Monday, 9 December 2013

Sweet Venom - Book Review



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Sweet Venom – Book Review

Tera Lynn Childs

YA Fantasy/Mythological

Synopsis:

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

Review:

Tera Lynn Childs has written some brilliant YA books and Sweet Venom is yet another fantastic read to add to your bookshelves. Rich with mythology, it is a light hearted story with a fresh concept - and written with the usual wit and charm that I’ve come to expect from this author.

Written in a triple-narrative, Sweet Venom tells the story of three sisters. Separated at birth, Gretchen, Greer and Grace may be identical in looks but their personalities could not be more different. Now sixteen years later, the trio suddenly find themselves reunited through a mix of fate and destiny. But they are no ordinary girls – they are the descendants of Medusa, charged with the sacred duty of guarding the world from the demons and monsters that plague it.

But now something in the underworld is stirring, and the sisters must unite together in order to overcome the evil that is threatening their lives. Because if they don’t learn to trust each other soon, then the world as they know it will end…

I really enjoyed this book. The characters are well written and through them the story is brought bubbling to life. While the three sisters are identical in looks, their styles and personalities are so unique that there is no trouble telling them apart, and they each add their own contributions to the story.

The book begins with Gretchen. Tough and fierce, she grew up on the streets where she learned to fight and defend herself. Learning of her destiny at an early age, she has spent most of her teen years fighting demons, making her the most kick-ass of the three sisters.

Grace on the other hand is just your typical, high school girl. Raised within a normal family, she has a cute, overprotective brother and parents who generally care about her. Her sense of humour is quite quirky and although she is unwilling at first, she soon excepts her fate as a descendant of Medusa.

Greer however, I feel like we don’t know so much. She enters the book close to end and the reader doesn’t have a lot of time to understand her character. Coming from a very rich family, she is a bit of a spoiled snob. Yet she is intelligent, but also reluctant to have her life ruled by destiny. I’m looking forward to learning more about her as the series progresses.

Also as a sucker for romance, I’m pleased to say that this book had plenty. Each sister has a love interest that suits them, and Tera Lynn Childs does a fantastic job of drawing out the suspense of each romantic moment. Given all the trouble the girls seem to get into, I can’t wait to see how their relationships with the boys will develop.

Story wise, the author has put her own fresh spin onto the legends of Greek mythology. Medusa is portrayed as a good and very misunderstood character, and I like how believable the tale is. The plot is fast paced and keeps you turning pages which make this book a quick, but delicious read.

Suitable for girls 12 years + I would recommend this book to anyone who loves strong heroines, romance, action and a good laugh. This story has it all! A fabulous read, Sweet Vemon gets 4 stars!


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Monday, 2 December 2013

Stealing Phoenix - Book Review



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Stealing Phoenix– Book Review

Joss Stirling

Benedicts series book #2

YA Paranormal

Synopsis:

Phoenix belongs to the Community - a gang of thieves with paranormal powers. Yves Benedict - an American student visiting London - is her mark. But Yves turns out to be more than just a target. He is her destiny. Her soulmate. But the Community owns Phoenix's past and it wants her future too…

Review:

When I picked up this book, I didn’t realise it was part of a series. However despite it being the second book, Stealing Phoenix read very well as a standalone novel and I had no problem understanding the storyline. It was all in all, a very enjoyable read.

The story follows Phoenix, a light fingered thief with uncanny abilities. When she is assigned to target Yves Benedict, a rich American student, she expects it to be an easy job with a hefty payoff. Yet when her quick snatch does not go as planned, she soon discovers that Yves Benedict isn’t just your average tourist, but does in fact have unconventional abilities of his own.

