My Catchphrases

Monday, 30 April 2012

Review: Welcome Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: 1 May 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.


Returning to school after Winter break Chloe finds herself outcast by her friends. The subject of rumors, gossip and maliciousness, even her best friends turn against her. Not only does Chloe have to cope with the dramatic change in her social status but to top to all off she has to find a new Independent Study Project (ISP) or fail the course.

At first Chloe comes across as completely self absorbed and shallow. Although I have to mention that I adored her vintage shoe fetish, this alone sets her apart from your average teenager. She has a larger than life personality, easy to understand as she is the youngest child with 4 older brothers. As the story progresses insight into Chloe's attitude generates a degree of understanding. She has been spoilt although she is no where near a brat. She is used to getting attention and being adored by everyone. Disputes really upset her so she has developed a mechanism of deflecting tension by means of humor. 

Sometimes Chloe's use of humor can be seen as insensitive. She is oblivious to the need for tact and diplomacy in certain situations, although her interest in making others feel better is genuine and this shines through the narrative. Such an admirable quality even if it doesn't translate well with Chloe's larger than life personality. The radio show Chloe undertakes as part of her ISP is the perfect platform for her. Her self depreciating humor can be misinterpreted as narcissism until you really get to know her. 

High school cliques and prejudices are in full force within the plot. The superb use of the 'frenemy' added to dynamics of the story. There are incidents within the narrative that can be picked up on showing the level of jealousy and deceit with regards to one of Chloe's 'friends' inducing protective feelings for Chloe.

Chloe's journey of self discovery via what can be classed as a 'right of passage' was fabulous to follow. Lessons we can all learn - listening is an important skill [ : D ] Learning not to judge people by the way they look is something we should all aspire to.

Family problems, teen issues and a touch of romance are brought together with a quirky sense of humor providing a very individual and refreshing contemporary story.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Book Angel Book Love List - April 2012

To go alongside my Debut Drool List these are the books I would love to be able to read this month.

Title: Unrest
Series: POSSIBLY!!!!!!!
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
Publication Date: 26 April 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn't slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out-of-body experiences are harmless - but to Elliott they're terrifying.

Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out-of-body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something that wants to live again - and it wants Ophelia, too . . .

How good does this look!!!!

Series: The Goddess Chronicles
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher: Mira Ink
Publication Date: 6 April 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans. As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person whom she would really rather not meet. Henry's first wife, Persephone.

Lucky enough to have read this one. Review HERE

Title: Insurgent
Series: Divergent #2
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Publication Date: 1 May 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

War looms in sixteen-year-old Tris’s dark dystopian world as disputes between the factions grow. Tris must now fight against all odds to discover the truth that can save her and the people she loves. Sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge – and the choices she makes will have devastating and unexpected consequences.

Reading this one tonight [ : D ] I am thinking that I may not get much sleep. Review going up next Tuesday for my Faction #EruditeUK

Title: Ghost Flower
Publisher: Atom
Publicity Date: 12 April 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Eve, a runaway, finds a new job at a coffee shop on the outskirts of Tuscon. When she’s approached by two wealthy teens who claim she bears an uncanny resemblance to their missing cousin Aurora, her life takes a turn for the dark and mysterious. Drawn into a scheme to win Aurora’s inheritance, Eve finds herself impersonating the girl, who disappeared three years ago on the night her best friend Elizabeth died. But when Liza’s ghost begins to haunt Eve, doing harm to the people close to her under the guise of “protecting” her, Eve finds herself in a nightmare maze of lies and deception that leads her to question even her own identity. She realizes her only chance is to uncover the truth about what happened the night Liza died, and to find Liza’s kille—before she’s next.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Spotlight: Debuts I would like to see in the UK - April/May


These are some of the books that are debuting in the US this month that I would love to see in the UK; all the publisher details and publications dates refer to the US publications.

Title: Of Poseidon
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Fiewel and Friends
Publication Date: 22 May 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish.

What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings.

Stunning cover and the perfect addition to Greek Mythology in YA.

Series: The Vicious Deep #1
Author:  Zoraida Córdova
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: 1 May 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.

He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.

His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.

Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.

Another great addition to Greek Mythology in YA

Read an Excerpt HERE

Title: Ripper
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: 8 April 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

In 1888, following her mother's sudden death, 17-year-old Arabella Sharp goes to live with her grandmother in a posh London neighborhood. At her grandmother's request, Abbie volunteers at Whitechapel Hospital, where she discovers a passion for helping the unfortunate women and children there. But within days, female patients begin turning up brutally murdered at the hands of Jack the Ripper.

How brilliant does that sound.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Publisher: Andersen
Publication Date: 7 June 2012
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Young, beautiful and deadly. Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself under prepared - not only for the games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?


