Thursday, 14 July 2011

Better Late Than Never...Maybe

So I've been meaning to post this message for weeks now, and it is (for the first time in many months) Cem not the fabulous Nayu (to whom I am very, very greatful!). Here's the deal, this blog is, for now at least and maybe for good, going inactive. I shall not be posting, nor will anyone else. I won't be deleting it as deleting all that work of mine would be majorly depressing! But right now I'm not really reading. I've read...hmm, maybe 3 books in the past 5 or 6 months? Not enough to run a book blog by any stretch!!

Things are good though. I hit rock bottom, I burnt out completely and utterly where books and blogging (and internet for that matter) are concerned. But now I'm doing great. I'm still barely reading, though my love of books and reading is slowly creeping back in and for that reason, I've decided I'm okay with 'closing' the blog now. I may return to blogging at some point in the future, because I did really, really enjoy it, but right now, this is goodbye. Massive thank you to everyone who's followed me, commented on my reviews and enjoyed the content I've posted (and Nayu's content as well) you guys are awesome. I've made a lot of new friends as a result of this blog and I'm very glad of that too.

Much love,

Monday, 20 June 2011

Red's Wolf by PJ Schynder

August 2010, Decadent Publishing
? pages, eBook
Review copy

Paranormal Romance

Shapeshifters (cats), jealousy, lone wolf (literal & figurative), rivalry, overprotective family, getting hurt, some humour, a few occasions of intense romance,

Summary from Decadent 

Book Two of the Terra's Guardians Series

Carri has definitely caught the eye of the big bad wolf.

Visiting the Glacier Valley pack to get a little breathing room from life in the city, Carri uses her skills to help install a high tech airspace sensor array for her adoptive grandmother’s pack. Jason is a lone wolf, good at doing his job and good at being alone. Sparks fly between them, igniting desire hotter than Carri's red hood. But the Glacier Valley pack has made it clear Carri is under their protection and off limits. Yet, the heat between them is undeniable, and when Carri makes her choice clear, Jason is ready to claim her as his. He'll go against the pack and any rivals, even take down an alien hunter to have her and protect her

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Carri...although Carri was nice, it took a while for me to be totally at ease with her She's very determined, and will not take being dictated to by her well meaning but over cautious family. Just because she isn't a shape shifter doesn't mean she isn't aware of how pack society works - a fact that makes her remind the pack that they are neglecting their duty a little towards Jason.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? I haven't read this for a few days, but the mere title 'Hunters' has me looking around very cautiously. They are inhuman - I'm not talkig not human - the pack are part human, but hunters are evil, goal driven and determined to hunt the pack down. So what if Carri gets in the way - she's still in pack territory.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? Not heaps, it was pretty clear where the story headed (it felt shorter than book 1...which I did mind a lot).

One of my favourite parts was...when she puts the needs of others first above her own safety (remember that she isn't a doesn't have extra strength/weapons in combat)

This gets 8/10 - it felt a little too short (perhaps I was spoiled with the length of Heart's Sentinel), and Carri's story wasn't as exciting as MacKenzie's.

Be sure to check out more about PJ Schnyder on her website.

Suggested reading

You absolutely have to read Heart's Sentinel, the first book in the series (much longer than RW). It's awesome and one of my top favourite shapeshifter novels.

Alpha, by Rachel Vincent, Follow Faythe as she lives with her pride, struggling with all the rivalries and politics (remember, this is the last book in the series, but it is seriously awesome) Cem has actually read the entire series, which starts with Stray (reviewed by Cem).  (Yes I'm aware it might look odd putting the last book first, and the first book last - its just the way I've done it :)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Coming Home by Graylin Fox

December 2010, Decadent Publishing
? pages, ebook
Review copy

Urban fantasy

Unseelie court,, magic mixing with the modern world, fighting, intrigue, some humour, tragedy, secrets revealed,

Summary from Decadent

After losing her husband and son in a car wreck, Lyn is left alone. Even though overwhelmed with grief, financial responsibilities bring her back to reality. With the decision to sell her ancestral home, Lyn is greeted by memories of childhood as she meets up with the water dryad and brownie couple, who had helped her grandmother raise her. The old plantation on the coastal marsh along the bayou of Louisiana reunites her with the joys she’d long forgotten—until she finds herself in the middle of a mysterious war.