Determined to procure the items her boss, ‘the Seer’ demanded, Phoenix follows Yves and to her dismay, ends up a reluctant guest in his house. Now her whole world is thrown into question when she discovers for the first time the warmth of a family, and the heart pounding rush of true love. But even if Yve’s is her soul mate Phoenix knows, ‘the Seer’ will never let her leave his community alive…

There were so many things about this book that I loved! Its biggest draw for me however, was that in takes place in modern day London England. I just think it’s so refreshing to read a story that weaves in places you know, where the surroundings are easy to picture and everything about the scene can come alive through your own senses :)

I also couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters. The romance between Yves and Phoenix is wonderful to watch blossom and I liked the enormous differences between them. For example Phoenix has never been to school, but she is independent and street savvy, tough and slow to trust. Alone in the world, it was interesting to read how she adapted to Yves family and their giving hearts.

Yves, on the other hand is very academic. Sheltered by the loving arms of his family, he has all the best things money can buy, comfort, luxury and total security. Yet he is a kind character and his patience with Phoenix is admirable. I liked watching him try to relate to her life, a life of which he could barely imagine.

Otherwise the plot was fast paced and full of drama and tension. It certainly kept me turning the pages and I’ll deffinetly be checking out the other books in the series. So overall, Stealing Phoenix is a brilliant read and one I would recommend. 4 stars!


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Monday, 25 November 2013

The Alchemy of Forever - Book Review

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The Alchemy of Forever

Avery Williams

Incarnation Series Book #1

YA Paranormal

Synopsis:
In this first novel of the incarnation series, the immortal Seraphina grapples with a wrenching truth: Falling in love might mean succumbing to death. People say “love never dies”… but love might be the death of Seraphina.


Review:

I loved the premise of this book. Although it didn’t quite meet my expectations plot wise, it was still a nice read and I look forward to continuing the series.

Sera has been alive for centuries. Through the gift of alchemy, she can force her soul into another human’s body and take it over – thus, allowing her immortal life. Yet each body she takes only lasts ten years, and with each life stolen her soul becomes heavier with guilt.

 Now after almost 600 years of walking the earth, Sera decides that her current body will be her last. She would rather die than murder another soul. Yet when she witnesses a fatal car accident, her attempt to save the drivers life goes awry and she finds herself inside the body of sixteen year old Kailey Morgan. But does Kaileys life have more to offer her than death..?

I enjoyed this book and was fascinated by the idea of science and alchemy keeping ones soul alive. However I felt that some of the characters lacked depth and sometimes, given the nature of the storyline, believability.  For example my biggest issue with this book was with Kailey’s friends and family. A complete stranger (Sera) is now inhabiting  Kaileys body yet there is little to no mention of her acting differently. No change in personality or behaviour … I just found this a little strange.

I think this is also the reason the romance didn’t really work for me. Noah has supposedly been in love with Kailey for years. Yet he also didn’t pick up on the fact she was a completely different person. Unfortunately I thought these things really let the book down.

However the plot has a couple of good twists and turns and the premise of the story is so unique, that that alone keeps you turning the pages.  Overall though I would have liked to see more character development, and a little more back story on Sera’s history. Given that this was a relatively short book, I understand its lack of character building, however I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the second novel will be longer and hopefully, more satisfying.

Still the premise has great potential and I’m interested to see how things will progress in the next book. Therefore I give The Alchemy of Forever 3 stars!


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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Bloggers on Bullying - My Experience




This post was inspired by Michelle over at Fluttering Butterflies. She, along with Sophie over at A Day Dreamer’s World are hosting an Anti-Bullying week over on their blogs, so if you get a chance, do pop across and check them out. They are full of great posts from authors and other book bloggers alike. Otherwise I would just like to share with you my own thoughts and experiences on the matter.


Bullying makes my blood boil!

When I was twelve years old, back when Pokémon was all the rage, a classmate accused me of stealing one of his cards. I never did. However children are cruel, and of course the rumour spread until I had apparently stolen everything from hair clips and gel pens to money and mobile phones! It was a horrible time in my life. Kids refused to play with me, while even some of the girls I called my friends refused to let me share their colouring pencils. 

