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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Blog Policies

If you are an author, publicist or publisher and are interested in asking me to review a book, please read my Review Policy.

If you are interested in finding out the general guidelines for competitions hosted at The Bookette, please read my Contests and Giveaways Policy.

If you are concerned about internet safety in relation to The Bookette, please read my Privacy Policy.

For any further queries not covered in the above policies, please email me.

Reviews

The Bookette's reviews in alphabetical order by title. This page is updated on a weekly basis.

A

B
Bad Faith by Gillian Philip
Beautiful Creatures by Maggie Stohl and Kami Garcia

C
Calling and The Changeling, The by Cate Tiernan
Chosen (House of Night Book 3) by P.C. and Kristin Cast
Crossing The Line by Gillian Philip
Crowfield Curse, The by Pat Walsh

D
Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires Book 2) by Rachel Caine
Demon's Lexicon, The by Sarah Rees Brennan
Dragonfly Pool, The by Eva Ibbotson
Dresskeeper, The by Mary Naylus

E
Everlost by Neal Shusterman
Eye of the Wolf by Daniel Pennac
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Manchev

F
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Fang (Maximum Ride Book 6) by James Patterson
Feast of Fools (Morganville Vampires Book 4) by Rachel Caine

G
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires Book 1) by Rachel Caine
Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris
Graveyard Book, The by Neil Gaiman

H
Halo by Zizou Corder
Hunger Games, The by Suzanne Collins
Hunted (House of Night Book 5) By P.C. and Kristin Cast
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I

J

K
Knife by R. J Anderson


L

M
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
Midnight Alley (Morganville Vampires Book 3) by Rachel Caine
Mission Telemark by Amanda Mitchison

N
Need by Carrie Jones
Nickolai of the North by Lucy Daniel Raby

O
Ondine: The Summer of Shambles by Ebony McKenna

P
Pain Merchants, The (Healing Wars Book 1) by Janice Hardy
Possessing Rayne by Kate Cann
Puzzle Ring, The by Kate Forsyth

Q

R
Random Magic by Sasha Sorenson
Restoring Harmony by Joëlle Anthony

S
Shiver by Maggie Steifvater
Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor
Storm Glass by Maria N. Snyder
Suspicion (Private Book 11) by Kate Brian
Swoon by Nina Malkin
Syren (Septimus Heap Book 5) by Angie Sage

T
Tempted (House of Night Book 6) by P.C. and Kristin Cast
Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle

U
Unfinished Angel, The by Sharon Creech
Untamed (House of Night Book 4) by P.C. and Kristin Cast

V
Very Thought of You, The by Rosie Alison

W
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
When I Was Joe by Keren David
Witch and Wizard by James Patterson
Wolf Cry by Julia Golding
X

Y

Z

Contact Me

Readers, Followers and Fellow Bloggers
I love reading your comments. It is one of my favourite parts of blogging so please feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments section. I read every one and if you leave a question, I will answer it there.

If you have any questions about a possible link exchange, a request for help or any other book or blog related question, then please email me at thebookette@googlemail.com.

Authors, Publishers and Publicists
If you have read my Review Policy and would like to get in touch regarding a review, author interview or other matter relating to The Bookette, please email me at thebookette@googlemail.com.

About The Bookette

Who is The Bookette?

The Bookette is me, Becky! I am a UK school librarian who is passionate about YA fiction.

Since August 2009, I have been reviewing all the YA and MG fiction that I read and the occasional adult title. I also host contests and spotlight my favourite pre-release books on my blog.

From January - December 2010 in addition to my usual reading habits, I am reviewing UK YA debut novels published this year. I am keeping a list of all 2010 YA debut novels by UK authors here. If you are a debut UK author and you would like your novel to be added to the list, please email me.

Does The Bookette accept books to review from publishers, authors or publicists?

Generally yes, please read my review policy for further information.

How many visitors does The Bookette receive?

As of 1st February 2010, I have had 4793 visitors from 54 countries. Of those, 4793 visitors 1678 have been from the UK and 1827 have been from the US.

Readers also subscribe through Googleconnect and other feed readers.

Can I contact you about a blog or book related issue?
Certainly, I am very friendly. Please visit the contact me page.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Sea Glass Winner and other Bloggy Things

The winner of the signed copy of Sea Glass by Maria N. Snyder is Josephine Walsh.

Congratulations Josephine, you'll be getting an email from me shortly.