Doors open and secrets are revealed, but will she be able to survive the nightmares she’d left behind as a child or walk away with more than she’d expected?

Nayuleska's reason for loving Lyn...tragedy may have struck her life, but there is comfort to be found in friends and family. Although initially unaware of her true status, she fights with every part of her to save others from heartache.

Is there another character who deserves a mention? Isla is extremely cool - she's one awesome fighter, having a good range of weapons when others coming looking for a fight. Her determination rivals Lyn's.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Any creature who wants to destroy a person's life and use the person to better themself is high on my Do-Not-Like list. Add magic in the mix and, well, it takes a lot to subdue the enemy. An awful lot.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? A fair amount took me by surprise, which was nice as this is a short story. Packed with action and intrigue.

One of my favourite parts was...when Isla and Elden (her husband) arm themselves up. They prepare for every contingency, which shows how much they care about Lyn.

I give this 9/10 - it would have been extra niece if the story was longer, giving me a further insight into Lyn's life after the end of the story.

Suggested reads

If you want a story where a girl fights for her family's life, try The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Knife by R J Anderson, This involves fairies living in their own world with a cross over with the human world (I'm shortly going to reread it as I have the 3rd book in the series for review) & includes a lot of humour, emotions and transformations. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck

9th June 2011, Hodder
496 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Young Adult

Quest, loved one in danger, special powers, trials in a quest, danger, emotional tragedy, gorgeous outfits, fairies! (including a fairy laundry service), strange bats, sirens (wear earmuffs), combat moves (& combat gear)

Summary from Hodder 
Back in Oregon, Kelsey tries to pick up the pieces of her life and push aside her feelings for Ren. But danger lurks around the corner, forcing her to return to India where she embarks on a second quest-this time with Ren`s dark, bad-boy brother Kishan, who has also fallen prey to the Tiger`s Curse. 

Fraught with danger, spellbinding dreams, and choices of the heart, TIGER`S QUEST brings the trio one step closer to breaking the spell that binds them.

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Kelsey...she moved past the acting in a weird way from book 1, I simply adore her new power (zap! kazap! zaaaaaaaaaap! (bad impression of what her power is without giving it away), she suffers a lot on the quest with Kishan, which is sort of balanced with the incredibly useful gifts and weapons she receives.

Is there another character who deserves a mention?...the fairies! They are quite minor characters but I think how they live and work is really cool. I'd love some as night lights in my room.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Incredibly cruel, as it involves torture. There are lots of sub enemies on the quest, who have to stand strong as Kelsey and Kishan risk their lives to get to the next stage.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? Once again it took a very long time for the action to occur, and there was much less conflict in the first part of the book. I hasten to note that now I'm more used to Colleen's style of writing, the lack of conflict didn't bother me so much. When the twists happened near the end, they were clever ones.

My favourite part was...when Kelsey is helped by the fairies! It's very magical.

I give this 7/10, and I'm eagerly awaiting the third book.

Find out more about the Colleen and the series on the dedicated website.

Suggested reads

Definitely check out book one, The Tiger's Curse (even though I gave it a low rating, it is quite necessary to understand the background information in Tiger's Quest)

For paranormal romance involving cat shapeshifters, check out Heart's Sentinel by PJ Schnyder

Monday, 13 June 2011

Passion by Lauren Kate

23rd June 2011, Doubleday Children's,
432 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Young Adult, paranormal

Angels, time travel, teen romance, some violence,

Summary from Random House Children's Books 

Before Luce and Daniel met at Sword & Cross, before they fought the Immortals, they had already lived many lives. And so Luce, desperate to unlock the curse that condemns their love, must revisit her past incarnations in order to understand her fate. Each century, each life, holds a different clue. 

But Daniel is chasing her throughout the centuries before she has a chance to rewrite history. 

How many deaths can one true love endure? 

And can Luce and Daniel unlock their past in order to change their future?

Nayuleska's thoughts on Passion
Regular readers will know that mostly my reviews are in a different style. I'm choosing to change it just for Passion, because I need to discuss my decision for giving the the book 8/10 and 2/10. Like Cem, I write honest reviews, explaining what I love and what I didn't like about books.

