series and therefore may contain spoilers for the first book.

I will start by saying that someone needs to remind me never to let the big girl read a book before me again. She is physically unable to keep the plot to herself. Imagine if you will the most spoiler filled review you have ever read - well thats the big girl when she is enthusiastic about a book. Yes, I appreciate that it's a good thing for her to be enthusiastic about a book but not when she gives away LARGE clues as to the direction of the plot *sigh*

I surprised myself with how much I had missed Nigel's snarky/patronising narrative voice. The way in which he seems himself as above mere mortals, the title really does suit him Prince of Dorkness. Whenever I think of Nigel I just can't help thinking of Adrian Mole, I guess that is because it's from my generation but he definitely has the same kind of emo tone as Nigel. It feelt as if Nigel's voice was reverbarating from the pages. So full of self-deprecating humour had me gigling out loud especially when Nigel doesn't realize he is being self-depreciating. Subtle recapping placed within the narrative helps refresh the memory of the intracacies of the plot/relationships.

I am not going to go into detail about the plot except to say that it pokes fun at the paranoraml craze in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. It is a fun, light, fast-paced read that will have you giggling out load, groaning at the puns and awful poetry, sympathising with the teenage angst yet in the end side with Nigel as his heart is in the right place.

The only thing that I didn't really like and have to mention is that there are quite a lot of footnotes used within this book and I did feel that they interrupted the flow of the story.

A grat addition to this series and with such a tantalizing ending I am eagerly awaiting the next installment of Diary of a Wimpy Vampire.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Book Break-Ups: Mini Review: Envy by Gregg Olsen

Envy (Empty Coffin Novel)
Title: Envy
Series: Empty Coffin
Author: Gregg Olsen
Publisher: Splinter
Publication Date: 7 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon

This new Young Adult fiction series stars Hayley and Taylor Ryan, crime solving (as long as mum doesn't know), butt-kicking (when they have to) and otherwise normal 15 year-old twin girls. Each novel takes place in Port Gamble, WA, otherwise known as Empty Coffin, so dubbed thanks to an old town legend. Each novel in the series is based on a ripped-from-the-headlines news story with fictionalised characters, real crime-solving techniques and a bit of twin senses thrown in. Told in a non-linear narrative that flashes back and forth in time and bit-by-bit revealing a secret past that even Hayley and Taylor don't know about, each novel tells a satisfying true crime inspired tale as well as peeling back another layer of the overall series arc to the reader at the same time that the main characters discover it. A dedicated series website will include exciting bonus extras. Envy, the debut book, centres around a teen bullying situation that ends in death. But is it an accident, or murder? The novel will include a sneak peek at the sequel, as well as a smartphone Tag code on the back cover.


I loved the premise of this book combining crime fiction and the paranormal, surprisingly it was a DNF. As the synopsis states it is told in 'non-linear narrative', what this translated to for me is that it goes off at tangents and had a disjointed feel to the flow of the story. I am sure there are a lot of people that like tangents and intricate descriptions of every little thing , unfortunately I am not one of them.

Being of the adult age group I couldn't help compare this style of writing as distinctly adult rather than YA, with YA the aim is to keep the attention of the reader to the maximum, adult writing had more leeway as you expect the reader to have a higher concetration level  - oh gosh this must mean I have a low concetration level and get distracted easily (goes to look for the squirrel someone just saw). I know this about myself, that I get distracted easily not the squirrel, and maybe this is one of the reasons I steer clear of adult books and stick to YA. although I do think there is a lot more to it than that.

The powerful prose at the beginning was heartfelt and realistic (unfortunately) which gave me high hopes for the rest of the book. I honestly did give it a good go and read about two thirds of it, then skipped to the ending to see if I liked it more to keep going. I really, really felt it didn't flow, all the odd little bits of information thrown in were just distracting. We have already established that this is not a good thing for me.

What I would have like to have seen is far more focus on the characters themselves, a lot of questions arise within the plot relating to past event and they aren't really given any clear answers just a few hints placed here and there. On the whole the characters are just awful, cruel, self centered and downright evil lurks beneath their surface. No redemable qualities, I just couldnt cope with that. I think that because of the awful people in real life I don't want to be confronted with then when I read. Reading is my escape from harch reality and this didn't provide me with that escape.