Now, time for some other things bloggy things:

Book Blogger Online Conference
I received an email about an online conference for Book Bloggers and Publishers. It is taking place on 19th March - 20th March. It sounds really interesting and I think I'm going to sign up for it.
More information can be found @ http://www.romanceinthebackseat.com/bbpcon.html
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

UK Book Bloggers
I stumbled upon this thanks to Google Alerts. A UK book blogger (adult rather than YA I think, hence I haven't heard of them before) is proposing a get-together of all UK book bloggers. It sounds like fun but I wouldn't want to go unless one of you guys is there to hold my hand. Here is a link to Simon's blog post about it. Not much info just a suggested date. Interested?

Contest News
Aik, the winner of my Ondine contest asked ever so nicely if I would spotlight her latest contest so of course the answer is yes. Hop on over to her blog to win a signed copy of Sing Me to Sleep. The contest is open internationally and you have until 23rd February to enter. I'm not entering contests at the mo because of the numbers of books I have but haven't read.

Beautiful Creatures Taster
The UK release date for Beautiful Creatures is fast approaching. For those of you who have yet to read this fabulous book. Here are the links to the first three chapters:
Chapter 1: http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/view.php?id=1693474&da=y
Chapter 2: http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/view.php?id=1693475&da=y
Chapter 3: http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/view.php?id=1693476&da=y

If you are aged 13 - 18, you also have the chance to vote in this cool poll hosted by Spinebreakers which is an awesome website for teens. They want to know who are your favourite literary couple. Bella and Edward? Romeo and Juliet? My personal choice is Lizzy Bennett and Mr Darcy but I am too old to enter!

Before I Fall Trailer
Another email I received this week asked if I would like to review Before I Fall, I said "oooh yes please" because I had heard such great things from Carla @ The Crooked Shelf and Lauren @ I Was A Teenage Book Geek. I figured that it would take ages for me to read it otherwise because it isn't my usual read. Here is the trailer:



So I think that's everything.
I'd really love to hear your thoughts on the Conference and the UK book blogger meet-up.
Happy Saturday everyone!
The Bookette

Friday, 29 January 2010

Review: Suspicion (Private Series Book 11)


Author: Kate Brian
Release date: 2th February 2010 UK
Genre: I'm not too sure. Maybe realism/mystery/chicklit?
Target audience: 12+


Summary from Amazon:
Reed Brennan thought that a winter break in the islands with some of the Billings Girls, old and new, was just what she needed to recover from her traumatic last term at Easton. At first everything is perfect; relaxing, fun and elegant. But then things take a more sinister turn and suddenly Reed finds herself in danger once more. If Reed wants to survive her fateful vacation she must discover who is after her and why, before it's too late.
Review:
Suspicion tells the story of Reed Brennan who is holidaying with her rich friends on a Carribean Island. The story begins with Reed stranded in the middle of the ocean after being pushed off a boat by a mysterious attacker. Although this is the eleventh book in the Private series and I hadn't read any of the previous books, I found it easy to follow and a complete story in itself. Suspicion can definitely be read as a stand alone novel.

This book is certainly outside of my comfort zone. I'm pretty sure I haven't ever read a book like this and thus I couldn't quite work out which genre it fitted in. There is the mystery element of the story. Who is trying to murder Reed? In this way it reminded me a little of watching an episode of Murder She Wrote with a more glamourous cast. I wasn't sure who to trust. Then, there was the romantic element. Upton Giles is a British love interest for the American Reed. There was also the teen conflict and related issues which reminded me of a school story.

The reader within me actually quite enjoyed Suspicion. It was shorter than the usual books I read which made a nice change. The plot moved swiftly and kept my interest to the very end. Although I had worked out who was trying to murder Reed before it was actually revealed. I'm good with guessing murderers!

The adult within me found it harder to relate to the social ideals portrayed in the book. I just cannot relate to girls who value their Jimmy Choos and live a life of luxury and parties. I would rather wear trainers and snuggle up on the sofa with a good book. While I was suspending my disbelief though, it was great. It felt like I was reading an episode of The O.C. or 90210 which I happen to really enjoy.

Overall, Suspicion was a quick and fun read which will have a great appeal to girls who love glamour, fashion and teen conflict. Personally, I enjoy my books to have more depth, the characters to be less superficial and more emotionally developed. Having said all that, I would still read another book in this series because I do like a good mystery. Also, I really liked Sawyer and I'm hoping that Reed might open her eyes to just how great he really is but then he was the most down to earth character in the book.


Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me the book to review.