Disclaimer: All of these views are my own opinion. I will be reading the fourth book when it comes out. I may read Passion again - I'll just skip the bits I'm not keen on. Spoiler alert: there is a middling spoiler about what gets examined in the last part of the book in the 2/10 explanation.

The 8/10: I think I enjoyed this one a lot more (until near the end) because Luce isn't as moany as the other books. I really love how she learns about travelling back in time to meeting her former selves. I really like the extra way she can get to know that - that was pretty cool. It was fun seeing how Daniel and the other angels were doing, it gave me a fuller understanding of the story. The small plot twists that built up slowly over the story were well executed.

The 2/10: Whenever I read books on angels, there is always a thin line between where I'll keep reading, and where I'll stop reading. I find it interesting to authors interpretation on fictional angels and demons, having my own faith include angels. Where books delve into going into heaven and hell, and use what God might say and do, that's where the line is crossed for me. That happens at the end of Passion.

Religion always is a controversial subject, because everyone has different views on it. I'm not saying that Passion is awful and it shouldn't be read. I enjoyed most of it. All I'm saying is, that for me personally with my beliefs, the end part was uncomfortable to read. For me, it worked when there wasn't a direct show of where Daniel and Cam came from, or who they answered to. Adding that in doesn't feel right for me. For me, heaven, hell, what happens when we die (this part isn't necessarily in the book) and God are unknown and can never be accurately described by anyone. It's something we have to look forward to after death.

So this is probably the first time I've given a book two grades: 8/10 and 2/10. I guess if I met half way it would be 5/10 (I maths is isn't very good! If anyone could figure out what the grade would be please let me know).

Be sure to check out more about the series on Lauren's website.

Suggested reading

Make sure you've read book one, Fallen

and book 2, Torment

Friday, 10 June 2011

Secrets at St Judes: Sunshine Girl by Carmen Reid

March 2011, Corgi Children's
288 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Young Adult,

Boarding school, ups and downs of friendships, tricks (some funny, some stupid), sneaking around, lying, cheating, teen romance (gets pretty racey in a few sections)

Summary from Random House Children's Books
The St Jude’s girls are taking a super-fun trip to visit Gina’s amazing LA home, but there are upsets and excitement for Gina, Niffy, Amy and Min this term. Will Amy finally find out who her mother is? And will Gina decide between her two love interests? And what about Min – is she just getting too wrapped up in her crazy science discoveries?

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Niffy...she gets as hyper as I do on coffee, she loves cakes & sweets as much as I do. She is a mastermind for tricks, which are really clever and funny in this & previous books.

Is there another character who deserves a special mention? Min - it's sweet how much she loves science - she love her microscope more than snacks (funny scene with Gina).

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Girls can be right little madams (that's putting politely) - Niffy & co's enemies really aren't friendly, but I didn't like or agree with how Amy took her revenge (Gina felt the same as me).

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? There are several sprinkled throughout the story, with a lot of laughs.

One of my favourite parts was...when Niffy played the final trick, and was actually praised for it by a familiar character. It was a big 'whoohoo' moment.

Although I'm not always keen on how the girls behave, their friendship is firm, they have good hearts, they can be very funny so I give this 8/10.

Suggested reads
Share more of the girls' adventures in the previous books including: Jealous Girl

and Drama Queen (link to follow)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Secrets at St Judes: Drama Girl by Carmen Reid

(I'm loving the new style of covers!) 

January 2010, Corgi Children's
304 pages, Paperback
Review copy 

Young Adult

Boarding school life, moderate level of teen romance, lying, sneaking out, parties, friends falling out, putting on a play (writing & acting), culture clash, some humour 

You'd think that being stuck in a stuffy girls bording school would mean life was dull and dreary, but this term the St Jude's girls are in for some serious drama!

Gina can't wait for her mum and friends to make the trip over to visit her from sunny California, but things don't exactly go to plan and she finds herself stuck in the middle of them and her new friends and hunky boyfriend. And things don't get better as the rest of her dorm-mates have their own dramas to deal with . . .

Niffy is not happy about her best friend and her brother becoming a couple - yuck! Min wishes she had the confidence to finally kiss her new boyfriend, and poor Amy is starting to do anything to look thin for the school play.

Will all the drama be resolved . . .?