I love the premise of this one and its a deep case of cover love. Before I start I will tell you the one thing I really didn't like about the book - the use of the word MAYHAP, it may or may not fit with the historical setting I do not know but I hated its use with a vengeance, saying that it was the only thing I didn't like. 

Grave Mercy has a compelling story-line, well balanced characters, a fast, flowing plot with an interesting paranormal element alongside a fabulous romance.

Told in first person narrative from Ismae perspective. Ismae is a wonderfully complex character, suffering through a horrendous childhood at the hands of a physically abusive father and believing her mother never wanted her. Physically scarred from birth due to a herbal concoction her mother took during pregnancy, Ismae is rather timid with very little self confidence. Rescued by the local Herb Witch from an arranged marriage.

Ismae finds herself at the Convent of St Mortain, where she finds comfort and shelter for the first time in her life. The training as a Handmaiden gives Ismae confidence she hasn't possessed before. There are even lessons in the art of seduction, although Ismae avoids these like the plague which made me giggle out loud.

Initially Ismae serves the convent without question, although as a reader you question the ethics and credibility of what Ismae is told. The nature versus nurture debate can be seen in the way Ismae thrives in the convent. I really respected Ismae, her ability to be true to herself is an admirable quality and not always an easy choice to make. Her character development throughout the book provides a spectacular journey. The decision to be who you want to be rather than what others want you to be or expect you to be is not an easy one and can often be a painful process. 

The way in which taking orders from other people is scrutinized within the plot as part of Ismae's development showed that you can not always believe what you are told by others. People are fallible and often have ulterior motives for their actions.

I know absolutely nothing about french history so I cannot comment as to the accuracy of the historical events portrayed. The historical setting did add dramatic tension to the plot with the intrigue and suspense, betrayal and conspiracies. Cloak and dagger tension, divided loyalties, patriotism, treaties and arranged marriages all add to the setting and imagery. Secrets, personal agendas and conspiracy theories are all hinted at within the narrative providing a lot of scope for the series to continue.

The romantic element within the book is what really made it for me. The chemistry between Ismae and Duval was electrifying. Both have had to overcome prejudice in their lives. they really do bring out the best in each other, they were literally made for each other.

I am really looking forward to Book 2 in the series, although not a direct sequel as it is told from a differnt characters point of view, I am hoping Ismae and Duval make an appearance. As well as the required answers to the outstanding questions in this book.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Tantalizing Trailers: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong & Give-away

Title: The Gathering
Series: Darkness Rising #1
Publisher: Atom
Publication Date: 7 April 2011

Synopsis from Goodreads

Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.

It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

I haven't been able to read this one yet, and I have a copy of the second book in the series The Calling. I would love someone to have this to read instead of it waiting patiently on my shelf to be read.

UK ONLY this time SORRY 
Now open Internationally

Title: The Calling
Series: Darkness Rising #2
Publisher: Atom
Publication Date: 5 April 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

In The Calling, the sizzling second book in the Darkness Rising trilogy,New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong pumps up the romance, danger, and suspense that left readers of The Gathering clamoring for more.

Maya Delaney’s paw-print birthmark is the sign of what she truly is—a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly anyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

Now, Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. Then they’re kidnapped, and after a chilling helicopter crash, they find themselves in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home. Plentiful action and romance in this second installment in the Darkness Rising series will keep readers enthralled to the very last page!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Review: A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

Series: I hope so!!!!!
Author: Michelle Zink
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 20 March 2012
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance.

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.

Michelle Zink masterfully weaves historical fantasy with paranormal romance to create a gripping tale of love and betrayal.


There can be no doubt that I adore Michelle Zink's writing style, the words have a lovely lyrical feel to them almost taking on a life of their own to flow off the page. The reason for not giving 5/5 is: 

1) My copy from Netgalley cut out the f's in the sentences making reading a little hard going at times 
2) This really needs to be picked up in the UK
 3) I want a sequel [ : D ] 

An engrossing tale of romance and friendship with steampunkesque elements woven seamlessly together. The historical setting aided the world building and re-enforced the imagery.

As a general rule I loath love triangles, saying that this one simply worked. Torn between the super hot Griffin and the brooding Raum, Helen has to reconcile current events with the images of her childhood friend and unresolved emotions from this time. Although my heart belonged to Griffin I could understand the draw to Raum. Truly if events had been different and had not affected Raum so adversely then the relationship between Helen and Raum is easy to picture and understand.

The chemistry between Helen and Griffin was like an entity all by itself. The way in which Griffin softens as a character due to his relationship with Helen was beautifully depicted. Having built up barriers to protect himself emotionally following his parents murder, Griffin is unprepared when each one comes crashing down with Helen. It was truly heart warming to witness. Griffin's vulnerable side is depicted superbly with his care of a kitten. 