If you have any thoughts on which genre this book actually fits in, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Review: Feast of Fools (Morganville Vampires Book 4)


Author: Rachel Caine
Release date: 2008 UK
Genre: Urban fantasy/ Vampire fiction
Target audience: 12+

Morganville Vampires
Book 1: Glass Houses  - Review here
Book 2: Dead Girls' Dance - Review here
Book 3: Midnight Alley - Review here

The Bookette's five reasons to read The Morganville Vampires Series:
  1. Great characterisation! Shane and Michael are the hottest guys in Morganville.
  2. Easy style of writing that helps you just fall into the story.
  3. Scary vampires that get your pulse racing and not in the Edward Cullen kind of way.
  4. Secrets - Morganville is full of them and Rachel Caine just keeps you guessing.
  5. Cliffhanger endings that always leave you wanting more.
Inspired by Cat Clarke @ This counts as writing, right?

Feast of Fools summary from Amazon:
In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans live in relative peace but Claire Danvers has never been convinced - especially with the arrival of Mr Bishop, an ancient, old-school vampire who cares nothing about harmony. What he wants from the town's living and its dead is unthinkably sinister.

WARNING: This review contains spoilers!

Review:
Just when you think the vampires of Morganville can't get any scarier, Bishop waltzes into town and drives fear into the hearts of humans, vampires and readers alike. A hellishly dark and mysterious figure whose presence unites vampires and their human minions. Feast of Fools sees Claire yet again working to unlock the mysteries that haunt the past of Morganville and its founder Amelie.

Bishop's presence creates divisons within the Glass House too. Ysandre (one of Bishop's satanic sidekicks) takes a fancy to Shane, well who wouldn't? She has a dark power which can violate the mind and make her victims act against their will. Poor Shane! Poor Claire! Michael makes an unpopular decision leaving Eve out in the cold and driving a rift bewteen friends.

This is definitely my favourite Morganville book so far. It is full of conflict: emotional, internal and physical. The ending left me yearning for the next book which just shows that I am hooked on this series. It isn't by any means great writing but it does have great plotting and characterisation. There is also depth to the mythology at the heart of the concept of the Morganville vampires. If like me, you love reading vampire novels on a Sunday afternoon, you should definitely give Morganville a try.




P.S. On the advice of Lauren @ I was a teenage book geek I am giving the whole short review thing a try. Only for series books that I've reviewed earlier books of, hence the five reasons to read the series thing too.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Review: Bad Faith


Author: Gillian Philip
Release date: UK 2008
Genre: Dystopia
Target audience: 13+

Summary from Amazon:
MURDEROUSLY SINISTER DYSTOPIAN SATIRE. Life's easy for Cassandra. The privileged daughter of a cleric, she's been protected from the extremist gangs who enfore the One Church's will. Her boyfriend Ming is a bad influence, fo course, with infidel parents who are constantly in trouble with the religious authorities. But Cass has no intention of letting their different backgrounds drive them apart. Then they stumble across a corpse. Who killed him? How did his body end up in their secret childhood haunt? And is this man's death connected to other, older murders? As the political atmosphere grows feverish, Cass realises she and Ming face extreme danger.

Review:
Bad Faith is an interesting title for a book. Before I had even started reading I was asking myself: "Can faith ever be a bad thing?" We all need to have faith in ourselves to reach our potential. We all need to have faith in the goodness of humanity. We put our faith in people everyday to achieve the smallest of things and the biggest of things. I guess my answer was No. Faith cannot be a bad thing. Now I've read Bad Faith. I guess you want to know if I believe there is such a thing as bad faith. Honestly? I don't know. In the context of this book my interpretation is that it faith is what you make of it. It has the potential for good and bad.

Cass lives in a world not unlike ours. It may even be ours some time in the future. Religious diversity has been eradicated and replaced by the One Church. People of other faiths have been persecuted or fled into exile. In many ways I didn't fully come to understand how this process of rebranding and monopolisation by the One Church took place in Cassandra's world. I think perhaps that is because as the teller of this dark, complex tale Cassandra wasn't sure herself. Atheists and secularists are depised by the general community but below even them in the social hierarcy are the apostates. Those that have lost their faith and face complete and open discrimination by the popular mass. Cassandra's father is a cleric for the One Church and their family appears to be shielded from the dangers of persecution and intimidation. At the beginning of the novel her brother Griffin is more polictically aware and angry about the injustices in their society. Her parents try to encourage him to silence his political voice. Cassandra doesn't understand the mysterious uncurrents running through her home. The novel explores the destruction of her innocence as much as the frightening dystopian landscape in which she lives.

Cassandra's voice immediately pulled me into the story. It was highly engaging and in some ways quite endearing. I connected with her from the very beginning. Throughout the story, she confronts painful truths and seeks to uncover the dark secrets weaving through her family's past. Cass has her own dreadful truth and lies to balance in her mind too. The book is complex both in terms of story and emotion. There were times when I felt physically repelled by the decriptions of corpses but I just had to keep reading. At other times I was on the brink of tears.

