Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Stars of the Hunger Games: Inside Out by Mel Williams

Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Format: ARC
Number of Pages: 48
Published: 23rd February 2012

Book: For Review*
Genre: Non-Fiction, Movie-Tie-In, YA
Recommended Age: 11+
Contains: Nothing Unsuitable
No Alcohol, Drug References

May the odds be ever in your favour.

As The Hunger Games explodes onto our screens, get the low-down on the hot stars of this sensational movie.  Find out what they are like in real life – and how they measure up against their characters!

Could Jennifer Lawrence survive in the wild like Katniss? 
Is Josh Hutcherson as romantic as Peeta?
Does Liam Hemsworth have a rebellious streak like Gale?

Packed full of fantastic photos and fab facts, this is a must for all Hunger Games fans!

hunger games                                                                   Review:
I am sure most of the blogging community has read The Hunger Games, and all have heard of it.  And I’m sure most of you have heard of the movie it is becoming.  Maybe, like me, you’re counting down the days!  But with the release date getting ever closer, may I ask you how much you know about the stars who are bringing the amazing characters to life?  Despite my addiction, I didn’t know much…  Until I read this.  With the brilliant pictures and tons of facts, I now boast much movie knowledge!  And I’m EVEN MORE excited about the movie!!
Being a total Hunger Games addict, I was desperate to read this, even though I almost never read non-fiction!  I wanted to know if ‘ordinary’, real people could live up to the super, exceptional, amazing characters in my head.  I just loved reading all the actor facts, the little round ups of each character, why the actor is super and full of “tribute talents” enough to be Katniss, Peeta, Gale, etc.  And the layout was just gorgeous – flames and arrows for Katniss, berries and cammo for Peeta, arrows and lightening for Gale, the fields for Thresh, bright pink for Effie… all just were so right for each character.  And, overall, it was all so pretty!!
All the actors, in my opinion, are perfect for their roles.  We all know Jen looks gorgeous in her ‘proper Katniss gear’.  Did you know she can also use guns and skin a squirrel (yuck, by the way), as well as knowing how to rock climb and do archery?  Awesome!  And the gorgeous Josh Hutcherson, who worked out to get the Peeta Build, is so romantic he falls “in love at the drop of a hat” as well as being brill at all things outdoorsy.  Liam Hemsworth (who’s Australian, did ya know?) is a strong supporter of “just causes” and has said “Peeta and Gale are actually best friends in real life”.  Now, when I first finished this review, this paragraph was about three times this length.  As I actually don’t want to give the whole book in my review, I should probably limit myself to just gushing about the three main actors.  But before I stop, I’d just like to say that the only actor I’m not sure about is the one who will play Cinna, whose name is Lenny Kravitz.  He just isn’t how I pictured Cinna…  Here’s a picture of him: tell me what you think!
I loved all the facts, the gorgeous layout and picture.  It was addictive, poring over all the facts, answering the “Quick Quiz” questions…  And there was me thinking I wasn’t a big celeb nut!  Turns out Hunger Games + actors = actors I absorb loads of knowledge of.  Strange… But cool.  And I loved absorbing all of these!  Even what Josh’s cats are called (Jell-O and Paws, just so you know!).
If you love The Hunger Games, you simply have to read this one!  These facts are ones you have to have before you go to see the movie!

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Twilight Boys: Inside Out by Mel Williams
Girl Who Was On Fire by Leah Wilson

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Piccadilly Press in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby

Publisher: Walker
Format: ARC
Published: 28th February 2012
Number of Pages: 272
Book: For Review*
Genre: Realistic-Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery, YA
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Mild References to Suicide and Depression
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Blog: Allison Rushby

Behind the flashing lights, the camera reveals all... even love.
Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she's known in the biz.  The best pint-sized paparazzo out there, Jo loves shooting the stars, and she certainly doesn't mind doing whatever it takes to get that one perfect picture.
But then Jo is sent on a major undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett - teen superstar/heartthrob and the only celebrity who's ever been kind to her - at an exxclusive retreat facility in Boston.  Among the cheesy group therapy sessions and embarassing "team building" exercises, Jo finds there's more to the reclusive Ned than meets the eye - and maybe more to herself, too.