Nayuleska's reason for loving Amy: I think she's my favourite character in this book because when she's low and gets one comment about her weight, she takes it the wrong way and starts on the twisty spiral of anorexia (there is a happy ending, but the pace of time passing seemed almost too quick to be realistic)

Is there another character who deserves a mention? All the girls are fun, but I enjoyed Gina's story line because her friends were diabolical in how they behaved to everything - life isn't all about luxury! 

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Distorted body image is evil and dangerous. Misunderstanding and friction between friends hurts everyone involved. 

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? With all four girls having their own storyline, there's plenty of unexpected events. 

One of my favourite parts was....right when Amy's eating problem was discovered, I felt so sorry for her, but was so happy that she would get some help. 

I think this deserves 8/10

Make sure you check out more about St Judes and Carmen's other books on her website

Suggested reads
Try other St Jude's books for more adventures with the four girls which include Jealous Girl

For more school stories, check out the Silver Spires series: School Friends: Party at Silver Spires.

Monday, 6 June 2011

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

April 2011, Walker
432 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Young Adult

Demons, training, weapons galore, heartache, tragedy, families and friendship, misunderstandings, possession, abuse, nightmares, snakes, teen romance (moderate, with a few strong sections & alternate relationships), a lot of violence and gore

Summary from Walker
The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and – most importantly of all – she can finally call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. Someone is murdering the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine's Circle, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. And when Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Clary...I still adore her! This is as good as the 3rd book, maybe even a little bit better because she actually starts shadowhunter training. I'm so with her on the terrified of heights but the training pays off later in the book.

Is there another character who deserves a mention? Again I return to Maia, because more is learnt about her past, which makes her both more vulnerable, and also stronger.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Very evil because no one knew it was there, no one could tell when it was laying the foundation for its demonic plans, then adding all the layers like icing on a cake.

Are there plenty of story twists and surprises? There are a fair amount, a bit less than previous books but a lot of character development and the relationships between different characters happens.

One of my favourite parts was...when Clary was training, and when she successfully performed a flip where no one else could see her. (I saw her - whoohoo!)

I give it 8/10.

Suggested reads
Be sure to check out the other books in the series

These two are pretty obvious - book 1, City of Bones

Book 2, City of Ashes (link to follow)

Book 3, City of Glass (link to follow)

Friday, 3 June 2011

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

June 2009, Walker
496 pages, Paperback
Personal Copy

Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Werewolves, vampires, fairies, governing body, rebellion, great dress sense, awesome array of weapons, fire (pretty!), glass (duh - why else would the title have glass in?), fear, escape, torture, acceptance, huge secrets uncovered, family ties and friendships formed and lost, 100% wow factor, quite a lot of violence - most of it gruesome, the odd use of bad language and a few adult situations, tissues will be needed, a fair amount of humour.

Summary from Walker
Amid the chaos of war, the Shadowhunters must decide to fight with the vampires, werewolves and other Downworlders - or against them. Meanwhile, Jace and Clary have their own decision to make: should they pursue the love they know is forbidden?

Nayuleska's reason for loving Clary...I feel so happy to say I love Clary 100% now. This book was it. Clary wasn't a nitwit in this one. The whole incest thing - I can't spoil it, but yeah, totally understand why it happened and very happy with the outcome. She really comes into her own here, she has quite a strength of character.

Is there another character who deserves a special mention? Maia! She gets cooler with each book. But I'd like to bring the focus on Isabelle, who I positively adore in this book, because she gets hurt terribly, but manages to stay focused at the crucial moments.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Valentine didn't get any evil-er, he's a prime psycho, definitely bent on destroying the world. He deserves everything that happened to him.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? Understatement of the year. I didn't like book 1 & 2 that much. The incest thing really bugged me. But finding out the truth about that here, suddenly everything made sense. Clary came into her own, the revelations kept thumping down from the sky. I now want to reread the previous books, which I didn't necessarily want to do by the end of book 2. There are some tissue moments which are pretty heart breaking.

One of my favourite parts was...a Maia thing. 1) I love the slogans on her clothes. 2) - this made me laugh on page 232: 'She [Maia] put her hand against her stomach. "And gross, by the way. I can't believe I munched all that demon. I hope I'm not allergic.'

