"People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading." ~ Logan Pearsall Smith, Trivia, 1917

Monday, 13 August 2012

Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight by Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow

Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight is two weeks in the life of Joel Hedges and Cat Davis. Joel would prefer to get through his final year of high school without Cat Davis or his mother's faux Spanish boyfriend and just hang-out with his best-friend Luke. Cat Davis has an annoying best-friend, and even more annoying little brother, and a deep abiding hatred of Joel Hedges.

 Due to an unfortunate incident involving a leaking pen and suspected outbreak of Bird Flu, Joel and Cat are forced to sit next to each other in Extension English. To make matters worse, and to their mutual horror, they are paired together for a tandem story writing assignment.
  I have just finished listening to the audio-book version of Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight and loved it!

The book will most definitely keep you laughing and if you’re like me and live outside of Australia you’ll only be able to get an audio-copy, but fear not, the accents are awesome. Or at least they are to an Australia obsessed girl.

 Cat Davis and Joel Hedges are just two teenagers with a mutual resentment for each other so obviously neither of the pair are too happy about being paired together to do a tandem story. At the start they both come up with totally different ideas – and I will admit to preferring Joel’s – but by the end they still are coming up with crazy ideas, just ones that fit together slightly better.

 I have a thing against dual point of views, but Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow pull it off well. I enjoyed hearing things from both Cat and Joel’s point of view, though I found Joel to be more amusing. I don’t think the story would have worked as well if it wasn’t in both of these characters point of views; which is very hard for me to admit.

 Cat is a goody-two-shoes, grade obsessed, smart girl. She’s stubborn and has a tendency to refuse to believe what she doesn’t want to be true. She can be quite sarcastic at times and is a lot less whiney than most female protagonists.

 Joel is funny and extremely judgemental. He thinks things about people, things he has no right to think just because he hasn’t got to know the person. He’s probably my second favourite character in the book, the first being Luke, his best friend. Luke and Aaron’s tandem story is undoubtedly the best.

 The book was filled with funny scenes, finger love, Joel and Betty as the break-up team (they weren’t called that in the book, but I’m naming them that) and the brutal, merciless things they did to each others characters in the tandem all made me laugh.

 I’d give this book five out of five because it most certainly did “amaze me.” (Book review written with an Australian accent reading the words in my head as I type.)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Shana Norris: Interview + Giveaway

 Today I have an interview with Shana Norris!

Shana Norris writes young adult books from a tiny town in eastern North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and their zoo of animals. She is the author of SOMETHING TO BLOG ABOUT and TROY HIGH, both available from Abrams/Amulet Books, and THE BOYFRIEND THIEF and SURFACING, both available in ebook format for all ereaders.


Q1. What is your favourite colour?
It wavers between pink and purple. I'm very girly! :) I wear a lot of both colors and would have my house decorated in them if my husband wouldn't object to it.

Q2. While not writing, what can you often be caught doing?
My husband and I like to go kayaking during the warm weather. We also like to travel, especially to historic sites. We're both history geeks!

Q3. Out of all your books, what is your favourite? Why?
I love them all, and it's really hard to pick one. I do have a special fondness for my first published book, Something to Blog About. The characters have lived in my head since I was fifteen and it's the book that got me where I am today. So it will always be very special to me.

Q4. How old were you when you started writing?
I always told stories as a kid, but I first started writing them down when I was eight. I started writing with the idea of getting published one day around the age of eleven. That was when I figured out that authors were just regular people who loved to write and that maybe I could become one some day.

Q5. What has been the happiest moment in your writing career?
Getting my very first fan mail. I had the privilege of meeting the girl who wrote to me because her mom ran the bookstore where I did my first book signing. It felt SO good to get that letter and know that someone in my target audience actually liked my writing. I love hearing from readers and it's the best part of the job!

Q6. Do you have any bad habbits when it comes to writing?
I rarely ever plan my books ahead of time! I could probably save myself so much work if I would start writing with some kind of idea of what will happen in the book, but my brain usually doesn't work that way. I have to figure out the story as I go along, which means that I change my mind a lot while I'm writing. My first drafts are so complicated and confusing no one else would ever be able to make sense of them.

Q7. Do you write with or without music?
I write without music, but I always make up playlists for each of my books. I only listen to them when brainstorming though because I find the music too distracting to listen to while actually writing.

Q8. Where do you get ideas for your stories?
Lots of different things. Troy High was inspired by my love of Greek mythology and my experiences with high school rivalries. Something to Blog About was inspired by an event that actually happened to me. A lot of ideas come from things that have happened to me (though I change them a lot for the story) or even from things I've read about. News articles have sometimes sparked ideas in my head or even places I've visited.