Zo Jo, the pint-size photographer, is the best in the biz. She loves her job, and certainly isn't afraid to do whatever it takes to get the perfect photo.
Until she's sent undercover to an exclusive retreat to get shots of teen star Ned Hartnett. Ned, the only star who has ever spoken to her kindly, who kept her in the paparazzo biz. She isn't at all sure about being there, but this job could secure the money she needs to go to school. But as she gets closer to Ned, her morals are tested like never before...
I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up Shooting Stars – I’ve never heard of anything like it!  What I wasn’t expecting was to be totally addicted to ever word.  Exciting, twisty, funny and pure awesome, Shooting Stars just sucked me in from the first page.  I loved every moment, all the characters and the fact it made me laugh out loud.  Amazing, amazing, amazing!
Josephine Foster, AKA Zo Jo, was just brilliant! Crafty, enthusiastic and a little genius, I was equally shocked and impressed at the lengths this 16 year old went to get that one perfect photo. More impressed, actually. She was snarky and funny: a just really loveable character.  As awesome as the tough, snarky Jo was, I really liked seeing the more vulnerable side of her. It was obvious she was hurting really bad, even if she couldn't admit it. And she was, as I mentioned before, a genius! An EVIL genius!
Ned Hartnett, a 16 year old singer-song writer, who was reclusive without being resentful – according to Jo, anyway.  He helped Jo when they were younger and was really sweet to her and he proved that he had sneaky-smarts with his suggestion on how Jo could get the sneaky shots.  I liked his sneaky side.  And his sweet side.  He was just so cute and adorable!  But, he was hiding something… Something I didn’t guess.  And it wasn’t his bacon bits addiction!
I really loved Ned and Jo’s relationship.  I’m glad they didn’t start of loathing one another, like in so many movies – I liked that their backstory was sweet and realistic.  Their past made their current feelings much more plausible.  What I liked even more is that they were kinda awkward in their dating – I mean, real teens aren’t totally at ease with one another right away are they?  Their mix of chemistry and awkwardness was sweet and believable.  Perfect!
All the supporting characters were equally amazing.  Such as Mannie, Jo’s friend and fellow pararazzo, who was cheerful, friendly and funny.  Jo’s dad, also paparazzo, only paparazzo royalty; he was also really supportive and just lovely.  Wendy, Jo’s cousin and next door neighbor, was really nice and funny and totally knew Jo and all her sneaky ways!  But she really loved Jo and would do anything for her.  And I loved Kristina: former ballerina, girly, funny and as tall as Jo was short, she was Jo’s only friend in the retreat facility.  And all of them were just so real, so well-padded-out!
And the writing was amazing!  It was teen, addictive, funny and so Jo.  I adored the witty style, the description, the characters and the humor – everything!   I loved every moment, that I saw everything, and that I fell totally in love with all the characters.  And I loved the way Rushby tackled difficult issues such as depression, suicide and teen phobias.  Although these were just touched upon, I felt Rushby covered and described them really well: lightly, but not so lightly she brushed them off. 
The plot was completely unexpected.  I thought it’d be boy meets girl, fall in love, moral dilemma, get over it, couple.  And, well, I was wrong!  Shooting Stars was full of twists: I actually did not see the big twist coming – at all.  Which, of course, made it even more amazing and awesome.  Sure, some parts were expected after the blurb.  But the main part of the story… not so much.
And I’d just like to say that I really admired Allison’s view of fame and the paparazzi.  She totally got the way our world, the media and stardom work.  I just loved the way she portrayed it all through the slightly cynical Jo, who just nailed how the celeb society works.
A leading paparazzo, a reclusive teen star, a retreat to “find yourself” and one or two problems to untangle, I adored Shooting Stars.  A cute, fun, light hearted and addictive read, it is not one to be missed!

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Diamonds are a Teen's Best Friend by Allison Rushby
The Chocolate Box Girls by Cathy Cassidy
Split By a Kiss by Luisa Plaja

Challenges It's Taking Part In: Happy Reading
* This book was received from author in exchange for an honest review

Teaser Tuesday (#30)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here are the rules:
  • Open your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers!
  • Share the title and author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR list if they like your teaser!
One spooky teaser from a spooky book.  Hope you all enjoy! :)

From Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley, Chapter IX, Page 75
"It would interest me," said Creecher, stepping forward.  The giant seemed to bring a blast of cold air with him as he did so, and the nephew flinched as Creecher moved into the light.  Even so, Billy was impressed by his calmness.  Creecher was a troubling spectacle at the best of times, but in that gloom he seemed all the more terrifying: the embodiment of everything a person fears when they are trapped in a dark place.

Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley
Synopsis From Blurb, Check The Book Out On Goodreads
 1818.  London.
Billy is a street urchin, pickpocket and petty thief.  Mr Creecher is a monstrous giant of a man who terrifies all he meets.  Their relationship begins as pure convenience.  But a bond swiftly develops between these two misfits as their bloody journey takes them ever northwards on the trail of their target... Victor Frankenstein.
I am really loving this book.  Really, really loving it!  And the book's blog tour is going to be stopping here in March, so keep an eye out!  There may be a giveaway involved...

There's my teaser!

What's you teaser this week? :)

Someone Else's Life Blog Tour: Character Interview: Rosie

Katie DaleI recently read and loved Someone Else's Life (if you need proof, check out my 5 Star review: here), so it's a huge delight to have the wonderful author, Katie Dale, here on my blog today as part of her blog tour.  We've got an interview of her main character, Rosie Kenning - she's an amazing character!  Read the interview below and find out for yourself! :D

You had to watch your mum Trudie die - how did that change you?
Wow, Mum dying changed my whole life. To be honest, just her diagnosis with Huntington’s disease change my whole life. I went from being a “normal” girl with the usual problems – school, friends, boys – then suddenly all those things didn’t really matter any more. All that mattered was being there for Mum, helping her cope, trying to do my best to be there for her while Huntington’s tore her apart. It was devastating and incredibly difficult but it certainly did put life into perspective. It made me realize what’s really important and what’s, well, not so much.

Did your Mum not being your biological mother change how you feel about her?

I thought so – at first. Especially when I thought she knew that I wasn’t her biological daughter. I felt really betrayed. But now, no. Those memories are all real – what we felt for each other and what we meant to each other – and nothing can ever change that.

You wanted to know whether or not you had
 inherited Huntington's. What was going through your head as you made that choice?
I needed to know my future. I had all these questions buzzing round my head, and I’d just watched Mum die with it, and I just really needed to know if that was going to happen to me too – so I could plan my life accordingly. It’s a tough decision. Discovering you’re HD-positive is a devastating thing, so you have to be ready for that possibility, but I felt that I would rather just know than keep wondering what-if all my life.

Why did you want to find your birth family? Was it to because you wanted to belong again, or...?
I wanted to find my birth family because (as you may have noticed) I’m someone who can’t deal with what-ifs! I just needed to fill in the blanks – discover who they were, and what they were like. It was like a part of my history was missing and I needed to paint it in before I could move on. I knew they’d never replace the relationship I had with my mum – nothing could – but that didn’t mean I couldn’t potentially have my own new relationships with them too. Or not as the case may be. I’d just rather know, than wonder.

What were you thinking and feeling when you first met your biological family?
It blew me away. To think that they’d been out there all this time, yet they were strangers to me. It was exciting and terrifying and exhilarating all at once.

Can you justify what Sarah did?
It’s taken me a long time to understand how Sarah could possibly do what she did. I just couldn’t get my head around making that decision to play God like that. But now I can. I wouldn’t say she did the right thing – you can never fully appreciate all the consequences of a decision like that further down the line (as I found out!) but I can certainly understand why she did it. It was compassion and love that drove her to do it, and in many ways I’m really glad she did.

Your first love Andy was wonderful - how much did his support mean to you? 
It’s no overstatement to say that I’d be lost without him. He’s just amazing. I don’t know how he puts up with me and this rollercoaster I’ve dragged him on – but I’m really glad he does. He’s one in a million.

Where do you go from here? What can you see in your future?
The future is a blank for me – not in the way it used to be: a blank filled with questions and anxieties; but a blank filled with endless possibilities. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I can’t wait to find out!

Do you have any regrets? If you could go back in time to change anything, would you?
Yes. I wouldn’t have shut myself away from my friends and from Andy when Mum got ill. That was a mistake. Yes, it was difficult to talk to people who didn’t understand what I was going through, but that would’ve changed if I’d taken the time to explain it all to them. I thought I could handle it all by myself, but that’s never really the answer.