This is definately the case of it being the wrong reader for this book that is why I am putting it on UK Book Tours so that it can find the right reader.

Thanks to Carla at The Crooked Shelf for the use of Book Break-Ups

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Musical Moments: Guest Post: Emma and Bennett's playlist on Shuffle by Lee Nichols

It is my pleasure to welcome Lee Nichols to Book Angel Booktopia today. As you are probably aware I adore the Haunting Emma series (you totally know it is about me right [ ; D ]) So to have some of the play-list Bennett gave to Emma has completely made my day; and yes I have added them to my iPod. Imagine if you will Emma's play-list on shuffle, these are the first 5 songs to be played:

Mirror Ball by Elbow. This song always reminds me of the scene in Deception when Emma and Bennett walk through the dark village streets down to the harbor and he explains to her their shared history.

Acapella by Kelis. Emma actually listens to this song in Surrender. I love the idea of suddenly the world being lit up with color and music when you fall in love with someone.

Sandpaper Kisses by Marina Topley-Bird. This song is because it's complex and confused, like Bennett and Emma's relationship.

Moondance by Van Morrison. One of the cheesiest, best romantic songs of all time. Plus it's fall when Emma arrives in Echo Point, so it just fits.

Blindfold by Morcheeba. If only because I love the line, "I'm so mad to love you, And your evil curse."

Totally awesome, I hope you agree. Huge thanks to Lee for writing this post for me *hugs* 

Seriously I cannot wait for Surrender - I love this series so so so much.

Deception (Haunting Emma)
Title: Deception
Series: Haunting Emma #1
Author: Lee Nichols
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 5 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon

When Emma Vaile's parents leave on a mysterious business trip, it gives her the perfect excuse to be a rebellious teen. But then her best friend stops talking to her, the police crash her party and Emma finds herself in the hands of a new guardian, Bennett Stern, and on a plane to his museum-like mansion in New England. After enrolling at Thatcher Academy, Emma settles in by making friends with the popular crowd. She has memories of Thatcher she can't explain and strange visions are haunting her. Emma doesn't trust anyone any more - except maybe Bennett. But he's about to reveal a ghostly secret to her. One that will explain the visions ...and make Emma fear for her life.

Review here

Betrayal (Haunting Emma)Title: Deception
Series: Haunting Emma
Author: Lee Nichols
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 5 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon

Emma Vaile is the most powerful ghostkeeper in centuries. Which is great when she's battling the wraith-master Neos, but terrible when she's flirting with fellow ghostkeeper (and love interest) Bennett. When ghostkeepers fall in love, the weaker one loses all power, and that's something Bennett is not willing to accept. Heartbroken and alone, Emma tries to lose herself in school. A new team of ghostkeepers has arrived - one a snarky teen boy, the other a visiting scholar - and Emma finds solace in training for the battle against Neos. But as the team grows stronger, they are threatened by an unknown force. As chilling and page-turning as Deception, this sequel will grab readers and hold them to the last page. No one is safe from suspicion as Emma closes in on the traitor.

Review here

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Title: Abandon
Series: Abandon #1
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Publication  Date: 2 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon

Last year, Pierce died - just for a moment. And when she was in the space between life and death, she met John: tall dark and terrifying, it’s his job to usher souls from one realm to the next.
There’s a fierce attraction between them, but Pierce knows that if she allows herself to fall for John she will be doomed to a life of shadows and loneliness in the underworld. But now things are getting dangerous for her, and her only hope is to do exactly what John says . . .


Although I was aware that this book is based upon the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, it only know the basics of that story so it didn't affect my judgement or preconception of this story at all. The use of the Persephone and Dante's Inferno quotes added a sense of depth to the narrative, reinforcing the main plot while adding a sense of realism.

Powerfully descriptive writing style brings the words to techni-colour life within my imagination.

