Thursday 31 May 2012

Fortnight of Guests 2012: The Line-Up!

Last year, I hosted Fortnight of Guests, a fortnight-long event, during which we had loads of awesome bloggers doing guest posts.  
This year?  Fortnight of Guests is back, and it is bigger and better than ever!  
This year we have Two Fortnights - one for Bloggers and one for Authors.  This means we have a whole month of guests!  
I'm amazed that all these amazing, amazing people are taking part in my event and I can't wait for you all to see the posts we have lined up!  
So pop by whenever you can - we have a new guest post every day!  :D
And follow all of the fun on Twitter at #FortnightOfGuests
Now here is the line-up...

3rd June: Kristi @ The Story Siren
Being a Reader
10th June: The Girls @ Book Chick City
 Q&A With Book Chick City
11th June: Beth @ The Page-Turner
12th June: Marcus Howlet from The Vampire Blog (Pete Johnson Blog Tour Stop)
Marcus Giving The Low-Down On The Spooky And Hilarious Vampire Trilogy
14th June: Ashley @ The Bookish Brunette

19th June: Savita Kalhan
YA Books That I Recommend As Must-Reads
23rd June: Katie Dale

Department 19 by Will Hill

Department 19Series: Department 19, Book One
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback
Published: 1st September 2011
Number of Pages: 496
Book: Bought
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Horror, Action-Adventure, Mystery, YA
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Destruction Scenes Caused By a Psychopathic Vampire
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Blog: Will Hill

Department 6 is the army.
Department 13 is MI5.
Department 19 is the reason you’re alive.

When Jamie Carpenter’s mother is kidnapped by strange creatures, he finds himself dragged into Department 19, the government’s most secret agency.
Fortunately for Jamie, Department 19 can provide the tools he needs to find his mother, and to kill the vampires who want him dead.  But unfortunately for everyone, something much older is stirring, something even Department 19 can’t stand up against…

Department Nineteen (Department Nineteen, #1)                                                                   Review:
"Lux E Tenebris: Light Out Of Darkness"
One night Jamie Carpenter's dad Julian came home early.  That night there was something outside - that Jamie knew.  What... he had no clue… 
That same night Julian was shot dead by the police, after pulling a gun on them...
He told Jamie nothing, only to take care of his mother.
The next day, they were informed Julian was a terrorist, a traitor, and their life hasn't been the same since. 
Two years later, Jamie's mum is taken; by the same things Julian was so scared of all those years ago...  Jamie is desperate to find his mum, but he has no idea how. 
Until Department 19 break through his door.   Department 19, the reason the world is still living, the ones who battle the vast army of undead. 
But something even they cannot deal with is threatening to rise.  Can Jamie save his mother in time, or will the whole world die first...?
I love a good action novel, especially if it includes butt-kicking lead characters!  Department 19Ah-maz-ing!  With non-stop action, the most amazing mythology and a gadget-packed, super-secret agency whose job was killing vampires, this was a book I fell in love with from the word go.  I raced through it, eating it all up.  And y'know what?  I wanna be a Department 19 agent!  Failing that, give me lots, lots, lots more books in this series please, Mr Hill!
I loved all the characters, our hero Jamie in particular.  He was curious and sweet and brave and determined, and just felt so much like a real teen boy.  A teen boy I loved absolutely to pieces!  Another one I loved was Larissa, who was a vampire and a character who caught my interest from the moment we first met her.  I loved learning more about her past and how funny she was, teasing Jamie!  She was really strong and sweet and brave, and not at all a monster!  But I think my favourite may just be Colonel Victor Frankenstein, AKA Frankenstein’s Monster.  He was a little scary at first, but when you got to see how sweet and cheerful and caring he was, when you got to see into his past and how he became who he is you just can’t help loving him!  And man our villain was terrifying!  Alexandru Rusmanov, a vampire – a scary vampire.  Animalistic, violent and pure evil, he really gave the super-scary-heebie-jeebies.  He was, literally, an "immortal psychopath"
And Larissa and Jamie's relationship was brilliant.  Admittedly, it didn’t start of great, what with Larissa trying to kill Jamie and all, but slowly trust – and more – developed.  It was really sweet and really real. 
I just loved the writing, how I got to see into the past and into Department 19 – especially how it was created.  Seeing it all from Jamie's POV let us see this world in a new and amazing light - we were discovering it all right along with him.  And all the other action we got to see, all the other characters, were so well thought out, so real.  This was amazing and unprecedented for me - I've never met such amazing in-it-for-one-chapter characters!  And the plot was just incredible!  Full of twists and turns and just non-stop action, Department 19 had me constantly on the edge of my seat.  Full of twists and one heckuva conspiracy, it was just so darn addictive!  Although I had suspicions about where everything was going, I was still hooked and was constantly surprised.  As for the ending?  Oh.  My.  God.  I, quite frankly, had to read Book Two the second I finished!!
I loved the vampire mythology!  It was brilliant!  And I loved how the Dracula story tied in, the legend.  It was awesome and new, yet traditional.  And it wasn't just vamps either, something that made me super excited!  Overall?  Awesome and so rich!  And it was all so believable in a totally supernatural way.  Or maybe that's 'cause I'm weird and just want it to be real 'cause I WANNA BE IN DEPARTMENT 19!!  Or maybe it's just the rich backstory and history, the utterly believable characters, the oh-so convincing spy-ish-ness of the Department.  Oh well.  Whatever it was, I loved EVERY SINGLE SECOND!
With a top secret government agency, vampires everywhere and one boy caught in it all, Department 19 was action-packed, addictive and just all round amazing.  007 and MI5 are no longer cool: give me Department 19 and Colonel Frankenstein any day!  I simply cannot wait to read The Rising