The plot like Cassandra's emotions weaves an intricate pattern which does require close attention. But the novel is worth the effort on the part of the reader because I was transported into Cassandra's repulsive world. I felt that I had experienced these events first hand. Philip should be congratulated on her skill at making this story feel so real. At one point in the novel I actually felt like my heart would explode with the twist in the plot. I also loved the fact that the most harrowing parts of the story are followed by tender moments in Cassandra and Ming's relationship. It gave some much needed relief and moments of hope to what could have otherwise been an entirely disturbing novel.

Overall, Bad Faith is one of the most powerful dystopian novels that I have ever read. It challenged me to consider the meaning of faith and all its different forms. I congratulate Philip on a superb ending which completely swept me away. If you love dystopians novels, then this will be a sure-fire hit with you. A complex, compelling and incredibly powerful read.




Thank you to Gillian for sending me this book to review.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Ondine Winners!


Google Docs is the absolute best! I just went through assigning numbers to the entrants to this contest for extra entries with so much ease.

The two winners of Ondine are:
You will both be receiving an email from me shortly.
Thanks to everyone for taking part and if you're not a winner this time, you can always enter the Sea Glass contest.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Discussion: Do free books take away our blogging freedom?

Okay, so I am not feeling at all inspired this morning. But I refuse to let my not so enjoyable working week dampen my weekend and spoil my blogging. So I am steaming ahead with this discussion post even though my cheerfulness is probably running at about 60% of its usual efficiency.

When I was at the book signing on Monday, Jenny from Wondrous Reads gave me some good advice as I was feeling stressed about the number of review books I received last week. Here is her advice:
  • You don't have to review every book sent to you by a publisher
  • You don't have to review the book on its release day
  • Remember blogging is not a job and it shouldn't feel like one
All great points that helped me to put last week's level of review books in perspective. But I still think that it is more difficult for new bloggers. Jenny has just had her first Blogoversary and has developed good relationships with her publishing contacts. For a newer blogger like myself, I feel that I need to develop a relationship of trust with the publishers who have decided to send me review books. This is where I feel that I need to write a review for or near to the publication date. Of course, this is impractical if you end out with so many books needing reviews in the same week.

The other issue we discussed is the fact that if we are all reviewing the same books at the same time then blogging can get really boring. The reason I love following so many blogs (UK or otherwise) is to find out about books that I haven't heard of or wouldn't normally read etc. If we are all reviewing the same books, perhaps blogging will lose its joyous spark. I don't feel that way right now but I can see that it could become a possibility. So I guess what I'm asking is: how can we keep variety in our reading if we are all reading for publishers and not for ourselves?

I am trying to alternate review books with books I want to read just for me. I think it is working but I'm interested to find out if any of you feel my blog is becoming publisher driven rather than Bookette driven. I am not ashmaed to say that the Bookette is all about me: my reading, my thoughts, my passion about books. I guess if I'm reviewing for a publisher all this still applies but I want to hear your thoughts on this issue.

I should probably finish by saying that it is great to receive review copies especially when you get a book like Montacute House in the mail. The issue is not review books per se; it is more the need to read them en masse rather than when the mood takes you.

Any advice or thoughts to share?

The Bookette

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Review: Storm Glass

Author: Maria Snyder
Release date: UK 2009
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: Adult/ YA cross over

Summary from Waterstones:
Untrained. Untested. Unleashed. With her unique magical abilities, Opal has always felt unsure of her place at Sitia's magic academy. But when the Stormdancer clan needs help, Opal's knowledge makes her the perfect choice - until the mission goes awry. Pulling her powers in unfamiliar directions, Opal finds herself tapping into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. Now Opal must deal with plotters out to destroy the Stormdancer clan, as well as a traitor in their midst. With danger and deception rising around her, will Opal's untested abilities destroy her - or save them all?



Review:
Storm Glass is a thoroughly riveting fantasy which takes us into the territory of Ixia. Opal is one of the Cowan Clan and she is studying magic at the Keep. She has been there for four years living on the periphery and fearing that her magic is limited to one ability. She can put magic inside of glass. It is a skill that no other magician has developed but for Opal it isn't enough. She wants to prove her worth to the other students and show she is not a one-trick-pony.
 
Opal is an interesting main character. She is strong although she fails to recognise that much of the time. She is an intelligent female lead and surprisingly reflective which isn't a character trait you see very often. There are other fascinating characters too. Kade - a Storm Dance magician who can call the power of a storm into a glass orb. There is Yelena - who features in the Poison Study Series - a Soul finder. There is Devlen who is a dark force from Opal's past and a person she deeply fears.
 
