My Catchphrases

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Review: Fracture by Megan Miranda

Title: Fracture
Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 5 Jan 2012
Source: Review Copy
Challenge: DAB
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine

—despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?


The first thing I have to say regarding this book is that it is something completely different in Young Adult fiction. An amazing mix of paranormal, romance, death and bereavement.

Written in first person narrative, from the perspective of Delaney, having survived 11 minutes in a frozen river, the fact that she is alive is a miracle in itself. But something has happened to Delaney, something that not only terrifies and confuses her but also fascinates her to a degree.

Following her accident Delaney retreats into herself, unable to confide in anyone until she meets Troy. Having the same ability himself, although it isn't fully explained until the end exactly what these abilities are. Delaney has always felt like an outsider, only popular by proxy via her friendship with Dexter (the totally hot boy next door *swoon*). I adored Dexter, he would do anything for Delaney although she really doesn't realize it. At times I felt like shaking her so she would understand the depth of Dexter's feelings for her, risking his own life to save her. However, I did feel that both Dexter and Delaney were afraid to alter the status of their relationship, worried that if they did they would lose their friendship. The flip-side to this is that dating other people caused a strain on their friendship.

Troy, is a stark contrast to Dexter, thinking in color Troy would be the dark to Dexter's light in personality as well as appearance. Despite his charm, Troy is one of the freakiest characters I have ever come across. He was deeply disturbing/disturbed, to the degree that I actually feared for Delaney's safety whenever she was with him.

Although Troy and Delaney have similar abilities the way in which Troy reacts to his 'ability' made me question the reason they were given this 'gift/power'. Ultimately what is their purpose? I don't think this was fully developed and would love to see more of Delaney's story after this book.

There a numerous twists and turns within the plot, nothing can be taken for granted, I was kept guessing to the very end. Images of Grim Reapers and Guardian Angels danced through my imagination.

This book is a fast paced, dramatic mix of action, romance blended seamlessly with elements of the paranormal. An ingeniously crafted tale with a completely unexpected ending, that stayed with me a long time after finishing the book. As I stated earlier, I would really love to see Delaney develop further. I hope that Megan Miranda may write a sequel *crosses fingers*

Spotlight: One Day Global Blog

I came across this purely by accident this morning, I just had to share as it is such an inspirational idea. 

Full details taken from The National Literacy Trust:

On 29 February, leap year day, David Mitchell, deputy headteacher at Heathfield Primary School in Bolton will be encouraging pupils, teachers and anyone else, anywhere in the world to write on the same blog.

Heathfield Primary in Bolton has already gained an international reputation for encouraging its pupils to blog. Deputy head David Mitchell introduced classes to the idea in 2009, and since then they have been busy posting their writing online.

Since Heathfield Primary introduced blogging, it has seen a sharp increase in its pupils’ writing results, including those for boys. The proportion of pupils gaining level 5s rose from 9 per cent to 60 per cent in just 12 months, and the past two Year 6 classes at the school made double the expected progress in writing in their final year.

On 29 February, the blog will begin as soon as the day starts in Tonga and end 48 hours later when it reaches midnight in the Western Pacific. Everyone will be able to add postings to the blog with a few clicks, Mitchell says, and he hopes the site will help to create a global picture of people’s experiences that day. “Who will be the youngest? Or the oldest? Will there be any marriage proposals?”

The blog will be moderated by Mitchell and other teachers and volunteers, including, he hopes, some at schools outside the UK. Schools can get more information at:

Read more about the project, blogging tips, and evidence that it works at TES.
David Mitchell will be leading a webinar on the subject of blogging for National Literacy Trust Network members on 13 March 2012. Find out more.
So what are you waiting for - go leave a message.
Also check out the great resources available for teachers.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Musical Moments: Tune in Tuesday with Greads

I have been wanting to include these 2 songs for the last few weeks. My house move means that I am all over the place so the perfect time to include these, lol.

This one is how I feel about my life at the moment:

This next song  I have to admit makes me uncomfortable because it reminds me of someone (I am not saying who but those who know me will understand) 

Monday, 27 February 2012

MG Monday: Guest Review: Dark Ride by Caroline Green

Title: Dark Ride
Publisher: Piccadilly
Publication Date: 1 May 2011

Synopsis from Amazon

A mysterious boy. A haunting secret ...

A shiver crawled up my spine. It felt like the loneliest place in the world. For a second I thought I caught a snatch of music in the air, but it was just the wind whistling through cracks in the fairground hoardings.

My instincts screamed, `Run away, Bel! Run away and never return!'
But instead my fingers closed around the ticket in my pocket. ADMIT ONE.

Bel has never met anyone like Luka. And the day she follows him into the abandoned fairground, she is totally unprepared for the turn her life is about to take.