Do you have any advice for people going through what you've been through? Whether that is finding out you're not biologically related to your family, or seeing a loved one with a disease such as Huntington's?
Don’t go it alone. I made that mistake, and I really regret it. It’s so important to talk to people about what you’re going through. I shut Andy out when it was me, but he would have been there for me and helped me through it, and I needed that. There are loads of people out there to support people like me affected by Huntington’s disease – the HAD, the HDSA and HDYA and the newly formed Huntington’s Disease Youth Organisation run for young people by young people who really understand and can really help.

Finally, can you describe yourself in one sentence?
To quote Alice In Wonderland: I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it! I try to do the right thing, but sometimes it’s hard to know what that is.

Previous Stop on the Blog Tour: Books 4 Teens
Next Stop on the Blog Tour: Life Between Pages

Thanks Katie!  And Rosie!  It's been great having you both here!
Now, if you haven't read Someone Else's Life I really recommend it!  Check out Katie's blog: here

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Drive By by Jim Carrington: Extract

What would you do if you thought you had killed someone?

I've started Drive By, and it's amazing!  I know that I'm going to love the book!  If you don't believe me, just check out the extract below, kindly supplied by Bloomsbury!  And check out Jim's site and Facebook Page!  Any everyone: keep an eye on the Bloomsbury Facebook Page, for chances to win awesome books!  But before you do all of that, here's a quick little bit of info about the book, which is out 1st March...

Drive By
Drive By by Jim Carrington

Synopsis From Goodreads:
'That was brilliant,' Jake says. 'That was without doubt the most satisfying moment of my entire life.'
When Johnny, Jake, Drac and Badger take the law into their own hands and give an irritating neighbour a drive-by soaking, life feels good. Then something terrible happens as a result and Johnny's guilty conscience won't leave him alone. But are the weird things that start happening really just a result of his overheated brain? Or is the old lady coming back to haunt him?
Is it ever possible to get away with murder? It's a good question. One that Johnny needs to think about. Hard.

Now.  Read the extract!!!

 Drive By Extract

In My Mailbox (#46)

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It's a perfect way to see who's reading and review what.  Awesome! 

I got some great books this week, and only bought two!  Self restraint, or what?! ;)
Anyhoo, this is what I got...

For Review:

Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne (Goodreads | Amazon)
I cannot WAIT to read this! It looks SO good!
Drive By by Jim Carrington (Goodreads | Amazon)
Thinking Of Getting Away With Murder? Think Again...
I love the look of this!! I can't wait to read it!!
Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby (Goodreads | Amazon)
I've already read this one: awesome! My review should be up soon!
Big Frog by Rob Badcock (Goodreads | Amazon)
This also looks awesome - set in future Britain! :)

Open Minds (Mindjack, #1)
Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy, Book One) by Susan Kaye Quinn (Goodreads | Amazon)
I love the look of this one - it sounds amazing!  I can't wait to read it!

Thanks Bloomsbury, Allison, Rob and Susan!!


Aftershock (H.I.V.E., #7)

Zero Hour (HIVE, Book Six) by Mark Walden (Goodreads | Amazon)
Aftershock (HIVE, Book Seven) by Mark Walden (Goodreads | Amazon)
I love the HIVE books!  And I'm really loving these new covers.  Can't wait to read these!! :D

Well, that's what I got! 

What's in your mailbox this week? :)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale

 Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback
Published: 2nd February 2012
Book: For Review*
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic-Fiction, Romance, Mystery, Mental Health, YA, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Alcohol Refernences, Mild Swearing, Death
No Drug References
Author's Blog: Katie Dale

And keep an eye out for the blog tour post Katie's done for us!  It'll be up on the 28th!

One Secret Can Change Everything.
When Rosie Kenning's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntingdon's disease, her whole world falls apart. Not only does Rosie desperately miss her mum, but now she has to face the fact that she could have inherited the fatal illness herself. Until she discovers that Trudie wasn't her biological mother at all ...Rosie is stunned. Can this be true? Is she grieving for a mother who wasn't even hers to lose? And if Trudie wasn't her mother, who is?
But as Rosie delves into her past to discover who she really is, she is faced with a heart-breaking dilemma - to continue living a lie, or to reveal a truth that will shatter the lives of everyone around her... 