Q9. What would be your advice for people who want to start writing?
The first thing I suggest is to read a lot. Read the kinds of books you want to write, and then also read outside of that genre. Study the way the plot is put together and how the characters are developed. Then write and get a good group of people who will give you an honest opinion of your work. My critique partners are invaluable to me. We all help each other work through story problems and they've suggested things in my work that I hadn't thought of before. And they point out when things aren't working. It's sometimes really hard to see your own work with a critical eye because you're too close to it. So it helps to have other people read and give feedback. Parents usually aren't good at this, however. They tend to spare our feelings and don't really give the criticism a writer needs! My critique partners are fellow writers, so they understand what kind of advice I need in my drafts.

Q10. What is your favourite book that you've read?
My absolute, hands down favorite book ever is Emily Climbs by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I know everyone always says they love the Anne of Green Gables books best of LM Montgomery's work, but my favorite is Emily. Emily Climbs is the second book in the Emily of New Moon trilogy, and I like the other two books as well, but this one is my favorite. It covers a lot of Emily's growth as a writer and I've always found it very inspiring. I've reread my copy many, many times!

Q11. If you could speak another language, what would it be?
Okay, I'm about to reveal myself to be a huge dork, but it would be Sindarin, which is the Elven-tongue in Lord of the Rings. I'll pause a moment for everyone to laugh...

I told you I'm a huge dork! :) If we're talking real world languages, I'd really like to be able to speak Spanish better than I currently can. Three years of it and I still struggle with sentence construction.

Q12. If you had a super power, what would it be?
Super strength, because I'm super wimpy and it would be nice to be able to open the jar of pickles on the first try.

Q13. Who is your celebrity crush?
Right now, it's Channing Tatum. *fans self*

Q14. Sweet or savoury?
Sweet, but a fruity sweet.

Q15. Who is your favourite author?
Meg Cabot. Her books are so fun to read, and I love that she writes in different genres and isn't afraid to try new things in her writing. And she seems like a very fun and happy person too.


There is also a giveaway of The Boyfriend Thief!
My review: http://rowanknight.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/boyfriend-thief-by-shana-norris.html

 Avery James has her life planned out: this summer she'll work with a humanitarian program in Costa Rica, next year she'll graduate at the top of her class, and after that, college and medical school. Perfect, planned, total order.

The only problem: getting the rest of the money she needs for the trip before the deadline. Hannah Cohen, her biggest competition for the valedictorian title, makes an unexpected offer: If Avery can win over Zac Greeley and make him break up with Hannah before the end of the school year, a check for five hundred dollars is all hers. Faced with the prospect of spending yet another summer working as a giant hot dog, it's an offer Avery can't refuse.

Zac is nothing like Avery expected. Within his chaotic world of midnight slushie runs and spontaneous dance parties, her total order is quickly falling apart while Hannah seems poised to get everything she wants. But just how much is Avery willing to give up for the perfect, planned life?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Boyfriend Thief by Shana Norris


 Avery James has her life planned out: this summer she'll work with a humanitarian program in Costa Rica, next year she'll graduate at the top of her class, and after that, college and medical school. Perfect, planned, total order.

The only problem: getting the rest of the money she needs for the trip before the deadline. Hannah Cohen, her biggest competition for the valedictorian title, makes an unexpected offer: If Avery can win over Zac Greeley and make him break up with Hannah before the end of the school year, a check for five hundred dollars is all hers. Faced with the prospect of spending yet another summer working as a giant hot dog, it's an offer Avery can't refuse.

Zac is nothing like Avery expected. Within his chaotic world of midnight slushie runs and spontaneous dance parties, her total order is quickly falling apart while Hannah seems poised to get everything she wants. But just how much is Avery willing to give up for the perfect, planned life?

Just finished the book, just finished wiping the tears.

For all of those who don't know me, you will not know of the fact that I have a reputation of being a reptile in my family. Cold blooded with no emotions. It takes a lot for me to cry (this is the fourth book out of hundreds, possibly over a thousand) but this book did it. Sure enough it was buckets full of tears, but even one shedding from my eye is a mighty feat. Well done Shana Norris, you succeeded in getting me to show emotion.

The plot in my opinion was pretty original. I have never heard of a book in which a girl pays someone to get her boyfriend to break up with her. I've seen a Simpsons episode with something similar though, but details details.

As far as the main character went, one Avery James shows less emotion than me. She's anal, obsessive and smart. Also quite annoying, but I rarely like the protagonist of a novel. She just didn't know how to let stuff go. With Elliot I didn't know why, but with her mum I understood why.