Seeing as I 101% loved this, it gets 10/10! You can see what Cem thought of it here. We have quite different takes on the book, which goes to show we all have different tastes (I did not have a clue about the truth between Jace & Clary at the end of book 2).

Definitely head over to Cassandra's website to check out more about her and her books.

Suggested reads
These two are pretty obvious - book 1, City of Bones

Book 2, City of Ashes (link to follow)

(And book 4, City of Fallen Angels which I've just started reading)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

July 2008, Walker
416 pages, Paperback
Personal Copy

Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Demons, lots of danger, moderate amount of gore, lots of fighting, cool weapons, friendships and family relationships, magic, new abilities, werewolves, vampires, a few adult themes, possibly a few swear words (can't quite remember)

Summary from Walker

The second book in the bestselling urban fantasy trilogy, The Mortal Instruments.

Haunted by her past, Clary is dragged deeper into New York City's terrifying underworld of demons and Shadowhunters - but can she control her feelings for a boy who can never be hers?

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Clary...she's not totally clueless now she's got a better idea of what's going on. The incest issue with Jace was something I wasn't so keen on.

Is there another character who deserves a special mention? Maia the werewolf - I'm quite fond of her for some reason! What happens between her and Simon made me laugh when I don't think I should have been laughing.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Valentine is still evil, and continues to command super evil demons to help with his world domination plans.

Are there plenty of plot twists/surprises? There are some startling changes and revelations, especially at the end. Thank goodness I had book 3 beside me.

 One of my favourite parts was...when Clary discovers a new power (I'm so hoping that was in book two - currently reading book three and I'm worried I might have muddled them up!)

I'm a bit mixed about this book, and I'm giving it 7/10. (I can happily report I like Clary way better in book 3!)

Make sure you read Cem's review on this (I didn't read it before writing mine)

Suggested reading
Definitely read book one in the series, City of Bones

Also try the Chloe Neill's pretty awesome  Some Girls Bite where Merit's personality captured me from start to finish.

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Collaborator by Margaret Leroy

2nd June 2011, Mira Books
480 pages, Paperback
Review copy


1940's, Channel Islands, rationing, evacuation, occupation by the enemy, momentous decisions, single mother, affair (closed doors policy on adult relations), teen romance, being a teen in war time,

Summary from the press release 

1940: As France falls to the Germans and the enemy looms to Guernsey’s shores, Vivienne de la Mere has the ultimate decision to make - to leave Guernsey, along with most of the islanders and take the treacherous trip to mainland England, or stay, and risk the inevitable occupation with her two daughters and mother-in-law. Vivienne’s decision to stay is set to change the course of hers and her daughters’ lives forever.

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Vivienne...she uses her head (some of the time) and does what it takes to keep her children safe, and happy during such difficult times. She also takes risks that didn't need taking, as well as those which did.

Is there another character who deserves a mention? Millie - she is positively adorable! She's a young girl, and her view on life is a pleasure to read.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? To be honest, it wasn't the Germans who were evil - it was the people in charge of them, back in their homeland. Some were cruel, but most didn't have a choice.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? Ever so many - although the press sheet actually had a big spoiler, so I was aware of one surprise.

One of my favourite parts was...It's a point where Millie gets asked if she can swallow pills, and her reply is 'Of course I can. I'm four and a half." She's the 2nd heroine of the novel.

I give this book 9/10 for being extremely detailed and engaging all my emotions.

Make sure you take a peek at Margaret's other books on her website.

Suggested reads
A fictional diary which could have been written by Peter, who shared the annex with Anne Frank in Annexed by Sharon Dogar

Or the life of a Polish boy, orphaned during Nazi occupation in Auslander by Paul Dowswell

Friday, 27 May 2011

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

26th May 2011, Hodder
512 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Young Adult

Myths, Indian forests, isolation, tigers, mystery, adventure, some moderate teen romance, mixed emotions, luxury, deities brought to life, snakes,

Summary from the book's website
Passion. Fate. Loyalty.

Would you risk it all to change your destiny?

The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and  mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Kelsey...she hates snakes and camping as much as I do. She seems to have a personality change halfway through the book, and I couldn't understand her motives for her actions and feelings towards Ren.

