Monday, July 13, 2009

The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart

*SPOILER ALERT* If you have not read The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book by E. Lockhart, you might not want to read this review because it has spoilers for the series.*SPOILER ALERT*

In this third installment of the Ruby Oliver series, Ruby continues to try and rectify her reputation at Tate Prep, understand boys, learn how to become a good friend, and maybe even find love. Through many incidents that were just plain bad luck, Ruby once again manages to anger and alienate the students in her school.

Returning readers of this series will find that this book is just as excellent and hilarious as the first two. We follow Ruby Oliver into the 2nd semester of her junior year where everything, once again, seems to hit the fan. I always enjoy reading about how Ruby gets herself out of these messes, and E. Lockhart writes it in such a way that it never gets tiring.

One of my favorite things about the books is the movie footnotes. It gives wonderful examples about the situations Ruby is trying to explain in a unique and funny way.

However, at the end of it I found myself wanting to shout “Finally!” because Ruby seems to get herself back onto the right path. She realizes things about the people in her tiny school that the reader has known all along but has waited patiently for Ruby to realize herself.

This book is a fantastic beach read and I highly recommend it, along with the other two books in the series. There’s never a dull moment at Tate Prep when Ruby Oliver is involved.

I give this 8/10 stars. THE TREASURE MAP OF BOYS will be available July 28th, 2009.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Competition Winner

Congratulations to

*drum roll*

Suzette Saxton!

Also thank you to everyone for entering! Really appreciate all of your support - please stay tuned for further competitions and author interviews, as well of course book reviews :)

Momma Zen by Karen Mazen Miller

"Drawing on her experience as a mother and on her years of Zen meditation and study, Karen Maezen Miller explores how the daily challenges of parenthood can become the most profound spiritual journey of our lives. This compelling and wise memoir follows the timeline of early motherhood from pregnancy through toddlerhood. Miller takes readers on a transformative journey, charting a mother's growth beyond naive expectations and disorientation to finding fulfillment in ordinary tasks and developing greater self-awareness and self-acceptance - to the gradual discovery of maternal bliss."

Momma Zen is a book I picked up on the recommendation of a friend and fellow mother and I will never be able to thank her enough for it. Miller is a mother and recently converted Buddhist Priest whose perspective will alter your own views on how to handle everyday occurrences. She shares experiences that the reader can connect to even in the event they have never had a child of their own. During my own journey through this book I have found greater peace and comfort and feel better equipped to handle the challenges that come my way.

Every mother or future mother I know will be receiving a copy of this book. I can hardly begin to explain how inept you feel as a new mother (even the second time around) and Miller helped me to know that I am not alone in my feelings. She shares experiences that make you laugh out loud, but in almost every chapter I also found myself crying. From the actual experience of having a child to caring for and loving my own, I finally have begun to understand that I am not alone.

This is a book that I would also recommend to anyone seeking more peace in their own lives. Miller discusses how she handled the loss of her mother and how it affected the way she cared for those around her. Her writing and explanation of this one experience is beautiful beyond words. If you are interested in learning more about meditation I would read this book, because she offers advice even to those with only a few minutes to spare. There is even a "When you need a little help" section in the back of the book referencing each chapter with a subject to refer to, brilliant.

Momma Zen is a beautiful book that breathes new life into its readers. I give it a 10 out of 10. I plan on rereading it over and over again as I grow older to see how my perspective changes.

10 out of 10

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Competition News

Just a quick reminder to everyone that you can still enter our competition to win a copy of 'Crossed Wires' by Rosy Thornton here: Click - you've got until the 12th to enter that.

Also, Suzanne McLeod, who's book we reviewed here: review, has another competition running. Once again, I'm disorganised, so you only have until the end of the day, anywhere, tonight (Wednesday) to enter. You can win a signed copy of either her first or second books, and also one of the Felix Castor books by Mike Carey. You can find out more about them, and the competition, over here: Suzanne's Blog.

I'd highly recommend you check it out - I've read the first Felix book, and thought it was fantastic.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vanshing Acts by Jodi Picoult

"Delia Hopkins was six years old when her father allowed her to be his assistant in the amateur magic act he performed at the local senior center's annual Christmas pageant. "I learned a lot that night," recalls Delia, who is now 32, at the start of Picoult's absorbing new novel (her 12th, after My Sister's Keeper). "That people don't vanish into thin air...." She has come to know this even better as an adult: she makes her living finding missing people with her own search-and-rescue bloodhound. As she prepares for her wedding, however, Delia has a flash of memory that is so vivid yet so wildly out-of-place among the other memories from her idyllic New Hampshire upbringing that she describes it to a childhood friend, who happens to be a reporter. Soon, her whole world and the world of the widowed father she adores is turned upside down. Her marriage to her toddler's father, a loving but still struggling recovering alcoholic, is put on hold as she is forced to conduct a search-and-rescue mission on her own past and identity. It will cut to the heart of what she holds to be true and good."