I found the idea of this novel really intriguing and was really glad to give it a go. Bel and her mother seem less than happy in the uninspiringly named seaside town of Slumpton that has become their new home. Bel misses her dad, misses her friends and doesn’t understand why they have to be in Slumpton anyway. In time, she begins to explore the area including the disused fairground and eventually meets Luka.

Bel and Luka’s ‘adventures’ if they can be called that lead them to sinister discoveries and it’s an area I’m not sure has been covered in much depth in literature before which is really interesting to read about. Aside from the supernatural elements of the novel, the real hard-hitting discoveries are what made it for me. The novel covers all manner of issues from family break up to human trafficking and more.

Bel’s character is really well constructed and believable. Her confusion and anger draw her to Luka and she finds comfort in being able to support Luka in his quest for his lost mother. Luka’s character is equally compelling, dark and brooding, which makes him more than attractive to Bel. Even more powerful than the creation of the characters is the town of Slumpton itself. The setting is more striking and interesting than any other feature of this novel and Caroline Green should be commended for it more than anything else. Every single place in the novel felt real, genuine and in many places extremely foreboding.

Loved this and loved how all the contentious and serious issues were dealt with. 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Guest Review: Lenobia's Vow by PC Cast and Kristin Cast

Title: Lenobia's Vow
Series: House of Night Novella #2
Author: PC Cast and Kristin Cast
Publisher: Atom
Publication Date: 31 Jan 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

The second in the enthralling new mini-series of novellas from the #1 bestselling authors of the House of Night, Lenobia's Vow tells the gripping story behind the House of Night's enigmatic riding instructor – and one of Zoey’s closest allies against evil

The House of Night is an international publishing sensation; with almost 12 million books in print, and an incredible 120 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, the series has taken the world by storm. Now, the excitement continues as the Cast mother-daughter duo shares the back stories of a few of the House of Night's most important – and mysterious – characters. The second of the House of Night Novellas brings us Lenobia, the strong, beautiful horseback riding instructor, who guides Zoey through some of her darkest hours, and has a dark secret buried in her own past...

In a small southern town at the turn of the century, young Lenobia is developing into a beautiful young woman with ideas of her own. But when she is Marked as a fledgling vampyre, her world turns upside down, and she is drawn to the musical streets of New Orleans. There, she learns of the city’s dark underbelly, ruled by powerful black magic. As Lenobia experiences her first love – and loss – and discovers a passion for horses to sustain her, she must come face-to-face with Darkness itself. And she may not escape without scars.


I am a BIG fan of the House of Night series so was pleased to get this book to review. 

This book is Lenobia’s story of before and when she was marked. It was lovely to be able to read a background on Lenobia and her past as she was in the ninth HON book “Destined” quite a bit. Lenobia has to board a ship for New Orleans under someone else’s name, on this ship she has to hide from an evil bishop who actually knows she isn’t who she is pretending to be. While on she meets a charming young man and falls deeply in love with him.

Lenobia is Zoey Redbird’s favourite teacher and she has a special affinity with horses, during the HON books it does hint at a past history and this book clears up the question of why Lenobia doesn’t have a consort/partner as such. I think it could be read before or after “Destined” as it wouldn’t spoil the story in that one either way.

It’s rather a short story and I finished it in the one sitting! That’s the only bad thing I can say, It was finished rather too quickly but it’s definitely one to keep you going until the next HON book is released! I did also read Dragon’s Oath and they are both very good at covering the professor’s pasts and answering any questions there may be during the actual HON books.

I don’t want to spoil the book but if you are a House of Night fan then you will enjoy this novella. A definite one for the collection on the bookshelf.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Spotlight: Crash Course with John and Hank Green

I came across this via YA Library UK and just had to share it. I don't know how it will translate into the British Education system but it can only help to engage the pupils (always a good thing).

I love it totally. 

On My Library Wish-List

Author: Conrad Mason
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Publication Date: 1 Mar 2012

Synopsis from Amazon

Captain Newton and his men keep watch over Port Fayt, where humans live in peace alongside trolls, elves and fairies. They've always kept the town safe from pirates and smugglers. But now Fayt is under threat from a much more powerful enemy - the League of the Light, who have sworn to destroy all non-humans. And to make matters worse, a dangerous witch has just arrived in town . . .

Half-goblin boy Joseph Grubb works in his uncle's tavern, the Legless Mermaid, and has only ever heard stories of the Demon's Watch. But when he runs away from his uncle and finds himself deep in a criminal underworld, Grubb might be the one person who could help the watchmen save Port Fayt.

Huge thanks to Liz at My Favorite Books for bringing this one to my attention. I think it will be a terrific addition to the school library.