Written in first person narrative from Pierce's point of view, at 17 she had a near death experience at 15 which resulted in the breakdown of her parents marriage and relocating back to the island her mother grew up on. Pierce is one of those genuinely nice people, you can see this in the selfless way she puts other people first and rescues injured animals. Her privileged background and self absorbed parents make this fact quite surprising, I would have expected her to be a pampered princess.  I do think that it is her 'inner' beauty that really draws John to her even though the way she looks on the outside obviously helps, from her description I had images of Snow White flying around in my imagination.

The waiting in what can only be thought of as Purgatory by the River Styx is wonderfully portrayed in the narrative; the notion of the different lines and boats leading to different places was ingenious. The difference in the length of the lines really brought home how little people worry about the consequence of their actions. The desperation of the people in the longer line drifted from the pages.

The way in which Pierce escapes the Underworld had me giggling like a maniac into my book. However, there are repercussions. Following her visit to the Underworld Pierce does retreat into herself a bit and this is where you can see the way in which her childhood could have really shaped her personality. The irony of the history of the island they move to made a wonderful addition to the plot.

The chemistry between Pierce and John crackles from between the pages. Wow, I really admire Pierce's self control and adored the portrayal of John torn between his emotions and his 'job'. He is very protective of Pierce and for good reason [ ; D ]

Bringing me nicely onto John, *swoon*, well you pretty much can't get more bad boy than John. From his black clothes to his imposing height and threatening demeanour, right down to the way he first charges into the book on his horse - I am so there [ : D ] Pierce shows so much restraint especially when confronted with that dreamy white bed [ ; D ] which provides such a visual contrast to John himself. I am really, really, really desperate to know his background story and how he ended up having a 'job' in the Underworld. Obviously the theme song would have to be Don't Pay the Ferryman with the images of the River Styx. I have the feeling that this is just so much more to John and I NEED to know it.

All of the characters are very well written, providing extremes of personalities and quirkiness. Not only am I following the plot for the development of John and Pierce, I am genuinely interested in the other characters development  the high school cliques, the family dynamics and so much more - I NEED ANSWERS!!!!!

The only aspect of the story that I had a problem with is the portrayal of The Fury's. these have always been tormentors but their abilities in this story really took them to another level and it took me a while to get used to picturing them as such.

That's all I can say is thank goodness this is a trilogy as I really want more and I need those questions answered. *Goes to look on Amazon to see the publication date of the next book - eeepppp it only says 2012 - how will I cope*.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Abandon by Meg Cabot and ARC Give-Away

Title: Abandon
Series: Abandon #1
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Publication Date: 2 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon

Last year, Pierce died - just for a moment. And when she was in the space between life and death, she met John: tall dark and terrifying, it’s his job to usher souls from one realm to the next.
There’s a fierce attraction between them, but Pierce knows that if she allows herself to fall for John she will be doomed to a life of shadows and loneliness in the underworld. But now things are getting dangerous for her, and her only hope is to do exactly what John says . . .

Review up tomorrow [ : D ] 

Bad boy overload *swoon*

As I am unable to put ARC's in the school library and I like to share my books AND I appreciate every single follower I have I thought I would do something a bit different. I have 268 followers at last count when I was writing this post. So I have hidden the book on a grid with the squares numbering 1 to 268. 

One entry per person.
Duplicate entries will be deleted.
Open Internationally to accommodate all my lovely followers.
Check the spreadsheet to make sure the number you have chosen hasn't already been taken. Please place your name by the number on the spreadsheet here by pressing F2 and adding your name to the spreadsheet and confirm the number on the form below.

Monday, 19 September 2011

MG Monday: Guest Post: Literally Random by Helen Moss


Hailed as the new Enid Blyton by my lovely friend Karen at Teenage Fiction for all Ages (you can see the reviews by clicking the link)  it is my great pleasure to welcome Helen Moss to Book Angel Booktopia today to talk about the use of pop culture terminology and its longevity in writing. A topic to discuss with Year 9 I think [ ; D ] Over to Helen:
Literally Random

Towards the end of The Mystery of The Whistling Caves, twelve-year old Emily Wild is stranded in a deep, dark cave in the cliffs. The tide is coming in fast. Surely Jack and Scott should have come back down the secret passage by now? To Emily’s horror, her little dog Drift is almost swept away. The water has risen much higher than she thought...
Emily’s has a dilemma. Should she; 

(1)   stay in the cave and wait for the others?
(2)   swim out and try to raise the alarm?
(3)   crawl up the secret passage?