The plot fell nicely into two parts. The novel begins by Opal being assigned a mission by the Master Magicians and this is the first half of the novel. The second half of the novel is Opal discovering pieces of a larger puzzle that she inadvertently uncovered from the original mission. The book is well-paced and easy to become completely absorbed by. Much of the story revolves around Opal's own questions about her true self. She is burdened by guilt and has to come to terms with the decisions she makes.
 
I really enjoyed the descriptions of the processes of the glass making and the atmosphere inside the factory. This is certainly a strength of the book. Snyder successfully communicates Opal's passion for working with glass and I am even tempted to find out where I can try my hand at glass blowing. Overall, this was a great fantasy read. The territory of Ixia was a magical yet dark world populated by clans competing for power. Although I think this book is aimed at the adult market (I saw it in the adult section of WH Smith), it is certainly accessible to YA readers. I recommend this to people who enjoy epic fantasy and the mystery of magic.
 

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Immortal Beloved (Update)


In November I spotlighted Immortal Beloved as my Waiting on Wednesday. Back then the book had no cover. Today I bring you, the cover, the blurb and a link to read an excerpt from Chapter 2.
I cannot wait for this book. I'm going to have to order it in from the US. There is no date scheduled at the moment for a UK release. Please publishers! Option the UK rights to this book now!

Author: Cate Tiernan
Released: Autumn 2010, Little Brown US

Immortal Beloved: Summary from Cate's blog:

New name, new town, new life. Nastasya has done it too often to count. And there’s no end in sight. Nothing ever really ends . . . when you’re immortal. But this time is different: Nastasya knows that this new town must hold her salvation—or her death.



Nastasya was born into darkness, and has embraced it her whole life. Four hundred years ago, a tragedy robbed her of her birthright, and she’s been living a lie ever since. Now, four centuries of exploring the depths and limits of dark power has left Nastasya feeling sickened unto death. If she continues down this road, she will end up as a very dark, twisted, evil thing—with unthinkable power. Or she can begin the long, painful road toward light, and reclaim the destiny that others tried to destroy.


They’re rare. You may have never met one, never sat next to one on a plane, never eaten in the same restaurant at the same time. But the Immortals are there. Have always been there. Will always be there. Moving among humans, playing out their own cursed fate. Sometimes subtly, sometimes with huge, sweeping implications for mankind. But no one will ever know. Except you.


Interested? Of course you are!
Visit Cate Tiernan's blog here and you can read the taster from Chapter 2. Go on, you know you want to!
You can follow the lovely author on Twitter here.

This meme is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Signed Sea Glass giveaway and Event Summary

Last night I dragged hubby into central London for Maria N. Snyder's London signing to celebrate the UK release of her latest novel Sea Glass. The event took place at the Shortwave Cinema in Bermondsey which was a great venue.

The evening began with a relaxed atmosphere. Maria sat signing and chatting with her fans very informally for longer than an hour.

Here is a pic of me getting my book signed:



Once Maria had signed all the books, we went into the cinema which seats about 50 people and listened to her do a short reading from Chapter 2 of the book.



Maria then took questions. I couldn't actually think of any questions to ask even though I had only finished reading Storm Glass on Sunday [review up later this week]. Some much more thoughtful fans did have some questions up their sleeves. Trisha - from Murder One - asked about the pronunciation of some of the character names and places. It was interesting to hear how different readers imagined the names said aloud. A couple of people in the audience were interested in whether Maria felt pressured to write a vampire novel. She said no but that she had written a vampire short story for an anthology and that she'd like to explore those characters further. So vampire fans, you never know! Maria also talked about the fact that she doesn't plot out a whole series before writing. She just has a vague idea of a character and then explores them. This was music to my ears as that is the way I go about writing too and Maria is the first author I have ever heard confess to writing this way. How encouraging!

While I was at the signing, I also got to meet fellow British book blogger Jenny from Wondrous Reads. It was great to meet Jenny and she promised me that I don't sound like Stacey from the XFactor so that is a relief. It was really nice to have the chance to talk about blogging and I think they'll be another discussion post on Saturday as Jenny got the cogs in my brain turning so watch out for that.

Now on to the contest!

I bought an extra copy of Sea Glass and got it signed to giveaway to one of my wonderful followers! Here it is:



Entry form below. Please remember to check the Contest Policy for guidelines.
  • Open internationally
  • Closing date Friday 29th January 2010
Good luck everyone!


