New Book Releases I Can't Wait To Read-FALL 2014

As we are now in September the arrival of a delude of new book releases has begun, each vying for the Christmas book buying market. The run up to Christmas is a huge time for publishers, authors and booksellers as people not only buy books for themselves but also for gifts for others. There are lots of fantastic books coming out in the next few months from very popular authors and below I wanted to list just a few of the books I am very excited to read and would make great gifts for I won't say it!

September 2014

Day 21 by Kass Morgan-Released September 16th
The sequel to 'The 100' which is now a hit TV series as well. Great novels, full of twists and turns, a good sci-fi novel for teens featuring teens( including some very evil ones...)
Sunrise by Victoria Hislop-Released September 25th.
The new release from bestselling author Hislop set in Formagusta in Cyprus as the war between Turkey and Greece cause destruction to the resort and to the people of Cyprus.
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion-Released September 25th The follow up to The Rosie Project, an essential read for lover's of the first novel.
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide-PB released September 25th I love Japanese fiction and this looks to be a very interesting read where a mystery cat brings love and life back into an unhappy couples lives in Tokyo.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld-Released September 25th I have been a huge fan of the 'Uglies' series by Westerfeld for many years and I can't wait to read this new novel from the Australian author.

October/November/December 2014

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick-Released October 7th. I am a huge fan of the Hush Hush series by Becca and I am sure I will like this novel too which is a 'romantic thriller'.
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty-Released 23rd October. I really enjoyed The Husband's Secret and Little Lies, by Liane.This should also be a corker!
The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes-Released 6th November. I have never been a 'chick-lit' fan, but Marian's novels are so well written, clever, sad and funny that I always look forward to a new novel by the lovely lady.
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny-Released November 6th. My mother is a massive fan of Louise Penny, so she will also be very excited about her new crime thriller release.
MELT by Selene Castrovilla-Released November 6th.Marketed as a 'brutal love story' set against the backdrop of The Wizard of Oz, this looks intriguing to say the least.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant- Released December 9th. A new coming of age novel about  family, friendship and feminsim from the best selling author of The Red Tent.Can't wait.

Which novels are you excited to read this winter?

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

I must admit that I haven't read any of Karen Joy Fowler's previous novels, but was drawn to this one for some reason. I didn't know what it was about, but I had read on social media that a few people I knew really enjoyed it. I won't be revealing the twist or too much of the story but I do have to say that after reading about two quarters of the novel I had to stop for the evening as I was absolutely heartbroken and so upset. Animal lovers be prepared for tears!

What is the novel about?

Firstly I would say that this novel is very unique, both the subject matter and the way in which it is written are different to the norm. Whilst it is written extremely well, with humour and with heart, I sometimes found the back and forth nature of the timeline could be slightly confusing. The novel starts with the middle of the story. Rose is at University and she tells us that both her sister and brother have left the family and she feels like an only child. She tells us about her life at the University culminating in her being arrested mistakenly after another girl goes crazy in the canteen smashing everything up. She tells us about what happened when she was five, she was sent to live with her Grandparents and she thought she would never live with her family again, and when she returned to the family three weeks later, her sister Fern was gone and not long after, her brother Lowell left.

The Twist

The twist happens quite near the beginning of the book, probably about a quarter of the way through. Needless to say, I will not say what that is, but it absolutely changes the novel entirely. Rose explains about what happened before she was sent to her Grandparents and the general issue of memory, whether it can be trusted, whether our memories tell us the whole picture, or are we in fact hiding things even from ourselves? There is a lot of physiological theories discussed within the novel, both because of the twist and also because in the novel, Rose's father is a phycologist so it has always been part of her life.After we learn about some of her early childhood, we go back and forth somewhat until the end, which is the age Rose is now as she narrates the story to us.

The characters

Rose is the narrator of the novel and she talks to us as readers, which I really enjoyed and she could be very witty and clever, At University she shares a flat with her friend Todd, but generally finds it very hard to make friends.She makes a sort of friend in the crazy girl who smashed up the canteen, Harlow, who takes Rose drinking and gives her drugs and gets her arrested twice! But, really Rose finds it hard to conform to society as she is not being herself which is revealed as the book progresses. Her parents are in the background for the most part , but we learn more about their pain and suffering as the novel goes on. Her brother and sister Fern are also huge parts of the story, in a number of ways and covering a number of themes and issues.

In conclusion, without revealing too much, I would certainly recommend reading this if you are a book lover. it is very well written, very unique and heartbreaking at the same time.

Lingering Echoes by Erica Kiefer (YA) Review

Lingering Echoes is a novel dealing with a range of issues, which I believe it handles really well, especially for a young adult novel. It tells the story of Allie, who is spending her last summer before college at Hidden Pines with her father, step-mother and step-brother.

What is the story about?