I have a dilemma. As Emily plunges into the freezing water, does she exclaim;

(1)   Yikes!
(2)   OMG!
(3)   None of the above

You might think that getting the slang right is a predominantly YA kind of an issue. I’ve read some fascinating discussions of the pitfalls (and pleasures) of writing teen-speak1. But I’ve found that some of the same questions bedevil writing for Middle Grade readers too.

It’s just so hard to get it right!

While yikes would be my own personal exclamation of choice for a trapped-in-cave scenario every time (yikes just happens to be one of my current favourite words along with dwindle, thwart, bedevil and crepuscular) - would any self-respecting twelve-year old allow such a decidedly retro utterance to pass their lips?  I might as well suggest Emily cry Gadzooks or Goodness Gracious!

‘Goodness Gracious, it’s little Doris Frost!’ cried Angela....2

On the other hand, to eschew the old-school and go down the OMG route, risks the even greater sin of getting it horribly, embarrassingly wrong. Nothing sparks the withering glare of pre-teen disdain more readily than an adult trying too hard to be cool. And even if OMG! were acceptable today, what happens if, in a year’s time, it’s so so-last-week that Emily sounds like a total twerp? Readers will be too busy sniggering to give a hoot about her speleological predicament.

I’ve listed below a selection of colloquialisms that made it past the linguistic bouncers to gain entry to Adventure Island. I make no claim whatsoever to have got the balance right, but, in general, I’ve been guided by my patented Everyone And Their Mums test3. To wit, if a word or phrase is one that I’ve actually heard 8-13 year-olds bandy about in everyday speech AND it’s also used at least on occasion by parents (without sounding self-conscious and/or ridiculous), then it’s probably both acceptable to young readers and well-enough established to have some staying power3.

On these grounds, words like cool, sad (meaning pathetic), dead (meaning very), lame (meaning feeble), whatever!, wuss, wimp and bottle (as in back out) are all in.
I’ve also allowed mega and epic to make occasional appearances, and also one instance of Chill! (Although I’m already having doubts about this one. As I said, I’m not claiming to have got the balance right!)

I dithered terribly over Awesome! It still sounds distinctly American to my ear and I’m not sure it technically passes the Everyone And Their Mums test. But kids say it all the time so I gave it a special permit.

It was also surprisingly difficult to settle on an insult or two that brothers can hurl at each other, which are in current usage (ruling out the delightful blighter and nincompoop!), not too rude (ruling out 50% of all known insults) or offensive (ruling out another 49%). I was tempted by the fabulous molehead, as overheard being hurled by one of my nieces at her sister in a heated moment several years ago, but ruled it out on the grounds of obscurity. Finally I settled on dork, wally, dingbat and idiot, with the occasional git, and, in extremis, plonker.

And finally, there’s random. What did we do before random smashed its way out of the statistics textbook? It’s ubiquitous from pre-school onwards. Although, speakers almost never really mean random, of course. They mean serendipitous or counter-intuitive or bizarre or vague or paradoxical or sporadic.  At a pinch, they might mean pseudorandom (a process that appears to be random but it is not). But literally random?  Very rarely.

But that’s OK. I was an experimental psycholinguist in a previous life and I know that word meanings evolve and mutate over time. (For example, adventure once meant a chance happening, silly meant happy and meat referred to any kind of food. For more recent examples, consider mouse, twitter and icon). Insisting every word remain tethered to the meaning it had when freshly coined would be a nonsense. And if we couldn’t stretch a word beyond its literal meaning, how (non-literally) flat and (non-literally) pedestrian life would be!3

So, not wanting to leave Emily stranded in the cave up to her armpits in freezing water a moment longer, what does the poor girl do as the tide rises.

The answer is (2) swim out and raise the alarm.

But, more to the point, what does she say. Is it a Yikes! or an OMG moment?

The answer is (3) none of the above.

I played safe and opted for a wordless gasp.

PS. I’d love to know what other Middle Grade writers think about the Yikes vs OMG Dilemma!
(I love footnotes!)

