Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" which 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 Article 5 by Kristen Simmons. Here's the synopsis:

"New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police — instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior — instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested don’t usually come back.

17-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. That life in the United States used to be different.

In the three years since the war ended, Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the Federal Bureau of Reformation. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And what’s worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Oooooh, I do like the sound of this especially the high stakes involved when Ember's mother is arrested by the only boy she has ever loved. Can anyone say AWKWARD?! I love the dystopian genre which just seems to get stronger and stronger by the day and I'm really looking forward to reading this one. CAN'T WAIT. Article 5 is published in the US on 14th February, 2012 by Tor Teen. No word as of yet on a UK release but a lot of foreign rights have been sold so watch this space! Find out more about Kristen Simmons by clicking here.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Dark Inside Blog Tour

So, you may have noticed that I'm a little late with this blog post due to personal reasons but better late than never, right? I'm so pleased to welcome Jeyn Roberts to the blog to talk about how her book DARK INSIDE came about, specifically about the research she did and what inspired her. Take it away Jeyn...

Hi everyone! I’m Jeyn Roberts and I’m the author of Dark Inside. Inspiration is a funny thing. It often comes when you least expect it and in a variety of different forms. It’s always the writer’s number one question. Where do you get your ideas? For me it can be a number of things. I’m often inspired by things that happened to me in real life. Sometimes I take long walks when I’m stuck and often manage to work things out that way. But with Dark Inside, I was inspired by my dreams.

When I was a teenager, I used to dream about a reoccurring world. I call them my ‘River Dreams’ because they often took place beside a major river. The place I dreamed about wasn’t very friendly. Often I was barricaded in a house or a dilapidated apartment building. I was often with a group of people and we were always hiding from something. Whatever it was, it was evil. Sometimes I went back and forth in time, visiting the world during different events. I was in a hotel when the evil struck and started killing people. I was there years later, hiding in a house while a person walked down the street pushing a shopping cart. Whoever that person was, we were terrified of them. That’s pretty much where the Baggers came into being.

When it came down to writing Dark Inside, things got a little tricky. I was in South Korea, often spending my evenings in the Angel In Us coffee shop. An-nyong ha se yo! Caramel Macchiato, chu se yo. During that time, Google maps became my best friend. The journey Mason takes was easy enough for me; it’s the drive I often take between Saskatoon and Vancouver. But Michael and Clementine were a little trickier. I spent a lot of time looking at maps.

I felt very isolated in South Korea, being that I was so far away from my friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being there but I did feel alone. So I took that feeling and I went with it. I think in a way it really helped me, considering the world of Dark Inside is very isolated. That’s pretty much how Dark Inside was created. So pay attention to your dreams. You never know where they might end up taking you.

Thank you Jeyn! Are you following the Dark Inside Blog Tour? See below for where to go next and to catch up if you've missed anything!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" which 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 Life Eternal which is of couse the sequel to Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon. Here's the synopsis:
Renée Winters has changed. When she looks in the mirror, a beautiful girl with an older, sadder face stares back. Her condition has doctors mystified, but Renée can never reveal the truth: she died last May, and was brought back to life by the kiss of her Undead soul mate, Dante Berlin.

Now, her separation from Dante becomes almost unbearable. His second life is close to an end, and each passing day means one less that she will spend with the boy who shares her soul.

Just when Renée has almost given up hope, she learns of the Nine Sisters—brilliant scholars who, according to legend, found a way to cheat death. She can’t shake the feeling that they are somehow connected to her dreams, strange visions that hint at a discovery so powerful, and so dangerous, that some will stop at nothing to protect it.

Renée thought she knew the truth about life and death. But there is a secret woven through history that holds the only hope for Dante and Renée. Unless they find answers soon, their time together is doomed to be cut short."