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz
Cherub by Robert Muchamore
The Enemy by Charlie Higson

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

Happy Reading

Saturday 26 May 2012

In My Mailbox (#53)

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've not done a IMM for a week or two, I think... but here's my IMM!  :D

For Review:

Chime by Franny Billingsley (Goodreads | Amazon) 
I've been wanting to read this for ages and love the sound of it!  Can't wait to read it!
Earthfall (Earthfall, Book One) by Mark Walden (Goodreads Amazon)
The Battle Starts Here
I've already read this one - it's!  Alien action scene and witty kids! ;)

Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, Book One) by Bethany Griffin (Goodreads | Amazon)
This looks amazing - and my first Steampunk!  I can't wait to read it!
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, Book One) by Sarah J. Maas (Goodreads Amazon)
A Heart Of Ice.  A Will Of Steel.  Meet The Assassin. 
This is probably the book I'm most excited about.  I mean, a Cinderella inspired story, only Cinderella's an assassin?!  I mean, who can resist that?!  
Oh, and check out the UK cover: here.

Free From My iPod:

Bloody Little SecretsGlimpse (Zellie Wells, #1)Inhuman
Initiate (The Unfinished Song, #1)

Bloody Little Secrets by Karly Kirkpatrick (Goodreads | Amazon)
This looks ace!
Glimpse (Zellie Wells, Book One) by Stacey Wallace Benefiel (Goodreads | Amazon)
As does this, and I just love the cover to pieces!
Inhuman by Danielle Q. Lee (Goodreads | Amazon)
Another cool cover!
Initiate (The Unfinished Song, Book One) by Tara Maya (Goodreads | Amazon)
This is my fave cover and also the one I'm most excited about!


A Mother's Gift by Debbie Macomber (Goodreads | Amazon)
A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber (Goodreads | Amazon)
...Finding Friendship In Unexpected Places
A friend was giving away her old books, so I took these two in.  It's a way of trying to please Sammee from I Want To Read That - see Sammee!  I got romance books! ;)

Well, that's me!  Thanks to everyone who sent me books!  :D

And happy reading everyone!

Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid

Publisher: Puffin
Format: ARC
Published: 10th May 2012
Number of Pages: 288
Book: For Review*
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic-Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Thriller, Suspense, Horror, YA, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Swearing, Smoking, Alcohol, Sexual Assault Reference
No Drug References
Author's Blog: Louisa Reid

You have no idea what it’s like having a freak for a sister.

Born first, prettier, Hephzi’s always been the more popular one.

The Father
When he was busy with his bottle we were usually safe.  Usually.