I have been lucky enough to get a review copy. My fabulous Year 9 reviewer is currently reading it. Cant wait to see what she thinks.

Title: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
Series: The Pirates!
Author: William Defoe
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: 5 Jan 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

1837: the Victorian Era approaches and the golden age of piracy draws to a close. Worried that his pirates are getting bored with a life of winking at pretty native ladies, sitting about on tropical beaches, and trying to stick enough jellyfish together to make a bouncy castle, the Pirate Captain decides it's time they had an adventure. A chance encounter with the young Charles Darwin - embarked upon the voyage of discovery that will one day make him famous - leads the Captain and his rag-tag crew from the exotic Galapagos Islands to the fog filled streets of Victorian London, where they encounter grisly murder, vanishing ladies, a diabolical Bishop, the Elephant Man, and have an exciting trip to the zoo.

THE PIRATES! is a rollicking read: uproariously funny, unexplainably daft, gently knowing and insightful - one of the very few books to deal with the weighty issues of science versus religion, whilst at the same time featuring a lot of roaring and running people through. 

I came across this one thanks to Andy at The Pewter Wolf  it sounds like a brilliant addition to the school library. There is actually an entire series featuring different adventures with the pirates. Pupils would gain knowledge through humor that way they wont realize they are actually learning.  A cunning plan me thinks [ ; D ] 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tantalizing Trailers: Shattered Dreams by Ellie James

I came across this lovely trailer one day when I was drooling over books on Goodreads. ENJOY

Series: Midnight Dragonfly #1
Author: Ellie James
Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc
Publication Date: 5 July 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Trinity Monsour wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But that isn’t as easy as it seems. Trinity is different. She isspecial. She sees visions, and for those she’s seen, it’s already too late.

Trinity arrives on her aunt’s doorstep in New Orleans with virtually no knowledge of her mysterious heritage. She begins settling into life at a new school and even starts making friends. But all too quickly her dreams accelerate; twisted, terrifying visions of a girl locked in a dark room. And when the head cheerleader, Jessica, goes missing, Trinity knows she has no choice but to step forward with what she’s seen.

But people believe that Trinity has information about Jessica’s disappearance not because of a dream, but because she is involved. She iskind-of dating Jessica’s ex-boyfriend, Chase, and Jessica did pull a nasty prank on Trinity. Revenge seems like the likeliest scenario.

Nothing prepares Trinity for the dark odyssey that ensues while searching for Jessica, including the surprising romance she finds with Chase, or the shocking truths she learns, not just about the girl who has gone missing, but the past that has been hidden from her.

Tantalising Trailers: Melody Burning by Whitley Strieber


Publication Date: 6 Dec 2011

Synopsis from Goodreads

Beresford doesn’t remember much about his past or how he came to live in the chutes and crawl spaces of the posh high-rise that shares his name. But when rock star and teen sensation Melody McGrath moves to an apartment on the fiftieth floor, he knows he has to be near her. Although she doesn’t realize it, Melody is threatened by more dangerous forces than her manipulative stage mom and the pressures of life in the spotlight. The owner of the glamorous building has been hiding a fatal secret within its walls, and Beresford puts all his plans at risk. Will Beresford and Melody be able to escape with their lives (and love) intact?

I have had this one on my wish-list for AGES. HELLO it has a ROCK STAR as the main character. 
I always have reservations about Adult authors crossing over to YA. Lets hope this book changes my mind [ : D ]

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Title: Incarnate
Series: Newsoul #1
Author: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 31 Jan 2012
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: DAB
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.


This is such a unique concept that completely defies classification. Elements of fantasy, romance, theology and philosophy blend together with some very thought provoking themes to create a unique yet compelling story.

Ana is the first new soul in thousands of years, every other member of society has been re-incarnated over and over again. The time frame between incarnations varying without explanation as to the reason. The idea of reincarnation is a wonderful concept; the way in which it is explored within the narrative provides a considerable amount of thought provoking. I found myself wondering how I would feel knowing I had lived hundreds of lives before, holding all past memories, regrets and skills. The way in which the memory of each death stayed with that person was especially powerful as well as traumatic. Possibly explaining some phobias as a result.

Told in first person narrative, from Ana's perspective. Initially I found Ana's pessimistic attitude irritating but as the story unfolded I developed a certain empathy for her. Ostracized  by society for being born, a new soul something both awed and feared. Her mother, Li, although accepts her responsibility as a parent targets Ana for this seclusion. Constantly neglected physically and emotionally, berated over everything, it is easy to understand where Ana's pessimism comes from.