When I read Dead Beautiful, I wasn't sure what to expect but I absolutely loved it! When I heard there was going to be a sequel, I was very happy about this and reading the synopsis only makes me want to read it more!! If you need any further proof of this, I have it on pre-order :) Life Eternal is published on 24th February, 2012.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Stealing Phoenix Blog Tour

So, by now I'm hoping you will have read my review of Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling here and realised just how much I loved this book. I am so happy to be part of this blog tour and so without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce Joss Stirling to the blog today who happily agreed to answer a few burning questions I had...

One of my biggest questions is are there going to be future books in the series featuring all the brothers because some of them are older than 18 right? Which would make it more an adult book than a YA book so I’m curious about this

I can’t give a definitive answer to this because I don’t have such a grand master plan. Many readers have asked for a full set but I realize the higher up the family we go, the further we are from YA territory. I know I’m OK as far as Xav (he is still in the under 20s bracket so it is within the zone for teen readers). I have my own ideas how to handle the aging aspect but you’ll find out more in the next book. I can say this though: I have plenty of ideas so I won’t be stuck for a subject that will appeal to my readership in YA if I do go in another direction.

Which brother will be featured next? Can you give us any information about the next book? Title? Have you started writing it yet?

As mentioned above, Xavier is the next up for his story to be told. I know the title but I’m keeping that to myself for the moment. I haven’t started writing but I have begun the note making process and planning for my research. I will probably need to make a trip soon to my chosen location so if you follow my twitter feed this autumn you might get some hints.

Is there always going to be a US/UK connection?

Well, the Benedicts are American and I am English so there’s one connection already. My main concern is to keep telling new and original stories so I won’t be repeating the plots I have already done.

How do you decide on the storyline/what fits for each brother? What inspires you?

I start from the love story. I sketched out the different characters for the brothers in Finding Sky, not knowing that I’d get a chance to tell any stories beyond that of Zed. Now I’ve been given a broader canvas, I expand from that original idea and develop a deeper idea of what that brother is going to be like. The boy in question then needs a contrasting girl. A story about them falling for each other with no hitches would not make much fun to write (or read) so very often they are opposites, on the surface at least.

As to what inspires me, that has such a variety of answers that I can’t really narrow it down to a single list. Travel definitely helps. Reading widely and watching lots of films also gives my mind a push. Some of the best ideas come from watching/reading something I don’t like as I get a chance to correct what I think was wrong about it. Talking to people, watching people, going for walks – all are important to my imagination.

What’s your favourite YA book and why?

I didn’t grow up with YA as it wasn’t a category in the 1980s. I was reading The Lord of the Rings and science fiction/fantasy in my teens, as well as adult books, so if I’m allowed Tolkien, I’d pick that. Why? Because he created an entire world so convincingly your mind can live in it beyond the page. This is what many writers aspire to do now, but they don’t get even close and always feel like cheap imitations. I can find many faults in The Lord of the Rings (lack of good women characters, a certain stiffness in speech) but the rich descriptions and powerful emotional journey to the fire are unmatched.

Thank you Joss!! Don't forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour (see below) and tomorrow it's Dark Readers.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" which 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 Fracture by Megan Miranda. Here's the synopsis:

"Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine

-despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death."

Oh, how I do love the sound of this book, I just know I'm going to devour this story when I start reading it. AND I think the cover is gorgeous. I'm hitting the pre order button now :)

Fracture is released on 3rd January, 2012 in the US and 5th January, 2012 in the UK.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Intergalactic Academy

The Intergalactic Academy is now open for admissions. Well, sort of. Have you heard of this new website that launched on 2nd September? Basically, it's an online source for everything YA Sci-Fi and we're talking news, reviews and interviews with giveaways too. If you like a touch of sci-fi with your YA, then this is the site for you so go check it out here.

Sunday, 11 September 2011


I have two winners to announce as I've had a couple of contests going at the same time. Firstly, you may remember that I had a contest to win signed copies of Everlasting and The Eternal Sea by Angie Frazier. The randomly chosen winner of that contest is.....

Rhiana Reads

Congratulations Vicki! She has been contacted and should be receiving the prize as soon as it takes to get from the USA to the UK.