Allie lost her cousin, nine year old Maddie the year before at Hidden Pines during an accident on the river. She is still coming to terms with this and feels immense guilt that she couldn't save her cousin. She has built up a wall and won't let anyone in,  spending her time alone running, always running. Then her mother and father decide it would be a good idea for her to return to Hidden Pines for the summer so that hopefully she can start to deal with the accident and open up about what really happened. She has made a few new friends, although her relationship with her step-brother Nick is tenuous to say the least. One night they hear a ghost story about a house nearby, where the son of the family killed his parents and sister in a fire. They visit the burned out house and realise the ghost story could actually be true. Allie meanwhile realises that someone is following her, Damien. When he finally introduces himself she feels an instant connection with him, although he seems like a 'bad boy'. He helps Allie to get back in the water and feel comfortable and unafraid and their bond grows stronger until she learns a devastating secret about him. But is is really true?

My thoughts (••••spoiler alert•••••)

Although for about the first half of the book I did enjoy it, I also found it to be very predictable. After the 'ghost story', I knew that Damien would be the son who people thought killed his family. It was also very obvious  that he was the one who saved her during the accident at the river the summer before. I also knew that Aaron liked Allie in the romantic sense, presenting the reader with the 'bad boy' versus the 'good boy'  scenario (Twilight anyone?) I certainly didn't see the gang/guns part happening. It almost felt like I was reading a different novel once it switched to Damien's story. I didn't really enjoy that part as it didn't really fit in with the novel so far and was quite traumatic to read! I also felt sorry for poor Arron who was a lovely person and had shot someone to save Allie's life. He was just given a standard 'you will always be important to me' speech by Allie before she went off with Damien. Harsh.

I really like the setting of the novel and could imagine exactly what Hidden Pines looked like with the lake, the cabins and beaches. The weather and the rain played a key part in tying in with Allie's emotions. The weather would turn stormy and wet during dramatic scenes and I thought this added impact to the story and to Allie's pain. I didn't always find Allie to be the most appealing of narrators's as she very quickly changed from brattish, childish, sullen, to chatty, happy and friendly. I did like Damien, Brooke and Arron though and I think overall, its a good novel for young teens, it is very readable and has a good love story. Who doesn't like a good love story eh?

Published-4th January 2014
Publisher-Clean Teen Publishing

A Few of My Favourite YA Fantasy Trilogies/Series

I have always been a huge fan of young adult fiction and I am certainly not a young adult anymore. Many popular "young adult' series can also be found in the adult fiction/ sci-fi sections with different, more 'grown-up' covers. Remember the Harry Potter adult editions? Same books, black dull covers. But if it it makes us 'oldies' feel less embarrassed to be reading children's books, then why not. But I am not, embarrassed that is! I embrace my inner teen, plus just because the protagonist and main characters may be children, that doesn't mean the story isn't a great read for all ages.

Below I wanted to list some of my favourite YA Fantasy series so far, by no means are these my only favourites, I have many, but here are just a few;

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights (Bk1)
The Subtle Knife (Bk2)
The Amber Spyglass (Bk3)

I adore these books following Lyra and Will on their adventures in many 'other worlds' or 'multiverses'.There are many themes in the book including religion, science and the embodiment of the soul called a 'Daemon' which is a physical animal which stays with you and is an animal in form. Who didn't want their very own daemon after reading the trilogy? A fantastic trilogy, clever, well written, magical, good versus evil and so much more. I am not going even mention the film-my advice-ditch the film and read the books, you won't regret it, adult or child.

Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix

Sabriel (1)
Lirael (2)
Abhorsen (3)

Featuring black magic, powerful sorcerers, the undead, necromancers and much more. Entirely set in a fantasy land made up of two waring countries, we follow Sabriel in to the scary underworld as she battles evil. She must enter death to try to save herself and her father and battle a growing evil entity called Kerrigor. I read this trilogy a number of years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For those not into or used to fantasy books it is a great way to get into the fantasy genre and the story is so interesting, scary and complex, you will completely forget that these dark and dangerous worlds do not exist. Garth Nix is a great writer, has written a number of other books and series and I am a big fan of all his work.

Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go (1)
The Ask and the Answer (2)
Monsters of Men (3)

I always tell everyone to read this trilogy, they cover so many issues, so many emotions and are incredibly well written. The books take place on a planet called 'New World' initially in a town called 'Pretisstown'. In this town there are only men and the reason for this is because the Spackle, the indigenous species of "New World'. There are no females because there was a devastating war with the Spackles and they killed all the women, or so they say. Another interesting thing about this man only town is that they have the 'Noise' so once they become of age they can hear the thoughts of each other and all other living species. The main protagonist initially is Todd and his talking dog, he is about to come of age when he learns a devastating secret about the town he grow up in and runs away. Along the way he meets the other main protagonist Viola. They stay together to fight the evil which is about to unleash war on New World. These books are just fantastic, the first book will always be my favourite, and the books get more and more dark and violent and upsetting as they go on. Definitely one of my favourite trilogies ever.

