Monday 29 April 2013

Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver

Series: Gods and Warriors, Book One
Publisher: Puffin
Format: ARC
Published: 28th August 2012

Number of Pages: 304
Book: For Review*
Genre: Fantasy, Mythical, Historical, Action-Adventure, Magic, Mystery, YA, YA-Child Crossover, MiddleGrade
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Violence, Death, Gory Stuff
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Site: Michelle Paver

Hylas couldn’t take it in.  Last night he and Issi had made camp in a cave below the western peak.  Now his sister was missing, his dog was dead, and he was running for his life.
Hylas is scratching an existence with his goats in the mountains when he’s attacked by mysterious warriors – nightmares of black rawhide armour and bronze spears, their faces smeared with ash.
The black warriors want Hylas dead.  He doesn’t know why.  He must escape and find his sister.
So he begins his quest across land and sea.  His only friends are Pirra, the rebellious daughter of the High Priestess, and a dolphin called Spirit.  The black warriors are relentless.  Why are they hunting Hylas… and how will he survive?
Gods and Warriors is a breathtaking adventure series set in the Greek Bronze Age: a time of chieftains, chariots and ancient magic – when the lowliest goatherd could rise to become a hero.

“But why we're the black warriors after Outsides?  It didn't make sense.  Nobody cares
about Outsiders; they're the lowest of the low…”
Hylas is an Outsider, a boy without kin, ancestors or a clan.  A nobody, the lowest of the low.  No one cares about him, no one other than his sister Issi and his dog Scram.
And then the Crow warriors attack.  They are killing Outsiders, and Hylas has no idea why.
He doesn't know where his sister is or if she is even alive.  Scram is dead.
On the run and fearing for his life, Hylas fled the only home he's known - he must carry out his quest alone.  Until he finds Pirra – the daughter of the High Priestess, who grew up in the House of the Goddess and has just seen the outside world for the first time, having fled the arranged marriage she is meant to be forced into – as well as a dolphin named Spirit.
But even with their help, can Hylas escape the Crow Warriors?  Can he find his sister?  And will he ever know why the Crows are after him?
And what is the importance of the plain bronze dagger a dying man pressed into his hand...?
I love Michelle's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series.  It's so new and awesome and cool.  Gods and Warriors – well, it just exceeded even my highest expectations.  I raced through the story at warp speed, gobbling it all up.  I felt like I was there with Hylas and Pirra and Spirit, going on all their adventures with them, seeing the island and Blue Deep with Spirit.  I loved every second of the book and can't wait for the sequel: I also can't wait to pass this onto my brothers – they love Michelle just as much as me and are desperate to get their hands on Gods and Warriors!
Hylas was an outsider – and really kind of amoral.  I found finding out what he didn't know intriguing – he didn't know what a bath was, for example, and had never seen a horse up close.  And even though he had this rule to not help people who couldn't help you, he was still caring and a generally good person, albeit a bit selfish.  As for Pirra, I totally got her obsession with freedom.  She was totally useless at living rough, but she was strong and tough and determined.  She kind of hated her mother, but in her toughest moment, Pirra thought of her.  It's little oddities like that that made Pirra – and in fact, all of the characters – come to life.  And I loved Spirit, the dolphin.  He was so clever and protective and I loved seeing the world through his eyes – he saw everything so differently and it was so intriguing and amazing.  I just loved him to pieces. 
Plus, the relationship between Hylas and Pirra killed me.  They were such unlikely friends, so mismatched.  That just made me crack up – how they scoffed at everything the other didn't know...  Until they had to ask what something meant!  But they were totally on the same level and were a brilliant team, even though they really were the oddest pair!
There weren't really that many big characters in the book.  Sure, we had the leads but there weren't that many others.  Somehow, Michelle made me fall head over heels or into an instant burning hate for these few characters.  She's amazing...  But I also really liked Userref, Pirra's slave and surrogate big brother.  I really didn't like Pirra's mother, though, 'cause she was heartless!  But Telamon was a great character too – he was noble and honourable: a warrior.
I love Michelle's writing to absolute pieces - it's so marvellously descriptive and paints a picture in my head.  And I absolutely loved the time I spent in Spirit the dolphin's head – I loved being a dolphin!  He thought hair was seaweed – that one really made me giggle!  Now, I'm not squeamish or anything, but the scenes where Hylas was eating raw fish or turtle eyeballs or drinking blood – just YUCK.  It doesn't help I'm a vegetarian, I think.  But kids will love the gory stuff – they do love Horrible Histories after all!  Actually, I love HH too...  So funny!
Back on topic: the plotline was even better.  It had me hooked from the very first sentence.  The action started on the very first page and didn't let up.  It was nonstop and totally addictive – I loved every second and was constantly guessing: I had no idea where it was all going whatsoever!
And the setting? Oh, so epic!  I loved learning about all the rituals and rites and beliefs.  They were all so different and intriguing to me.  I could so see how much work Michelle had put into it - it was all so amazing!  Their belief system knocked my socks right off!  I loved learning all about all the gods, all the mythologies and rituals.  And I loved all the spirit-y stuff.  Oh, I just loved the entire setting full stop.  Loved the whole book full stop…
A story that had me hooked every single moment and racing towards the end, Gods and Warriors us a book both children and their parents will love – whether it's being read aloud or in your head, you're always be hearing: just one more chapter...  This is the perfect book for all reluctant readers and reading addicts alike – whether you're ten or a little older... I know I'll be anxiously and excitedly waiting for the next in the series – what can I say?  I'm hooked!

Star Rating:
4¼ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver
Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olypmus by Rick Riodan
The History Keepers by Damian Dibben
Wereworld by Curtis Jobling 

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

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

Sunday 28 April 2013

Heroic Blog Tour: Phil Earle Quick Fire Round

I am insanely excited to have the amazing Phil Earle here today.  I absolutely love Phil's books - I don't know if you've read them, but they are insanely, addictively, ridiculously good.  But we are here for just one of his awesome books today and that is Heroic.  Heroic is absolutely amazing and I can't wait for you all to read it!!  I hope you enjoy the Quick Fire!

Hi Phil!  Thank you so much for coming today – I’m a huge fan! :)
Hiya, thanks for inviting me…

Describe Heroic in one sentence.
It’s S.E. Hinton’s ‘The Outsiders’ meets the film ‘The Hurt Locker’.

Which of the characters you’ve created is your favourite?
In HEROIC, it’s Wiggy, a fast-talking, chain-smoking wide boy. He was inspired by a very good pal of mine.

Book or film?
Film, though I’ll probably get shot down for saying it. Once a reluctant reader, always a reluctant reader…

Real life worlds or fictional ones?
Real life, definitely. There’s amazing drama in everyday lives…

Phil reading his debut, Being BillySad books or funny ones?
Can I have both? Or a mixture of? Good writers can do both with ease.

Pen&paper or computer?
Computer, always. Laptop, on the X68 bus.

Your fave book of 2012?
‘The Fault in Our Stars’, predictable I know, sorry!

2013 book you’re most looking forward to?
I think I’ve already read it, ‘Every Day’ by David Levithan. It’s an absolute corker.

Favourite all-time book?
Depends what day of the week you ask me…today it’s probably ‘Skellig’, tomorrow ‘The Book Thief’, the next day…I’m sure you get the drift.

Thank you so much again, Phil!
Pleasure, hope you enjoy HEROIC…

Previous Stop On The Heroic Blog Tour: I Want To Read That
Next Stop On The Heroic Blog Tour: Fluttering Butterflies

I did enjoy it, Phil, don't worry!  And I know everyone else will too!   
Find out more about Phil and his books on his site: Phil Earle or follow him on Twitter: @philearle.  :)
Oh, and check out the trailer.  It rocks!

Friday 26 April 2013

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

Publisher: Penguin
Format: ARC
Published: 7th March 2013
Number of Pages: 272
Book: For Review*
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Thriller Suspense, Contemporary, Realistic-Fiction, Science-Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Horror, YA
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Swearing, Violence, Death, Alcohol, Drug and Smoking References, Plus Horrible Mind Games
Author's Blog: Kevin Brooks

I can’t believe I fell for it.

It was still dark when I woke up this morning.  As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was.
A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete.  There are six little rooms along the main corridor.
There are no windows.  No doors. 
The lift is the only way in or out. 
What’s he going to do to me? 
What am I going to do?

If I’m right, the lift will come down in five minutes.
It did.
Only this time it wasn’t empty…

“I thought he was blind.  That's how he got me.  I still can't believe I fell for it.  I keep playing it over in my mind, hoping I'll do something different, but it always turns out the same...”
“A thousand questions have streamed through my head.
Where am I?  Where's the blind man?  Who is he?  What does he want?  What's he going to do to me?  What am I going to do?
I don't know…”
Linus was living on the streets, living rough.  But that doesn't mean he was rough.  When he saw the blind guy struggling, he went and helped.
Linus didn't see it coming.  
One minute, he's helping this blind man.  The next, there's a cloth of chloroform over his mouth.
And the next... he's here.  Wherever here is.  It's underground (he thinks), has no windows, no doors out, no ways out.  It's inescapable.  
And he can't figure out what this man wants.  Why the hell he's doing this to Linus.  The best theory he has is that the guy found out who Linus' dad is and kidnapped him for ransom.
That theory?  Yeah, it goes out the window (or it would if there were one) when the others start showing up...
Some books... some books are just impossible to put into words.  Impossible to find the words for them. The Bunker Diary was exactly that book.  It is literally everyone's worst nightmare put to paper.  Someone, you don't know who, snatches you and leaves you in a windowless, doorless building.  You don't know where, you don't know why and you don't know what he's going to do to you...  Reading The Bunker Diary was utterly terrifying, horrible and awful.  It was also utterly amazing.  Stunning.  It's one of those books you start reading and instantly find yourself hooked.  You will read it in one go, heart-pounding, terrified, in awe, hooked.  In fact I’m not even sure I can say much without giving it all away.  But it was stunning.  Incredible.  Horrible.  Amazing.  You will read it and be one-hundred-per-cent hooked, start to finish.  And Oh.  My.  God.  Just… God…  I have no words…
The characters in this book, well, they all felt really, really real.  Some I liked.  Some I hated.  All were totally and utterly real to me.  Just off the page.  I may not have known much about any of their pasts or whatever but I felt them all...  
I really liked Linus.  He was a strong character: brave – definitely a hell of a lot braver than I would've been in his place.  He was so together – so strong and calm.   I loved how we slowly learned this, slowly got to know him.  The way it happened slowly – like we were gaining his trust.  And even then, he held things back.  After all: who knows who'd be reading this diary?
Jenny was really sweet.  Out of all of them, she was the one who deserved it least – she was so young, so sweet, so innocent.  So brave.  And I loved the relationship between her and Linus – it was really sweet.  Like brother and sister.  And unlike all the other relationships in this book, it was pure.  Y'know?  Not bitter or anything.  They kept one another going.
I really loved Russell.  I HATED Bird.  Like actual, physical hate.  He was so annoying and horrible and just ugh!  I wasn’t a fan of Anja either.  Fred was ok...
And I thought the group dynamics were totally believable.  I mean, they didn't all get along.  You throw a whole load of various people in together, they aren't gonna get along like a house on fire.  I mean, have you seen I'm A Celebrity?  So there was bickering – and quite a lot of it.  It was, in a totally sick way, intriguing to watch these so very different personalities interact under the intense pressure.  Horrible, yes, but interesting.  Especially the enemy started screwing with them.  Playing games.  Messing with their heads.  Could you hold out – keep fighting, stay together – with a psychopath pulling at your strings?  Can Linus and the others?  Read and find out, my friends...
As for Him, "The Man Upstairs.  Mister Crazy.  The Man With No Name," he was terrifying.  Horrible.  Despicable.  I mean, who does that?!  Seriously.  What kinda person do you have to be?  Off topic, I found it really interesting that Linus referred to him as "Him".  Why?  Because generally when we use a capital for 'Him' we're talking about God...  *I start to ponder again*
The writing was, quite frankly, stunning.  I was hooked from the word go.  I could hear Linus' voice in my head, I felt what he did, felt the anger and fear and desperation.  I was tugged in, held there, never let go, not once.  Not even left go when I'd read the last word and put the book down.  Some of Brooks' words.... they just stayed.  Right there in my head, lingering.
Oh, and I loved the voice changed depending on what Linus was going through.  That was pure genius on Brooks' part.
This plot.  My God!  Talk about terrifying.  It was suspenseful, to say the least.  What made the whole story even worse was that nothing really happened.  It's not like a serial killer book, where the bad guy whips out a knife and kills a whole bunch of people.  No, this book was about the fear.  The fear of what could happen.  What new psychological torture the beep is gonna wreak on you.  And I never knew what would happen next - never knew what the next sick trick would be.  Just never knew.  The plot: god, I never saw anything coming ever.  And that ending.... Oh.  My.  Freaking.  God.  I just... God.  Whoa.  Man.  Horrible.  And so different from usual YA endings too…
But what made this book stunning was the horrifying reality it had.  People go missing all the time.  Kidnapped.  Taken.  Tortured.  Killed.  Children.  Teenagers.  Adults.  Rich.  Poor.  No one's safe.  That is why it is so very terrifying – and why The Bunker Diary really, truly packed one hell of a punch.  It's stunning.  Hard hitting.  Unputdownable.
This book... Just, God.  I can't, can't even... Just can't.  Can't stop thinking about it.  Can't get it out of my head.  Can't get over it, not when my hearts still racing like this.  Can't find the words.  Can't do it justice.  Can't.  Just, can't...  
Sorry, I'm not being very eloquent here...  It's just, some books, you can't find the words - not when it's spinning around in your head, taking over your thoughts.  You just can't seem to find the words.  So all I’ll say is: Yes, The Bunker Diary is terrifying and horrible and shocking and has left me speechless and possibly a little mentally scarred, but you... you just have to read it.  It is incredible.  In a horrible way, it is utterly and irrevocably incredible.  I can't recommend it enough really.

Star Rating:
4½ 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

Wednesday 24 April 2013

The Book Addicted Gossip Girl (#2)

Ok, I have a whole load of bookish stuff and news to ramble about now, that you all probably know anyway, but oh well!

The first piece of news, well, it is a book that comes with all of this buzz...

'This book is stunning. And you must read it.'

‘…go pre-order this book now. You'll thank me in May when it releases. Trust me.’

'This book... wow... this book.'

'If alien-invasion reads are the new boom this year, then I vote The 5th Wave as it's leader!'

'I’ll be hand-selling THE 5th WAVE to my students…but I won’t give away my ARC. It’s all mine!'

'Basically, I'm DYING for the second book and the first isn't out yet.'

Oh yes.  This book isn't even out yet and already it's got people goin' insane.  I'm going insane.  This book is...

I am excited about The 5th Wave - I don't know about you!  And if you aren't psyched yet, maybe this will help: The Trailer and a Sample...

Next on the agenda, Wait For You by the absolutely amazing Jennifer L. Armentrout, author of my very favourite series (Lux) is being published tomorrow!  Now, if you haven't got your hands on a copy of this yet YOU MUST!!!  It is AMAZING!!  I cannot recommend it enough!!  Check out this blurb, cover and recommendations...

Travelling thousands of miles from home to start her college career is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape an event that changed her life forever. All she needs to do is keep her head down and get on with putting the past behind her – and the one thing she certainly doesn’t need is the attention of campus heart-throb Cameron Hamilton.
Cam is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness. Avery knows she needs to stay away from him, but he’s everywhere; dogging her with his charm, his easy banter, and that dimple that's just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him isn’t an option, but neither is ignoring the simmering tension between them.
Cam makes it his mission to break through her defences, but when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls, she realises it’s only a matter of time before he discovers her secrets. Someone from her past is refusing to let her go. And when the devastating truth comes out, will Cam stick around to help her, or will it all be too much for them both to bear?
‘A wonderful cast of characters that will make you laugh, swoon, and cry. Cam stole my heart.’
Cora Carmack, NYTimes and USA Today bestselling Author of Losing It
‘For the love of all that is Cameron without a shirt on! Wait for You will have you laughing out loud, fanning yourself and anxiously waiting to know what will happen next.’
Molly McAdams, NYTimes and USA Today bestselling Author of From Ashes and Taking Chances

And I'm sure you guys have heard this by now, but Bloomsbury have released the amazing cover of the sequel to Throne of Glass.  I absolutely loved ToG (check out my review: here) and I am totally 100% in love with the cover of Crown of Midnight!  It is beautiful!  

 Oh, I am so in love with it!  And check out the blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.
Love or loathe Celaena, she will slice open your heart with her dagger and leave you bleeding long after the last page of the highly anticipated sequel in what is undeniably THE hottest new fantasy series.

Ok, I think that's all for now...  Oh, stop by here on the 28th - I'm taking part in the blog tour of the amazing Heroic by Phil Earle.  I love the book and you guys should all check the tour out!

Well, until next time, The Book Addicted Gossip Girl, out! ;)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
Published: 13th May 2010

Number of Pages: 464
Book: Borrowed
Genre: Realistic-Fiction, Historical, Chick-Lit, Drama, Contemporary, Real-To-Life Fiction, Humour, Adult
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Swearing, Violence, Sexual Assault References and Domestic Abuse References
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Site: Kathryn Stockett

Enter a vanished world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962.  Where black maids raise white children, but aren’t trusted not to steal the silver…
There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from college, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared.
Skeeter, Sibileen and Minny.  No one would believe they’d be friends: fewer still would tolerate it.  But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another.  Each is in search of a truth.  And together they have an extraordinary story to tell…

In Mississippi, 1963, those with black skin are treated like second class citizens, left to raise white people's children, but not trusted with valuables. 
Both Aibileen and Minny are black maids.  Aibileen is struggling to deal with her son's death and Minny is trying to cope with her new (secret) work, her sassy mouth and the "Terrible Awful Thing" she has done...
Miss Skeeter, a white, rich college graduate, only wants to be a writer and hates how society treats women – both black and white – and is desperate for news of her childhood maid Constantine, the woman who raised and loved her. 
The three women are worlds apart, but Skeeter's search for something worth writing about brings them together, binding them as she writes stories from "the help's" perspective – the truthful, honest perspective – and break down the walls society had put up to separate them... 
My mum and aunt read this ages ago and have been going on at me to read it. A break in my schedule gave me the chance to finally read it.  Oh, how I wish I'd read it sooner.  It’s such a powerful book, so emotional and moving and funny.  It's the kind of book that comes along once in a generation, the kind of book everyone everywhere should read.  It's amazing.  So amazing that ‘amazing’ doesn’t even begin to do it justice.
The three main women were… amazing.  Beyond amazing…  Aibileen: she was so loving of her "special babies" and so protective of Baby Girl.  She was a little cynical, but really did love the kids she took care of, and hated how they ended up like their parents and that there was nothing she could do to stop it.  And I just loved her so much. 
And Minny was brilliant and so funny.  I love her spirit, her sass.  She was really feisty and fierce and loved to cook.  And, man, did she kill me sometimes.  She was really protective of her employers – only she got to badmouth them!  Yeah, Minny was just a total legend.
Miss Skeeter was just brilliant – again, I loved her spirit and sass.  She was so clever and cared about what the maids had to say when no one else did.  I loved her for that. 
Miss Hilly, however, was a total female-dog.  She was also pretty much the stereotypical '60s white woman from Mississippi.  She was a good, loving mother, helped charities, had lots of friends.  And she treated the help like scum, wanted them to be totally separate from white people, thought they carried diseases and stuff.  She was also manipulative and vindictive.  Ergo: Hilly is a total female-dog. 
Some characters you hate from the get go: namely Miss Hilly.  Others you love so, so much at the beginning and love more each time.  I loved Celia Foote (she was so sweet and lonely and such a good person) and Mister Johnny (he was so sweet and just the best, kindest person).  Miss Skeeter's daddy was also the kindest man – and very Atkinson-like.  I guess Miss Hilly wasn't all bad, but I hated the way she treated the maids – hated it.  But that's what I love about Stockett's characters - they were all so complex and three dimensional - all different shades of grey.  
The complexity of the relationships between the employees and the maids really struck me, especially the one between Aibileen and Mae Mobley (Baby Girl) and Miss Elizabeth.  Aibileen loved Mae Mobley so much, and yet had to stand by and say nothing as Elizabeth hit the child or ignored her and pushed her away.  My heart actually broke every time the three-year-old "Mae Mo bad?" and Aibileen told her "You kind, you smart, you important.".  And when Baby Girl said "Aibee, you're my real mama," oh!  All enough to break a girl's heart, isn't it?  So is the love Skeeter has for her maid, Constantine, the woman who raised her and was always there for her – until she suddenly vanished.  You could tell how much Skeeter loved Constantine and desperate she was to find her.  And as time went on, she was so worried Constantine didn’t know how much she meant to Skeeter or if she didn't know how much Skeeter was grateful for everything she'd done…  Heart-breaking…
I adored Stockett's writing, how we got to read from Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter's POV – and how each sounded different and unique.  And all so alive – I could hear everyone's voices in my head, practically hear them all breathing.  And it was all just so powerful.  It made me laugh my head off and choked me up numerous times.  I was shocked and horrified by all the laws that separated white and "coloured" people – it made me sick.  
Even though The Help was funny and really made me laugh, the humour didn't take away from the whole grave situation.  This was southern America in the '60s and African-American people were treated so, so badly.  Like the blurb said, white people give their babies to black maids, but didn't trust them with their valuable belongings.  It honestly just made me sick. 
This book was funny and heart-breaking, and every shade of emotion between the two.  It was a roller coaster of a ride, with me practically holding my breath all through the story, rushing to the finale so I could know everything, feeling totally connected to each character, breathless as I watched each event unfold.  The Help was just such an amazing book.  Its deep without drowning you, funny without making light of the situation, horrible but not without beauty.  I honestly cannot find the words to do this book justice.  I don't think such words truly exist.  All I can say is that everyone just HAS to read this book.  I don't care if you’re rich or poor, male or female, young or old, or what colour your skin is.  We're all the same inside and that's what this book is all about: touching you so deep and strong on your heart that the marks it's left there never leave.  And that is what makes this story beyond words.  It's what makes it beautiful. 

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Challenges It's Taking Part In:
Happy Reading