Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Book Review: An Avon True Romance; Anna and the Duke by Kathryn Smith

Publisher summary/blurb:

Anna- At the very least, anyone in Anna Welsley's position would be satisfied. Anna is to inherit a fortune, and after a glittering London Season, is now engaged to a duke's son. Anna herself does not understand the vague feeling of dissatisfaction. While her mother industriously plans Anna's wedding, Anna herself reads poetry and wonders if what she's in is love or just an arrangement.

The Duke- As the estranged Scottish son of an English Duke who has just died, Ewan McLaughlin is the reluctant heir to his father's title. Arriving in London, he must face is father's widow, half sister and half brother, Richard, who was fully expecting to become the Duke himself. While acquainting himself with his new found relations, Ewan finds himself more and more often in the company of Richard's fiancee, the beautiful Anna.

When it becomes clear that Richard is conspiring against Ewan, Anna is compelled that Richard is conspiring against Ewan, Anna is compelled to warn Ewan. But what beings in innocence soon becomes betrayal as Anna finds the answer to the question in her heart- in Ewan.

My thoughts:

This historical teen,ya romance starts off when Ewan McLaughlin, who has lived with his Grandmother all his life in a small Scottish village where his family's Castle lies falling into dilapidation receives a letter to say that he must go to London at once because his father (who he has never had contact since baby and early toddler hood) has died and has left him the title of Duke. Angry and wondering why his father left the title to him, Ewan is reluctant to go to London but goes to meet his Father's new family who have been left behind. There are many challenges along the way such as the hostility of his half brother Richard towards him and the new ways of London society but when Ewan meets Anna Welsley and unsuspectingly falls in love with her, that just anger's his brother more as she is her fiancee. The story follows what happens to all the character's relationships between eachother and the obstacles that they have to overcome to follow their hearts.

I have heard from other people that this plot has been done several times before but this didn't spoil my enjoyment as I had never read a book like that before, but even if that is the case for the reader, I think the well developed and unique characters make up for this as I really cared about what happened to them.
I *loved* the romance between Anna and Ewan, it was so cute and just what I was looking for- a clean teen romance as many of the adult historicals are unsuitable. Anna's shy but bubbly occasionally, kind personality and the things that she did reminded me a bit of myself and Ewan was a great hero, tall and handsome but with flaws too so that he seemed human.  You get to know both Ewan and Anna well by the end of the book as each chapter, although written in the third person, follows what happens to either Anna or Ewan. Right from the beginning I thought they would be great together, especially with their love of books and poetry.
However, this book doesn't just focus on love as there is an element of adventure and mystery to it that adds an extra dimension to the book and makes you desperate to find out what happens at the end as it is quite unpredictable.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants a light hearted book with an adorable romance set in the past that keeps your heart fluttering and makes you sigh! If you have never tried reading a historical romance before but enjoy modern day romances, this would be a great innocent read to start with.

If you like the sound of this book, why not add it to your summer reading list?

New Background

After experimenting with backgrounds, I have decided on the current one with the cute fresh green feel and pink flowers. It was designed by Blogaholic Designs (click on link) who have some lovely free templates, backgrounds and buttons on their website. You can see some of the buttons in the sidebar (e.g Welcome to my Blog, Comments Brighten My Day) and I think they really personalise your blog- I love them!

I also had a go at designing my own 'Follow Me' button using Picnik (free online photo editing software) which was great fun and ensures your button is unique. I reccommend any other bloggers have a go ! :)

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Book review: Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Publisher description:

Wildthorn Hall, where cruelty and madness meet...

Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor's daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labelled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free. And love may be the key . . .

I was first drawn to this book by the striking but pretty cover when searching on Amazon and when I found out that it was set in the Victorian times (my favourite historical period), I couldn't wait to read it. I wasn't disappointed and was soon gripped by the story of Louisa as she is unsuspectingly locked away in a mental asylum. Here is my summary:
Now re- named Lucy Childs in the mad-house, Louisa must do everything she can to keep her wits about her throughout the terrifying pain of having everything from her previous life stripped from her. With  seemingly no one and nothing in her life, she must solve the mystery of who had her locked up and try to free herself. However, she soon learns that she must also free her mind to discover her true self and keep hold of her dream career even when prejudiced Victorian society has everything against her.

This book is definitely a page turner with lots of suspense that will keep you reading into the night. As the book is written in the first person, you really feel the horrendous ordeals that Louisa went through and the injustice that she felt. This is helped by the detailed and clear description of what life was like in a Victorian mental asylum and also other issues in the book such as  mental health problems, unconventional love and equality for woman. Jane Eagland's accessible flowing writing style that lets the character's emotions shine through makes these issues in the book still relevant in today's world but also keeping the Victorian atmosphere.