Secondly, I had a contest to win a copy of The Poison Diaries: Nightshade and I decided to throw in a little goody bag too. The randomly chosen winner of that contest is.....

Raimy Rawr

Congratulations Raimy! She has been contacted and I have already posted the prize so she should be receiving it soon.

Thank you to everyone who entered and commented. Look out for more contests in the future.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Pledge Review

My breath is my pledge to worship my queen above all others.
My breath is my pledge to obey the laws of my country.
My breath is my pledge to respect my superiors.
My breath is my pledge to contribute to the progress of my class.
My breath is my pledge to report all who would do harm to my queen and country,
As I breathe, I pledge.

I love it when a book comes along that really excites you and then even better, does not disappoint. I’m talking about the kind of book where you only mean to read the first chapter before going to bed and then find yourself stumbling into bed a couple of hours later, the kind of book you take to work with you in case you get a quiet moment, the kind of book you start reading as soon as you get home, forsaking all chores AND dinner because you simply cannot .put. it. down. And there you have it; I’ve just described The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, a dystopian novel set for release this November. I was extremely lucky to be able to read this early thanks to a very kind fellow book blogger who let me borrow the book. This is my first foray into Derting’s writing and I have to say that I am impressed. The main concept of the novel was genius, GENIUS I tell you and really appealed to my love of languages and words. Here’s the synopsis:

“In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.”

I loved this book. A lot. I would basically describe it as a dystopian fantasy for young adults that will appeal quite nicely to the crossover market. The plot was wonderful and there were a couple of “open mouthed” moments in the book, times when I was caught by surprise by sudden revelations and I still love when a book can do that as with movies for example, there are only a select few that I don’t guess what’s going to happen next.

The characters were brought to life really well and I loved how fiercely protective Charlaina is over her younger sister. Everyone is hiding secrets because the punishment for any wrongdoing it would seem is death, always death. The queen is one of the most evil, unmerciful characters I’ve seen in a long time and she is once scary mofo let me tell you. Thank god for Max who provides the necessary swoon in this book. He’s a mysterious, confident, strong and yet gentle military figure who becomes interested in Charlaina when they meet in an underground club. YOU KNOW he’s already been added to my list of literary boyfriends.

There’s twists and turns in this book that you may not be able to see coming right away and I think the ending concludes the current situation quite nicely whilst still leaving the possibilities open for further books and I for one am hoping for a sequel. I can’t tell you how much I adore this book and as if you needed any other proof, I’ve already hit the pre order button. Do yourself a favour and do the same as you’re not going to want to miss out.

The Pledge is published on 15th November, 2011. To find out more about Kimberly Derting and her books, please click here to visit her website. She is also active on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Wolfsbane Review

I’m hoping by now that you’ve already read my review of the first book in the series, Nightshade which I reviewed here and that you’ve already read it yourself. You may remember that I only picked up Nightshade 24 hours ago and immediately dived into the sequel, Wolfsbane straight after. I couldn’t WAIT to find out what happened next after such an ending! Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. Here’s the synopsis:

“When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer—one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack—and the man—she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.”

I often say that sequels pick up right where they left off but in this case, it literally does. I’ve heard some bloggers say that they wished they had re-read Nightshade before reading Wolfsbane and I don’t have a lot to say on that I’m afraid as I read them back to back but I can see how that would be helpful. There appeared to be a big history lesson in the first part of Wolfsbane, an info dump if you like that whilst it was somewhat interesting, it did go on for a long time and I just wanted for the book to move on, I wanted some action! There’s no time for a history lesson when you’re in the middle of a war! In Wolfsbane, the battle really commences and we learn that everything Calla has been brought up to believe is essentially built on lies. The wolves have been betrayed by The Keepers and as always, the truth will out in the end. I like to think of Wolfsbane as a rescue mission – Calla tries to rescue what remains of her pack, rescue relationships, and rescue herself. I can’t tell you if she is successful on all counts but it makes for an interesting and entertaining read. There were a lot of revelations in this book, as in Nightshade but I know there is more to come.