Next there is Zac Greenely. He's funny and a bit of a slacker. A joker at heart with the ever so exciting future of taking over to his father's business. He is Hannah Cohen's (Avery's arch nemesis) boyfriend. Hannah pays Avery to go after Zac though she (Hannah) has ulterior motives of her own. I liked Zac, though he seemed predictable. He was nice, but there are hundreds of other characters like him.

I liked Shana Norris's writing style; she only used a word in caps lock once. This is a major pet peeve for me which I view as unforgivable. I'll forgive her though, just a tiny blip. I did notice a few typos in the book though. Sentences without spaces between the first word and full stops and once a random letter before a piece of dialogue.

The Boyfriend Thief is a quick, cute read I'd recommend to all contemporary YA fans!

Four out of five stars!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

All the Broken Pieces COVER REVEAL!


 I love how the cover is in pieces!

Here's the blurb!

What if your life wasn’t your own?

Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.
Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?

And a lovely wee sneak preview!

Olivia reached up, feeling the tender spots on her head. Her fingers brushed across a row of—were those little ridges made of metal?
            “Careful. The staples are almost ready to come out, but it’s still going to be sore for a while.”
            Staples?!Her stomach rolled. I have staples in my head? She lowered her now-shaking hand. “Can I get a mirror?”
            Mom looked at Dad, then back at her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Not until you’ve healed a little more.”
            Mom patted Olivia’s leg. “You just relax. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”
            The two of them left the room, but when Mom swung the door closed, it didn’t latch. Olivia could hear their voices in the hall.
            “I still think we should…” She couldn’t make out the rest of Dad’s muffled words. “…know if I can do this.”
            “…late for that,” Mom said. “We’d lose everything, including…” Her voice faded as they got farther away. “…have to move.”
Olivia could tell the conversation was tense, but the words were impossible to decipher now. Holding a hand in front of her face, she turned it back and forth. A plastic tube ran from her arm to a machine next to her bed. She peeked into her nightgown and stared in horror at the long red stripe running down her chest.
            You’re alive. You shouldn’t be thinking about looks.

            Lowering her hand, she scanned the room. I wonder how my face looks. From the way Dad stared at me, plus the fact Mom won’t let me see a mirror, it must be bad.
            Brains are more important than looks.
            That’s what ugly people say.
            Olivia put her hands on her head and squeezed. “Stop it,” she whispered to her arguing thoughts, hysteria bubbling up and squeezing the air from her lungs. What was happening to her? Why didn’t she recognize her parents or know where she was? Who she was? Tears ran warm trails down her cheeks. “Just make it all stop.”

All the Broken Pieces, by Cindi Madsen is available for pre-order on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads
It will be released on the 2nd of December 2012!

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

The Summer My Life Began

Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time.

This book was all it promised, cute, cliche and a quick read.
It was entirely predictable (apart from at one point for me).

Elizabeth Margaret. Not Elizabeth, not Margaret, Elizabeth Margaret. I know her parents were posh and all, but seriously: two long first names? I thought people only had mulitple middle names or first names that were hyphenated. And not that long.

Em wasn't my favourite of characters... I found her quite annoying. I wouldn't mind if she made me a meal though; she was a great cook.

When it came to the Cade/Em relationship I got very confused. At one point I was sure that Shannon Greenland had made it out that Cade was in a relationship with Beth, but either it was a joke or it was a different person.

Tilly's scandalous  misendeavor wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Having recently read Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein, I was expecting her to have acted like that, you know trouble with the police and all. What she did was bad and not something I would do, but yeah, I expected worse.

About five seconds after Sid was introduced I knew who he was. That was so poorly disguised that Inspector Clouseau could have figured it out.

The book didn't really have anything that original, just a stringful of cliches tied together. It was a quick, light read that was cute and fluffy.

I'm going to give this book two out of five stars.

/ \

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Invitation by Diane Hoh

For the high schoolers of Greenhaven, Cass Rockham’s fall party is the social event of the year. Each October, students wait by their mailboxes, praying for the gilt-edged invitation that grants entry into the inner circle of the most popular crowd. And now Cass has planned her finest party yet, with a new sauna, a hot band, and no parents for miles. But to make this party really killer, Cass tops it all off with a sinister twist.
Nerdy Sarah Drew is shocked when she and her friends receive invitations to Cass’s affair. For years she’s steered clear of the popular kids, and now they want her to come to their party? Sarah is wary, but her friends talk her into coming with them. But she regrets it quickly, for at Cass Rockham’s mansion, the only party favour is death.

I got this book from NetGalley in the form of an uncorrected proof. There were so many mistakes. Ellie was frequently misspelled as 'Elbe' and there was a lack of spaces between the words.