I picked up this book because I wanted to save My Sisters Keeper for a move I will be making. But since My Sisters Keeper was so drawing I decided to check out another one of her books. I found it a bit slow at the start, but was quickly captivated as the book progressed.

What I particularly enjoyed was the fact that each chapter had a characters perspective of the law case and what is going on. The main narratives come from Delia, her father Andrew, Fitz, and Eric. There is also a narrative from Delia's mother at one point, but it's not seen in every chapter. Each narrative shared a part of the other characters impression of the court case and their relationships with the other characters around them.

There is a clear love triangle between Delia, Fitz, and Eric found in the book. While I don't want to spoil anything, a part of the case resonates hard in the relationship between Delia and Eric who are engaged. That part of the case brings up the triangle that hadn't been present between the three since high school.

Picoult did a good job at relating the past with the present time events. Each part of history that is brought up for Delia, Fitz, Eric, and Andrew are all intertwined in each others story as well. However some of the connections may not be found until the end. There were some parts I didn't really find important, such as Delia's mothers job at the time in the book and Ruthanne's life. But they were all enjoyable despite that.

At the end, not all questions will be answered and I was fine with that. It's never clear where the relationship Delia had with Eric and Fitz goes, whether or not what Delia remembers is true, or if she ever develops a better relationship with the mother she thought was dead. However, that was fine with me. It left enough closed and enough open to make it a very well written book with a good ending.

Over all I would have to say I would give this an 8 out of 10. I did find Delia a bit annoying at times and was a bit frustrated at the lack of communication between Eric and Andrew. But that wasn't due to the way the book was written because that is how things go in the world.

8 out of 10 stars.

Night World Book 1 by LJ Smith

"Vampires, werewolves, witches, shapeshifters -- they live among us without our knowledge. Night World is their secret society, a secret society with very strict rules. And falling in love breaks all the laws of the Night World.

In Secret Vampire, Poppy thought the summer would last forever. Then she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now Poppy's only hope for survival is James, her friend and secret love. A vampire in the Night World, James can make Poppy immortal. But first they both must risk everything to go against the laws of Night World.

Fugitives from Night World, three vampire sisters leave their isolated home to live among humans in Daughters of Darkness. Their brother, Ash, is sent to bring the girls back, but he falls in love with their beautiful friend.

Two witch cousins fight over their high school crush. It's a battle between black magic and white magic in Spellbinder. "

Night World Volume 1 by LJ Smith is a collection of three different stories. The stories are Secret Vampire, Daughters of Darkness, and Spellbinder. The main theme in each story is the issue of a night world member finding a human soul mate. While that might not seem like a huge issue, the problem is that the night world consists of vampires, witches, werewolves, and other creatures. This then becomes a problems as the rules forbid their secrets being exposed to a human. If they are they then could be prosecuted and killed.

In general, I found the stories to be rather predictable but enjoyable. What I found especially nice was that each story was connected somehow because of family. Several characters get mentioned in each story even though it seems they wouldn't be connected. So while each story is different, they are all connected and related.

I won't go into detail over each story because this would then become a very long review. Despite the predictability and at times, the annoying plot in the first two stories, I would give this a 7 out of 10. I am very interested in reading the next book in the series just to see if the characters mentioned in the 1st come up in the second!

7 out of 10

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Our First Competition

Welcome everyone to the book bundles first competition/book giveaway. We are really excited!

The prize of our competition is a signed copy of 'Crossed Wires', the most recent book by Rosy Thornton. Inspired by the Classics, Rosy started her own writing career, first with 'More than love letters' and then 'Hearts and minds'. In april 2009, Crossed Wires came out on paperback and has been quite a hit with 'Varsity' calling it "more than just a bit of light relief in the form of chick-lit; it is a heart-warming fairytale of real life with a happy ever after".
Crossed Wires is the story of Peter, a Cambridge geography don who crashes his car into a tree stump when swerving to avoid a cat, and Mina, the girl at the Sheffield call centre who deals with his insurance claim. It tracks their parallel lives, as well those of their families - because both Peter and Mina are single parents.

An old-fashioned fairy tale of love across the class divide, it is also a book about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood; about one-ness and two-ness; about symmetry and coincidence; about the things which separate us and the things which bring us together.

It is a story, in fact, of the accidents of geography.

So if you want a feel good novel with a dash of romance, signed by the author, then all you have to do is leave a comment on this post, with an email/link so that we can get in contact with you! The winner will be randomly chosen from the comments left.



Our First Linked Review. . . .

We had a little YaY moment here at the book bundle and we thought we'd share it:

Many of you may or may not know that Daeonica (gapyeargirl) posted a review about 'The Sweet Scent of Blood' by Suzanne McLeod. Well you can imagine how thrilled we were to discover that she has actually mentioned this review on the review section of her website (the second one for the sweet scent of blood).