As the story progresses Ana discovers friendship, the whole nature versus nurture debate is remarkably portrayed. The character development profound. Although some elements hint at religious undertones no specific religion is advocated more the ideal of faith. Creationism versus evolution is debated within the narrative generating numerous theories on existence. Add in science with its ability to alter fundamental principles of just about anything, aiding the debate of where to draw the line; scientist playing God comes to mind.

The friendship that develops between Ana and Sam was heart-warming to follow. At times I felt like slapping their heads together but understood their hesitation. The idea of soul-mates being able to recognize each other throughout various incarnations was beautiful to picture. Clever depiction within the plot re-enforced the ideal.

The setting has a feel of being timeless. A mix of old and new blended together in a realistic world held within the confines of Range surrounded by the fantasy elements of Dragons, Sylph and Trolls.

I especially adored the use of music throughout the entire book, the way in which music is immortal was profoundly portrayed. The way in which both Ana and Sam relate to music was something I could easily identify with. Music lives forever even if we do not. Beautiful.

A very compelling story-line, with a well developed plot featuring strong themes and strong characters to set it off.

I hope this gets picked up for the UK

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Tantalizing Trailers: Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby plus Author Q & A

Publisher: Walker Children's (US)
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.

You may have seen this little beauty in my Love List post for February - how could I not showcase the trailer. ENJOY

I am also delighted to be able to share a Q and A from Allison with you.

Shooting Stars Q&A 

About Shooting Stars 

What's Shooting Stars about? 

Shooting Stars centers on Jo, a sixteen-year-old paparazzo living in LA. Jo is all about getting the perfect shot and doesn't mind doing what it takes to get it, either. That is, until she's sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett – teen superstar and the only celebrity who's ever been anything close to kind to her – at an exclusive rehab retreat in Boston. Taking, or not taking, the job is a huge decision for Jo. Taking it would mean finally having enough money to pay for her dream: real photography classes. But when she falls in love with Ned…? Suddenly everything in Jo's world isn't as black and white as it usually is.

Was there something in particular that inspired you to write this book? 

The initial inspiration was reading an article about a real-life sixteen-year-old paparazzo. I found my eyes boggling as I read about how he got around LA either on his bicycle, or his dad drove him late at night. I couldn't imagine what this part-time job must be like (as I guessed it had to be extremely cut-throat, especially compared to working at McDonald's!), so I decided to imagine away and came up with Jo. I had an absolute ball researching this book, including reading trashy magazines and a lot of books written by, and about, the paparazzi (fellow Aussie Darryn Lyons's Mr Paparazzi is a fabulous one if you're looking). The things they had to say about celebrity – about the dark side of celebrity and fame – were truly revealing.

The love interest in Shooting Stars is a celebrity. Was it difficult writing about a celebrity and non-celebrity characters at the same time?

I think the most important thing here was removing Ned (and Jo) from the LA environment. In rehab, it doesn't matter who you are – everyone is on neutral ground (or so I hear!) and this is how things are for Ned and Jo. If I'd left them in LA I'm sure they would never have gotten together – their jobs were too much a part of what defined them as people. But in a neutral environment, their personalities are more important than their job definition, so they're able to get to know each other as real people.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? 

I think I'd have to opt for the very obvious choice of the pool scene. So many heightened emotions all coming together at once! Plus shock when Jo finds out the truth about Ned. I think it's also an interesting moment for Jo, because, before that point in time, I don't think she would have believed she could ever be so wrong about somebody, or miss something so big that was right in her face.

The plot of Shooting Stars revolves around the career of Josephine Foster, a young photographer. Did you have an interest in photography before writing Shooting Stars?

I wasn't interested in photography so much as fame. As a writer, I've been interested in fame as a concept for keeping two romantic interests apart for some time (can you guess one of my favourite films is Notting Hill ?!). After reading an article about a young paparazzo, I then did quite a bit of research into how the paparazzi operate (in LA, in particular) and delved into their thoughts on fame and how it operates in Hollywood. It was amazingly fascinating stuff. It's all quite parasitic -- the stars can't maintain their stardom without the paparazzi and the paparazzi have no work without the stars.

Have you ever seen the paparazzi in action? 

I have! In London, Sydney and NYC. I've only ever once seen the person they were trying to shoot, however. That was in NYC and it was Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory ). These days, out in the Cambridgeshire countryside, I see more trainspotters with cameras than paparazzi, I'm afraid!

About the author 

Do you have a favorite television show, or series? 

Oh, that's easy. Downton Abbey , Downton Abbey, Downton Abbey (*shakes pompoms*)! I am completely in love with this series. So much so, I'm ashamed to admit I know they're starting filming again next week at Ealing Studios and will then move on to filming the scenes at Highclere Castle (one must refrain from stalking!). I've always been a huge fan of the 1920s and am very excited that this is where Downton is headed next. Of course, I'll have to wait for some time to watch the next series as we've seen all of season 2 in the UK, as well as the Christmas special. In the meantime, I'm having my own fun watching both seasons again on DVD.

