Friday, 29 April 2011

Dead Beautiful Review

Welcome to my part of the Dead Beautiful Blog Tour! So, today I was supposed to post about Yvonne Woon's school days but unfortunately, the information has not been sent which leaves me in a bit of a quandry. expect that due to all the Royal Wedding excitement and the extra bank holidays here in the UK (thank you Wills and Kate!) something has gone amiss. So, rather than leave you high and dry, I'm going to post my review for the book instead. Hope you enjoy.

I started reading the debut novel Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon with absolutely no idea what the story was about. It had been a long time since I’d read the synopsis so I couldn’t remember past the idea that it was paranormal YA fiction. It’s not a quick read at 480 pages but I never once felt daunted by this, in fact I hardly noticed and just kept reading. Most of my reading took place on a lengthy train journey, partly filled with screaming toddlers (I am a magnet for young children, I swear). Anyway, I’d struck up a conversation with a father and son at one point who were sitting in front of me and as they were leaving the train, the father approached me to say goodbye and I was so into the book, he actually made me jump! It was a really funny moment but the story had really pulled me in.

Whilst the idea behind Dead Beautiful is not original (it fits into a particular genre within YA fiction) , I really enjoyed the way that it was presented in a truly fresh way. It made me think of some writing advice offered by one of my favourite authors, Maggie Stiefvater who once said that it was not the idea that was important (lots of people have the same idea) it’s the execution of the idea that is paramount.

So do you want a hint at what the story is about? I’m going to post the synopsis from Goodreads:

"On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Renée Winters was still an ordinary girl. She spent her summers at the beach, had the perfect best friend, and had just started dating the cutest guy at school. No one she'd ever known had died. But all that changes when she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, in what appears to be a strange double murder.

After the funeral Renée’s wealthy grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious boarding school in Maine, where she finds herself studying subjects like Philosophy, Latin, and the “Crude Sciences.”

It’s there that she meets Dante Berlin, a handsome and elusive boy to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they grow closer, unexplainable things begin to happen, but Renée can’t stop herself from falling in love. It’s only when she discovers a dark tragedy in Gottfried’s past that she begins to wonder if the Academy is everything it seems.

Little does she know, Dante is the one hiding a dangerous secret, one that has him fearing for her life".

I thought Dead Beautiful was a lot like a murder/mystery but with supernatural elements to the story. I really enjoyed piecing it all together as the mystery unfolded. Renee was a good sleuth like protagonist and I liked the idea that she has this special talent (I’m reluctant to use the word “gift” as I’m not sure that it is one) of finding dead things. This is not an idea that I’d come across before in a YA novel. I also really enjoyed her snarky sense of humour, particularly in the scenes when she first meets Dante. I think they both gave as good as they got if I’m honest and that kind of flirting totally floats my boat.

I will of course be adding the handsome, smart yet elusive, mysterious Dante to my list of literary boyfriends and what I really loved about him was his vulnerability, especially when we learnt his secret. I felt like Dante and Renee saved each other, both literally and figuratively speaking. It wasn’t lost on me that they both made each other feel more alive.

As for secondary characters, Nathaniel and Eleanor stood out for me but really the story centred around Dante and Renee.

Dead Beautiful was full of great one liners and lots of thought provoking ideology. It is clear that Ms. Woon has done a lot of research for the book, a fact that I really appreciated. I’ve always been interested in languages and I have to say that reading this book has reignited my interest in Latin. In all, Dead Beautiful is a little gem that deserves a lot of attention as it’s a beautifully written book. Steeped in mystery and mythology, this is a fantastic read and one definitely worth your time.

Dead Beautiful was released in the US in September 2010 and is being published in the UK on 1st May. You will be pleased to know (especially when you’ve read the book) that there will be a sequel entitled LIFE ETERNAL which is expected in Winter 2012.

To find out more about Yvonne Woon and her books, click here to visit her website. You can read the first chapter for free here.

Dont forget to check out the next stop on the blog tour Love Reading X tomorrow for Yvonne's Top 5 Teen Reads.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. Here is the description from Goodreads:

"For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.

When the family returns and Cricket—a gifted inventor and engineer—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door

Did I ever tell you just how much I loved Anna and the French Kiss? Oh yes, I did here. I fell in love with the characters and I thought the story was fantastic. I can't recommend that book highly enough. So when I heard Stephanie was writing another book, of course it was going on my wish list. A lot of people seem to think that Lola and the Boy Next Door is a sequel. It's not. Lola is a companion novel to Anna and I take that to mean that they compliment each other in some way and there may be one or more characters from Anna in Lola.

