30 May 2011

Book Review: Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Release Date: July 5th, 2007
Publisher: David Fickling
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommended? Yeah... perhaps
Buy the Book: Amazon US

Tessa has just 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, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out. - Goodreads Page
Struggling... Struggling...

I was really looking forward to reading this book, having heard that it’s a huge tearjerker, but... I’m not sure I liked it. I love Jenny Downham’s writing (her other book, You Against Me, is fantastic) and yet I just didn’t enjoy this book for some reason.

Honestly, without meaning to sound like I don’t give a crap, I think it was the main character that put me off. I understand that what she was going through must have been terrible – my grandmother had cancer, I know – but I didn’t like the way she was handling it. I didn’t like her list, I didn’t like how she treated her parents (mainly her dad) and I didn’t like how she treated Adam. Again, I know that she was dying, but still. I can’t honestly say how I would react if I was in her situation, but I can’t imagine myself acting the way she did.

Other than Tessa, the story was interesting. I kept picturing the girl from My Sister’s Keeper (movie version) and seeing the links between the two. It did make me upset, just because no one deserves to suffer or to die like that, and I did cry when I read Tessa’s letter to her dad.

I do recommend this book, because so many other people have loved it, and it gives a great insight to what it’s like for someone living with cancer. And what it’s like to know that you’re not going to live much longer. But I can’t say that it was an overly enjoyable read for me.

29 May 2011

In My Mailbox - (23)

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren

I had another great week! I need to think of some sort of restrictions on my mother buying me books, and getting books from the library. I have over 100 books on my TBR shelf - it's insane!

For Review:
Rockoholic by C J Skuse
Undead by Kirsty McKay
Thank you Chicken House!

Thank you Bloomsbury!

Thanks Hodder!

Library Books:


Leave your links below!

27 May 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

How many books do you read in a week? And in what format do you read them, or listen to them?

Over a normal week - meaning, when I'm not revising for exams - I usually read two to three books. As I have more hard copies of books to review, I tend to read those first and then I read the e-books that I need to review. I don't really listen to audio books, but I did get the whole Harry Potter series for my iPod - ready for my holiday!

Book Blogger Hop
What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked?  Which have you disliked?
I really liked Fight Club, and I thought My Sister's Keeper was a good movie too. Although I haven't read either of the books. Oh! And the movie adaptation of Cirque du Freak - The Vampire's Assistant. It was okay enough for me to like it. As for what I didn't like, well, there probably aren't that many as I don't tend to compare books and movies. I can't, otherwise I get frustrated! Although, I really REALLY dislike the Twilight movies. I can't stand the acting. My ex-boyfriend was obsessed with Twilight and New Moon, as so he used to make me watch them with him all the time. And then I watched Eclipse with my friend. I will not be paying to see Breaking Dawn.

Leave your links below! :)

26 May 2011

Book Review: Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder
Release Date: September 21st, 2007 (UK)
Publisher: MIRA
Rating: 10 out of 10
Recommended? YES!!!!
Buy the Book: Amazon US

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear… - Goodreads Page
Oh. My. God. I’ve read Maria V Snyder’s other series, Inside Out, so I knew her writing and storytelling skills were great, but this was just incredible! Why has no one forced me to pick this up before? *glares* I loved it! So, as you can probably tell, this review is going to be full of gush. And swooning over Valek. Just a warning ;)

Our main protagonist Yelena is about to be executed for killing a General’s son, when she is taken to meet a man who offers her the choice to become the Commander’s poison tester. Yelena, not wanting to die quite yet, accepts, and from there we see her go through her training, tests and getting into lots of trouble.

The characters were, for me, the main draw of this book. There’s Yelena, who is a strong protagonist and looks out for herself really well. Then there’s Valek, the Commander, Janco, Ari, Rand, Brazell and more who are all incredibly well developed characters with more sides than a tetracontagon. I don’t know how Snyder does it, but she always makes me fall in love with (almost) every single character in her stories. Sheer brilliance, ‘tis.

Move over Dimitri Belikov, and create a space on that 1st place podium you’re currently standing on, for *drum roll* Valek! Oh my goodness. *swoons* How is it possible to hate a character so much in the beginning, only to love him at the end? Okay, I’ll be honest, I saw what Snyder was doing, and I never hated Valek. Yeah, I may have been a bit weary of him and scared, but I could never hate him. He’s badass. He’s incredibly intelligent, he’s a badass fighter, he’s good looking, he’s the Commander’s second in command... I could do this all day. I love him.