Do you have any special talents (tying cherry stalks with your tongue etc.?!). 

I think mine would have to be my secret bargain hunting habit. I am a slave to eBay and Gumtree. I love a bargain and am good at selling, too. It's the Taurean in me (I like to blame it on this or I just sound cheap!). I love giving things away on Freecycle too. I am crazy about de-cluttering.

What are you working on next? 

I recently finished writing another YA novel tentatively titled Being Hartley. Since finishing that, I've moved on to writing something very different – a Downton Abbey-esque six episode e-serial for St Martin's Press, tentatively titled The Honourables, which will be published Summer 2012, with one episode being published per month. It's been a very steep learning curve learning all about writing serialized fiction, but I'm enjoying the writing very much, especially as the series is set in London in the 1920s.

What do you do when you're not writing? 

I'm currently living in the UK for 18 months, so am trying to pack in a lot of travel throughout Europe in my free time. I've just got back from a long weekend in Dublin, the next trip is a week in Lapland and then I'm off for two weeks in Berlin, Prague and Vienna at Easter. On the way back home to Australia in August, I'm taking a 14 day cruise through Spain, France, Turkey, Italy and Greece, which I'm really looking forward to. I'm not sure I'll recognize the sun when I see it again.

What sort of books do you like to read? 

Anything and everything! At the moment, I'm reading a lot of lovely fiction and non-fiction set in the 1920s, which has been great in helping to shape the dialogue in the historical e-serial I'm writing. A YA book I've read recently that I just adored was Stephanie Perkins's Anna and the French Kiss and I have Lola and the Boy Next Door all ready and waiting for me on my Kindle. I'm really looking forward to getting to it!

Do you have any pets? 

I have a gorgeous Devon Rex cat, Violet, who is currently living with my parents in Australia while we're in the UK. I miss her sitting on my shoulders and keeping me warm while I'm writing! Devon Rex cats are very odd – rather like monkeys. They like to be up high, on top of bookcases (and shoulders!). After you've had a Devon Rex, you'll never go back to a normal cat! At one point we had three of them. Trust me, that's a lot of Devon Rex.

For writers 

Why did you decide to write YA? 

I actually started out writing women's fiction, published four books in that genre, and then realized that my voice was slightly more suited to YA. I really love the immediacy of YA and the fact that characters tend to act on their true emotions, rather than already being weighed down by years and years of emotional baggage!

Are you a plotter or a pantser? 

I'm a terrible, awful plotter. In fact, I'm such a plotter, I have a little formula for writing my books now which is a very odd combination indeed of three-act structure along with a bunch of other plotting methods. Of course, it's a formula that only works for me! I don't change process from book to book and, like a lot of novelists, find I have to write from beginning to end, too.

This is your debut US YA release, but not your first release. Has the publishing process been different in the US, compared to Australia, or is it pretty much the same?

I think Shooting Stars is my eleventh published book (I'm starting to get confused now!), but it is my first YA release in the US (I've had adult women's fiction out in the US before, however). The publishing process has been reasonably similar, though it's been nice to have an editor in-house editing my manuscript, rather than a freelancer. In Australia, the in-house editor usually co-ordinates the publishing process, using a freelance editor to edit the actual manuscript. It was nice to get to know my US editor and have her actually edit the manuscript as well. It was a little more personal!

Do you have a favorite writing quote? 

I really love this quote from Harlan Ellison. I'm often asked where I get my ideas from, or people will tell me it must be amazing having such a creative job. When they do, I'm always reminded of this:

People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it. – Harlan Ellison

This is so true. In so many ways, writing books is a job like any other. Sometimes it's very, very difficult, sometimes it's easy. You have good days and bad days. And deadlines! I never forget, however, it's a job I'm extremely lucky to have. Not everyone gets to work in their pajamas or use movie ticket stubs as tax deductions.

Thank you so much Allison for sharing that with us.

Musical Moments: Official Book Theme Song: Witchblood by Emma Mills

Title: Witchblood
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 9 Jan 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

When Jess steals a glance at a gorgeous guy in a Manchester nightclub, little does she realise how he is going to change her life…or should that be death? Yet, the vampire clan could never have predicted what they were taking on.

With Luke pronounced ‘off-limits’ and the blood of a vampire simmering in Jess’s body, can she forget the love of her life and move on? If not, she will risk exposing the entire Northern vampire clan to untold dangers, in order to live her life the way she wants.

Can Jess be sure that Luke is all he appears to be? Will she succumb to the attraction she desperately tries not to feel for Daniel? And why does she still crave a packet of crisps more than a tasty teenage boy’s blood?