But worst of all, was the boy who actually accused me in the first place. He and a group of his friends took to following me home every evening after school. At first they would just shout mean things and call me names, but like with most cases of bullying, things began to escalate. They started to throw stones and water at me, try to trip me or push me whenever I walked past. And once, I even found my PE uniform shredded in my bag. Naturally it got to the point where I refused to go to school.

Of course my mother knew something was wrong, but I was always a tight lipped child and even to this day, I’ve never told her what I went through. To be honest, other than one of my very close friends, I have never shared this story with anyone. Why?  Because until now, I always felt too ashamed. I was afraid of what people would think, afraid people wouldn’t believe me and mostly – afraid of how weak and pathetic it all made me look.

Now I’m 24 years old and I know better. But this part of my past will forever remain a dark blot in my life. However I endured, I got through it, and while it does sometimes creep up on occasion to take a bash at my confidence – ultimately, I survived. And better yet, I love my life now! I like the person I am, I have great friends, a great family and if anything, I can look back on that time and feel more than just anger. I actually pity my bullies, because all I can imagine is that they’re own lives must have been pretty messed up if they needed to bring me down to make themselves feel good.

And of course while things with my bully were never resolved – my life did eventually get better. My mother made me return to school and I started taking a very scenic (and admittedly dangerous) route home, one which I continued to take for my remaining time throughout middle school. The children who bullied me grew bored and moved on to other things and while the rumours did pop up to haunt me now and then – things generally died down and people forgot.

 I learned to avoid that boy and his mates at all costs – of course on the occasions I did bump into them they made sure to shout cruel things or make sly comments. But then high school came and I was lucky enough to get into a school outside my catchment area where thankfully, I never had to see that boy again.

But that didn’t mean I didn’t think of him. I still dodged the areas of town I knew he hung out, and I would flinch every time someone used the word thief – even it was just a friend asking to nick a sweet. It took a long time before I felt happy in myself again.

As for my teachers, I’m sure they knew something was going on. I think they at least heard the rumours about me, and they showed their faith in me by giving me any task that involved taking money or important notes somewhere. They had me fetch things; help with displays, take stock checks for the art room –all tasks that required a measure of trust or responsibility. And while I didn’t understand or appreciate it then, now I do. So to all my middle school teachers – thank you for your support!

But my bottom line is – Children can be cruel. Thankfully most of them grow out of it. And no matter how hard your life may seem at the time, just remember, things will get better! Popularity won’t matter, school will end, braces will come off and girls… your boobs will grow! Life will always have its ups and downs, but ultimately, it will be what you choose to make it -


And it all starts with you finding your voice…


So my advice, tell someone, talk to someone. If not a teacher or parent, tell a friend, your pet, a stuffed toy!  Write a story, a blog post, a letter to a magazine, heck, even draw a picture. Just don’t keep your feelings bottled up, because sooner or later you will explode. Self-destruct in a ball of rage and hurt that more than anything, will only hurt you and the people who care about you.

Just remember, you’re not alone!


Monday, 18 November 2013

Across the Universe - Book Review

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Across the Universe

Beth Revis

YA Sci-fic

Synopsis:

Seventeen year old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realises that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's secrets. But on her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters. Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. 


Review:

There has been a lot of hype about this book and I admit, what with it being a YA sci-fic, it was a story I was expecting to blow me away. However, while it wasn't the astronomical read I thought it would be, it was none the less, a book I enjoyed.

The story begins with seventeen year old Amy. After watching her parents be frozen in preparation for their centuries long journey to find and establish life on a new planet, Amy makes the monumental decision to accompany them - Knowing that when she once again reopens her eyes, she will be reunited with them on a new world. At least, that was what was suppose to happen.

But when she is awoken fifty years too early, she finds herself alone. A stranger and outcast on a starship where the people all look the same, the sane are considered crazy and the sun "rises" with the press of a button. But Amy's early awakening was no coincidence. Someone on board is set against murdering the still frozen members of the expedition, including Amy's parents.

