Monday, 19 December 2011

Holiday Blogging Break!


Just a quick announcement to let you guys know that I will be taking a break from blogging as of today for Christmas and New Year. I'm going to use this time to relax and enjoy the festivities as well as cramming in as many Christmas books and those 2011 must reads before the years over. I'll be returning in early January and will be setting things up on the blog for 2012 with 2011 summaries, reviews for 2012 books and even the first book tour of the year! January will be a month with a lot of conclusions from 2011 and setting up for the year ahead. It's also my birthday month and I know I'm going away late January so please bare with me if posts are a bit all over the place.

February will see things getting back to normal around here and the return of some of my features like Readers Choice and the re-launch of Covers So Lovely We'd Lick Them with the new name Covers So Lovely They're Lickable! As co-creator and my best friend Rachel over at In the Library of LadyViolet has kindly handed the reins over to me solely so I'm bringing it back as I know how many of you used to enjoy those.

So this is goodbye for now my lovelies, I hope you all have a wonderful and book filled Christmas and New Year if you celebrate and for those who don't heck everyday should be wonderful and book filled so same goes to you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and I'll see you all in 2012 for book news, reviews and plenty of bookish awesome.

Jess x

Sunday, 18 December 2011

In My Mailbox!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Review Books


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Torn by Cat Clarke
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Night School by C.J Daugherty
Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey


Gift/ Bought


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (early Christmas present from my lovely friend Ellie over at Musings of a Bookshop Girl)
The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness (I got all three of these for only £7.99 at The Works! I absolutely loved A Monster Calls so can't wait to check out more of Patrick's books!)

This is my last IMM for 2011 and I think it’s been a pretty good one! As always big thank you’s to everybody who sent me books. For more information on any of the books featured just click on the title and the link will take you to it's goodreads page. If you’ve read any of the books I got this week and want to leave me a comment letting me know what you thought please do and make sure you leave me a link to what you got in your mailbox. Here’s to another week of fantastic reading ahead!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Review for Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

WARNING
This is the second book in The Infernal Devices series. Although this review will contain NO spoilers from Clockwork Prince by talking about the plot there may be unintentional spoilers from the first book in the series.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker
Release Date: 6th December 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5/5 stars
Source: Received from the publisher for review

Amazon Summary:
"Love and lies can corrupt even the purest heart... In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, while her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will - the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers to who she is and what she was born to do? As their search for the truth leads the three friends into peril, Tessa's heart is increasingly torn, especially when one of their own betrays them."

Review
I feel that The Infernal Devices trilogy really shows off how far Cassandra Clare has come as a writer since her debut City of Bones. Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge fan of The Mortal Instruments series but I feel that The Infernal Devices is so much stronger in characters, plot, and writing. I’m a sucker for well written historical fiction at the best of times but historical fiction with shadowhunters and all the paranormal creatures you can think of? Yes please!

I had a feeling after reading Clockwork Angel that I could possibly come to love this series even more than The Mortal Instruments and Clockwork Prince definitely tipped me over the edge. This has to be the most romantic of all of Cassandra Clare’s books to date, the majority of the book focusing on the complex relationships our leading lady Tessa has with shadowhunter parabatai brothers Jem and Will. Some huge plot twists get revealed about the boys in Clockwork Prince which literally changes everything for Tessa. Both Jem and Will have been through so much and in this book you get to see the extent of that and get to know the boys so much better. There are some very hot and steamy moments and I, like Tessa, spent much of the book totally convinced I loved kind hearted, silver fox, Jem only to look into Will Herondale’s blue/violet eyes and be undecided all over again. I love both boys so much and I almost don’t want Tessa to have to choose either of them, not if it will end up hurting the other one. Basically Cassie Clare has created the most intense love triangle I’ve ever read. I love it and I don’t even usually like love triangles.

What I love best about The Infernal Devices are the characters. I think Tessa is such a strong, smart and likeable heroine who I connect with way more than I ever have with Clary. Then there are my lovely- I mean bad-ass *cough* shadowhunter boys Will and Jem. But not only that the secondary characters stand out too and are so well developed.

Clockwork Prince takes a step back from the Mortmain storyline and instead focuses on lots of sub plots that are all essential to the overall story. Each character has something going on with them and the book flicks back and forth between storylines so there is constantly something exciting going down. Clockwork Prince doesn’t suffer from the dreaded middle book syndrome at all and instead reveals plenty of secrets and twists whilst creating new questions setting things up for an explosive final book.