Listen to the full song HERE

Book Angel Booktopia is delighted to welcome Emma Mills today to talk about the choice of music for her book trailer - Over to Emma:

Whilst making the book trailer for my debut YA novel Witchblood, I had the tricky task of finding a piece of music perfect for the soundtrack. This is tricky mainly because I had no idea how to find music I could freely use, without copyright complications. I knew the type of track I wanted: something beautiful, haunting, maybe something with a little indie/folk, or with a Coldplay feel. Or maybe someone like Birdy or Adele. So I started searching and came across a website called where all the music is created under the Creative Commons License, and is freely available to use in videos and projects. Luckily for me, because the website is huge and has thousands of tracks, I stumbled upon the perfect track after only about half an hour of searching.

That track is called ‘Too Young’ and is by Alex Beroza with vocals by someone called Snowflake. I love this song, it’s perfect for representing Jess, the lead character in Witchblood, and everything that she is about.

Jess is young, only 17, and yet she feels so much, and has faced so much already in her life. She is confused by her feelings for Daniel, and isn’t sure who to trust as she faces a new life.

The lyrics could have been written for Jess, and mixed with the haunting vocals and beautiful guitar work, that carries just the right amount of sadness, I found a perfect song. Here are some of the choice lyrics:

“Somewhere, there’s an answer, somewhere there is someone listening.”

“You’re too young, to be on that bridge, your too young to believe you are less than sane, your too young to be standing on the edge.”

“You just want to be understood, you just want to be guiltless if you could.”

“You're silient. I know your strength will win.”

Credits: "Too Young" by Alex (feat. Snowflake)
is licensed under a Creative Commons license:

Monday, 20 February 2012

Guest Review: The Flappers: Vixen

Title: Vixen
Series: The Flappers #1 
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Publication Date: 1 Mar 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?

Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .

Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .


This novel can only be described as fabulous and that’s not a word I’d usually use but it’s the only word which is in keeping with the mood and atmosphere created in this work. The 1920s Flapper girls have always intrigued me, as has the whole jazz music/prohibition ‘scene’ in the States but it’s not something I’ve ever known much about. After reading this novel I wouldn’t say I know a lot more about the period but I am spurred on to looking into it from a cultural/socio-historical perspective as the plot and characters in this work made it all seem so exciting and dangerous.

The three main characters in the novel are brilliant crafted. At first, I took an instant dislike to Gloria, despite her role as the ‘golden girl’ of the novel. This lessened towards the end but was never fully dealt with, she’s still not a particularly likeable character from my point of view. Her best friend, Lorraine is deeper and potentially more interesting but turns out to be even more despicable and goody-two-shoes Clara turned out to be my absolute favourite. Clara’s character is complex and interesting and there’s much more than meets the eye with her. The female characters are surrounded by a cast of males whose roles as the good guy and bad guy seem to interchange as much as the females. It’s really interesting that Larkin manages to keep the reader guessing throughout as to who the heroes and villains really are.

The plot itself quickens in pace as things become more complex and dangerous and some of the seemingly wholesome characters begin to show their true colours. The ending is absolutely brilliant and is a perfect beginning to what looks to be a really thrilling series. I don’t know how many novels out there cover this period but if this is anything to go by, more should.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Book Break-ups: Guest Review: BZRK by Michael Grant

Title: Bzrk
Series: BZRK
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Set in the near future, a conspiracy is afoot to create a perfect and perfectly controlled world. The Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation is a front for the conjoined Armstrong twins, Charles and Benjamin, and the plot to create their own version of utopia.

A shadowy guerilla group known as BZRK form a nascent resistance movement. Both sides develop sophisticated nanotechnology to achieve their goals:

-The Armstrong twins develop the nanobot, a stealth device that latches onto the brains of unsuspecting citizens

-BZRK's DNA-derived biots are deployed to search out and destroy the insidious bots. If biots are destroyed, the brain cells of their DNA-donor also die. Hence the name BZRK.


I owe Rhys from Thirst for Fiction for making me aware of this book. Last year, he released a video (HERE) where he chatted about the book and read a teaser from it. He had to get permission to read it as it’s embargoed and after hearing him chat excitedly about this book, I thought “I want to read this. It’s different to my normal reads. And I want to read more “boy” books” (oh, how I hate that term. There’s no such thing as “boy” books and “girl” books. There are books you like and books you dislike). Anyway, so when Emma asked if I wanted to read her copy, I jumped out the chance. So, quick thanks to Rhys and Emma.