The Mother
Her specialist subject was misery and lessons of painful silence…

Hephzibah and Rebecca are twins.
On beautiful, on disfigured.
Trapped with their loveless parents, they dream of a normal life.  But when one twin tragically dies the other must find a way to escape.  Because if she doesn’t she’ll end up like her sister…

The day after reading this, I went to the cinema.  I was going to see a great film, one I really loved.  But I kept thinking about Black Heart Blue.  I could not get it out of my head.  That was a few weeks ago now.  And it's still just as much in my head now as it was the second is finished it.  That there is the sign of an amazing book…
Hephzibah and Rebecca are twins. 
Hephzi is bold, beautiful and confident.
Rebecca is quiet, always living in her sister's shadow.  
Now Hephzi is gone and Rebecca is all alone, alone with the lies and the secrets and abuse. 
Rebecca has to escape her dreadful and prison-like home - before she shares her sister's fate...
I'm sure you all know by now that I love contemps.  I knew this would be a very powerful read…  What I wasn’t expecting was the pain I felt, the lump that was constantly in my throat, the tears in my eyes.  This was a seriously dark book but somehow it was also so full of hope.  Nonetheless, I felt my heart break a million times as I felt completely in love with both twins and hated The Parents with everything I had.  This was not a light read.  It will mess with your emotions, your head, your heart, it will grip you from the very first page and never let you go.  And even once you’ve finished and started a new book; it won’t leave your head or heart.
And yes.  It is seriously that absolutely, breaktakingly good.
The characters just stole the show for me.  They were all so amazingly real.  Brave, vibrant Hephzi, who was so alive and desperate for freedom, but needed her sister more than anything.  Rebecca was broken inside and also the strongest person ever.  As I heard her history, it just broke my heart: she was so sweet and pure and strong and I loved her so, so much.  The bond between the two of them was amazing too: so real, they trusted the other with their life and this bond stretched beyond the grave.  And while it had characters I loved so, so much, it also had some I hated equally.  Namely The Father: I could have physically murdered him, even though he’s fictional.  And the Mother was almost as bad.  Their family was suffocating and full of terror, fear, pain and endless violence.  It made my skin crawl – and made me love Reb and Hephzi even more. 
Some of the supporting characters were amazing too – Danny in particular, and his wonderful family.  They reminded me that not everyone are atrocious people like The Father, that there are truly good people too. 
The writing was incredible: it was split between Hephzi and Rebecca, switching between them, and they both sounded so different.  The writing was haunting, beautiful, suspenseful and just amazing.  Which brings us to the incredible and horrible plot.  One twin told us about “Before” and the other about “After”.  Having the look at "After" made me desperate to find out what happened.  I couldn't put Black Heart Blue down; I was so wrapped up in the story.  I knew much of what happened would be bad, but I never saw any of it coming.  Amazing
The themes in this were really, really dark.  Reid tackled some seriously tricky issues with grace, really getting into my head and making me think, but without making me want to stop reading.  This book just really got inside me head and heart.  Just like Rebecca, this is “a story inscribed hard on my heart”.
And the emotions were even stronger: nonstop and overwhelming.  They hit so hard it hurt.  Overwhelming emotions you could just drown in.  I felt every single thing the girls felt.  Yes, this book will shock you, scare you and touch you more than you ever thought possible.  You will be so overwhelmed by emotions – hate, fear, pain, love, hope – that you will think you are about to drown in it all.  And you will love Every. Single. Second.
Scary vampires are fun and I can deal with, because they’re not real.  But Black Heart Blue… I knew that somewhere, maybe nearer than I’d like to think, this was happening to someone.  A girl getting hit by her father, mother, a boy being beaten, a house suffocating with fear.  This is why books such as this are worse than any kind of horror story.  They’re the real horror stories
With a house controlled by an abusive father and two girls trying desperately to escape, Black Heart Blue was a book that broke my heart while making me hope til it hurt.  This was one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read; a book that left me breathless and shaken up inside.  I still haven’t gotten it out of my head.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever get it out of my head.  Louisa Reid wrote a stunning debut that I’ll never forget.  I honestly can’t recommend this book enough.
Beautiful.  Horrible.  Unforgettable.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget this story.  Ever.

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

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

Throne of Glass: UK Cover Reveal and Extract

In August 2012 Bloomsbury will publish Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas across the globe. If you like the sound of a Cinderella-inspired story, a brooding romantic hero, a deadly plot, a wardrobe full of gorgeous gowns, some seriously impressive battles and one awe-inspiring lady who is ready for a fight, then this is the book for you!

It's set to be Bloomsbury's biggest book of the year, and I could not be more excited about it!  Just look at that gorgeous, gorgeous cover!!

Oh, and keep your eyes on Hooked on Books for loads more exciting Throne of Glass stuff!!

For more info about this amazing book, check out all these links:

Oh, and check out this extract!  It's amazing, amazing, amazing!

Wednesday 16 May 2012

The Bonehill Curse by Jon Mayhew

The Bonehill Curse
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: ARC
Published: 10th May 2012
Number of Pages: 384
Book: For Review*
Genre: Action Adventure, Historical, Mythical, Fantasy, Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Paranormal, YA
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Violence, Mild Swearing, Death
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Blog: Jon Mayhew

A  twisted tale of evil djinns, flying carpets and deadly revenge.
Necessity Bonkehill has unleashed an evil djinn from his bottle.  Now she has just seven days to put him back.  But the djinn has a different plan, and returning to his prison of three thousand years isn’t part of it.
With her friend Azuli and a fierce flying carpet, Ness must race against time to stop the djinn from carrying out his deadly last wish – whatever it takes.

"With Wishing Comes Grieving" (Traditional Proverb) 
Neccessity Bonehill's uncle sent her a bottle, along with instructions to never, ever open it. 
Only she did. 
What Ness didn't know is that her uncle and six others summoned a djinn.  And when she opened that bottle, she unleashed it on the world. 
She has only seven days to repair her mistake.  If she doesn't manage to get the djinn back in the bottle, he will destroy the world Ness knows...
Can she succeed?  How can one girl, her new-found friend Azuli and an untameable flying carpet unravel the conspiracy and destroy one of the most powerful magical beings - the last djinn Zaakiel...?  Before he carries out his final, destructive wish...?
I love the Arabian Nights, the Victorian era and djinn - so this book was right up my alley!  I found out only after reading this that it is the third in a series set in the same world.  As I adore this world and can't wait to dive right back in, I'll be getting my hands on those two books ASAP!  I loved all the characters, the world, the magic, the writing, the setting, the... well, everything!  An incredible book that left me wanting more!
Ness was amazingly kickbutt and could totally hold her own!  To begin with she was a real piece of work - a bully - but I loved how she grew and developed.  She was just so alone, so young despite her toughness.  And as stubborn as a mule!  I felt so sorry for her - her name said it all "Neccessity".  No wonder she didn't feel loved. 
Azuli was brave, impulsive and dedicated.  He just wanted to prove he was worthy, to be accepted as a Lashkar.  He was kinda withdrawn to begin with, but I quickly came to love him!  He was also a teeny bit arrogant - but Ness soon knocked that out of him!
All of the characters were so well padded out, and so many of them completely surprised me.  I loved Sergeant Major Morris, the scatter-brained, determined, funny and loyal man who taught Ness to fight.  And I also loved how Mayhew wrote the djinn Zaakiel.  Sure, he was creepy and hell-bent on vengeance, but his story was so…. Rich and believable and he just had so many levels.  He was the most amazing and utterly compelling villain ever, and I loved how strangely relatable he was!  I also adored how the main characters changed and grew as well...  Mr Mayhew sure know how to write wonderfully strong characters!
The writing was amazing - I really felt like I'd gone back in time!  And I could see everything!  It was all simple, descriptive, beautiful addictive, spooky and rather gory - and I loved every second!  I adored all the creepy Proverbial-snippets at the start of each chapter.  They were majorly spooky!  I just adored Mayhew's writing and also the plot: it was so addictive!  As it says of the back of the proof copy, this book really is "Arabian Nights meets Indiana Jones"Awesome!!  I loved the quest-like-adventure feel of the book.  It was action-packed, spooky, addictive!  I was left wanting more, more, more!
And the setting was just amazing - so rich and vivid and real.  Again, like I'd gone back in time!  And all the magic and history was just stunning - breath-taking and amazing.  I especially loved the djinn and Lashkar mythology!  And all the supernatural things in this world... well, I have to get my hands on the other books - I can't wait to see more of this world!  I loved how the Oliver-Twist-London was made new, exciting and exotic by the magic and djinn.  Man I love this world!
A djinn bent on revenge, a secret society bent on stopping him and a girl caught in the middle...  An amazing, magical, addictive, action-packed, mythical, awesome book that had me hooked from start to finish.  I sped through this book and was left desperate for more.  I will be getting my hands on Mr Mayhew's other books as soon as I possibly can - I adore this world and everything about this book, and simply must get back into it!

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Mortlock Series by Jon Mayhew
The Bartimeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Wereworld by Curtis Jobling

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

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