Along with 16 year old Elder, the ships future leader in training, Amy sets herself the task of protecting the frozens. But catching the culprit before he can murder again is another matter entirely. However as Amy is soon to learn, the ship, Godspeed, holds many secrets, each one more unpleasant than the next. Everything she's ever known, the life she once lived, has been lost forever. And although she has yet to realise it, she still has so much more left to lose...

This book has a great concept that is both fresh and extremely intriguing. Beth Revis creates a believable world and an eerie atmosphere on a ship that runs much like a dystopian society. With corrupt leadership and people unable to think freely, these elements combined together to make an intricate plot of lies and deception that made the book a fascinating read.

The characters of Amy and Elder were very well written and both were easy to relate to. While I didn't feel much of a spark between them romantically, I felt like a good foundation was  built for one to grow on. Also I'm interested to see how their relationship will develop, especially given the rather dramatic ending, and Elders obvious interest.


So overall Across the universe was a unique and interesting read that I would recommend to anybody wanting something a little different. Futuristic, spacey and with plenty of thrills thrown in, I would rate this a 3 1/2 star read! 


Monday, 11 November 2013

Wildefire - Book Review

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Wildefire

Karsten Knight

(Wildefire Book #1)

YA Paranormal
Synopsis;

Every flame begins with a spark. Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Review:

I really enjoyed this book. Although I thought the prose was a little too descriptive in places, the plot itself was riveting and kept me turning the pages. Wildefire is without doubt a unique paranormal read, and I especially like the new mythology because I feel like the Greek has been way over done!

The story begins with sixteen year old Ashline Wilde. When her sister, Evelyn, returns home unexpectedly, she brings with her a load of chaos, mayhem and startling revelations that change Ashline’s life forever. Because as Ashline is about to find out - she is a Goddess. And her powers have the potential to destroy the world!

Now she must learn to control her abilities - as well as her anger management issues, before she hurts everyone she loves and cares about. Yet her sister, Evelyn, is not nearly so cautious. Revelling in her Goddess status, she sets out on a rampage of death and destruction and only Ashline has the power to stop her. But what will this war between two sister Goddess cost the world…?

I really liked Ashline’s character. Her sarcastic wit made her charming to read, and I liked her spunky attitude towards life. She made for a great protagonist and it was a pleasure to watch her development throughout the book. The way she learned to control her violent tendencies and master her powers showed that she really grew as a character.

Mostly, I liked the secondary characters too, especially those of the other Gods. I enjoyed finding out each person’s history and I liked the back story given of how they came to discover their own powers. Yet Ashlines sister, Eve, I found extremely annoying. She was the typical, psycho villain. However I just felt like her character lacked depth and read rather flat. Still this didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book.

Plot wise the book was very gripping – although very violent - and I would recommend this as an older YA read. However it was the mythology and legends woven into the story that really gripped my attention, although there were also a few plot twists that left my mind spinning – in a good way!

Overall a great read. 3 ½ stars!


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Monday, 4 November 2013

Shadows on the Moon - Book Review

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Shadows on the Moon

Zoe Marriott

 YA  Fantasy
Synopsis:

On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us. We saw them come, Aimi and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before.

Suzume is a shadow-weaver. She can create mantles of darkness and light, walk unseen in the middle of the day, change her face. She can be anyone she wants to be. Except herself.

Suzume died officially the day the Prince's men accused her father of treason. Now even she is no longer sure of her true identity.

Is she the girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?

Everyone knows Yue is destined to capture the heart of a prince. Only she knows that she is determined to use his power to destroy Terayama.

And nothing will stop her. Not even love.



Review:

I loved this book! I flew through it in one sitting – which took me into the early hours of the morning- but it was completely worth the lack of sleep! A fresh spin on the old Cinderella fairytale, Shadows on the Moon is set in a fantastical version of feudal Japan. Weaving together magic, romance and spellbinding intrigue, it is a story that will stay with you for years to come.