BZRK... I’m not 100% sure how to describe this book as this is a ... well... a hard thing to explain. But here’s my attempt. BZRK, the first in a new series, is about nanos and biots. Not sure what these are? These are nanobots and biots, the biological counterpart of nanos. And here, it seems the world is in danger from these. Or rather, the group known as AFGC, who want to “rewire” the most powerful minds of the world: the President of the United States and the British Prime Minister, to name two. But BZRK has to stop them. Enter Sadie and Noah, the teenagers with their private reasons to join. But with the stakes so high and failure meaning they might lose their sanity, losing isn’t an option...

Now, this is my first Michael Grant book (never read his Gone series, though I have been told I should loads of time in the past), I don’t know what my reaction would be. And, I hate to say, I’m a bit “muh” over it. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I’m just in the middle, not sure with myself if I like or not.

Ok, let’s talk about this book’s good point. Once you got your head into this, it was a fast thriller that played out on two levels: in real life and in nano (or “down on the meat”). And with technology at the level it is at the present moment, you sometimes go “This could/might be possible...”

But, there are problems with this book. The first problem I had was when the story or the action scene jumped for human to nano/biot. For the first half of the book, I sometimes had to reread paragraphs to go “OK. Where am I again?” so I didn’t get confused. And near the end of the book, I suddenly started seeing the nanos and the biots like the robot-cookies from Despicable Me.

Another problem I had was the characters. I’m sorry, but I want to be gripped by the characters very quickly. I want to read their story and want to rush back to the book because of them. And with these characters... it took a long time to warm to them or the situation. And the reason I feel for this was that I never felt like I had time to get to know the characters. I would have a chapter (at the most) with one character before it jumped to another character, whether they were the good guy or the bad guy. I never “clicked” with any of the characters.

I’m still unsure on how I feel about BZRK. This wasn’t my cup of tea. But I’m sure all the Gone fans will love this and am sure that some of you guys will enjoy it a lot more than me. So please, don’t let me review put you off. If you want to read this book, READ IT!

Huge thanks to Andrew for his honest review and to Lori of Pure Imagination for the use of the Break-ups Button.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Spotlight: Books I would Like to See Published in the UK

These are some of the books I would love available in the UK. Publisher and Publication Date details refer to the publication in the US.

Title: Bewitching
Series: The Kendra Chronicles
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens Book Group
Publication Date: 5 Mar 2012

Synopsis from Amazon

Kendra Hilferty, the witch who curses Kyle Kingsbury in Beastly, tells about her immortal existence how she discovered she was a witch and the various ways she has used her powers to help people throughout the centuries. (Unfortunately her attempts have often backfired.) As it turns out, Kendra has actually had a hand in "Hansel and Gretel," "The Princess and the Pea," and "The Little Mermaid" but these are not the fairy tales you think you know! Kendra s reminiscences are wrapped around a real-time version of "Cinderella," except the ugly stepsister is the good guy. With dark twists, hilarious turns, and unexpected endings, Bewitching is a contemporary read for fairy-tale lovers, fantasy fans, and anyone looking for more Alex Flinn.

I love fairy-tales re-told and this one just sounds so funny.I loved Beastly (Review HERE) so am curious to the witches back-story.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 2 Feb 2012
Challenge: DAB
Source: Review Copy 
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Brie's life ends at sixteen: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart - "literally." But now that she's in heaven, Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend knows a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost - and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul who's been D&G (dead and gone) much longer than she? and who just might hold the key to her forever after. With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on? but how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?


There are 3 things I would like to mention before I get to the main review is that:

1) The synopsis is slightly inaccurate. To say how would spoil the plot. In my mind I pictured this book as a beautiful love story, you know the type love surviving death etc. but it really isn't the main part of the plot.

2) This for me was a book of 2 halves.The first half I found rather slow and Brie irritating on many levels however, the second half of the book changed pace really bringing the story to life.

3) The music reference and use of song lyrics is fantastic. The playlist is HERE and I urge you to go check it out.

The story is told from the perspective of Brie (which induced a cringe worthy number of cheese references within the narrative) at 15 her narrative voice is sometimes at odds with her actions. Veering between immature and rather bratty to a maturity I would rather a 15 year old not possess (if you know what I mean). The way in which she handles her first relationship while being relatable on a few levels e.g. the not eating, sleeping part while being completely scary and stalker-ish in other aspects. If she were my daughter I think I would be having a serious word with her about getting too serious too young.

The whole idea of a heart literally breaking was a case of poetic licence I felt. Although the idea was supported by additional events and justified at the conclusion.

The use of the five stages of grief  within the narrative itself added a depth of emotion to the entire story; not only are these stages for Brie to navigate but also the people left behind. Sections of the book are divided into these stages adding to the overall effect on the emotions. The portrayal of grief, the memorial service especially, was heart wrenching and very realistic. The way in which people deal with grief in different ways and how it can put a strain on relationships was also highlighted poignantly.