Monday, 18 January 2010

Review: Everlost

Author: Neal Shusterman
Release date: UK 2009
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: 12+


Summary from Waterstones:
Nick and Allie don't survive the crash, and now they are in limbo, stuck halfway between life and death, in a netherworld known as Everlost. Everlost is home to those who didn't make it to their final destination: A magical yet dangerous place filled with shadows where lost souls run wild. Shocked and frightened, Nick and Allie aren't ready to rest in peace just yet. They want their lives back. Desperate for a way out, their search takes them deep into the uncharted regions of Everlost. But the longer they stay, the more they forget about their past lives. And with all memory of home fading fast and an unknown evil lurking in the shadows, Nick and Allie may never escape this strange, terrible world. In this imaginative, supernatural thriller, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

Review:
Everlost is a place that exists between life and death. I imagine it as a dimension existing around our own almost like a hologram world but that's just how my vision formed as I read the book. Neal Shusterman's world can only be described as an imaginative masterpiece. Allie and Nick find themselves in Everlost because they bumped into each other on their way to the glowing light after the moment of their death. Once they awaken from their long slumber, they are met by Lief, a boy who has been living in a forest of Everlost for many, many years. Lief introduces us to their new state of being. They are Afterlights existing without needing any food or drink to sustain them. The two new arrivals want to follow their natural instinct to leave the forest and make their way back home. Once they take this journey, the story really begins as the world of Everlost unfolds around them and they meet the characters who have become, for different reasons, leaders of this ghostly world.
 
Shusterman communicates many ideas and concepts to transform Everlost into a fascinating and believable world. Part of the beauty of the story is learning about these along with Nick and Allie. I really don't want to give any spoilers because this book should be experienced in its imaginative entirety. So instead I'll ask some questions that you may find the answers to by reading the book. Why do we believe ghosts to repeat the same pattern day after day? What happens when your soul travels to the centre of the earth? Why do adults never land in Everlost? Who or what is the McGill?
 
One of the things that I really liked about this book is that Shusterman doesn't portray Allie and Nick as grieving children who long for their family. He doesn't focus on the fact that they should be in emotional agony. Instead he focuses on their integration into the world of Everlost. Some people could read this as a weakness but I personally see it as a choice not to sentimentalise the book and I like that quality. The plot moves a steady pace as Allie and Nick move around Everlost facing many challenges and fears. The one point I would pick up on is Nick's relationship with Mary. The love that grows between them seemed cosmetic and without any depth. I understand the reasons for this but it still irritated me during my reading.
 
Reading Everlost was a journey into an unknown world which is populated by the most fascinating characters with ghostly abilities. Although this isn't quite my usual read, I did enjoy it. I am reminded of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book as Everlost has the same extraordinary imaginative power to transport to you to a different ingenious world. I would definitely recommend this to fantasy fans 10+ or anyone who is looking for something just a little bit different.
 

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Handy Hints 1: Posting from the UK

I've discovered a handy hint for UK bloggers posting books out internationally so I thought I'd share it with you.

If you are sending a book outside of the UK you can get cheaper postage if you ask for "Printed Paper Rates". I found this out by complete accident when I posted a book to France from a post office in Cambridge. The chap behind the counter asked what I was sending and when I said it was a book, he said I can have printed paper rates. I had no clue what he was talking about but it meant it cost the same to post to France as it did to post to London or any UK town.

So the next time I went to the post office in the town where I live, I asked for Printed Paper Rates. I was  posting to a book to a UK blogger but the chap said that only applies to overseas postage.

Anyway, today I posted two books out to the US for two of my top commentators and I asked for Printed Paper Rates and success! It cost £3.64 per book. It would have cost nearly £5.00 per book if I hadn't asked for Printed Paper Rates.

So what I am trying to say (rather inarticulately) is if you are a UK blogger and you are posting a book internationally, if you ask for Printed Paper Rates it will save you money. Yay!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Privacy Policy

We all need to stay safe online to enjoy blogging and surfing without personal risk. This Privacy Policy is to help ensure that The Bookette is a safe place for you to do so. You need to follow these guidelines to make this policy effective.

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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Review: Star of the Sea

Author: Joseph O'Connor

Release date: 2002 UK
Genre: Literacy fiction / Historical Mystery
Target audience: Adult


Summary from Waterstones.com:
In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York. On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees. Among them are a maidservant with a devastating secret, bankrupt Lord Meridith and his family, an aspiring novelist, a maker of revolutionary ballads, all braving the Atlantic in search of a new home. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know. But a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks, hungry for the vengeance that will bring absolution. The twenty-six day journey will see many lives end, others begin afresh. In a spellbinding story of tragedy and mercy, love and healing, the further the ship sails towards the Promised Land, the more her passengers seem moored to a past which will never let them go.