Tales of The Otori by Lian Hearn (Gillian Rubenstein)

Across the Nightingale Floor (1)
Grass for His Pillow (2)
Brilliance of the Moon (3)

Sequal-The Harsh Cry of The Heron
Prequel-Heaven's Net is Wide

Set in a fictional version of Japan, the novel follows  Takeo who is trying to avenge his adopted father and fight against his real father who is a member of 'The Tribe'. Takeo initially lives as an outcast with others who are called the 'Hidden'. All three countries persecute the 'Hidden' for their beliefs. One day warriors break into the village and destroy it, thus beginning Takeo's removal from the village where he is then trained to be a warrior in the Otori clan by Otori Shigeru. Takeo has many issues to contend with and must decide what to do when a devastating event unfolds. He must also try to be with the woman he loves and marry her whilst battles, wars and murder are all around him. I must admit that I probably wouldn't have read this series if I thought it was all about warriors and fighting, but it is so much more than this. The novels are incredibly addictive, beautifully written, the characters are so well rounded and vivid and the story twists and turns in so many unexpected directions. Although the subject matter is being a warrior, fighting etc the story is more so about love, loss, revenge, making the right decisions which we can all connect with in some way. Highly recommended series.

Some more favourites;

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer ( I still have a soft spot for the first book)
House of Night series by PC and Kristen Cast
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Delirium Series by Lauren Oliver ( I loved this series)
Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld ( Plastic surgery gone crazy-brilliant series)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth Series by Carrie Ryan (A fantastic zombie series)
The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner (Great if you enjoyed The Hunger Games)

Review-The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson

This title is being marketed as something like The Lovely Bones, which I have to admit did make me read it above the million and one other books I have waiting.I wasn't sure what to expect from his book, but I found it to be one of those books that takes up a special place in your heart. It is beautifully written and so atmospheric, when I was reading the book I was there in the story 100%. It is hard to describe what exactly makes this book so special, but I certainly believe that the descriptions of the area of Door County and the descriptions of the small town and people are perfect.

What is the story about?

The story is about a girl called Maggie who with her parents, have to leave their home in Chicago to move to Door County to a house left to them in a will. Due to financial reasons they have to live here and try to make the house homely. Whilst we get to know `maggie, we are also aware of a spirit in the house who sometimes lives in the basement of the house Maggie has moved into. The spirit isn't sure why she is there, but that she is bound to Maggie in some way;

"I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried."

Soon Maggie meets her neighbour from the big white house across the field, Pauline. Pauline is beautiful but unaware of it. She is chatty and outgoing and soon befriends the slightly cautious Maggie. Maggie is then introduced to Pauline's childhood friend  Liam and they all start to hand around together.

Not long after Maggie settles in and gets a job in an antique store in the main street, the fact that a serial killer focusing on young girls Maggie's age is moving closer and closer to the area means that the whole town becomes extremely cautious. There is a curfew for young people and many shops and cafes shut up completely. There are increasing snow storms and the nearby lake is frozen over, the snow and the storms add both to the story and to the atmosphere throughout the book.Along with the story of Maggie, Pauline and Liam there is the backdrop of a killer who's victims are all beautiful young girls. As a reader I feared for both Pauline and Maggie and also started to pick up clues as to who the killer might be. Whilst the killings are a part of the book, they do not make the story a book of crime in any way.

There is also the ongoing story of the spirit, throughout the book we learn certain things she has seen, we feel her loneliness and confusion as to why she is where she is, and finally at the end we learn who the spirit was. The book itself is melancholy, yet beautiful, atmospheric and anything but a cheesy YA novel. There is love and loss, but Jodi writes this so well, so painfully, but without extra drama, tears or overreactions.This book  is really special and a beautiful, sad, atmospheric read.

Published August 7th 2014
Orchard Books
Young Adult

Some Of My All Time Favourite Beach Reads July 2014

I don't know about you, but I haven't been on a beach holiday for a number of years. To get my hit of summer sun, descriptions of beautiful beaches and tavernas and the ambience of the Mediterranean I do like to read books set abroad. Saying that, this is not the only criteria for me to read such a book, it also has to be a great story and well-written. Below are some of my favourite all time books set in sunny climates. 

The Island by Victoria Hislop

This is one of those books where I get quite passionate about the fact that, yes, the cover is dull, it looks like a chick-lit type of book and it's just a bit rubbish. BUT, the story itself is fantastic. Set in Crete and the island of Spinalonga, it is a story about families torn about, love and dealing with leprosy. I didn't know much about this illness, but the way the people on the Island dealt with it so bravely, in such awful circumstances, is so humbling. I can guarantee that after reading it you will be looking up the island of Spinalongia and will try to learn as much about it as possible. This book has everything needed to make it a brilliant read, from start to finish. Highly recommended.