Let’s talk characters. I really enjoyed a look into The Searcher’s camp and getting to know the new characters that we thought of as enemies in the past. One of my favourites was Connor who had what us Brits like to call a cheeky sense of humour. Adne was remarkable for her abilities and I thought the description of what she could do was just perfect, I saw it all in my head. It was also nice to see most of the old characters we’ve come to know and love as well but there are definitely some changes and sparks of new relationships being forged. I can’t wait to find out where they go in the next book.

I mentioned in my review of Nightshade that Ren had really captured my heart but what I failed to mention is that I only really realised that at the end of Wolfsbane and reading the first chapter of Bloodrose. THAT’S when I realised that I’d always been team Ren. I’m always rooting for the underdog (no pun intended) and if things go badly then you know what? MOVE OVER CALLA and Ren can come home with me. Of course, Ren is now firmly in my list of literary boyfriends and I think by now you’ve realised that I have a soft spot for him.

I’ve deliberately not mentioned a lot about Shay because there are a lot of revelations surrounding his character that I don’t want to give away. He remains in my eyes as an integral part of the story but also a distraction.

I thought Wolfsbane was a fantastic sequel and whilst I missed the wait between the first and second book, I’m now all caught up and caught in the wait for the third book. ARGH! You know what though? You can read the first chapter of Bloodrose here and OMG you definitely want to although be warned, it will whet your appetite even more for the third book! Bring on Bloodrose!!!

Wolfsbane was published on 26th July, 2011. Bloodrose, the final book in the series will be published on 24th January, 2012. I know what I’m spending my Christmas money on ;)
To find out more about Andrea Cremer, please click here to visit her website. She is also active on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" which 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 Of Poseidon by Anna Banks. Here's the synopsis:

"Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish.

What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings

Oh. My. Goodness. Not only am I in love with the cover but I am totally in love with the synopsis. I don't know whether you know this but I'm incredibly terrified of sharks, to the point that I WILL NOT venture into any ocean, regardless of where in the world it is. However (and this is where it gets a bit weird) I have to watch every program there is on sharks. It's a strange kind of fascination. Anyway, so I'm not sure I'm looking forward to THAT scene but again, it will be fascinating to see what happens given Emma's gifts. I love the idea of a secret kingdom and that she could be the key to saving it. Definitely pre ordering this one! Of Poseidon is released on 22nd May, 2012. I'm not sure about the UK rights but I sure hope so!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Fateful Review

I want you to know that I love Claudia Gray as an author but when I found out that she was writing a werewolf story SET ON THE TITANIC? I thought she was nuts. My immediate reaction was “this is never going to work” and having now read it, you know what? It totally does. Here’s the synopsis:

“Fateful is about a servant girl named Tess in 1912, who wants to escape from the house where she works, and most particularly the lecherous young lord of the manor. But that's not her biggest problem. While on a voyage to America, where she plans to escape and start a new life, she meets Alec, who's ruggedly handsome, fabulously wealthy, intelligent and yet so clearly troubled that she'd rather not fall for him, but she does. That also is not her biggest problem. Alec, it turns out, is a werewolf ... one cursed to change every night, unless he surrenders his independence and joins the Brotherhood, a pack of violently misogynistic werewolves who have been tracking him for months. You'd think that would be their biggest problem, wouldn't you? But no. Their biggest problem is that they're aboard the RMS Titanic.”

So one of the things that was different about Fateful is that in every other story I’ve read or seen about the Titanic, the sinking of the ship has always been at the centre of the story and taken up most of the screen time. In Fateful, it’s a short section of the book towards the end and I found this really surprising. I have a feeling that because James Cameron’s Titanic had been on TV a few days earlier, perhaps this is the reason I was expecting more. Funnily enough, there were times when I was reading that I completely forgot what ship they were on and what was in inevitably going to happen. I think Claudia set the story up really well and I did feel like I was right there on the ship with Tess. I liked Tess as a protagonist and how although she was a young servant girl who knows her place, she dreams of running away to a better life. She’s also very practical (unfortunately, I lack this skill at times) and is putting a plan in place to make this happen.