1 Scott Westerfield of Uglies fame on the Notes from the Slushpile blog is very interesting on this, for example.

Illustration and quote from That Boarding School Girl, by Dorita Fairlie Bruce, as presented to my Grandmother by her Aunt and Uncle in 1934.

3 I’m adopting a conservative approach here. Although the main characters in Adventure Island are twelve and thirteen, the books are aimed at readers of around eight to twelve and are suitable for reading aloud to children as young as six. Now I think about it, the Everyone and their Mums test might be useful in reverse for YA books. For most teenagers, any slang word their parents would comfortably use is, by definition, cringe-worthily passé and should therefore be denied entry?

4 Although having said that, don’t get me started on literally. “I literally died when I saw the time.” No, you didn’t!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Saturday Spotlight: Alyson Noel Week Winners

Alyson Noel Week at Book Angel Booktopia

I would also like to take this oppurtunity to express my sincere apologies to Alyson and Sall that the review of Everlasting did not go up. I did write it but blogger ate it with the scheduling issues; being an idiot I didnt save it anywhere else. So I have to re-write it asap. The lesson learnt is save and put on Amazon and Goodreads immediately Do no wait for the post to go live.


Prize Pack 1

Winner as chosen by

Lucky Number 4: Jules

Prize Pack 2

Lucky Number 2


Congratulations both and thank you to all those that entered :D 

Saturday Spotlight: Guest Post: The Great YA Time Machine by Kate Harrison

I am so so so excited to welcome Kate Harrison to Book Angel Booktopia today to talk about the great age appeal of YA. As you are probably aware I am one of the people this post applies to as I am not a YA myself (although I am pretty sure I am still 22 in my head, lol). Over to Kate:  

I hope my mum won’t mind me telling you that she’s not in the target market for my first YA novel.

Yet she says it’s definitely her favourite. ‘It’s got an extra something the others didn’t have. And now your dad’s reading it too.’

            I tried to resist asking her what the ‘extra something’ was, or what the others lacked. Mum has a habit of speaking her mind.   

            But here are a few guesses about that something: murder, an imaginary other world, an avenging teenage girl, a dead hero, a geek hero, a thoughtful killer, a cheesy reality TV show, and a love that could cost the heroine her life.

            Hmm. Makes my romantic comedies – which I also love writing – seem a bit, well, tame.

            I’m not in the target YA audience either but, like Mum, I’ve developed a real taste for reading this ‘genre’ of fiction. Except it’s not really a genre at all – and that could be the very reason why YA is appealing to a broader range or readers, and writers.

            As a writer, it lets me tell the story I want to, without worrying whether I might be ‘breaking’ some of the genre rules: by putting a beach bar in the afterlife, for example, or having my heroine juggle homework with homicide investigations. In YA, anything goes, whether it’s a vampire love affair or a televised battle to the death.

            There’s nothing wrong with genre – readers often like to know what they’re getting when they invest time and money in a book.

            But the joy of YA is that you’re never quite certain what you’re going to get. After the success of Twilight, there was a fair chance a vampire might pop up, but YA is so much broader than that. What they have in common is that the young protagonists are facing big battles: for identity, for justice, for love.

            So why are older readers clamouring to read about teens? The truth is that even if those days are decades away, that time is probably the most exciting of our lives: it’s all about imagination, possibility and passion. Is it any wonder we use YA books as a time machine back to a more thrilling time?

            As writers, we seek extremes and we want our characters to be braver and fiercer than we are: my heroine, Alice, is open to possibilities from the first moment that she opens an email apparently from her murdered sister. An adult would probably have dismissed it as a hoax and deleted the mail without thinking.

            YA writers trust their readers – like their characters – to be open and challenging, to consider possibilities adults might dismiss, to ask the awkward questions.
            Talking of awkward questions, I did finally ask my mother what it was she liked most.

            ‘The Beach,’ she said. ‘The sunshine, the sand, the sea. I could imagine myself there...’

Title: Soul Beach
Series: Soul Beach #1
Author: Kate Harrison
Publisher: Indigo
Publication Date: 1 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon

When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . . . But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next? The first book in an intriguing and compelling trilogy centered around the mystery of Megan Forster's death.

Review HERE
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