The plot twists were thrilling - the battle of good versus evil - angels protecting the Earth including the records of past, present and future provided stunning imagery. 

One thing I love about Michelle Zink's books is her ability to provide strong female characters, brilliant role models; intelligent, decisive, huge amounts of inner strength and not afraid to go against convention yet still compassionate, loving with a touch of vulnerability. They aren't your average damsels in distress, capable of looking after themselves and their loved ones. They are equals in their relationships.

Although the ending did tie up all of the details beautifully there is a lot of scope in which to progress the story. I can honestly imagine this as a TV series. I am really hoping that there will be more books featuring Griffin and Helen.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Spotlight: Guest Post: Historical Book Recommendations by Barbara Mitchelhill

Publisher: Andersen
Publication Date: 5 April 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Thomas dreams of becoming an actor, and when Shakespeare comes home to Stratford, Thomas's life changes forever.

Thomas is desperate to join 'the players', he'll do anything to watch them perform, even skip school and risk a caning. But when Thomas's rule breaking gets him in trouble with more than just his school master, he has to flee his home and make his way to London. Here he meets his hero, Shakespeare, and his players. But behind the excitement of the theatres is a grimy world of deception, poison and treason. Will Thomas manage to uncover the plot in time? And will he manage to save Shakespeare from a fate worse than death?
Barbara has kindly put together a list of 5 historical novels that provide action and adventure as well as a great introduction to historical novels. Have you read any?

These are five historical fiction books for children published within the past five years.  I found all of them very exciting page-turners.

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Set in London 1861 about young Grace whom we first meet carrying the body of her baby to Brookwood Cemetery. We watch her struggling to earn enough money to pay the rent and to avoid the unscrupulous family whose shady business deals with death and mourning. A wonderful story with lots of detail of Victorian London.

Powder Monkey by Paul Dowswell

Lots of action in this story of Sam Witchall working in difficult and dangerous conditions on board one of Nelson’s ships. Exciting and packed with action for those readers who can’t get enough of gory battles. Wonderful descriptions and historical details in the telling of the adventures of this young sailor.

Witch Child by Celia Rees

When Mary’s grandmother is hanged for being a witch, she is taken by a mysterious lady to begin a new life in New England where she lives in a strictly religious and isolated community. But Mary has a deep connection with the natural world and forms a secret friendship with Native Americans. With the arrival of the Witch Finder in the community, she must take care to avoid being branded as a witch. This exciting story gives the reader wonderful insight into the lives of the early settlers.

The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding

The best of the Cat Royal books. London 1790. Feisty Cat is an orphan living in the Drury Lane theatre where strange and amazing things happen in the theatrical world, including involvement with London’s underclasses. Exciting and funny. Full of historical detail of the theatre and 18th century London.

The Falconer’s Knot by Mary Hoffman

Italy, 1316. Silvano is accused unjustly of murder and runs away from home while Chiara is abandoned by her family and takes refuge in a neighbouring convent. When the two teenagers meet, they become friends but soon several murders strike fear into the close-knit community. In an attempt to avoid becomes victims, they try to solve the crimes themselves. This is a thrilling medieval murder mystery.

Are there any other historical novels you would recommend for my pupils as an introduction to this genre?

Guest Review: Road to London by Barbara Mitchelhill

Publisher: Andersen
Publication Date: 5 April 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Thomas dreams of becoming an actor, and when Shakespeare comes home to Stratford, Thomas's life changes forever.

Thomas is desperate to join 'the players', he'll do anything to watch them perform, even skip school and risk a caning. But when Thomas's rule breaking gets him in trouble with more than just his school master, he has to flee his home and make his way to London. Here he meets his hero, Shakespeare, and his players. But behind the excitement of the theatres is a grimy world of deception, poison and treason. Will Thomas manage to uncover the plot in time? And will he manage to save Shakespeare from a fate worse than death?


“Plots, Treason and Drama! When Thomas flees to London in search of a life in the theatre, he meets his hero, William Shakespeare, and thinks his dream has come true.

But Elizabethan London is a grimy place; full of scoundrels, treachery and murder. Thomas and his friend, Alice, find themselves caught up in a treasonous plot to kill the Queen.”

I have to say that this kind of book is right up my street. I do love a good historical novel and this is an easy read. I know I am not the targeted audience for this book, I am after all no longer a teenager, but I have to say that I enjoyed travelling with Thomas into the grimy streets of Tudor London.

Thomas has always dreamed of being an actor and so when he meets his hero William Shakespeare in Stratford he feels that his dreams may come true. His Father though has different ideas and Thomas must attend school and become a lawyer. Circumstances change for Thomas and he must flee Stratford and there begins the tale of treason and murder. I feel that this is where the story really takes off and the way that the author has captured the dirty smelly streets of London is quite something. Although basic in language she manages to give you the sights and smells of that era.