Despite the amount of technical errors, I still enjoyed the book. It was no where near as much of a horror book as I expected which was disappointing. It was obvious exactly who wasn't the culprit behind what is happening to Sarah and her friends, but I never would have guessed who was. Well I guessed who it was when they were first introduced, just not who it was. Long story.

The book was choppy in places and I'm not sure if that was because I read an uncorrected proof or just because the book was written like that in the first place. The book would switch to another scene with no indication. I got confused at one point, because people were looking for a certain character (let's call them Bob) and then on the next line of the conversation would be Bob talking. They hadn't found Bob, but Bob had been talking to someone else, it just wasn't shown very well with the layout.

All that was off-putting but the story had quite a good plot-line. I think the reason the person trying to hurt Sarah and her friends for wasn't that big of a deal. Seriously, yeah it was annoying what happened, but they had lied and warped the truth so much they were believing a lie. They deserved it and had no good reason to even want to hurt them. Well most of them.

I liked Sarah as a main character, though I think it's crazy just how much she practises her violin. Three hours every day. That's crazy. I play an instrument and practise nothing close to that time; my friend that plays violin probably practises close to that. She was the only one who seemed wary of the fact that Cass Rockham had invited her and her friends to her party. To be fair to Cass, what she planned for the night was slightly different from what actually down.

Shane's secret was disappointing. I was expecting it to be something huge, and while yes, it was totally wrong what she did, it just wasn't wrong in my books.

As far as this culprit I keep mentioning goes, there's some other characters in the book I would much have preferred to be. Someone so shocking it just wouldn't have even crossed the brain that they might be responsible.

It was a huge disappointment but I have a feeling quite a lot of the annoyance I felt towards the book was the fact of the mistakes. If I had read a proof-read copy I think I'd have enjoyed it a whole more.

I'm going to give it three stars because that's what I think it deserves if it didn't have all the mistakes.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Moonstone by Marilee Brothers

A sickly mom. A tiny house trailer. High school bullies and snarky drama queens. Bad-guy dudes with charming smiles. Allie has problems. And then there's that whole thing about fulfilling a magical prophecy and saving the world from evil. Geez. Welcome to the sad, funny, sometimes-scary world of fifteen-year-old Allie Emerson, who's struggling to keep her and her mom's act together in the small-town world of Peacock Flats, Washington. An electrical zap from a TV antenna sets off Allie's weird psychic powers. The next thing she knows she's being visited by a hippy-dippy guardian angel, and then her mysterious neighbor, the town "witch," gives her an incredible moonstone pendant that has powers only a good-hearted "Star Seeker" is meant to command. "Who, me?" is Allie's first reaction. But as sinister events begin to unfold, Allie realizes she's got a destiny to live up to. If she can just survive everyday life, in the meantime.

I got given the series to review. I read the first book.

I got a couple of pages in before I realised this wasn't the book for me but I kept on going.
Kept on going to the very end.

The reason I didn't enjoy the book so much wasn't so much the plot-line but the writing style and characters. The main character, Allie, really annoyed me; like really, really annoyed me. It is always frustrating when you don't like the main character of a book in first person but to be honest, I didn't really like any of the characters to much. Cory was a wimp, Manny and Mercedes were plain and Junior was predictable. Bad-guy-is-actually-good-but-got-mixed-up-with-bad-people? An overplayed cliché in half of the YA books you pick up. Faye, Allie's mum, was a terrible mum. You don't just decide you don't want to do anything any more so fake an illness to get benefits. It's wrong.

The author used caps lock - a pet peeve of mine - and Allie's thoughts were generally... annoying. This book didn't quite get into my good books. It was a quite a quick read - a fact I'm glad about - and left a lot of strings hanging. I could go onto read the rest of the books, but I read the first couple of chapters of the second and the first few pages of the fourth and the writing style is still much the same.

Though it was quite a predictable book, the plot was fine in my books. Kind of. Maybe. I don't know. I don't know how much I can say without going all spoiler alert. Maybe I should just give one.

Spoiler Alert!

When she thought Junior was a Trimark (basically somebody who has lines the shape of a triangle on the palm of their hands), I think he should have turned out to be the bad guy. Well maybe not him, but one Cory Philpott should have. Actually it would have best if it was Manny or Mercedes - now that would have been an awesome plot twist.

End Spoiler Alert!

I'm not saying this book is bad, just not in my favourites pile. I'd definitely recommend this book for fantasy lovers (or anybody who doesn't hate fantasy) as long as you're not as fussy as me.
Which is quite hard to be. I am very fussy.

I'd give this book two out of five stars.

Giving books two and three stars is common for me. Though the book I'm currently reading will most definitely not get that. I can't post the review for a while because it doesn't come out until my birthday.