“You saved each other.”
Rosie Kenning’s mum Trudie had Huntington’s.  Rosie, dropping everything for her mother, had to watch the once vibrant woman she loved so much die slowly and terribly.  With her Mum gone and her whole world in pieces, Rosie now has to find out if this is to be her future, if she has inherited the Huntington’s gene.  Until she’s told that Trudie isn’t her biological mother.  But how can that be?  How can she not be Trudie?  Is she grieving someone who isn’t even hers to grieve?  And if so, who is her real mother?
With her past as blank as her future, can Rosie continue living a lie, or can she risk destroying the lives of those around her to find out more about her past...?
I knew this would be an amazing book – I mean, have you read the blurb?! – but I wasn’t expecting something twisty and swirly, full of shocks and surprises with characters I’d fall so head over heels in love with, I’d want to magic them out of the book!  If this book isn’t already on your radar, by God, go get yourself a copy NOW!  It’s such an amazing book and worth every penny!  I adored every moment and was left wanting more, more, more! A book that truly tugged at the heartstrings one moment and had me stupidly smiling the next. 
Rosie Kenning was so strong and so caring.  I admired her so much, putting her whole life on hold so she could take care of her mother.  I just loved her from the word go.  And it was just so obvious that she absolutely adored her mother Trudie.  She had to grow up so fast, and she lost so much.  But through it all she was selfless, brave, loving and strong.  She was amazing, and we could all learn something from her.
Andy Hunter, Rosie’s boyfriend, was sweet and caring and cute and yummy!  He was just adorable, really protective and supportive, always there for her…  Did you guess that I had a minor book-boyfriend crush on Andy?
I have to mention Trudie Kenning, Rosie’s mother, who although was already dead by the time the story starts, played a big part in it none the less.  She was strong, light-spirited, trying to make a joke of everything, and obviously loved Rosie just as much as her daughter loved her.  She was inspirational, even though we never ‘met’ her.
The rest of the supporting characters were equally amazing.  Rosie’s Nana was so sweet and cheerful: I loved her! Jack Woods was funny, sweet and friendly, and just the perfect father.  If I could have any fictional father, from any book, I’d pick Jack, hands down.  Kitty Clare was someone I couldn’t figure her out.  I thought: oh, so that’s the real Kitty.  Then: wham!  Still, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her, seeing the position she was in… Aunt Sarah, who loved Trudie so much she… did what she did.  She was a loving and kind person, one I found I couldn’t dislike at all – I felt sorry for her too, I mean: what would you have done in her position?
What I liked most about this book is the flawless way Katie tackled the difficult issues.  Huntington’s and the effects it has.  And may I just say that I really admire the way Katie described the disease – enough of the medical info so we can grasp the basics, no jargon to confuse us.  But more, the emotional description.  The pain at watching your Mum die, the fear of not knowing if that could be you, drowning in it all.  Throughout the book, I couldn’t help thinking: “Could I have done that, if I were in Rosie’s place?  Dropped everything, even my friends and school, knowing I’d have to watch my mother die, watch what could be my future..?”  And then there was the whole biological parent thing.  The importance of being related by blood.  I mean, any old person can make a baby.  What’s hard is raising them and loving them.  That’s what makes a parent.  Rosie in particular really shows this: even though she was looking for her birth parents, Trudie is still her Mum and nothing could change that. 
The writing was just so, so good.  Emotional, powerful and utterly addictive, it was just perfect for this kind of book – more than perfect, in fact.  I could feel everything, see everything!  And I adored the dual narrative; I loved that we had no clue who the other narrator was to begin with – I didn’t guess either!  As for the plot, well, it was twistier than… a really twisty thing.  There was just shock after shock, surprise after surprise and I literally saw nothing coming!!  And that, may I just say, was a huge achievement and made the book so, so, so much more addictive!  I loved every second… even the bits I cried at.  Which was quite a few of them.
An amazing, incredible, moving, emotional, thought-provoking story that had me surprised at every twist, hooked to every word and racing to get to the end, so I could know what happened next.  Katie, whatever you may write next, you have me extraordinarily excited and I will be first in line, without a doubt!
Beautiful, inspiring, heart-warming, life affirming, perfect… I came to the end and just wanted to read it all over again.  As I said before: perfect.

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman

Challenges It's Taking Part In:
* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review
Happy Reading
Number of Pages: 496