Along the way Thomas meets Alice. She is a very feisty character and sometimes I did have to suspend belief in her as I did wonder if there were female characters like her at that time. But go with it as she becomes a truly likeable and enjoyable part of the book. She is the one who finds out about the plot to kill the Queen and with Thomas’ help, they manage to foil it.

There were some lovely references in the book to past historical events. Look out for the baker on Pudding Lane, a very witty nod to the Great Fire of London.

I enjoyed reading this and as I said at the start it is a very easy read with uncomplicated language but this does not detract from the great story that Barbara Mitchelhill weaves for her reader. I think this is a perfect book for those who want to delve into historical novels but don’t know where to start.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Spotlight: Guest Post: Retelling Tales by Louie Stowell

To celebrate the start of the World Shakespeare Festival, Usborne editor Louie Stowell – author of Usborne Young Reading: Hamlet - tells us about the process of writing retellings for children, introducing them to stories that have been passed down for generations:

Retelling tales

One of my fondest story memories is of a retelling. I had the measles or some other childhood lurgie that kept me pinned to the bed and feverish. So, my dad decided to tell me a story. It was a story I’d heard a little bit of before – I’d seen a cartoon version of it. So, it was already an “old” story to me, in a way. I’d also read a prequel to it. But, now, my dad re-told the entire story for me.

That story was The Lord of the Rings. I then went on to read the original, and then listen to the amazing BBC adaptation from the 80s (Ian Holm as Frodo, making the films a little eerie). It remains one of my favourite stories of all time – though not, perhaps, my favourite book. My experience of the story was one of multiple tellings, across different media.

That’s what stories often are for me. Sure, I can read a great novel that could only have been written in those words. But the story beneath it, that could be told again (and will be, and probably has already been pretold).

Stories are things, for me, that have a life of their own. Good stories are, in any case. Good stories come back and back and back to haunt you, changing all the time.

I’ve done a lot of retellings over the years for Usborne – after growing up reading Usborne retellings myself. I was particularly attached to the old King Arthur where King Arthur looks like Rob Brydon. At least, he does in my head. Is it just me?

So, how do you go about turning an old story into a new book? What do you keep? What do you lose?

When I write a retelling, it’s always of a story in the public domain – for obvious copyright not-getting-sued reasons. But, older stories are ones that seem riper for retelling on the whole anyway, because they have that feeling of having been passed down through the generations, with twiddles and extras added, and other parts forgotten over time.

Usually, I’ll find myself reading multiple versions of the same story, from different original texts. Retellings are usually re-re-re-retellings. That is, unless I’m retelling a Shakespeare play – I did Hamlet a while back….

….and for that, I went back to the text, dusting off my undergraduate copy.

Studying English, I remember having long discussions and reading multiple essays about whether or not Hamlet was really mad. There was something very satisfying about covering that in a couple of sentences in the retelling. In the end, I came down mostly on the side of “really properly bonkers”, interpreting Hamlet’s madness through someone else’s eyes – so, there’s still wiggle room for him not being mad, in case anyone would rather read him the other way. (But, really, who stabs people behind curtains when they’re only acting at being insane?)

When retelling Shakespeare plays, I do try and include a bit of the language – I don’t want to imply that language is only the servant of story, or that it’s interchangeable. Just that stories have their own existence, apart from language.

When it comes to fairytales and legends, the characters often don’t have a 3D psychology in the various original stories, so there’s a lot of fun to be had in making them feel like living, breathing people and not just a set of actions in sequence.

I found myself confronting questions like “Why DOES Beauty fall for the Beast?” and “How does she feel at first about him?” which I’m not sure I’d ever thought of as a child.

There’s also the question of the morality of a story – moral and social attitudes now are radically different from the origin times of many stories I rewrite. I usually deal with that by trying to preserve aspects of the ethos of the story, as it was… but also, I’m aware that I’m writing for young children, and there is a bit of a moral duty at work here… so, I try to bring out what I think is good in the story – morally as well as narratively – to a certain extent. For example, retelling George and the Dragon recently, I made sure to bring out the contribution of the princess. Which I didn’t have to make up, but I probably gave rather more emphasis to than in the original.

One day, I’d love to do a Revolting Rhymes style retelling of various fairytales and legends, mind you. Aside from my dad’s version of ‘Lord of the Rings’, the best retelling to my mind is Roald Dahl’s Red Riding Hood, where she pulls out a pistol and gets herself a wolfskin coat. :)

Thank you so much to Louie for the guest post. A tantalizing taster of things to come in Classics Carnival covering August 2012.
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