Review:
I really don't know why I am bothering to write this review. I'm sure very few if any of my readers will be interested in Star of the Sea. I think there may be one or two of you that may find my personal reading experience with this book of interest. I expect it says a lot about my identity as a reader.


Star of the Sea is set amid the Irish potato famine of the mid-nineteenth century. My personal interpretation is that the book is more of a character study. The characters who make the voyage on the ship Star of the Sea to America. It isn't a story of hopes or dreams. There is no sense that reaching the destination will bring a good change. I guess I'm not entirely sure what the message was in this book which is an illustration of the confusing writing style and changing viewpoints. I was reading this book for the staff book group so I felt I had to finish it. There is nothing like the public humilation of talking about a book you've never read for a bit of motivation.


The story seems to begin several times. The first half of the book tells the story of each character. There is Mary Duane who falls in love with a young David Merridith. There are the brothers Pius and Nicholas Mulvey. Two boys who couldn't be more different in personality. There is Dixon, Laura Markham, and Merridith again. This opening was the most difficult to follow, convoluted and pretentious way to begin a novel that I have ever had the misfortune to read. I felt that Joseph O'Connor was trying to demostrate his brilliance in the genre of literary fiction rather than write an interesting mystery. I should probably mention that the whole way through the book you know there is going to be a murder. Interpersed with all this is the Captain's log of the ship. So every once in a while you learn that more passengers have died in the steerage class from various diseases.


The only part of the book that I actually enjoyed was the story of Pius Mulvey as he travels around nineteenth-century London committing many thefts that become increasingly ingenious and daring. It is his time in Newgate prison that was the most fascinating aspect of the book. During my degree, I specialised in literature of the city during the eighteenth and nineteeth century so I related to this part of the book because it drew on my prior knowledge. Sadly, this part of the book was perhaps only ten pages.

The book, including the highly boring epilogue, was 405 pages long. I enjoyed perhaps ten of those. The only people who I can think will enjoy this book are those who read ridiculously pretentious literacy fiction or have a particular interest in the Irish potato famine. Perhaps you need to be a more serious reader to enjoy this. I'll be intrigued to hear what the rest of the staff in the book group think of this. Without a doubt, this book was not for me. I wonder if I should be concerned that my husband enjoyed reading it...




Questions:
Are any of my readers a member of an adult book group? If so, what titles have you been reading? Do you have any recommendations for my group that won't make me bored to tears? I need your help. For the next session we are all selecting a title from the Costa Book Awards. I going to read The Girl With The Glass Feet by Ali Shaw. Have you read this? Have I chosen wisely?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Halo

This meme is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

So, the book I canoot wait to read this week is:

Halo by Zizou Corder
Released 4th February 2010, Puffin


Summary from Amazon:
Washed ashore as a baby in ancient Greece, Halo is discovered by a family of centaurs. Although her true identity remains a mystery, she is loved as one of their own. But when Halo is dragged away by fishermen, her wild adventure begins . . . Halo soon realizes that if she is to survive then she must live in disguise – as a boy. A violent war is threatening to erupt and Halo is at the mercy of the mighty Spartan warriors. And as she battles to hide her secret, Halo never forgets her quest to find out who she is – and where she really came from.

Me again:
More historical fantasy fiction! I just love the idea of having a brother who is a centaur.  I also happen to love Greek mythology. I read an article in Puffin Post about this book where the authors were explaining their inspiration for writing it. Zizou Corder is a mother daughter team. How cool! Their article completely hooked me!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Review: Midnight Alley (Morganville Vampires Book 3)

Author: Rachel Caine
Release date: 2007
Genre: Urban fantasy / Vampire fiction
Target audience: 12+

Morganville Vampires
Book 1: Glass Houses - My review here.
Book 2: Dead Girls' Dance - My review here.

Summary from Amazon:
Morganville is such a nice place to live...and die. If you don't mind that sort of thing. When Claire Danvers learnt that her college town was run by vampires, she did what any intelligent, self-preserving student would do: she applied for a transfer and stocked up on garlic. The transfer is no longer an option, but that garlic may come in handy. Now Claire has pledged herself to Amelie, the most powerful vampire in town. The protection her contract secures does little to reassure her friends. All of a sudden, people are turning up dead, a stalker resurfaces from Claire's past, and an ancient bloodsucker extends a chilling invitation for private lessons in his secluded home.
Review:
My experience of reading Midnight Alley was the book equivalent of wearing my favourite pyjamas and drinking hot chocolate. It was soothing in a way that only a good vampire series can be. In this novel, Claire has to live with the consequences of her actions from the previous book. I'm desperately trying not to give spoilers here. Eve's evil brother (you know the heebie jeebie guy?) Jason finally stepped out of the alleyways and showed himself to be shudder-worthy. Shane (as usual) got himself into a pickle in his attemtpts to do the heroic thing. Michael is busy being, well, Michael. Just a normal couple of days in Morganville and I really enjoyed reading about them.