The story begins with a young Suzume. Playing with her cousin in her family’s orchard, she is unprepared for the sudden attack on her home. When military officers raid, killing both her father and cousin, it unleashes a power inside her that Suzume never knew she had. A power that on that day, allows her to remain hidden and allude the death fated for her.

With the aid of Youta, a family servant, she escapes the devastation and with his tutoring, learns to control her gifts as a Shadow Weaver.  Born with the ability to create illusions around herself, Suzume can appear as anything she wishes... or anyone. But when her mother remarries, Suzume stumbles across a deadly secret and is forced to use her gifts to flee her home, yet her new step-father, the Lord Terayama, remains in close pursuit. 

Changing from a lady of wealth to a scullery maid, then into the most sought after courtesan of the Moonlit lands, Suzumes heart grows black, consumed only by two goals. Survival, and revenge. But then she meets Otieno, and for the first time in years, she finds her plans faltering as he teaches her what it is to love once again.

Yet Suzume has worked too hard to let Otieno ruin her vengeance now. Prepared to sacrifice both her love and freedom, Suzume will do anything to attend the Shadow Ball. She will bring Terayama to justice once and for all… even if it kills her…

This book is truly amazing. The setting, the characters, each had such life and depth that they felt almost tangible. It was a sad moment when I turned the last page and the story ended.

Loosely based on Cinderella, Zoe Marriott puts her own twist on the old, much loved fairytale. While similarities from the original were clear to see, this book remains uniquely its own story, especially with Suzume being a stronger, and much more complex character than poor Cinders could ever hope to be.

 Otieno is also a very interesting character. With his tattoos and dark skin, Suzume can’t help but be drawn in by his differences. Yet their relationship is based on more than just physical attraction. Otieno has such an innate goodness to him that I felt he helped balance out the darker elements of Suzumes character, and as fate throws the two them together again and again, it became a pleasure to watch their emotional connection grow.

The book also covers some more sensitive issues such as depression and self-harm. These are issues that I don’t think are addressed enough in YA books and I liked how Zoe Marriott drew subtle attention to them without turning the story into something overbearingly dark nor annoyingly preachy. It really made me admire her skills as a writer.

So overall Shadows on the Moon was an amazing read. Beautifully written and with a diverse array of characters, this is a book I would recommend to any lovers of fantasy and fairytale retellings. Mystical, emotional and truly captivating, this is without doubt a five star read!


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Monday, 28 October 2013

Before I Die - Book Review

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Before I Die – Book Review

(Re-titled in the UK as Now is Good)

Jenny Downham

YA Contemporary

Synopsis:

Tessa has just a few months to live.
Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her ‘To do before I die’ list. And number one is sex.

Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up.

Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, her new boyfriend, are all painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

Review:

This book was heartbreaking. The last few chapters I had to read through tear blurred eyes, even though from the beginning, I knew there would be no happy ending…

The story follows Tessa, a teenage girl diagnosed with Leukaemia, who already knows she is in the final few months of her life. Rather than sit at home, humoring her dad with his latest ‘google’ discovery of ways to prolong her life, she calls up her best friend and makes a list. The top ten things she is determined to do before she dies. Starting with sex.

Yet even as she tries her hand at drugs, shoplifting and even fame, Tessa never expects to accomplish her last wish. To fall in love. But then she meets Adam, and suddenly her world becomes a whole lot brighter. However each day, Tessa feels her body failing and knowing her final sun set is fast approaching… she wonders if she will have the courage to face her inevitable goodbye…

I did enjoy this book, although it took me almost halfway before I truly got into the story. I didn't particularly like Tessa’s character at first. I thought she seemed very detached from her feelings so I found it hard to sympathize with her. This may have been a ploy on the authors’ part; perhaps Tessa truly did dismiss her own feelings in order to better cope with the fate dealt to her. Yet as soon as she starts having tantrums and more emotional outbursts, that was when I feel you really connect with her and her situation.