The portrayal of the afterlife in this book was very unique and not altogether pleasant. The inclusion of soul-mates is something I adore and this is what really stood out within the book for me. I loved the second part of the book so much more than the first. Brie's character development and journey of self-discovery made her far more like-able. The emotional journey was heart wrenching and heart warming in equal measure.

This book is not at all what I was expecting. If you are looking for something different in respect of death and bereavement with a measure of afterlife and soul-mates. Then you should definitely try this one.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Review: Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Title: Love Story
Publisher: MTV Books
Publication Date: 18 Aug 2011
Source: Gifted from the wonderful Kirsty at The Overflowing Library
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.


I am writing this review about a week after finishing this book and I can honestly say I am still unsure how I feel about it. I adored Going Too Far and Forget You the way in which Jennifer Echols manages to convey the chemistry between the characters is amazing, often resulting in the release of steam from the collar. However, I don't think I connected with the characters in this book as much as the previous books. Nevertheless I did devour it in one sitting.

The story starts with a story within a story. Initially a bit disconcerting, the placing of these 'stories' sometimes interrupting the flow of the main plot. Although their use is a very clever way to share the joint history of the main characters, this aspect only becomes apparent as the book progresses. In some instances these 'stories' were cringe-worthy and actually made me dislike the characters rather than enduring them to me.

I can't say I fully connected with Erin, her poor little rich girl situation annoyed me. Her preference for enclosed spaces was slightly odd but understandable when past events unfold. I spent most of the time wanting to hit her over the head to knock some sense into her. The phrase 'cutting your nose off to spite your face' comes to mind. Erin certainly goes about things the hard way.

Hunter on the other hand is totally swoon worthy. Although some of his actions are questionable I think his intentions were ultimately honorable. The very complicated and long history between Erin and himself did make me wonder as to why Hunter was still so emotionally tied to her. Its as if they were destined for each other. I have to admit they were the perfect balance when they were together. The communication breakdown between them was utterly frustrating.

I love the way Jennifer Echols writes relationships, romance and chemistry however I didn't enjoy the overall story as much as the previous books I have read by this author. I have high hopes for Such a Rush and have firmly on my wish-list.

Tantalising Trailers: The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten

I saw this on a blog back in December but I had to rush off as a class came into the library and lost the bookmarked blog. So apologies for not linking you but as soon as I saw it I know I had to put it up around Valentine's Day [ : D ].

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 27 Dec 2011

Synopsis from Goodreads

When her boyfriend breaks up with her on the first day of sophomore year, Lucy has no idea how she’s going to make it through homeroom, let alone the rest of her life. Enter three stunning girls with a magical offer Lucy can’t refuse. All she has to do is get a guy to fall in love with her in the next seven days, and then…break his heart and collect one of his brokenhearted tears. As the girls teach Lucy how to hook a guy (with the help of a little magic), she quickly discovers how far she is willing to go—and who she is willing to cross—to get what she wants.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Spotlight: Bringing Book Covers to Life

Taken from the press release:
Random House Children’s Books (RHCB) and Transworld Publishers (TWP) have teamed up with
Aurasma, the world’s leading augmented reality platform, to bring bestselling authors Lauren Kate
and Sophie Kinsella’s book jackets to life.

When fans download a free app on their Smartphone then hold their device over the front cover of
the book, the jacket images will come to life. Special video messages from the author can also be
viewed by ‘scanning’ the author photos on the book jackets. The app, which works on iPhone and
Android Smartphones, as well as iPad 2 and iPod touch, uses Aurasma’s ‘virtual browser’ to
recognise trigger images through the phone’s camera, which then generate video content directly
onto the device’s screen.

Fans of Lauren Kate can download the FALLEN BOOKS app and bring the front cover of Fallen in Love
to life. The SOPHIE KINSELLA app will activate Sophie Kinsella’s new novel I've Got Your Number.


Aurasma is the world’s first visual browser – a new augmented reality technology that merges the
physical world with the virtual. Available as a free app for iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, iPad2 and high-powered
Android devices or as a free kernel for developers, Aurasma uses advanced image and pattern
recognition to recognise and understand real-world images and objects in much the same way as the
human brain does. It then seamlessly blends the real-world with rich interactive content such as videos
and animations called “Auras”. Auras can be created for printed images, product packaging, clothing,
physical places and users can even use the app to create and share their own.
Since its launch in June 2011, Aurasma has had more than three million downloads. Over 2,000 partners
in markets including retail, fashion, sport, automotive, consumer electronics, entertainment, advertising
and publishing are using the free technology in their campaigns, on their products or embedding the
technology in their own applications. Aurasma was developed by and is part of software company
Autonomy – an HP Company.

How cool is that.
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