Rachel Caine continues to impress me with her characterisation. Claire is still a thoroughly irritating good girl who is destined to save the day. Shane is still adorable. He is perhaps more brawn than brain but it works for me. Michael is as mysterious as ever and Eve is simply likeable. Somehow, this merry band of anti-Morganville-authority kids draw me into the story which doesn't really seem to have much depth to it. The plot moved at a fast pace and kept me turning the pages but it was very superficial. In a way, it reminded me of watching an episode of Poirot. It had that "who dun it?" feel to it. The end fell in to place just a little too perfectly. It was too contrived for my taste.

In Midnight Alley we continue to learn about the history of Morganville and how the vampires came to make their home there. Of course by the end of the book we are still left wondering about many details, particularly concerning Amelie. I can't decide whether I like this vampire leader. I certainly do not trust her. The only person in Morganville I do trust is Shane and that's because he is one of those great people with what you see is what you get.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this mediocre vampire novel. I love spending whole afternoons reading about Morganville. This series is turning into one of my reading guilty pleasures like House of Night. It has the quality that makes me want to read despite its flaws. Read this if you can't get enough of those pale characters who have fangs and a fetish for human blood.



P.S. I apologise for the silliness I partook of in this review. I guess I was letting my hair down after writing two series and important ones. I was reading this book just for me and it felt good!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Review: The Crowfield Curse

Author: Pat Walsh
Release date: 4th January 2010 UK
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Target Audience: 10+
Summary from Waterstones.com:
It's 1347 and fifteen-year-old Will, an orphan boy, lives at Crowfield Abbey. Sent into the forest to gather wood, he rescues instead, a creature from a trap - a hob, who shares with Will a terrible secret. Somewhere in the forest behind the abbey where he lives, is a grave. And buried deep in the snow is an angel. But how can an angel die? What has it to do with the monks of the Abbey? When two hooded strangers arrive at Crowfield asking questions about the angel's grave. Will is drawn into a world of dangerous Old Magic. "The Crowfield Feather" was short-listed for the "Times" Chidren's Fiction Competition in 2008. This is a stunning debut novel and the first of a two part series.

Review:
The Crowfield Curse is the story of William who sadly loses his family in a mysterious fire. He is the only survivor and is taken in by the monks of Crowfield Abbey to serve them in return for a place to stay. William's life at the abbey is a hard one and the author detailed the brutal living conditions in fourteenth century with a beautiful accuracy. I had expected the monks to treat William with fatherly care and stern guidance but it is only Brother Snail who provides William with any affection. The remaining monks enjoy the harsh way of life they have chosen to live and do not think of William as anything other than a nuisance and a servant. Poor William has no room of his own but sleeps by the kitchen fire shivering with the cold. William isn't a complainer. He fears the retribution from the monks and so keeps his true feelings hidden.

Early in the novel William saves the life of a hob; a magical creature who is mistrustful of humans. The hob questions the behaviour of the monks and consequently William is confronted with difficult questions about religion and belief. He wonders about the mortality of angels, about the power of God and about the morality of the right to be buried within hallowed ground. The Crowfield Curse is by no means a religious novel but religion is something that William has to question as his character journeys through the novel.

Two other important characters in the story are Jacobus Bones and his Fey servant Shadlok. It is their entrance in the story that propels the plot forward. Up until this point, I felt the plot was slow as it centred upon the daily routines of the monks which in nature are highly repetitive. William is fearful of both men and perhaps rightly so. Shadlok's magic disturbs William because it alters his understanding of the world and he feels powerless against it. There is a darker atmosphere to the book once these two characters arrive at Crowfield Abbey and the author did an excellent job of creating a sense of foreboding.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Crowfield Curse. The author uses description beautifully to evoke the fear of the Whistling Hollow and to portray the beauty of nature. William is a character who I pitied and yet related to enough to hope that he would get his heart's desire. I think this book would appeal to boys who have a particular love of historical facts. The detail of the historical setting was of the highest quality. I also recommend The Crowfield Curse to fans of historical fantasies in general.



NB: Pat Walsh is a UK debut author.