Also watching how Tessa’s family and friends reacted to her illness was both heart-wrenching and maddening. Her father is over protective, her mother, unable-to-cope has an affair and appears only sporadically. Then there is Tessa’s little brother, who was loving but still a little ignorant towards her pending death. All these characters really impacted upon me the harsh reality that the people whose loved ones have terminal illnesses face each day. I would say some are just as brave as those who are dying.

Adam, particularly, was a really humane character. His dilemma was that he didn’t want to have his heartbroken by falling in love with a dying girl – not that his heart gave him much choice in the matter. However watching him struggle with their relationship - especially as Tessa’s time draws closer and she becomes frailer - was incredibly moving. Afraid to touch her, Adam stays by her side throughout it all. Yet he also knows he must live on when she is gone – and for him no one was a better teacher on how to ‘live’ life than Tessa.

So although sad, it really is an enlightening book. One that makes you consider the trials and sufferings of others. And teaches you to live each day with a purpose by reminding us how short life can be. A really moving read, I give Before I Die 3 ½ stars!


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Friday, 25 October 2013

NO BOOKS ALLOWED - OCTOBER

(Me at the Great Wall)

Hey everyone!

I feel like it’s been ages since I wrote a personal post. Life in China however, is still keeping me crazy busy! Can you believe I’ve been here ten months already?

So October has been rather exciting for me. One of my best friends flew out from England to see me. She’s a bit of a ‘Jiynu’ – a stay at home girl, as the Chinese say – so I was so proud of her getting on a plane by herself and flying all this way.

I’m also pleased to report I can still understand the Geordie accent – Although apparently my own vocab has turned rather… American! (For this I blame my Texan roommate!) Hopefully I can fix this before I return to England.

However the best thing I did this month was visit Beijing. The Forbidden City, the summer Palace, and especially the great wall of China – It was amazing! 

I visited the Jinshanling part of the Great Wall and I would totally recommend it. One of the oldest surviving parts, it was one hell of hike but the views were phenomenal.
I also ate lots of Peking duck, avoided the (still alive) scorpions on sticks and haggled my butt off at every market stall. It was a great experience!

(Seahorse on a stick? No? Perhaps a Scorpion then...?)

Otherwise I’m still having fun teaching. My Chinese is… well, slowly getting better. Oh and as you can obviously see, I survived the Typhoon that we had at the beginning of the month. Although wading in knee deep water for my dinner was certainly an interesting experience lol

(the day after the Typhoon) 


So how was your October?  

P.S
I'm also writing again and am very close to finally finishing my YA novel. As I tend to edit as I go, there's not much more I can do it and I think a fresh pair of eyes would be very useful. Therefore I'm looking for a critique partner (or two) - someone who won't mind ripping into my work and is happy for me to do the same to theirs. I'm hoping to start querying agents early next year so please leave a comment or shoot me an email if your interested...
Thanks
XxX

Monday, 21 October 2013

Tabitha Suzuma - Author Interview




Tabitha Suzuma, author of Forbidden, Joins me on the blog today to talk about her newly released book, HURT

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Synopsis:

At seventeen, Matheo Walsh appears to have it all. He is a champion diver and a hot prospect for the Olympics. He is a heartthrob, a straight A student and lives in one of the wealthiest areas of London. he has great friends and is the envy of many around him. And most importantly of all, he is deeply in love with his girlfriend, Lola. He has always been a stable, well-adjusted guy...

Until one weekend. A weekend he cannot seem to remember. All he knows is that he has come back a changed person. One who no longer knows how to have fun, no longer wants to spend time with his friends, no longer enjoys diving. Something terrible happened that weekend - something violent and bloody and twisted. He no longer knows who he is. He no longer trusts himself around people; he only wants to hurt, wound and destroy. Slowly, he begins to piece back the buried, fragmented memories, and finds himself staring at the reflection of a monster.

Tormented, Matheo suddenly finds himself faced with the most devastating choice of his life. Keep his secret, and put those closest to him in  terrible danger. Or confess, and lose Lola forever...