Alec on the other hand, is part of the upper class and so of course he has the looks, intelligence and wealth but he too is lacking his freedom but for entirely different reasons. He’s only a bloody werewolf which is most inconvenient when it comes to taking public transport. What’s good about Alec is that although he turns into a wolf every night, apart from that he’s actually a decent guy. He may have money and a good family name but there is no pretentiousness about him or his father and they only have three servants whom they treat very well as opposed to the Lisles family’s 35 servants. Alec had no problem coercing with Tess despite their class differences and at times seemed to prefer third class entertainment and who can blame him for that?!

Irene, the only decent member of the Lisles family stood out for me as one of my favourite characters as she was kind to Tess and treated her more like a human being than a servant.

On the other end of the decency scale is the bad guy AKA Mikhail who is menacing, sadistic and drunk on power. He thinks that women are merely objects put on this earth for his amusement and to be thrown away like trash when they are no longer entertaining or useful. He was quite an intimidating character who toyed with Tess at every opportunity he could get.

Overall, I did enjoy the story and the relationship that built up between Tess and Alec. The ending of the book was definitely left open but I’m not sure if it should have been. I would have liked to have seen it complete as a standalone and of course, it still might be. Fateful was a fresh take on the Titanic story with a dash of the paranormal thrown in for good measure. If you like paranormal YA stories about wolves and have an interest in the Titanic, then this is the book you’ve been waiting for.

Fateful is published on 13th September, 2011. To find out more about Claudia and her books, click here to access her website. She is also active on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Forever Review

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater is the kind of book that turns your steaming hot cup of coffee into something lukewarm and undrinkable. Seriously. And yes, that has just happened to me as I started reading - I forgot all about my drink. It’s hard to believe that this is the final book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series and I will be sad to see it end. Maggie’s books are like old friends to me and I’m thinking that I might just have to pay them another visit sometime in the future. Can I recommend to those who have not yet had the pleasure of reading Shiver or Linger to please go and get acquainted with them forthwith so you too can make lifelong friends and not encounter any potential spoilers that you might find here for the first two books. For those of you who have already read and enjoyed those books, let’s go on. As you will remember in Shiver, Sam was the wolf and in Linger, Grace was the wolf. Well, in Forever Grace is learning to live in her own skin as a wolf for most of the time and Sam desperate to have the girl he loves back in his arms (it’s a little awkward right now, what with her being a wolf and all). Unfortunately, there has never been a worse time to be a wolf as a devastating plan is put in motion to eradicate the wolves of Mercy Falls as they are thought to be a danger to the public. The trouble is, Grace doesn’t know. Eek. Here’s the very short yet tantalizing synopsis:

“In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.”

What I love about Maggie’s writing is that she lulls you into a fall sense of security. I find her books comforting to read and I inevitably read along at a steady pace when suddenly, out of nowhere there will be a particular scene that shocks me out of my comfort zone and into the moment. There were a few stand out scenes for me and I want to thank you Maggie, for keeping things interesting ;)

I’m not going to go into too much detail about what happens in the book but you can guarantee that as the tension mounts, the stakes are raised and it’s not just Grace whose life hangs in the balance but all of the wolves we’ve come to know and love.

I’ve heard some grumbles in the blogosphere about the ending and I have to say that I thought the ending was perfect. It didn’t give you all the answers you may have been looking for but you know what? We don’t need all the answers. We’re intelligent enough as readers to come to our own conclusions and every character had the right ending FOR THEM even if you wanted things to go a little differently. You may also be pleased to know that there are no wolf babies (although I think secretly I hoped for them LOL). What I will say however is that I advise you to wear waterproof mascara when you’re nearing the end of the book. Shiver made me cry; Linger didn’t but Forever had me bawling like a baby.