So I'd like to just say Well Done to Daeonica for our first noticed review and a Big Thank You to Suzanne McLeod for dropping by and taking notice of our review - we're all delighted :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe

From the back:
Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts to “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable. They know the dirt on everybody…and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.
But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her help contacting his recently deceased mother, but Cass is less than enthusiastic.
Kicking and screaming, Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life. And she’s more surprised than anyone when she realizes that maybe some living people aren’t so bad if she’d only give them a chance...

Give up the Ghost is a paranormal YA novel and it has a new, fresh twist on the ghosts. Every ghost in the book has a scent that’s totally unique to them. For example, Paige smells like candied apples and cinnamon. I haven’t seen the ghost scents before in any novel before, and I like how Crewe associates a smell with a character.

The best thing about the book is the characters inside of it. Cass, rather than hate what she is able to do, turns her power of seeing ghosts into something good. She's essentally the Robin Hood of gossip at her school. Tim, the VP of the student council, is just in so much pain that it makes my heart ache. Then we have the ghosts. They add a fantastic element to the story that makes it feel fun and serious at the approriate times but don't detract from the flow of the story.

One thing I wasn’t happy with in this book was Tim and Cass’s relationship. I had hoped it would go in a different direction, but the way Crewe has it makes the story more compelling and a better read overall.

Also, the ending seemed very typical to me. While it does have a great last line, the entire last page feels like I’ve seen some version of it some times before.

I give this book 8/10 stars. This is definitely a great read and worth the money. GIVE UP THE GHOST will be available on September 15th, 2009.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I am the Messenger

I am the messenger, is the story of Ed Kennedy (19) who works illegaly for a cab firm, has only three real friends and epitimses the phrases 'waste of space'. between a chainsmoking mother, a stingy friend with 40grand in the bank, a girl he loves to bits but 'likes him too much' for more, a quiet friend with a tattoo of jimmy hendrix, and 'the doorman' who smells like death, you would think Ed Kennedy would be last one chosen to be a hero or a saint.

After a failed bank robbery though, Ed Kennedy becomes the messenger, recieving messages of his next mission via aces. Through acts of kindness to those around him, Ed is being lead by the hand though a journey of self discovery and sometimes, of course is helped with the advice of pie eating hit-men.

This book is YA, and it knows its audience. It was a extremely easy read, but although the language is simple - the meaning isn't. Marcus Zusak shows his talent again with this novel, and although in my opinion it can;t compare to the book thief, it is still excellent.

When i first picked it up, i was hoping for the beautiful descriptive language of the book thief, but this wasn't the case. The language of the book doesn't reflect the writer but reflects the book and its character. I give it 8 stars, only because of part of the ending (the ending is excellent), where we discover who is behind the messages - slightly disappointed with that as i thought Ed's first guess near the end would have been a brilliant twist.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Sweet Scent of Blood, by Suzanne McLeod - and a CONTEST!

Since I’ve been re-reading it in preparation for the sequel, which comes out on July 16th, I just had to review this book. It’s been a while since I’d read it, and I’d forgotten how much I loved it.
‘The Sweet Scent of Blood’ is about a Sidhe fae called Genny Taylor, who lives in present day London, working at finding magic while trying to stay away from vampires - she knows from experience exactly how bad they can be.
From the website:
When Mr October, a sexy calendar pin-up vamp, is accused of murdering his girlfriend, an old debt is called in and Genny is forced to help prove his innocence, risking her job and the protection it offers – and threatening to expose her own dark secrets. Searching for the killer plunges Genny deep into the hidden heart of vampire society. It’s not long before she realises that she and Mr October are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle between London’s non-human communities . .  . and it’s not just her own neck that’s at stake, but the lives of all London’s supernaturals.

This book grabbed me straight away, and it wastes no time in getting to the action. By the end of the first chapter (which you can read on her website) I was totally hooked. Genny is a very interesting narrator, and as the book progresses, we learn more and more about her history with vampires, and get to meet some of her interesting friends.

There are so many things I love about this book. One of them has to be the characters. They are all so vivid and real, and there are a lot of hot, sexy vampires - which to me is always a plus. Then there’s the fact that you just don’t know who Genny can really trust.
The writing style was another thing I loved - it was just fantastic, not letting down those characters or the intricate plot. I’ll admit that the first time I read this, I was rushing through so quickly that I then had to go back and re-read the last few chapters to make sure I really knew what had happened. It’s one of those rare books where I think you can appreciate it even more with each subsequent reading.

So, the competition!
Suzanne is holding competitions over on her blog, here (on blogger) or here (on livejournal) to promote the release. This week, you can win ‘The Eternal Kiss’ or ‘Mean Streets’ plus a signed copy of either of her own books. If you don’t make it in tonight, I think she’s doing another contest next week, too, so keep your eyes open!
Also, if you’re not sure about it, the first two chapters of ‘The Sweet Scent of Blood’ can be read on her website, here:
Good luck!