Tabitha Suzuma

Tabitha Suzuma Questions and Answers

1) What was the inspiration behind HURT and how long did it take you to write?

It took me seven months to write. The inspiration came from trying to find a subject that was in some way taboo, or that at least wasn't recognized or discussed enough (in my opinion) in modern society. It was also inspired by wanting to write about a guy who on the surface appeared to have it all - the complete opposite of Lochan in FORBIDDEN - but beneath the surface suffered from a different type of neglect. 

2) While you were writing, did your characters behave as you wanted them to? Or did they take over and take the story in a different direction to what you had originally planned?

I don't know if the characters took the story in a different direction. But I had a small epiphany which completely changed the second half of the book.

3) What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing HURT?

Putting myself in Matheo's situation and experiencing his feelings in order to convey them as accurately as possible. He goes through a lot - and the entire book is written from his perspective. The ending was particularly painful and the sex scenes were a challenge to write from a teenage boy's point of view!

4)What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

A greater understanding of the 'issue' (I can't disclose it without spoiling the book) and more awareness and understanding and empathy for others in general. Also an awareness that people who are rich and successful and good-looking and popular can sometimes be the most lonely and isolated of all. And being extremely talented at something - in Matheo's case a diving prodigy tipped for the gold at the next Olympics - is not neccessarily something to be envied. It usually requires long hours of practice, huge sacrifices in terms of socialising and just relaxing, nerves of steel, pressure from a coach, from fans and even from friends, and the constant fear of failure.  

5) Can you tell us about any of your new or future projects?

I'm not working on anything at the moment. I haven't been well and it's been a difficult year so far. But I would like to write something  set at a university involving a love triangle and psychological mind games - perhaps something along the lines of Donna Tartt's THE SECRET HISTORY

6) What was the best piece of writing advice you were given, back when you were still an aspiring author?

'No writing is ever wasted' by author and mentoor KM Peyton.

7) And finally, just to add in a bit of random - who is your favourite childhood villain?

Cruella Deville! She always cracked me up.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Tiger's Voyage - Book Review

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Tigers Voyage – Book Review

Book #3 of the Tiger Saga

Colleen Houck

YA Fantasy
Synopsis:

With the head-to-head battle against the villainous Lokesh behind her, Kelsey confronts a new heartbreak: in the wake of his traumatic experience, her beloved Ren no longer remembers who she is. As the trio continue their quest, challenging five cunning and duplicitous dragons, Ren and Kishan once more vie for her affections – leaving Kelsey more confused than ever.

Review:

This is fast becoming one of my favorite YA series! Like the first two books of the Tiger Saga, I found Tiger’s Voyage to be just as addictive and brilliant as the others. A really, really great read!

The story kicks off with Kelsey. Once again in the company of Mr Kadam and her two Tiger Princes, they set off on another adventure to break the third part of Durga’s curse. Using both the clues and weapons left to them by the Goddess, they find themselves venturing off the land and into, and under, the ocean.

But despite the sharks, dragons and sea monsters, it is her love life that causes Kelsey the greatest turmoil. With Ren’s memory of her gone, her heart is left shattered, but Kishan is more than willing to pick up the pieces. But can Kelsey forget Ren as easily as he forgot her? Or can she win his heart once again, before Kishan wins hers…?

This book really has me torn. As much as I love the adventure and fantasy elements of this story, it is the romance that has me completely hooked! From the beginning I have loved both Ren and Kishan’s characters and honestly, I want Kelsey to end up with both of them – each for different reasons.

Of course I know she will have to pick one of them, and while I do still lean (only slightly) more towards Ren, I love all the drama and conflict this love triangle has created. Which is a big thing for me to admit, because while I usually detest love triangles, this is probably the best one I've ever read.

Yet there is so much more to the story than just romance. Once again the settings and mythology behind the story continued to capture and hold my interest. Combine all that with a frustrating, head-banger off a cliff ending and Tiger’s Voyage becomes a truly brilliant read. Filled with magical descriptions and vivid imagery, Colleen Houck has created a fantastical story that I simply can’t get enough of! 5 stars!