Need I say more? I think you get the gist from all of this gushing. This book was fantastic, and has soared to the top spot of my list of favourites. I’ve read the second book as well, which is also brilliant. I highly recommend buying this RIGHT. NOW. and if you have  it sitting on your bookshelf waiting to be read, then what are you waiting for? Bring this to the top of your TBR piles, because this is TOP PRIORITY. *breathes* Yeah, read it ;)  

23 May 2011

Book Review: Flawless by Lara Chapman

Flawless by Lara Chapman
Release Date: May 3, 2011 (UK)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Recommended? Yes!
Source: Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon US

Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny-all right, enormous-flaw: her nose. But even that's not so bad. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame. 

On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do-she agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking? 

This hip retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac is filled with hilariously misguided matchmaking, sweet romance, and a gentle reminder that we should all embrace our flaws. - Goodreads Page
I admit, at first this book does sound like a cheesy read. I thought so anyway. But after reading it – in just one evening, might I add – I am slightly shocked and rather blown away!

Flawless begins by introducing the reader to Sarah, the main protagonist in the novel, and her best friend Kristen. The fact that she has an enormous nose is made apparent very early on, as we see Sarah make her way to class while what seems like the rest of the school stare and whisper. And that’s when she meets Rock Conway. The story then takes off, with Sarah and Kristen lying in order to win Rock over. Kristen wants him for herself, but the problem is so does Sarah.

I loved Sarah so so much. I loved her insecurities, and I loved it when she was sticking up for herself. There’s a certain scene in the book involving one of her mum’s work colleagues which had be grinning from ear to ear.

I cannot believe that Flawless is Lara Chapman’s debut! She has such a strong voice, and that’s what made this novel stand out to me. It’s a touching read, with themes such as the importance of loyalty – to yourself first, and then to others – running throughout. I highly recommend this book. It may seem like a light read, but believe me when I tell you it will blow you away. 

20 May 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

Q. It's circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...

1. I am obsessed with The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural and Doctor Who. The former two in particular, but you already knew that, right?
2. My sleeping schedule is non-existent. I spend a vast majority of the night on Tumblr, Blogger and V-D.net and then I complain when I have to get up at 7am.
3. To choose which book I read next, I sit and stare at my bookshelf for a good half hour. 
4. My favourite smells are petrol (gas), mint and vanilla biscuit. If you don't know what vanilla biscuit is, I suggest you go and find out.
5. I let my bedroom become really messy, and then all of a sudden I get an urge to clean it. It works well for me.

Book Blogger Hop
Q. If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be from and what would that place be?

How am I supposed to answer this one? Okay, erm... I'll do a top five!
1. Ixia/Sitia from The Study Series. 
Just so I could meet Valek and fall in love with him. 
2. Harry Potter Universe. 
3. Inside Out Universe. 
Strange choice, yes. But it's only one day. And I'd make sure I met Jacy *swoon*
4. Divergent's world.
I think it could be fun... as long as I wasn't killed or anything o.O
5. Psy-Changelings World by Nalini Singh
I want to be a shapeshifter. That is all.

Leave your links below! I'll try to visit all of you, but I have to go to the dentist first, so it'll take longer today. >.< Have a great weekend!

19 May 2011

Book Review: Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
Release Date: March 7, 2011 (UK)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Recommended? Yes.
Buy the Book: Amazon US

Teen TV celebrities Jenna and Jonah make more money in a month than most people do in a lifetime. They can't stand to be in the same room as each other, but to boost the TV ratings their agents make them a 'real life' couple. Then the deception is uncovered by the paparazzi, and Charlie and Fielding have to disappear to weather the media storm. - Goodreads Page
After reading Between Shades of Gray, and honestly being in such a strange mood, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read anything for a while. But then I looked up some reviews on this book and many of them were very positive, so I picked this up. I knew that this was going to be a light read, and it was exactly that!

The main plot is a bit of a strange one. Jenna and Jonah are Charlie and Fielding’s characters that are dating on a TV show. In order to gain extra publicity, Charlie and Field are forced into pretending they are dating in real life, which they are none too happy about! Thankfully, this ends pretty swiftly, as a rumour is leaked and the pair are forced into hiding from the paparazzi in a beach house away from LA.

The story is told from both Charlie and Fielding’s perspectives, and it was a lovely touch, as I loved reading about their individual thoughts on fame, and on their future careers. Charlie was feisty, and Fielding was a secret nerd – both of whom I loved!