The Potter's House by Rosie Thomas

My mother introduced me to this book as she is a big Rosie Thomas fan, and I read it quite a few years ago. Again, I feel the cover doesn't not do justice to the story at all. I would never have picked this up myself, it looks boring and again, chick-lit.I used to live in Greece and so reading this brought back many memories of small Greek island life. The story itself is a thriller of sorts, Olivia is an English woman who uprooted to a tiny Greek island where she married a local man and had two children. Life on the island goes at a slow pace, everyone knows each other and it is a close knit community. The descriptions of island life are just perfect, and the descriptions of the Greek way of life and scenery is spot on. The pace of the novel picks up when their is an earthquake and it had devastating consequences. This is when we are introduced to Kitty, as English woman caught up in the earthquake. Olivia lets her stay at the guesthouse and looks after her, but there is something not quite right about Kitty and she turns everything Olivia knew upside down.

I Love Capri by Belinda Jones

Whilst this book would probably fall under the Chick-lit category, it really has a lot to offer the reader in terms of storyline and the amazing descriptions of Capri. The story is about Kim, who is dealing with a break-up, living in Cardiff and having a boring job she isn't happy with. When her Grandfather who owns a boutique in Capris dies, she is persuaded to fly out there with her mother to tie up lose ends and provide a translation service for her mother. There are lots of encounters with men, dealing with her heavily flirtatious married mother and dealing with her Grandfather's mistress. The story itself is entertaining and quite light-hearted, but Belinda manages to describe Capri so beautifully, it is now on my list of places I have to visit, JUST from reading this book. An unpredictable ending and a really good beach read.

Delicious by Nicky Pellegrino

The first Nicky Pellegrino book I ever read, and it reminds me very much of Chocolat and  Like Water For Chocolate in the way that it combines a sumptuous and interesting story with mouth watering Italian food. Do not read this when hungry! Its a story about a girl called Chiara who leaves London to travel to Italy to find her birth father. There is romance, love and loss and the characters were so strong I just couldn't put it down. Pellegrino also manages to describe Italy and the food so well, you can almost smell the pasta through the pages. Nicky has also written many more novels like this set in Italy so if you like this you have plenty of others to go to afterwards. A delight to read.

Three of My Favourite Graphic Novels (non 'SuperHero')

A few years ago I really didn't think I would ever read a graphic novel as I just wasn't interested in Superman or Batman or X-Men etc. But there are a growing variety of 'non-superhero' graphic novels out there from fantasy themes to normal everyday life. There are also many graphic novels from books such as the Twilight series, or that have generated TV shows such as The Walking Dead. Below I list a few of my favourite Graphic novels.

Fables by Bill Willingham

Fables is a graphic novel series about those characters we remember from traditional fairy tales, such as Snow White, Jack (and the beanstalk), Rose Red and even The Big Bad Wolf. Something called The Adversary has invaded their homes and driven all the fairy tale pose out of their homelands. They now have to try and blend in with the human community living in a high rise called Fabletown in New York. Each volume has ongoing and new storylines, from murder to love, lies and deceit, it all happens in Fabletown. I really like Fables as it can provide humour as well as thrills and spills and I enjoy the clever spin on the traditional fairy tale characters. The illustrations are also beautiful and stunning to look at all on their own. There are also a few spin off series including 'Fairest' which delves into the pasts of many female fairy tale characters such as Cinderella, Snow White and such as well as 'Jack of Fables' which follows the adventures of Jack from 'Jack and the Beanstalk'. Fables is really worth a read, they are definitely fairy tales for grown ups.

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead graphic novels were one of the very first I started reading. I do like zombie stories and this is a very interesting, scary, dark and thrilling zombie series which as you will know is now a huge TV series. The graphic novels are so enthralling and so scary and I really got behind the core group of characters and utterly terrified when they were under attack. The graphic novels can get extremely dark indeed, no topic is off limits and I have to admit that at times I could hardly read certain parts they were so shocking to me. But then I do get scared easily! I did watch the first series of the Tv show, but personally I much preferred the graphic novels.

Adrian Tomine Graphic Novels

Adrian Tomine's graphic novels centre around the everyday lives of mainly young people going about their everyday lives. He focuses on a range of subject matter such as romance, love, jobs, and the bigger life questions in a range of ways. His novels are both witty and dark and really focus on the human heart and the many issues people have, especially those that feel they are on the outskirts of society and a recurring theme is loneliness. To me they really are modern stories, modern characters in graphic novel form. The illustrations range in each book but are generally very  minimalistic, sometimes white and grey and always reflect the story at hand. There is no fantasy here, and that's part of the reason I like them.