Any other character who deserves a special mention? Ren - come on, tigers are really cute! Especially white ones.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Until the last part of the book, there wasn't an enemy or much real conflict before page 300. I'm not entirely sure where the conflict kicked in, I stopped checking page numbers. However, the kappas and monkeys were rather scary.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? Only a few scattered around the book, certainly not as much as I'd hoped there to be for a series like this.

One of my favourites parts was...when Kelsey got to try lots of different food! I could almost smell all the spices and herbs.

I'd like to make a note that where it says in page 74 'In Islam, it is believed that Allah will send a tiger to defend and protect those who follow him faithfully , but he will also send a tiger to punish those he considers traitors', as far as I know from personal experience, this isn't entirely accurate. A beast will be sent, who has some elements like a tiger, but certainly isn't an entire tiger - most of it will be constructed of different animal parts. I haven't ever comes across a passage in the Quran or elsewhere that says it's a tiger, so that might be a regional interpretation of what the beast will look like.

Because of the lack of action/twists, and Kelsey's dramatic and incomprehensible (to me) change in character, I give this a 5/10.

Find out more about the Colleen and the series on the dedicated website.

Suggested reads 
For paranormal romance involving cat shapeshifters, check out Heart's Sentinel by PJ Schnyder

Or check out Rachel Vincent's series which ends with Alpha

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Threads by Sophia Bennett

August 2009, Chicken House
272 pages, Paperback (*)
Review copy

(* I adore this cover! I was given a special edition one, designed by Giles Deacon (I'd never heard of him, but he's a top fashion designer (I know next to zilch about the fashion industry), which really does fit in with the design element of the book, but I like the original best. It's bright and snazzy and more my style.)

Young Adult,

Fashion, school life (GSCE year), celebrities, the realities of being an actress, moving up (and making moves in) the fashion world, the cruel realities of life in other parts of the world, photography, beautiful creations, lots of humour, tissues most definitely needed

Summary from Chicken House 
Nonie’s passion is fashion. Humanitarian Edie wants to save the world. And budding actress Jenny has just landed a small part in a Hollywood blockbuster. But when these three friends meet a young African refugee girl called Crow, sketching a dress at the Victoria and Albert Museum, they get the chance to pool their talents and do something truly wonderful, proving that fashion fairy tales really can happen.

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Nonnie....she has such a big heart. Crow works her way into Nonnie's heart, and Nonnie makes things happen for everyone.

Is there another character who deserves a mention? Sweet little Crow, who is one talented young girl. But my favourite character is Edie - such a nerd, and puts her foot in it, but like Nnnie she has a big heart and does all she can for Crow, which Jenny can't always do as she's away so much.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? There isn't really one - apart from the evil sickos who start the horrendous wars and conflicts in the world.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? Several very good surprises which I thought would end up as bad ones.

One of my favourite parts was...I can't say because its the end event which made me need a tissue. I'll opt for the one when Crow takes her sewing machine on holiday, and Nonie remarks it is Crow's version of a teddy bear.

There's only one rating for this - 10/10, hands down.

Find out more about Threads and the other books on Sophia's website.

Suggested reads
In some ways Nonie's fashion sense reminded me of Viola in Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani(For some reason I haven't reviewed the sequel, which is really odd because I enjoyed it, but I think I read it when life was being very life-y. At some point I'll try to review online, rather than just in my head).

Monday, 23 May 2011

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould

April 2011, Razorbill 
272 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Young Adult (12+) Historical 

Mysteries of Venetian society, lots of danger, half-truths, rumours, the hidden power of women, secrets, tragedy, mild romance

Summary from Puffin

Laura della Scala knows nothing beyond the convent walls which have trapped and bound her since she was twelve years old.
A single night will change her life.
She will soon learn the difference between an arranged marriage and true, reckless love.
Venice is a dangerous city. Intrigue, romance and power lie at its heart and secrets run through the blood of its rulers.
They call Laura 'La Muta'. The Silent One. She is about to break her silence . . .but at what cost?

Nayuleska's reason for loving Laura...even when she's afraid, she keeps following her heart and persuing what she believes is right. She isn't totally naive about life, but inevitably time inside the convent will make some social customs unknown to her. 

Is there another character who deserves a special mention? Faustina, Laura's maid. She cares for her mistress greatly, but looks the other way and tries to put her best interests first. 

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Until the end there are several enemies, and they all seem terrifying to Laura.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? The novel really turned itself on its head in several places.