I like the idea of falling for the boy next door and of course you could argue that it's all been done before but remember this. It's not the idea that is important but the execution of the idea. I love Stephanie's writing style and so I'm excited to see how she will keep it fresh for the reader. I'm a little concerned about the name "Cricket" but if it's explained as a nickname then fine. Also, does it really matter? Sometimes when you're reading a story you just get used to the names anyway.

Once again, I think the cover is really cute and continues the sort of theme/look that Anna gave us. I really like the purple hair of the girl on the cover :)

Lola and the Boy Next Door is published on 29th September, 2011 and I shall be pre-ordering. I'm still campaigning for a UK publisher as I can't believe no one has snapped these books up yet. You can still order the US version from online sellers though and I'll be doing this anyway as it's a hardback *grin*.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Short Story Contest

Has everyone heard of the fantastic writing community known as Figment? You can share your love of reading and writing with others, get feedback for your writing and critique others. They also have contests every now and then. As an aspiring writer, I decided to enter the Dystopian contest in conjunction with Lauren Oliver. My story is called "The Bodyguard" and if you're interested, you can read it here. If you like it, I'd really appreciate it if you would "heart" me and/or comment as I could do with the feedback. I'm not sure if this helps in winning or whether it's entirely up to the judges but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

If you want to enter the contest yourself, you only have until 9pm EST TODAY (which I think is about 2am UK time). The link is here. Even if you're not entering, I would still recommend you check the site out.

Dead Beautiful UK Blog Tour

Things may have slowed down here a little bit lately whilst I'm on my super intensive work training course but I've already read 2 books (reviews coming) and I also wanted to let you know that I am part of the Dead Beautiful UK blog tour which starts tomorrow! There are numerous blogs taking part (see below) and my turn will be 29th April which is Royal Wedding day! I hope to see you back here on the day :)

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is Half Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Here is the description from Goodreads:

"The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure-bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:

Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck."

Striking cover? CHECK. Intriguing story? CHECK. Forbidden love? CHECK. Enough said really. Of course I want to read this book and with all of the above checked off, it kinda goes without saying that it's definitely on the wish list. Half Blood is published on 15th September, 2011 by Spencer Hill Press. No word on a UK release as of yet but you should be able to get it from an online seller.

Click here to find out more about Jennifer and her books. I believe Half Blood is the start of a new series and more books are planned! There's even a cover for the next book! Also, the series has a website which you can take a look at here.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is GLOW by Amy Kathleen Ryan. Here is the description from Goodreads:

"What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside. Glow is the most riveting series debut since The Hunger Games, and promises to thrill and challenge readers of all ages."

So you may not have heard about this book but are you intrigued? I certainly am! Glow sounds to me like a mashup between Wither by Lauren Destefano and Across the Universe by Beth Revis, both of which I *really* enjoyed. I particularly like the simple but effective cover of this book and the synopsis already has me hooked. I want this book. Badly. Glow is released on 27th September by St. Martins Griffin. I have not found anything out about a UK release but you should be able to get it from an online seller.

To find out more about Amy and her books, click here to visit her website. Amy is also active on Twitter.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

So by now you've probably realised that things are a little quiet on the blog at the moment and that's just because of how busy life is at the moment and the fact that I'm starting a new job imminently. I'm still trying to participate in my favourite meme though which is Waiting on Wednesday. In case you need reminding, "Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff. Here is the description from Goodreads:

"Everything burns in Pandemonium

Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this?

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped—and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie’s whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

This second novel by rising star Brenna Yovanoff is a story of identity, discovery, and a troubled love between two people struggling to find their place both in our world and theirs

So basically it's about Angels and Demons so of course I'm going to love this. I have to admit that I haven't read Brenna's debut book The Replacement yet (although I own two copies!) mainly because I'm too scared to read it LOL. I loved the cover of The Replacement and I love the cover of The Space Between, it's incredibly gothic and gorgeous. I hope they keep it for the final version. I'm definitely excited to see how the story reads and what Brenna has done to make it fresh and original from the rest of the books in the same genre. The Space Between is published on 15th November, 2011.