Clockwork Prince blends together romance and none stop action seamlessly, Cassie Clare showing other Young Adult authors how paranormal romance is done. As for the book itself I really liked this exclusive collector’s edition as it includes a letter that Will writes in Clockwork Angel and a short story ‘Burning Bright’ which goes into Jem’s feelings during Clockwork Angel when he first meets Tessa. I was really excited to read Will’s letter but surprisingly found myself enjoying Jem’s short story more although both were fantastic and added a little something extra that fans will really appreciate. I think this book is my favourite out of all of Cassandra’s books so far and I absolutely cannot wait for Clockwork Princess, the final book in this series, for what promises to be a heart stopping finale.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Review for The Night Before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

The Night Before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey
Publisher: Ebury Press
Release Date: 27th October 2011
Genre: Chick-lit, Adult Fiction, Christmas, Winter
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Source: Received from the publisher for review

Amazon Summary:
"All Lydia's ever wanted is a perfect Christmas...

So when her oldest friends invite her to spend the holidays with them, it seems like a dream come true. She's been promised log fires, roasted chestnuts, her own weight in mince pies - all in a setting that looks like something out of a Christmas card.

But her winter wonderland is ruined when she finds herself snowed in with her current boyfriend, her old flame and a hunky stranger. Well, three (wise) men is traditional at this time of year..."

Review
The Night Before Christmas is a book, that for me, had both its highs and lows overall making it an average read. This is less of a Christmas story and more of a chick-lit novel with a Christmas backdrop. What I mean by that is that despite this book being set during those few days leading up to Christmas it just didn’t really feel festive to me and didn’t have an underlining Christmas moral which I think is key if you’re going to write a book about Christmas. Instead the book definitely reads like your usual chick-lit story focusing more on relationships and everyday situations than Christmas. Basically I guess what I’m trying to say is that Bailey could of taken advantage of the Christmas theme more than she chose to.

First off I’ll get my dislikes out of the way. Lydia and her friends aren’t exactly the most likeable characters I’ve come across. Lydia spends much of the book running from her current boyfriend, to her ex-boyfriend (not to mention who is also her best friends new man) to a hunky stranger. Her careless regard towards other people’s feelings and who she might be hurting in the process really grated on my nerves and to be honest I found her a bit selfish. Then there’s Joanna- who is currently girlfriend to Lydia’s ex- who’s really superficial and makes her own fair share of hurtful mistakes. Then there’s Alex possibly the world’s most unpleasant heavily pregnant woman ever. And Katy who to be frank is a bit of a doormat but probably the most genuine of her friends. There wasn’t really a female character that I could really get behind and connect with. If anything I felt rather sorry for their poor chaps for being snowed in with them!

Another thing that irked me was the poor editing that went into this book. The Night Before Christmas is littered with spelling mistakes and missed out words that left sentences that made little to no sense. I know that mistakes happen and being a book blogger who reads uncorrected proof copies this isn’t something that usually fazes me but for a finished copy this was just plain embarrassing, worse even, than any proof I’ve ever read. Although this is of course no reflection on Scarlett Bailey or the story itself at the end of the day if the presentations half arsed it makes the book seem sloppy and just cringey in general to read.

Those problems aside I did like this book. Scarlett Bailey writes a hilarious account of a perfect Christmas gone wrong, something I think that most people can relate to! Her writing style is fresh, modern and funny with some truly laugh out loud moments.

I also really liked the men in this story particularly the lovely Will. Bailey writes romance and complex relationships with honesty and humour and I loved reading about Lydia’s past and steamy encounters with the men she’s snowed in with. Trying to figure out which man she was going to end up with being the real highlight of the book.

All in all despite some issues I had with The Night Before Christmas I still enjoyed it for the most part and think that it would make a nice, fun, girly read for Christmas but maybe not so much if you’re looking for a book with a little more substance and festive cheer.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

I'm Guest Posting!

Hi lovelies! Today's post is over at one of my very favourite blogs www.onemorepage.co.uk the lovely Amanda is hosting Countdown to Christmas a really fun blogging version of an advent calender with a festive post every day from the 1st to the 24th December! Packed with Christmas book reviews, author Christmas themed interviews and giveaway's you really ought to stop by I've been following the posts and they really put you in a festive mood!