One of my favourite parts was...when the Segreta (a secret society) gave Laura protection when she most needed it (and I'm not saying whereabouts in the story that is!)

I give it 8/10

For another Venetian tale try Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli

For mystery wherever you turn, try The Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Bad Karma Diaries by Bridget Hourican

March 2011, O'Brien Press
240 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Young Adult,

School life, bullying, revenge, teens with a mission, blinkered view of life, anorexia, racism, teen hormones,

Summary from Frances Lincoln 
Best friends Anna and Denise need some cash, so they go into business running birthday parties for younger kids. They earn a bit of money AND have lots of funny stories to add to their blog...

But then the girls come up with an even madder money-making scheme and the Instruments of Karma are born, taking revenge on bullies - for a fee! They even blog about it (anonymously, of course).

But Karma is a funny old thing, and the girls learn the hard way that revenge isn't always sweet...

Nayuleska's reason for loving Denise....I don't. Her attitude and behaviour are mostly wrong throughout the entire book, although the attitude at home was something I had when I was a teen.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Anna and Denise think the enemy is really evil, but they don't know all the facts.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? There were a few big ones, which added a twist to the story.

One of my favourite parts was...when Denise's mother tells her exactly what she's like. The truth hurts, but it can change lives.

Although I didn't like Anna and Denise did or how they thought, I give it 8/10 because it was a really good read.

Suggested reads
For a really good way of how bullies and trouble makers are taken care of at a college, check out The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

For younger readers, check out what Princess Poppy does (imaginary princess) when she gets in with the wrong crowd at school, in Princess Poppy: Playground Princess by Janey Louise Jones

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Quarry by Ally Kennen

February 2011, Scholastic
240 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Young Adult, thriller

School life, living in a run down area, mental health, dementia, divorce, dares, mobile phones, pranks which aren't funny, secrets, pushing the boundaries, training to be a thug, exams, mild teen romance

Summary from Scholastic 
Someone knows all the secrets of Scrappy's troubled family – and, by text message, is luring him into a deadly trap ...

Nayuleska's reason for loving Scrappy: he's the total opposite of me, I respect the bravery he shows, and  his compassion to his grandfather, and his more deeply buried sibling love for his sister.

Is there another character who deserves a special mention? Sheeley, Scrappy's sister. I wish there had been more appearances from her.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? All I'll say is it starts with a dead cockroach...and gets much worse. Scrappy's on target for being a criminal...if he carries on.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? Although the main one I'd had my suspicions and was proven correct, there were all the minor plot twists which were very well written.

One of my favourite parts was...whenever he realises how much he cares for his sister.

I give it....9/10

Check out Ally's blog here.

Suggested reads
Jason has a similar level of hardship to deal as Scrappy does in Crazy by Han Nolan

For an equally funny and mysterious read, check out Scat by Carl Hiassen

Monday, 16 May 2011

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

July 2007, Walker Books
448 pages, Paperback
Personal copy

Young Adult, Fantasy

Lots of thrills and mystery, runes, magic, betrayal, family secrets, family ties, friendships, misunderstanding, werewolves who are good, vampires who aren't fabulous hosts, lots of confusion, some teen romance, some gore, 100% fun!

Summery from Walker 
Clary Fray is seeing things: vampires in Brooklyn and werewolves in Manhattan. Irresistibly drawn towards a group of sexy demon hunters, Clary encounters the dark side of New York City - and the dangers of forbidden love.

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Clary: everyone knows what's going on apart from her, I like her spirit in finding out the truth, plus her admirable skill of being prepared and making sure a weapon is to hand just in case....

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Very - some are physically scary, others are psychological scary. All are evil. Or are they...?

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? So many I gave up counting them on my fingers. There isn't a single element of Clary's past, current or future life that is predictable (apart from death, but she's very much alive at the end of the book).

One of my favourite parts was...I have to pick on? Try the whole book! Ok, I'll be good and pick....when Clary gets rescued by Luke midway and she learns his secret. Well one of them.

I give it 10/10 hands down!

Make sure you read Cem's review (I didn't read it before I read the book).

Suggested reads: 
Chloe Neill has created quite a powerful force in Some Girls Bite where Merit's personality captured me from start to finish.

For a darker read with a character who isn't at school, try Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll