30 December 2009

My top 5 books of 2009! Oh and Happy New Year! :)

So 2009 really is almost over, huh? I can't believe it went by so fast! Overall it was a good year for me and quite an exceptional one book-wise, not only have I discovered book blogs and become completely and utterly addicted to them, but I've also read many fantastic books! Altogether I still haven't read as many books as I'd like, but out of the 70 or so that I have read, there are some books that really stand out ... It wasn't easy choosing just 5, but I've decided to (mostly :p) focus on books that were published in 2009 to narrow it down a bit. Anyway, without further ado, I'd like to present to you the 5 books I personally found the most bookalicious ...

*drum roll*
Ta-da, ta-daaaaa!

1. WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson (my review here)
I pretty much knew this book will be my favourite this year as soon as I started reading it. Words cannot express how amazing and breathtaking this novel is, you just have to read it to believe it. Some people find the topics discussed too disturbing and while I can't say that they weren't, I also think that the well tackled topics combined with the truly masterful writing and the beautiful cover made this book a winner. And not just for me - Chicago Tribune has recently named it one of The Most Influential Books of 2000-2009, which in itself is almost as amazing as the book itself. ;)

2. BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver (my review here)
Yes, yes, I know this book wasn't published in 2009, buuut the reason why it's on the list nonetheless is because it was far too powerful to be missed. Luckily, I got the chance to read it in advance and while I thought it sounded really interesting, I never thought it would blow me away SO much. It's such an amazing book, so wonderfully complex and well written and really powerful, it's still fresh on my mind months after I've read it. Everyone else who's read this book was completely amazed by it - read some advance reviews here. This book comes out in March 2010 (I can't wait to buy a finished copy!) and I predict this will top many, many lists of favourite reads next year!

3. THE BOOK OF TOMORROW by Cecelia Ahern (my review here)
Another book that I expected to be good, but I never thought it would completely rock my socks off, heh! Tamara is one of my favourite narrators ever and I was really gripped by her story and all the mysteries. I was totally engrossed in the story and I fell in love with the quirky characters. This book is no masterpiece as such, but it's definitely one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read! Absolutely loved it!

4. TWENTIES GIRL by Sophie Kinsella (my review here)
This was my most anticipated book of this year and so you might be wondering why the hell isn't it also my #1 pick then if I'm such a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella, right? Let me assure you, Twenties Girl most definitely lived up to all my impossibly high expectations and I *loved* it, but the thing is, I expected this book to be fantastic and hilarious and amazing - and it was. So the surprise factor was missing, whereas all the other books blew me away and I guess I just like it when that happens, heh. But yeah, Sophie Kinsella can do no wrong - I've read all her books and loved them all!

5. AIR KISSES by Zoë Foster (my review here)
Another book that took me completely by surprise! I was a little sceptical about the premise, but gosh darn it was it enjoyable! This one stands out because of the original writing style (it's oh so witty) and the adorable characters were fantastic too! I read it in one day and I had this whole permanent goofy grin on my face as I was reading it. It may not be a masterpiece, but definitely a very enjoyable and quick read! I can't wait to read more by Ms Foster - her next book Playing the Field comes out in February and I'm already excited!

Phew, right, those are my books of 2009! If you've already picked yours, then feel free to let me know which ones you chose as I love these kind of posts, I just find it so interesting to see what stood out for other people.

That's it for me this year! Thanks so much for visiting & following my blog and reading & commenting on my ramblings, I really appreciate it!

Lastly, I'd like to wish EVERYONE a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2010! Hope it's a fantastic year for all of us! Keep up the good work, fellow* book bloggers!!! :)

(* - What is the non-sexist word for 'fellow'? This question has been bugging me for ages, lol!)

28 December 2009

Exciting / bookalicious 2010 releases!

We're about to wave buh-bye to 2009 and most of us are already thinking about 2010. You never know what a new year has in store for you, but one thing's certain - 2010 is going to be an amazing year for books! There are just sooo many exciting new releases that we all can't wait to get our hands on, right? Speaking of which, below you can find the list of books I'm personally reeeeally looking forward to in 2010!

Splendour by Anna Godbersen (7th)
The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard (7th)
The Mark by Jen Nadol (19th)

Playing the Field by Zoë Foster (1st)
Magic under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (1st)
In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth (2nd)
Sweet Little Lies by Lauren Conrad (2nd)
The Loving Kind by Sarah Webb (5th)
The Life of Glass by Jillian Cantor (9th)
North of Beautiful (PB) by Justina Chen Headley (26th)

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (2nd)
Anastasia's Secret by Sussane Dunlap (2nd)
Little Darlings by Jacqueline Wilson (4th)
Love Letters (PB) by Katie Fforde (4th)
The Counterfeit Guest by Rose Melikan (4th)
I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Corra Harrison (5th)
Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt (16th)
Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison (18th)
Daughters of Fortune by Tara Hyland (18th)*

Katy Carter Wants a Hero by Ruth Saberton (1st)
Being Nikki (PB) by Meg Cabot (1st)
Miss Understanding: My Summer on the Shelf by Lara Fox (1st)
The Not-So-Secret Diary of a City Girl by Allie Spencer (1st)
Fool's Girl by Celia Rees (5th)
Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald (13th)
The Good, the Bad and the Dumped by Jenny Colgan (15th)
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (27th)
Karma Club by Jessica Brody (27th)
House Rules by Jodi Picoult (27th)
Swapped by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja (29th)
Midnight Girls by Lulu Taylor (29th)
Spotlight by Ilana Fox (29th)

Anxious Hearts by Tucker Shaw (1st)
Della Says: OMG! WTF? by Keris Stainton (6th)
The Hidden Dance by Susan Wooldridge (6th)
Things I Wish I'd Known (PB) by Linda Green (13th)
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols (25th)
Perfect Man (PB) by Sheila O'Flanagan (27th)
The Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger (27th)
A Reluctant Cinderella by Alison Bond (27th)
The Season (PB) by Sarah MacLean (31st)

The One that I Want by Allison Winn Scotch (1st)
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (10th)
Rock Chicks by Roni Cooper (10th)
Reality Check by Jen Calonita (14th)
Scandalous by Tilly Bagshawe (24th)*
Single in the City by Michele Gorman (24th)

One Night that Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt (6th)
Watch Me by Lauren Barnholdt (6th)
Liberation of Alice Love by Abby McDonald (8th)
Pictures of Lily by Paige Toon (8th)
The Men I've Loved Before by Adele Parks (8th)
Forget You by Jennifer Echols (20th)
Ice Cream Girls (PB) by Dorothy Koomson (22nd)

Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway (3rd)
Just Look at Me Now by Nell Dixon (5th)
You're the One that I Don't Want by Alexandra Potter (5th)
Personally, I Blame My Fairy Godmother by Claudia Caroll (5th)
Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perry (5th)
My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin (19th)

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (2nd)
The Perfect Couple by Robyn Sisman (2nd)
Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde (2nd)
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (28th)

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz (1st)
Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad (5th)
Down to Earth by Melanie Rose (14th)
Elixir by Hilary Duff (14th)
Love from Cecily by Harriet Evans (14th)
Distant Hours by Kate Morton (15th)
Bright Young Things by Anna Godersen (26th)

This is obviously just a draft and I'll be adding titles as I come across them. But lots of goodies, as you can see!

Which upcoming releases are YOU most excited about? :)

26 December 2009

In My Mailbox #23

As always, IMM is hosted by The Story Siren.

It's been a short working week so I only got two books, but they were both excellent! And no, none under the Xmas tree because I don't really celebrate Xmas and thus don't get any gifts - boo, I know! ;) But oh well, here are the lovely books I treated myself to:

I've read Because She Can by Bridie Clark a few years ago and I *loved* it so I was really excited to hear she has a new novel coming out. I pre-ordered THE OVERNIGHT SOCIALITE even though it was still a bit pricey, but I honestly couldn't wait for the paperback! If this book is half as good as Because She Can was, then it's bound to be brilliant! Can't wait to read it!

I've no idea how I found out about THE CASTLE OF SHADOWS by Ellen Renner (maybe it was Chicklish again, hehe), but I really liked the sound of it so I pre-ordered it too and it already arrived, woo. It's so cute and on the inside there's a lovely map of the whole thing takes place etc. Another book I'm excited to read as soon as I actually get some free time. ;)

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else got! :)

23 December 2009


Hosted by Breaking the Spine, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY is the meme to highlight the books we're looking forward to!

Hands up who loves Jenny Colgan?! I've only read two of her books (Operation Sunshine & Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend) and LOVED both so obviously I'm very excited about the next book by Ms Colgan, which comes out in April 2010 - read more about it below. Until then, I already have two other books by her to read, West End Girls & The Boy I Loved Before, yay. Now all I need is some time to actually read them, le sigh. If you haven't read any Jenny Colgan books yet, then I'd definitely recommend them if you're looking for a hilarous and uplifting read.

Anyway, without further ado, here's what Ms Colgan has in store for us:

"Posy is delighted when Matt proposes - on top of a mountain, in a gale, in full-on romantic mode. But the next morning disaster strikes: he backs out of the engagement. Crushed and humiliated, Posy starts thinking. Why has her love life always, ALWAYS ended in total disaster? Determined to discover how she got to this point, Posy resolves to track down her exes ...Is there hope for Matt, or will she fall back in love with an old flame? What about Lord Voldemort, the old boyfriend that cannot be named? And could Posy face up to the idea that, actually, one day she could live life on her own terms?"

21 December 2009

Desperately seeking MAKING OUT books (Katherine Applegate)!

The other day I remembered these really great books that I was reading over ten years ago. The ones I read were translated from English into my mother tongue and when I googled the author and some of the names from the books, I found out that this was actually a huge series and that I haven't even read half of them! And I desperately want to have the whole collection now.

So I was wondering if anyone has heard of or read the MAKING OUT series by Katherine Applegate??? It was published in the late 90s and here's a quick summary from Wiki:
Making Out is a series of young adult novels by author K. A. Applegate. The books were based on the lives of teenagers living on an island called Chatam Island off the coast of Maine. The main characters were Zoey Passmore and her brother Benjamin, Claire Geiger and her sister Nina, Jake McRoyan, Lucas Cabral and Aisha Gray.
The books dealt with many troublesome topics such as the death of a parent, divorce, disability, drugs and alcohol.
The books followed the group of teenagers all the way through senior year to college life.

The series consists of 28 books:

  1. Zoey Fools Around
  2. Jake Finds Out
  3. Nina Won't Tell
  4. Ben's In Love
  5. Claire Gets Caught
  6. What Zoey Saw
  7. Lucas Gets Hurt
  8. Aisha Goes Wild
  9. Zoey Plays Games
  10. Nina Shapes Up
  11. Ben Takes a Chance
  12. Claire Can't Lose
  13. Don't Tell Zoey
  14. Aaron Lets Go
  15. Who Loves Kate?
  16. Lara Gets Even
  17. Two-Timing Aisha
  18. Zoey Speaks Out
  19. Kate Finds Love
  20. Never Trust Lara
  21. Trouble with Aaron
  22. Always Loving Zoey
  23. Lara Gets Lucky
  24. Now Zoey's Alone
  25. Don't Forget Lara
  26. Zoey's Broken Heart
  27. Falling for Claire
  28. Zoey Comes Home
I think that only like 11 books were published in my country and then they just disappeared and up to today I still don't know if Ben's operation was successful! It's been bugging me for years and I really want to read the whole series. I might not love it as much as my 12/13-year-old self did, but I vividly remember how fantastic these books were!

But mostly what I want to know is this - has anyone else read this series and loved it? :)

19 December 2009

In My Mailbox #22

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting this meme. Below is a picture of the faaaabuuuloooous books I got in the past week!

I decided to get CAN YOU SEE ME? by Ruth Gilligan after reading on chicklitreviews.com that the paperback comes out in April. I was instantly drawn to this book and in the end I decided that I couldn't wait that long and just got the trade paperback instead. I might even prefer this cover to the paperback one (even if just a little bit).

LIVING DEAD GIRL by Elizabeth Scott arrived as a gift from my Secret Santa aka Tynga! This was one of the books on my wishlist and I can't wait to read it; it sounds quite a bit like The Collector by John Fowles, which is one of my all-time favourite books! Tynga also kindly made me the button on the right and helped me with the redesign of my blog since she's really good at that kind of stuff! Be sure to check out her blog and thanks again for everything, Tynga! Click here to see what I got her. :)
As for the blog button, feel free to use it, hint hint! ;) I'm definitely planning to put up lots of pretty bottons too as soon as I get my layout sorted out, i.e. get two sidebars ... But that might mean that I need a new layout altogether, which is a huge process. Am contemplating having one designed just for me, but we'll see what happens. Stay tuned and all. ;)

ON THIN ICE by Kay Woodward is the second book in the Skate School series and I found out about it on Chicklish. I haven't read the first book yet (bought it a while ago), but I pre-ordered the second one too because I'm a huge fan of figure skating and I was really excited to learn that there are actually/finally books about that!

Lastly, I actually *won* a copy of GIRL, ALOUD by Emily Gale at the author's site!!! This is another book that I learned about on Chicklish (their review here), who also did a great interview with the author of this book a while ago. I was soooo happy to win this book as it really sounds like a fantastic read!

16 December 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: Stolen private thoughts

This meme is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

I've just realized that two books I'm looking forward to in 2010 are sort of similar theme-wise so I've just decided to post them together since they both feature girls who have had their very private notebooks STOLEN! Talk about a nightmare! I see a lot of potential in both and I can't wait to read them!

(July 2010)

"Four dares - Two secrets - One night Eliza is in a full-blown panic. Her notebook has been stolen—the one that lists everything she wants but is afraid to go after. And the absolute worst person in the world has it: her ex-boyfriend, Cooper. Like it’s not enough Cooper was lying to Eliza for their entire relationship, now he and his friends are blackmailing her. They’re giving her just one night to complete the most humiliating tasks on her list or they’ll post her secrets online—including the ones that aren’t just about her. Eliza’s sure of only one thing: she isn’t going down without a fight. Cooper may have what’s left of her dignity, but she’s not the only one with something to hide ..."
I've been looking for this summary everywhere and finally found it at Just Your Typical Book Blog, yay!

DELLA SAYS: OMG! WTF? by Keris Stainton
(May 2010)

"Della's over the moon when she kisses her long-standing crush at a party -- but then she discovers her diary has disappeared...When scans of embarrassing pages are sent to her mobile and appear on Facebook, Della's distraught -- how can she enjoy her first proper romance when someone, somewhere, knows all her deepest, darkest secrets?"

You can actually read the first chapter of this book on the author's official site or follow the book related updates on the blog!

12 December 2009

In My Mailbox #21

As always, this meme is hosted by The Story Siren.
So, guess who had a great book week! Yep, yours truly indeed - see proof below!

I've been waiting for this re-release of Alexandra Potter's DO YOU COME HERE OFTEN? for months! Love the author, adore the cover, can't wait to read the book!

I loved Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin so I decided to get her other book, MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC, which sounds like a great read, albeit rather reminiscent of Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (yay). Cute cover too!

And can I get a massive squuueeeeee for the ARC of HOUSE RULES by Jodi Picoult? :) Click here to see the front cover of the ARC. They're calling it her "most powerful novel yet" and I can't wait to see if it lives up to that hype. Ms Picoult is one of my favourite authors so you can imagine how excited I am about this, hehe. Due to my supersuper busy schedule, I sadly can't see myself reading it this year, but I'll definitely review it when it comes out in April 2010!

I've heard great things about WAKE by Lisa McMann so I decided to get a copy and see for myself if it's really as interesting as it sounds, hehe.

Hope everyone else had a great week too! :)

10 December 2009

Review: THE DRESSKEEPER by Mary Naylus ***

"Have you ever pretended to be someone else? Picky Robson thought things couldn’t get any worse. Her life is a boy-free zone, she’s being bullied at school, then Mum announces she has to look after Gran every weekend for the foreseeable future. One night, unknowingly tempting fate, Picky slips into a flouncy old dress from the depths of an ancient chest and finds herself back in 17th Century London. But she is not alone. A weirdo in a wig is trying to kill her - mistaking her for a girl called Amelia. Who is Amelia? Can Picky change the past by exposing the murdered? And will she make it back alive?"

I've seen sooo many great reviews for this book everywhere and since it sounded like a great read, I was delighted to be offered to read it (many thanks, Prospera Publishing!). I'm pleased to say it did turn out to be a cute little read, but I couldn't help thinking that the story or the characters were slightly underdeveloped ... This could partly be due to the fact that this book is mostly suitable for younger readers and I don't read too many of those so it's hard for me to give an objective review since I'm not an expert on the genre ... Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable read.

It's narrated by Picky (whose real name is Penelope), who is actually a rather flawed character (she's certainly no beauty queen), but she really brings the story to life and she's really funny most of the time. I really loved her narration and even though I rolled my eyes at her a few times, the truth is that I was probably just as silly or even worse when I was 13, hehe. Our Picky travels through time when she puts on an old dress in her granny's attic and soon she's on a mission to save a girl called Amelia from being killed on her wedding day. So she travels back and forth, from the 21st century to the 17th, trying to find a way to save Amelia, who happens to be her in the 17th century. It may sound complicated, but trust me, it's really not.
During her time travels, Picky gets to learn about the life in London at that time, which was interesting to read, even though things were sometimes a bit on the TMI side - let's just say London back then didn't quite smell of roses, hehe.

I enjoyed the narration and reading about London back then, but I'm afraid I found the characters slightly cartoonish ... I just thought they were all overly simplistic and I couldn't really feel for any of them. My favourite, apart from Picky, was probably Ollie, Picky crazy little brother who comes up with such randoms insults, haha. Probably not too pleasant to be around, but fun to read about. ;)

I wasn't entirely convinced by the plot either - I just felt there were loopholes and not everything quite worked for me. I didn't really find it fast paced or anything, but it was exciting enough to keep me reading for sure! There's a twist at the end that I didn't see coming, but I can't say I was really blown away by it either.

But do you know what I really, really dislike about this novel? The cover! This book could've had such a cute cover if it featured any of the pretty dresses described in the book, but instead this poor ended up with this dark thing. You can't even see what's on it unless you look really closely and see that it's supposed to be big dresses. I don't like the font either. Am I the only one who's not a fan?

Anyway, please don't get me wrong, this is actually a really good read and I think I would've loved it if I was younger, but now I couldn't help looking at it from a different perspective. It's an original novel that covers several other subjects (including bullying, being different, dementia, family problems, friendship etc.), not just time travelling. I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for a quick enjoyable read! The good news is that you can get your copy at the Prospera Publishing with free international shipping, woo!

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover: 2/5

ps: Book Chick City has just published a very interesting interview with the author so do check that out! Also, feel free to read what other lovely book bloggers have to say about The Dresskeeper: The Bookette; Juju at Tales of Whimsy; So Many Books, So Little Time; Wondrous Reads; Book Chick City; The Sweet Bookshelf; I Want to Read That, Another Book Blog Whore. Several of these bloggers are running a contest too so visit them if you'd like a copy!

9 December 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: LITTLE DARLINGS

As always, this meme is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Another release I'm eagerly expecting is the next Jacqueline Wilson book called LITTLE DARLINGS, which comes out in March 2010. Yes, I know this is more MG or tween lit or whatever, but I have a soft spot for Jacqueline Wilson so I'm always looking forward to her next book. I got her latest too (Hetty Feather), but haven't read it yet. It's supposed to be reminiscent of Tracy Beaker (I love that girl!) so you know you're in for a great read.
This one smells a bit like SECRETS with the whole "two girls with quirky names and different backgrounds, unlikely friendship" thing going on, but oh well. I like the sound of it though and I'll most likely pre-order it in a couple of months - that way I can get a hardback for the price of a paperback, woo!

Anyway, more about the book:

LITTLE DARLINGS by Jacqueline Wilson
Sunset lives a life of luxury with her beautiful ex-model mum, her world-famous ex-rocker dad and two little celeb siblings. But life on the red carpet is no compensation for rowing parents, constant nagging, intensive media scrutiny and no real friends. Destiny, on the other hand, is an only child living on a rundown estate with a sickly but devoted mum who constantly tells her that she's really the daughter of a famous former rock star...When the two girls meet in unlikely circumstances, they are surprised to find in each other something they've been missing all their lives...

6 December 2009

In My Mailbox #20

Another quiet book week over here at Bookalicious ... I only received one book, which I snagged on Kristi's other wonderful blog Books for Grabs. Yep, I managed to get my hands on an ARC of Hancock Park and Kristi very kindly sent it to me, I just paid for the shipping! Thanks so much, Kristi aka The Story Siren, for setting up Books for Grabs and for sending the books and also for hosting this meme!

OK, now honestly, how gorgeous is the girl on the cover of this book?! Stunning (except for the freakishly long neck) and the plot sounds great too so I cannot wait to read it, but I've just been so very busy lately that I've hardly had time for reading. :( I have all these amazing books which are just begging and screaming to be read, but I have to ignore them for the time being because I have too many other things on my plate, boo. Hopefully things will improve in a month or two because I really need a few days when I could just reeeeeaaaaad, I really miss that, but what I'm working on right now is very important too so I shouldn't complain really. Nonetheless, wish I could just clone myself and do a few things at the same time!

Off to check now what everyone else got! :)

2 December 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: A double dose of GIRLS with secrets!

This meme is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
I've decided to do a double feature this time since I'm two books I'm looking forward to have similar titles and sort of similar plots (friends with secrets)! They bought sound fantastic, as you can see below!

THE ICE CREAM GIRLS by Dorothy Koomson
(February 2010)
At only eighteen years of age, Poppy and Serena were the only witnesses to a tragic event. Amid heated public debate and scrutiny, the two glamorous teens were dubbed 'The Ice Cream Girls' by the press and forced to go their separate ways and to lead very different lives. Twenty years later, Poppy is keen to set the record straight about what really happened, while married mother-of-two Serena wants no one in her present to find out about her past. But some secrets will not stay buried - and if theirs is revealed, their lives will start to unravel all over again ...Gripping, thought-provoking and heart-warming, The Ice Cream Girls will make you wonder if you can ever truly know the people you love.

by Lulu Taylor

(April 2010)
From the prestigious dormitories of Westfield to the irresistible socialite scene of present-day London: everywhere Allegra McCorquodale goes, scandal follows her. And in Allegra's shadow are her closest friends since school, the Midnight Girls. Romily de Lisle: super rich, brilliant and bored. She's as blessed as Allegra when it comes to looks, but she's a force to be reckoned with. And Imogen Heath: pretty, timid and hopelessly drawn to Allegra's reckless charm. She longs to be a part of the glitzy high-society world where her friends move with such ease. Once free of the cloistered worlds of school and university, the Midnight Girls face new and different challenges, but they are for ever bonded by a terrible secret they've sworn never to break. Bitter rivalries arise as their professional lives soon cross paths. Greed, tragedy and sinister passions threaten their allegiance and each of them stand to lose what they love most ...

Ooh, I can't wait to read these two!
Judging by her tweets, Chloe (the lucky girl!) has apparently already read The Ice Cream Girls and she actually declared it her book of the year! How intriguing - and promising! :)

30 November 2009

Review: TIME OF MY LIFE by Allison Winn Scotch ***

"Jillian Westfield has a life straight out of the women’s magazines she obsessively reads. She’s got the modern-print rugs of Metropolitan Home, the elegant meals from Gourmet, and the clutter-free closets out of Real Simple. With her investment-banker husband behind the wheel and her cherubic eighteen-month-old in the backseat, hers could be the family in the magazines’ Range Rover ads.
Yet somehow all of the how-to magazine stories in the world can’t seem to fix her faltering marriage or stop her from asking "What if?"
Then one morning Jillian wakes up seven years in the past. She’s back in her Manhattan apartment. She’s back in her fast-paced job. And she’s still with Jackson, the ex-boyfriend, and star of her what-if fantasies.
Armed with twenty-twenty hindsight, she’s free to choose all over again. She can reconnect to the mother who abandoned her, she can use ad campaigns from her future to wow her clients, and she can fix the fights that doomed her relationship with Jackson.
Or can she?"
I generally quite enjoy these time travelling stories - everyone wonders "what if" every now and then, and I like how these type of books actually explore the "what ifs" and sort of make you think as well. There are just so many possibilities ...

I this novel Jillian is dissatisfied with her picture perfect life. She adores her daughter Katie, but her marriage is falling apart - she and her husband Henry seem to have drifted apart as many couples do as time goes by. When she hears that her ex-boyfriend Jackson is getting married, she remembers their spontaneous relationship and wonders what would have been if they hadn't broken up. She gets the chance to find out after she is (rather unbelivevably) transported 7 years back, into the year 2000 when she was still with Jackson, had a job, before she met Henry and before her best friend died. Since she knows what will happen, she can correct the mistakes she did the first time around and even though she tries to alter the course of her life, she starts to reflect back on her life in 2007. Seeing things in a new light, she finally decides what really matters.

Firstly, I must admit the book failed to meet the high expectations I had for it, but that might be because I've been so busy lately that it took me too long to read and get properly engrossed into it. Perhaps that's why I didn't really connect with any of the characters, not even Jillian herself. I just couldn't feel for her enough, even though I enjoyed reading her story and did rather wonder where this trip back will lead her to.

Speaking of which, I found the ending quite rushed. I understand how Jillian made her decision, but I thought it all happened too quickly and drastically, making it seem like it was all a dream and she was simply waking up from it. I was pleased with the outcome as such, but I still think the book was quite complex and should thus be longer since I thought some subjects weren't explored in depth enough and the book left me wanting more.

What I liked most about the novel was the writing - I thought the language was beautiful and the language flowed easily, which is more than I could say for the plot, which I found rather slow-paced.

All in all, I thought this was a well-written and interesting novel that explores some rather complex topics, but to meet its potential it should be at least one hundred pages longer. But wahey, that's just silly ol' me - everyone else seems to have loved this book!

Have you reviewed it? Let me know and I'll add your review to this post. :)

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover: 4/5

28 November 2009

In My Mailbox #19

I've had a bit of a quiet week book wise ... The only book I got was Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott, which I admit I bought mostly because I *love* the title and the cover - oh and yeah, the plot sounds interesting too. :) Has anyone read it?
I also got some fantastic swag - Jackie Dolamore, the author of MAGIC UNDER GLASS (which comes out in less than a month!) kindly sent me some gooorgeous bookmarks and (get this!) a signed book plate with her drawings of the main two characters! How amazing is that?! :) Thanks so much, Jackie!!!

And that's it! I look forward to seeing what everyone else got! :)

27 November 2009

Behind the scenes of the Splendor cover shoot!

I'm sure we all agree that the covers for The Luxe series are absolutely gorgeous, right? If you're not familiar with the books yet, then you can see the covers in my review of the first book - those are actually the UK covers, which have the exact same images as the US ones, but the British designers have added those cute swirly thingies, which I think make the covers even more beautiful!

Anyway, ever wondered how these wonderful covers get made? I've recently come across a video posted on MarjoleinBookBlog that takes us all behind the scenes of the cover shoot for Splendor, the last book in the series, which just came out in the US, but those of us waiting for the UK release will have to wait till January 2010, boo!

This cover is possibly my favourite one of the series and I found it really interesting to see how they shot it. In the video, you'll see that they actually shot an alternative cover picture as well and I think that I actually prefer the gold one with the loose hair that wasn't used in the end (click here for a quick screencap), but I can't complain about the winning shot either, it's beautiful, not only due to the lovely dress, but also thanks to the stunning model posing as Lina (I think) - honestly, this girl is just too pretty!

See for yourself! Which one do you prefer? :)

ps: Oh and if you haven't read the books yet, then by all means do yourself a favour and read them asap - they're just SO good! Delicious escapism!

25 November 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: THE ONE THAT I WANT

"What if you could see into the future? What if you didn't like what was revealed? Would you still choose to see it?
Tilly Everett has a wonderful life - a guidance counselor in her old high school, a solid marriage to her teenage sweetheart, a quiet, compact existence which suits her just fine. Her father has wound his way out of his alcoholic blackness, her youngest sister has shed most of the wounds from their mother's death, and Tilly watches over them, over everyone to ensure that there are no sudden movements, no tidal waves to upset their balance.
But a chance meeting with a childhood friend changes that. Changes everything.
I'm giving you the gift of clarity, Ashley Simmons tells her in an incense-filled tent behind Westlake's Fourth of July carnival, and suddenly, Tilly - like it or not - starts seeing things, things that don't logically add up, that fly in the face of the foundation that she's worked so hard to build. And like an unspooling spindle, these unwelcome visions alter everything Tilly has come to believe about herself, her marriage, her life.
What if you could see into the future? Would you want to know what fate has in store? Would you furiously try to change it, despite the fact that the future might be cast in stone?
These are the questions that Tilly faces, the destiny she races against, as she tries to determine which life she wants: the one she'd nursed for decades or the one she never considered to be possible."

I've actually just finished Time of My Life (by this author), which was a good read (review coming soon) and I think her next one sounds interesting too! I'm generally not a fan of paranormal elements in a book, but I do like time travelling bits (occassionally). This novel comes out in June 2010.

ps: WoW is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

22 November 2009

Review: AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benway *****

Audrey Cutler is a normal Southern California girl. OK, her cat is overweight, but her best friend is awesome, and her parents might be hippies, but they adore her - because Audrey is funny, charming, and she likes her music loud.
So she struggles with dumping her musician boyfriend, Evan. She loves his band, but he's just too self-involved. Audrey needs to move on.
Then at one of Evan's gigs, Audrey gets to hear their brand new single and moving on doesn't seem so easy now: the song is called Audrey, Wait and it's all about her, and not in a good way ... The song storms quickly up the charts and reaches the top. Suddenly everyone wants to know: who is Audrey? The media is all over her like a rash, and what started out as annoying is becoming a nightmare!
On top of this, it is ruining her chances with James, her colleague at Scooper Dooper ice cream parlour. Audrey's life is veering out of control and there's only one thing for it. She's going to have to stand up and tell the world her side of the story ...

I've read SO many fantastic reviews of this novel all over the blogosphere that I just had to give it a try myself and now I definitely know why everyone and their monkey adores this gem of a book!

Firstly, it's downright hilarious and I found myself chuckling or cracking up on pretty much every page. The narrator Audrey is a seriously cool kid and her narration is very enjoyable; I think it was actually the best part of the book. The dialogue was great too, it was like one joke after another. All in all, this is definitely a book that will cheer you up even on the worst day, heh.

Secondly, the characters are just adorable! I can't say they were the most well developed characters ever, but that was beside the point in this case. All characters (well, at least the main ones - Audrey, Victoria, Jonah & James; oh and Audrey's super cool parents) are fantastic on their own, but Audrey and Victoria's friendship was also really well portrayed and it was the kind of friendship everyone can dream of, they really are the epitome of BFFs. The relationship subplots were really cute too - ah, to be 16 again, haha.

Plot-wise, the book was actually really quite simple (you can read pretty much the whole story in the summary above), which is not something that I generally applaud too, but again in this case it just didn't matter since the book excelled in terms of narration and characters. Nonetheless, the plot gets one massive plus for mostly revolving around music in one way or another - there are concerts, songs, jukeboxes, music shops, mixed CDs etc. You can tell the author (as well as our beloved Audrey) is a music geek (meant as a compliment!) so music plays a huge part in the story and a song is even featured in the title. I guess that's just one way of showing how a simple song can change lives - and boy oh boy, does Audrey's life change just because her ex wrote a song about her breaking up with him. Yeah, sure, she gets backstage passes and big offers people want her to be their muse too, but the downside is that everyone knows her and the paparazzi are following her and people are hiding in the bushes to tape her and taking pictures of her during class and she has fans as well as haters. Basically, her life becomes one big mess, but you know a badass chick like Audrey will find the perfect way to get closure, hehehe.

Oh and to top it all off, the cover is actually really cool too! I have the UK one and if you click the picture above to enlarge it, you'll see that it's actually like a vinyl record; if you touch it, it feels like one too. The cover is actually really fitting to the story - again, it's all about muuuuusic, woo.

Yes, I know this is not a masterpiece as such, but I just can't help help rating it 5/5. Every now and then it's not to read a 'happy book' and this is definitely one that'll crack you up and make you feel all warm & fuzzy inside. Strongly recommended for any reader of YA!

Have I mentioned that I'm really really really excited about the author's next book? Because yeah, I am - it's bound to be fantastic! ;)

overall rating:
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 5/5

21 November 2009

In My Mailbox #18

As always, this meme is hosted by The Story Siren and it lets us display the books we've received in the past week. Here's what I got:

Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling
The Everafter by Amy Huntley
The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus
Naked in Knightsbridge by Nicky Schmidt

I'd like to thank Prospera Publishing for kindly sending me the last two titles to review!

ps: Please excuse my lack of super activity on the blog in the next few weeks - I'll be very busy and will sadly have less time to read and review books on a very regular basis. I'll still be reading other blogs and updating here, just not every day or anything. Please bear with me, darlings. :)

18 November 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: MAY, APRIL & JUNE

Three sisters, three extraordinary, life-changing powers!
"I hugged my sisters and they fit against my sides like two jigsaw pieces that would never fit anywhere else. I couldn’t imagine ever letting them go again, like releasing them would be to surrender the best parts of myself."

Three sisters share a magical, unshakeable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?

April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other.

Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.

As soon as I found out about this book, it immediately jumped to the top of my THINGS I NEED RIGHT NOW wishlist and it's featured on all top three spots! I honestly cannot wait till August 2010 to read it, that's just plain torture!
I'm currently reading Audrey, Wait by the same author, Ms Robin Benway, and it's one of the most fun books ever, I loooove it (review coming soon)! That's why I'm convinced that The Extraordinary Secrets of May, April & June will be a kickass book too! It just has SO much potential, starting with the intriguing title, the stunning & eye-catching cover and I'm hella excited about the plot just reading *about* it, I'll probably just burst with excitement when I'm actually reading the book, lol! Those three magical powers (seeing the future, disappearing & mind reading) sound like the coolest things ever, but I can see how they could cause serious problems too, haha!
Honestly, I just cannot wait to read this book!

OMG! Win a signed ARC of In a Heartbeat!!!

The wonderful Park Avenue Princess is hosting the best competition ever right now and she's giving away a signed ARC of IN A HEARTBEAT by Loretta Elsworth!!! If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you know that I'm DYING to get my hands on this book (featured it in my WoW a while ago) and reading it a few months before publication would be a dream come true! Plus it's signed! Aaah! *hyperventilating*

Anyway, click here to enter the competition - if *you* win, do you think you could pass the ARC back to me as a thanks for informing you about this dream contest? :) Please, pretty please? :)))

ps: Oh and you really should follow Park Avenue Princess and if you do become a follower, then please please mention that I sent you. :)

16 November 2009

Review: SHIP OF DREAMS by Martina Devlin ****

"April 1912 - disaster strikes Titanic, the largest steamer in the world, founders, taking with her the lives of fifteen hundred. But what of those who escape? A small group of survivors meet on one of the Titanic's lifeboats, saved from death by random chance. Drawn from different nationalities and walks of life, they have only one factor in common: all have survived a tragedy that captures the world’s imagination. This thread binds them together when they are rescued and taken to New York. Nancy Armstrong, 18 years old, pregnant and newly widowed, can she maintain her status in New York society without her husband’s connections and wealth? Bridie Ryan, penniless but determined: can the American dream come true for her? And Hannah O’Brien, also pregnant, can she build a life for herself and her American child to be? Then there is Louis Stubel, the French gentleman’s secretary with ambitions to better himself; US Cavalry officer Major Richmnd Hudson, convinced his dead wife intervened to rescue him; and English teacher Edmund Newton who was plucked from the sea by the Irish girls. From the factory floor to film premieres, from tenements to townhouses and from impoverished rural Ireland to the upper echelons of New York society; all who survive the Titanic are buoyed together, struggling to keep their dreams afloat.
They cheated death - and life would never be the same."

I have this thing for cruises and luxurious ships and I've always been fascinated by the Titanic tragedy. I was hoping someone would write a novel about it and my wishes were granted by Ms Devlin, who wrote The Ship of Dreams. She says the novel was actually inspired by her great grand-uncle Tom O'Brien, who was eloping on the Titanic with his wife-to-be Hannah. Poor Tom never made it to the US to get a fresh start, but Hannah survived. She was pregnant in April 1912 and a few months later gave birth to Tom's daughter Marion. The book features a couple of photographs of the three of them and I thought that was a really nice touch. The author herself stresses in the introduction that only these few names and facts are actually true and that the book on the whole is a factionalized account of what may have been.

One of the first scenes of the novel is actually the sinking of the Titanic and people being saved on lifeboats (you can read that chapter here). It's quite a poignant scene and it gives a good sense of what a tragedy the sinking of the Titanic really was. Everyone knows many people died with it, but this book gives names and faces both to people who passed away and those who survived and their grief.
The story focuses mostly on the six people mentioned in the summary and how they coped with their new lives in the first year after the tragedy. They found themselves in the same lifeboat and were thus linked forever and kept in touch when they started new lives; some even fell in love. I can't say the plot is very exciting, but I did enjoy reading about the Titanic as well as about the lives of people in the 1910s in New York. I can tell the author did a lot of research, which resulted in a credible story with lovely characters (my favourite one was probably Bridie, the strong independant woman).

I thought the strongest point of this novel was actually the writing, which is simply marvellous and fits the time in which the novel takes place. I really appreciate it when authors don't only tell the story, but make a real effort to do it in terms of writing and I can tell that Ms Devlin certainly accomplished that; the third person narrative flows beautifully and each character is given a unique voice, which is something that not all authors manage to do.

All in all, I'd definitely recommend this if you're fascinated by the Titanic - and who isn't? Speaking of which, I read that the author is planning "to sail the 2012 centenary commemoration voyage" (source), which would be a dream come true for me too! Fingers crossed she'll write a novel about this trip for all those of us who (most likely) won't be able to experience it for ourselves. :)

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 3/5

15 November 2009

In My Mailbox #17

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren.
Ooh, I'm pleased to say I've had another grrrreat book week! I acquired a whole bunch of fantastic books and I really want to read them all NOW, but I just wish I had more free time ... Anyway, here's what I got:

The Blasphemer (ARC) by Nigel Farndale
Florence and Giles (ARC) by John Harding
All The Things We Didn't Say by Sara Shepard
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
At Face Value by Emily Franklin
Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor
Ice Princess (Skate School) by Kay Woodward
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Invisible I (Amanda Project) by Stella Lennon

Off to check now what everyone else got! :)

14 November 2009

Pre-ordering bonanza & Secret Santa!

Whoa, so I think I just sort of pre-ordered 8 books? I wasn't really planning to, I was just browsing my favourite online bookshop (I LOVE YOU, BOOK DEPOSITORY AND YOUR FREE WORLDWIDE DELIVERY!!! <3), looking up some titles I'm excited about and damn, the prices were so damn low that I just couldn't resist clicking the Pre-Order button and before I knew it I ended up with 8 (yeah, EIGHT) pre-ordered books, lol. Maddening, I know, but honestly, who could ever resist at such prices?! I would buy these books anyway and by pre-ordering them I just saved a whole bunch of money, being the smart (& book crazy) girl that I am, yee-haw. *high fives self* ;) Here's what I treated myself to:

Win, win, win! I love Book Depository with all my heart and I'm doing this for promotion (ha, I can only wish that they paid me instead of the other way around :p) or anything, I'm just so excited! Can't wait to finally get and read all these fantastic books!!! And the best thing about the whole thing is that the price you see listed is actually all I have to pay - no additional delivery costs (yeah, free worldwide delivery fo' realz!), which I appreciate veeeeery much since I live in the middle of nowehere (i.e. outside the UK/US).

In other lovely news, I *finally* signed up for Secret Santa over at The Neverending Shelf! Kate has come up with a great idea of people signing up and then sending a book to each other during the festive season. How exciting! You can read more about it HERE and you only have till tomorrow evening to sign up so hurry, what are you waiting for?! :)

ps: I really must get some reading done now! Surely I'm not the only person who thinks and talks about reading for more than actually reading, lol. A little less conversation, a little more action, please!

12 November 2009

Review: PLAYING THE FIELD by Emma Heatherington ***

Donegal lass Cara McCarthy has always been a tomboy type of girl, who wouldn't care how to spell Versace, let alone have any desire to wear it. On a career break in London, she lands a job as a cleaner which is right up her street just then. Her new boss is Sophia Brannigan the fashionista girlfriend of gorgeous Fulton FC Premiership star, Dylan Summers, and her new place of work is their luxurious home, Summer Manor. Cara is determined to stay in the background, but life has other plans. Before she can say 'Manolo', she finds herself plunged in at the deep end of high fashion and posh parties. With a friendly father figure in gardener Sam and a delightful new arrival called Lola, Cara's new life is set to be both fun and challenging. But as Sophia's hunger for celebrity grows, so does Cara s bond with Dylan Summers and soon everything she does at Summer Manor seems destined to land her deeper and deeper into trouble ...

I've been wanting to read this book ever since I saw the cover posted at Chick Lit Reviews a few months ago. The plot sounded quite interesting too, but sadly the book didn't quite live up to my expectations.

The novel tells the story of Cara ("Irish for friend"), who moves to London to escape her "shady past" and start afresh. She lives in a flat with her friend Natalie and her brother Liam. One day, she gets a job as a cleaner/housekeeper of a hot football star Dylan and his fame-crazy girlfriend Sophia. The latter is determined to become a star WAG and uses Cara on her way to stardom and Cara mostly puts up with it since she benefits from it too. On the other hand, Dylan is a very nice guy and not too keen on being in the spotlight. Sooo the inevitable happens - Dylan and Cara find out that they have a lot in common ... Can you guess what happens next? ;)

Yeah, that's pretty much it. There are a couple of minor twists and turns and so called scandals, but very little actually happens. However, despite the fact that this book is not particularly exciting, I still found it enjoyable and read it quite fast. It's nicely written and there are a few witty scenes and I mostly liked reading about the luxurious lifestyle Cara found herself in.

What I disliked most about the novel were the characters, who I found quite one dimensional. Maybe Cara, Liam and Natalie were better portrayed, but I found especially Sophia rather cartoon-like (she was always acting like a textbook bitch - boring) and I thought Dylan was underdeveloped too (he was like an angel among footballers and we only got to see his nice side). I'm afraid none of the characters impressed me and sadly I remained quite indifferent to them.

All in all, I'd recommed this if you're looking for a very simple and an enjoyable quick read with a pretty cover. :)

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 3/5 | characters: 2/5 | cover: 4/5