Amanda's been kind enough to have me on her blog today with a review for a heart-warming christmassy read Last Christmas by Julia Williams you can check out my review here. And make sure you check out all of the other Countdown to Christmas posts if you haven't already and follow for a new post every day!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Review for One Minute to Midnight by Amy Silver

One Minute to Midnight by Amy Silver
Publisher: Arrow
Release Date: 24th November 2011
Genre: Chick-lit, Adult Fiction, New Year, Winter
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Source: Received from the publisher for review

Amazon Summary:
"Nicole Blake's New Year Resolutions, 1990:

1. Start keeping a journal;

2. Lose half a stone;

3. Kiss Julian Symonds

If there are two things Nicole can guarantee about New Years Eve it's that there are always fireworks and Julian Symonds is always there.

Since she was thirteen, no New Year has been complete without Jules. Through school, university and beyond, as friends come and go, Nic and Jules are at the centre of every party.

Until one year everything changes...

Now, as another New Year approaches, Nicole has ghosts to lay and bridges to build - with her husband Dom, with her best friend Alex, and with Aidan, the man who broke her heart.

Life is about to change again for Nicole, and once the fireworks are over and the dust has settled, this time she is determined it will be for the better."

Review
At this time of year you only have to walk into a bookshop to see the abundance of Christmas books that are released during the build up to Christmas and so what first struck me about One Minute to Midnight is that this is a book about New Year. New Year is a time that tends to be overshadowed by the excitement for Christmas something that’s also apparent in the book industry. And so reading a book about New Year and the new beginning’s that come along with it was a very welcome breath of fresh air.

First things first I have to say don’t be fooled by this book’s beautiful- but undeniably girly- cover. This isn’t your typical chick-lit read. One Minute to Midnight is a realistic, hard-hitting, tug on your heartstrings novel that covers topics such as domestic violence, grief and death and is about a group of less than perfect friends and their complex relationships with one another.

Our leading lady is Nicole and straight away I found her fascinating to read about. She’s smart, feisty and is a woman with a past. There are a lot of skeletons in Nic’s closet and secrets that not only is she keeping from her husband Dom but us readers too. The book alternates from the present build up to New Year to the New Year’s Eve’s of Nicole’s past beginning in 1990 when Nicole is thirteen and spends her first New Year’s Eve with Julian Symonds unbeknownst to them starting a tradition and friendship that will see them through many New Years to come. With the book being told on the same day each year One Minute to Midnight had a certain One Day feel about it which I loved especially as it gives you the feeling that you really know these characters that you’ve watched them grow up.

I found the characters in this book to be so well developed. Every one of them felt so real and even the secondary characters stood out. They’ve all made mistakes, some that have hurt each other, but no matter what they done I couldn’t not like any of them because Amy Silver has this way of making you understand her characters and their actions. Their mistakes, regrets and secrets are slowly revealed as the book goes on. Ultimately this is a book about the characters finding new beginnings, forgiveness and redemption themes that tie in perfectly with New Year.

Amy Silver writes like a dream and has the ability to make you both laugh and cry. The prose is so organic with some truly heart felt moments particularly between Nicole and her father, and her husband Dom. One Minute to Midnight is definitely a book that touches your heart and I can certainly see myself pulling this off the shelf for re-reads in the future. One Minute to Midnight is such a wonderful book that is so much more than just chick-lit. Definitely add this to your Winter reading piles this year, this is my first of Amy Silver’s novels and it definitely won’t be my last!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

In My Mailbox!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Review Books


Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Happily Ever After by Harriet Evans (ARC)
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (ARC)
The Flappers: Vixen by Jillian Larkin (ARC)
Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton

Bought


The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon
Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris
It Started With A Kiss by Miranda Dickinson

Harry Potter Box Set of AWESOME!




So I had a pretty awesome week! In review books and book bargains the 3 Christmas books I got for only £10! I'm so excited about all of these and can't wait to get round to them big thank you's to all the lovely people who have sent me books. PLUS BEHOLD! HARRY POTTER COMPLETE BOX SET!!!! I've always resisted buying the box sets as I have been waiting for the whole movie collection to come out and here it finally is! I have the limited edition collection with both DVD and Blu-Ray, hours of special features and this awesome collectors photo album. Isn't it pretty? Definitely made the wait worth while, I'm such a Harry Potter nerd! For more information on any of the books featured just click on the title and the link will take you to it's goodreads page. If you’ve read any of the books I got this week and want to leave me a comment letting me know what you thought please do and make sure you leave me a link to what you got in your mailbox. Here’s to another week of fantastic reading ahead :-)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Book of the Month! Featuring Christmas, Summer Road-Trip’s and Dystopian’s…

Welcome to November's book of the month and monthly round up! This is a feature to sum up for you my reading and recommendations for the past month and to share with you the exciting things that have been going on on the blog and books I’m looking forward to in the following month.