I have to say that I’ve loved every minute of reading this trilogy and I’m glad to have the books on my shelves. I’ve also got my sister into these books and I hope I’ve inspired others to read and fall in love with them too. With its rich characters, lush setting and lyrical writing from Maggie, this book series is to be treasured and remembered forever.

Forever was released on 12th July. Thank you to Scholastic for providing me with an ARC. To find out more about Maggie’s books including the upcoming “The Scorpio Races” click here. There is also a site dedicated to the Wolves of Mercy Falls which you can access here. Maggie is also a member of the Merry Sisters of Fates (together with fellow authors and crit partners Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff) and you can access the site here. Maggie is active on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade Review (and win a copy of the book)

I’ve just come back from the amazing experience I had at the Poison Diaries Event up in Alnwick Castle where we were presented with an ARC of Nightshade, the next instalment in the poison diaries series. To see the castle grounds in person and Hulne Abbey where Jessamine lived was awe inspiring, not to mention the real life poison garden. I was so wrapped up in the experience that I read the book on the very long train ride home and let me tell you, if you thought The Poison Diaries was dark, then wait until you read Nightshade which plunges further into the blackness. It goes without question to say that if you haven’t read The Poison Diaries yet (which I reviewed here) then please read that first before going any further. If you’re still with me, then here is the synopsis for Nightshade:

“A dark, gothic tale of romance… and murder.

Our heroine, Jessamine, has lost her faith in the men she loved, and her innocence as well. She turns to the dark side and plots to kill her father, using his own poisons, before becoming an assassin, a poisoner for hire. Can she recover from her heartache and reunite with her true love, Weed? Find out in this thrilling story where poisons, darkness and horror are a part of everyday life, and love is the only cure.”

Jessamine is all grown up and a far cry from the figure she cut in the first book. She’s more confident than ever in her skills and is no longer the vulnerable little girl she once was. Believing that Weed left her in her hour of need was pretty devastating but you can’t keep the truth hidden forever and this causes a series of cataclysmic events resulting in Jessamine leaving town trying to forge a new identity. She tries desperately not to use the skills that she’s learnt but she can’t help it and before she knows it, she’s tangled up in an assassination plot. I’ve really enjoyed watching Jessamine’s character grow albeit into something darker than she once was. I don’t blame her, I mean how could she not be changed by her experiences? She is definitely more of an interesting character now though. And what of poor Weed? Well, Weed is more human than ever and of course, his thoughts are never far away from Jessamine. I did particularly enjoy his journey to Padua, Italy in this book where he learned about how plants were used for medicinal purposes. Of course, there were reasons why he went there but I shall say nothing more of it.

Nightshade introduces us to some new characters, most of which are transitory but one of my favourites was Rye. You’ll see what I mean when you read it ;)

What’s interesting about how the story has developed is the character’s view of themselves. I was reminded of Pinkie from Brighton Rock by Graham Greene who thought that because he committed an unspeakable act, that there was no way back from that. He believed he was damned and if that was the case, he should just continue doing what he wanted and I kind of got that vibe, especially from Jessamine. I do believe that Jessamine has become somewhat of a poison to herself (ironically) and I just hope she realises that the cure is inside her. At least that’s what I think.

I thought this was a great sequel and I love that I have absolutely no idea where the story is heading. I get the feeling that Maryrose Wood is going to continuously surprise me and I’m all for that.

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade is published on 1st September 2011 in the UK and 25th October, 2011 in the US. Thank you to Harper Collins for giving me an ARC. If you’d like to win a copy of the The Poison Diaries: Nightshade then please leave me a comment with your name and e mail address. This contest is UK only and the deadline is 8th September . The Winner will be selected randomly and they will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

To find out more about Maryrose Wood and her books, click here to visit her website. The Poison Diaries also has a website which you can access here. If you’ve ever wondered about Alnwick castle and are in the fortunate position to visit, click here for more information.