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Monday, 7 October 2013

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord - Book Review

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The Assassin and the Pirate Lord – Book Review

Sarah J Maas

YA Fantasy

(Throne of Glass Novella #0.1)

Synopsis:

On a remote Island in the tropical sea, Celaena Sardothien, feared assassin, has come for retribution. She’s been sent by the Assassin’s Guild to collect on a debt they are owed by the Lord of the Pirates. But When Celaena learns that the agreed payment is not in money, but in slaves, her mission suddenly changes – and she will risk everything to right the wrong she’s been sent to bring about…

Review:

The first of four prequel novellas, The Assassin and the Pirate Lord is a fast paced, action packed read that throws you into a world of fantasy and mayhem. Introducing you to the deadly assassin, Celaena Sardothien, this book is a great set up for Sarah J Maas’ debut novel, Throne of Glass.

Jumping straight into the story, you are immediately immersed into a world of deadly secrets, treachery and adventure. While admittedly, things are a little confusing at first, you will soon find yourself hooked and will be begging for the next novella in the series!

In this short story we see Celaena paired up with her rival assassin, Sam. Less than pleased with her handsome companion, Celaena seeks a way to end this mission quickly and without Sam’s help. But when they discover that the debt owed to the assassin’s guild is to be paid in slaves and not gold, the two foes find themselves united in their disgust.

Now together, they hatch a plan to free the slaves… and bring down the Pirate Lord once and for all. But their kindness and daring will come at a heavy cost, and as Celaena’s feelings for Sam grow, she realises the consequences of their actions may have a heavier price than she is willing to pay…

I really enjoyed this novella. Not only was it a great intro into Celaena’s world, but it gave us a great first insight into the characters personalities and relationships. From Celaena – with her tough girl attitude but girly need to shop and be pampered, to Sam - with his boyish good looks and heart of gold.

Also the slow blossom of romance between Celaena and Sam was really sweet to read and I’m looking forward to seeing how their feelings will (hopefully) continue to develop in the next few novellas.

So overall a really great read. Fixed with plenty of action from covert missions to drunken, pirate brawls, The Assassin and the Pirate Lord is a must read for any fantasy loving fans. 4 stars!


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Monday, 30 September 2013

War Horse - Book Review

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War Horse – Book Review

Michael Morpurgo

Historical Fiction

Synopsis:

A powerful tale of war, redemption, and a hero's journey.In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?

Review:

In War Horse, Michael Morpurgo writes a really touching story of friendship and adventure that, despite the tears, I was unable to put down. So I warn you now, this was a great but heart-wrenching read, and one that will require you to keep lots of tissues close at hand.

Set in the bleak ear of World War I, the story is told from the horse’s perspective, but as the reader will learn, Joey is not your average horse. When he is recruited to serve in the cavalry, he is torn away from his boy, Albert, who swears that no matter what, he will find Joey again and bring him home.

Yet that day is a long time in coming. And as the years pass Joey moves from one owner to the next, some kind, some not so… but all the while his thoughts are with his boy, Albert. Meanwhile, all around him the war rages and despite the misery and cruelty he suffers, Joey never loses hope that one day he and his boy will be reunited…

Although aimed at a younger audience, I felt like this was a book that would be enjoyed anyone aged 10 or over. With so many strong elements of friendship, loyalty and hope, it is a book that will inspire and encourage you to believe in miracles. Because watching Joey battle against all the odds, willing himself home… I couldn't help but cheer him on.

Plot wise the story was also very eye opening. For example, looking at a war torn land from a horse’s perspective made me more aware that it wasn't just the humans who suffered. Nor was it just the humans who battled. Many animals were injured, sacrificed and needlessly killed, just the same as the men. Overall it made War Horse a very enlightening read and one I can’t praise it enough. 5 stars!


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