November's BotM is Wonder by R.J Palacio

I was lucky enough to be able to read an early proof copy of this, sadly most of you are going to have to wait until 1st March to get your hands on it but I would certainly write the date in your diary! I predict that this book is going to be HUGE. There is already an early buzz for it gathering in the blogosphere. This is the story of wonderful Auggie Pullman an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. This is a book written through the eyes of a young boy with a facial disfigurement and also from the perspective of those who know and love him. I was completely touched by this book, for more information check out my review here.


Best Plot: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Best Writing: Wonder by R.J Palacio
Best Cover: One Minute to Midnight by Amy Silver
Best Characters: Wonder by R.J Palacio
Best Ending: Last Christmas by Julia Williams
Best Romance: Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Most un-put-down-able: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Most Memorable: Wonder by R.J Palacio
Best Moral: Wonder by R.J Palacio

Books read this month
69.) Wonder by R.J Palacio (5*)
70.) Crossed by Ally Condie (2.5*)
71.) Last Christmas by Julia Williams (4*)
72.) The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (4.5*)
73.) Saving June by Hannah Harrington (4*)
74.) One Minute to Midnight by Amy Silver (4.5*)

Top 3 Most Recommended Books: Wonder, The Pledge and One Minute to Midnight

Bookish Highlights of the month
I was really happy to bring back In My Mailbox this month, and also to be able to share with you the first official The Hunger Games trailer which I thought looked amazing. The Lauren Kate cover reveals were also very exciting and I was excited to make a start on my Christmas book to-be-read pile as I do love a good Christmassy read!

Bookish Lows of the month
Reading Crossed was a bit of a disappointment to be honest and reviewing it was pretty tough. I also didn’t read as many books as I would have liked *damn you crazy Christmas build up!!*

Book’s I’m looking forward to in December
A couple of the books I was most excited for this December I already got for review like Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (I’m currently reading it now SO good!) and Torn by Cat Clarke (eep! Can’t wait!) Other than that I can’t say there are any I’m super excited for, by the looks of things everyone’s waiting for January to unleash all the awesome. There are some AMAZING sounding books coming out in January, lucky for me it’s my birthday month so I won’t be too broke after buying all of these books! (All links lead to the books goodreads page for more information)

So there you have it my November reading summed up for you guys I can hardly believe it's December already! Have you read any of the books I’ve read this month? What were your thoughts on them? Leave me a comment and let me know and don’t forget to treat yourselves to Wonder when it comes out – You won’t regret it! Here’s to another month of fab reading ahead and hopefully getting in some of those must reads before the year is out!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Review for Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 1st 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Grief, Suicide, Music, Summer, Road-trip
Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads Summary:
" ‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again."

Review
Saving June has some of the most honest and fleshed out teen characters that I’ve come across in a long time. Harper’s voice is like my own was at that age and the way Harper and her friends interact mimicked my own friendships as well. Each character in this book is going through a growing pains of some sort. Harper, Jake and Laney have all been dished their fair share of pain and like all teenagers are trying to find a way to make their peace with the world despite everything it’s thrown at them.

This book explores so many different themes religion, suicide, sex, politics and music to name a few. Harrington isn’t afraid to tackle the big stuff and not only that but to put opinions out there through the eyes of angry teens who are demanding answers to why crappy things happen and are taking no prisoners. Saving June documents not only a physical journey as the three friends road-trip to California but also a mental one as Harper, Jake and Laney come to terms with both the beauty and hurt in this world and discover what it means to truly be alive.

Reading this book really felt like you were in Harper’s head that she was this real living person actually going through and experiencing all of these things. Hannah Harrington’s prose is so organic and heart felt and Harper’s observations on the world around her reads so true and honest that it’s impossible to read this book without it touching you in some way.

Music plays a big part in this story and Jake’s love for it and how he’s certain there’s a song for every situation makes him this really passionate guy who I totally swooned over. Jake’s kind of intense and damaged and the way that he feels about music is so contagious that you want to go and listen to a song he’s mentioned just because he likes it, you want to hear what he hears. A nice touch to the actual book itself is that all the playlists are at the back of the book and I’m totally going to download each song and re-live this book all over again through the music.

Saving June is in its simplest form a book about a girl who sets out to save her sister and instead ends up saving herself. If you’re a fan of books about summer road trips, intense and complex relationships, music or heck just life in general you’re going to love this book. This is one of the most honest accounts of one girl’s journey I’ve ever read and so lastly I would like to thank Hannah Harrington for taking me along for the ride.
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