As you can probably tell, they do start to fall for each other – they’re a perfect match, after all! Reading about their feelings for each other was frustrating, but I’ve read so many books in which the characters keep their love for one another a secret, and so I’m more than used to it now!

Overall, it’s a light and funny reading – probably perfect for the beach in the summer! I definitely recommend it!  

18 May 2011

Blogger Help Needed!


As some of you may know, I’m off to Crete for two weeks in July *woohoo* with my dad and stepfamily. I’m not going to be able to get online at all over the two weeks – a fact that I am rather upset about to be honest – and so I wanted to ask if any of you wanted to write a guest post for my blog.

If you are interested then fill in THIS FORM, and I’ll email you all of the details :)

Depending on how many people want to write a guest – I’m hoping there will be at least a couple! – then I’ll be scheduling a couple of reviews, and perhaps a couple of memes over the two weeks. However, guest posts would be preferable!

Guest posts can be on pretty much anything to do with books and/or to do with summer. I’ll need them before June 30th, so you have plenty of time to write them! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

Thanks everyone!

ETA: Oh, and I'll be announcing the winner to my Divergent giveaway soonish. I apologise for taking so long!

17 May 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Minor Characters

This was actually a really hard one for me. How am I supposed to pick ten minor characters? What counts as minor? Anyway, here we go:

1. Christian; Vampire Academy
Christian is on of the most memorable minor characters for me. He's so involved in the story, and yet he could be involved a whole lot more. I loved his one scene in Shadow Kiss with Rose, while they were in the forest. I'll say no more!

2. Hana; Delirium
I loved her! She's such a 'bad' influence on Lena, and she's hilarious. Definitely one of my favourites.

3. Jacy; Inside Out
Have I mentioned that I have a huge crush on him? I think I have. He runs his own gang, he's hot (in my eyes, anyway) and he's clever. And he should totally date Trella. SHIP SHIP SHIP.

4. Ari; Poison Study
These next two are sort of a duo. Ari is the strong one. He is so adorable, and funny. I love him.

5. Janco; Poison Study
And as for Janco, he's the witty one of the pairing. He's more hilarious than Ari, but their pairing works so well! You never see one without the other. I wish they were in the books a bit more, but I guess they're only minor characters, so... Oh, and the way they were introduced to the books was brilliant. If you don't already know, then go and read Poison Study. Then you'll understand what I mean.

I know, I only did five. It's because I don't focus much attention on the minor characters - sorry! Who are your favourites? Leave links below! :D

16 May 2011

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: April 7, 2011 (UK)
Publisher: Philomel Books
Rating: 10 out of 10
Recommended? Yes. You’d be crazy not to read this.
Buy the Book: Amazon US

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart. - Goodreads Page
The book starts off with Lina and her family being taken from their home in Lithuania by Soviet guards and deported to Siberia. The beginning gripped me, as there was no slow starts, and I was immediately thrown into the story and captivated.

A lot of the book takes place in very, very confined spaces, and the descriptions during these scenes – as well as throughout the book – were horrifically vivid. I felt so connected with this story that I felt enclosed, even claustrophobic, and I had to keep putting the book down to give myself a chance to calm down.

In the four schools I have been to, during history classes, we learnt a lot about Hitler. I think that’s a given, no matter where you are from. What we didn’t learn, however, was anything at all about Stalin. Or the Soviet Union. Or the millions upon millions of people who were deported from countries such as Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. If we wanted to know about that aspect of WW2, then we had to research for ourselves. Reading this book gave me such a fantastic first person account (albeit fictional) of what it was like to be one of those people who were deported, shoved into crammed cattle cars, and forced to work for the Soviets. It has made me realise that despite researching on the internet, I know next to nothing about what went on in those years. I am horrified that while we were being taught about Hitler’s new education system, and the Brits saving the day, that is barely touching the surface.

The main characters in this book were all amazing. They had so many different sides to them, and they weren’t boring in the slightest. Each and every one of them touched my heart. I am amazed that no matter how bad things got – and believe me, things got terrifying – they managed to pull through, and look out for each other in ways that that I could never have imagined.

If you don’t pick this book up, you’re crazy. This is one of the first historical that I have read in years,  and it’s definitely one of the best out there. From what I’ve seen, anyway. The story is truly heartbreaking, and I applaud Ruta Sepetys for writing such an honest and gripping novel. It left my speechless.