I look forward to Jane Eagland's next novel!

I would recommend this debut novel to all lovers of the YA and historical fiction genres for a emotional and thought provoking read.

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along and have fun! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read

• Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The book I am going to post my teaser from this week is Emma by Jane Austen, which I suspect that many book lovers have read. It might even inspire you to revisit a cherished Austen novel!

pg 9:

'Emma never thinks of herself, if she can do good to others;' rejoined Mr Woodhouse, understanding but in part. 'But, my dear, pray do not make any more matches, they are silly things and break up one's family circle grieviously.'

Monday, 28 June 2010

I've decided to take part in the blog meme, Musing Mondays, which is run by MizB over at  Should Be Reading. The idea of this blog meme is that there is a new question asked very week that book bloggers answer and get a good discussion of opinions and views going. If all goes to plan, this should be a regular post as I rather like the idea and creativity it brings so look out for more in the weeks to come! :)

This week’s musing asks…

What do you think of books that receive a lot of hype? (think of the “Twilight” saga, or “Harry Potter”, or “The Da Vinci Code”). Do you read them? Why, or why not?

I'm one of those readers who thinks that part of the enjoyment of the book is finding it first although I think that recommending books to friends and through blogs and the Internet is great.
Usually I tend to shy away from books that are 'the hype' as the question calls it, mainly because if everyone is reading it then some of the magic and the special bond that sometimes feels like it is building between you and characters is gone. For example, I haven't had a go at reading the Twilight saga yet, even though nearly everyone my age was reading and talking about it. However, that could be because the theme of the books don't appeal to me.

I have always tended to read books that were the 'hype' a long time ago for example all of Enid Blyton's books, children's classics or the Chalet school series. I think that reading those kind of books is really nice because you can hug the characters to yourself a little more (with a few recommendations!) but you also know that many others before you have loved the same book and you are carrying the love on.

Overall, I don't think that 'hyped' books are an altogether bad thing but I would say that readers should be wary not to listen to much to other people;s opinions before they have read it so they can form their own personal interpretations.

So, if  I thought that I would like a book that is really popular at the time, I would definitely still read it but try and avoid some of the talk about it so it is not spoilt for me.

What do you think about this question?

Sunday, 27 June 2010

A Bookalicious Life- the tale of a young teenage book lover and a treasure trove of books

For the benefit of my lovely new followers over from the Book Hop, I'm going to tell you about my love of reading and how it started!
My mum read to me a lot when I was a baby and toddler, which started off my love of reading. Ever since then,books have been a part of my life and I was soon reading above my age level at school (which is probably why I like reading books aimed at an older audience now.)
When I was about 7 or 8 I started to read some of my Mum's old Enid Blyton books and I was soon in love with her books and short stories. Then, my Mum found a second hand bookshop called The Cottage Bookshop in Penn, Buckinghamshire that is literally a treasure trove like an Aladdin's cave of books. They had a whole section that was crammed full of Enid Blyton books with one bookshelf that had at least 3 layers of books. The old building was a fantastic place to explore with the creaking stairs and rooms filled with bookshelves and books piled up on the floor, it's like a book lover's heaven with every kind of book you could want.  I went their regularly and always came back with a fresh new pile of lot of bargain books to read, some of them being very old and (now I realise), valuable.
Once I had a collection of about 100 Enid Blyton books in my bedroom and several
other                                                    old fashioned and classic children's writers, I began to get interested in historical fiction books such as the ones by Mary Hooper and that is still my favourite genre today.                                                                                           
I got the idea to start a book blog of my own when I was looking for new books to read on the Internet and came across several. A few years ago, I filled several exercise books  with creative book reviews (with flaps, drawings ect.) and I've been wanting to record the books that I have been reading for a while so I thought blogging would be a fun way to do it, which turned out to be truer than I thought!

I cannot imagine living without reading now- even if I don't have as much time to do it as I used to because of other hobbies- and my collection of books is rapidly growing (I have run out of room from bookcases in  my room!)

Friday, 25 June 2010

Books I have my eye on!

Here is the list of books that I want to read next and will hopefully review:

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Out of the Blue by Val Rutt

The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Chalet School and Joey

The Book Theif by Michael Kusak

The Book Hop

post signature

Welcome to any viewers who got here through the weekly Book Hop (a Book Party) organised by Crazy for Books( so that book bloggers can share their blog with other book lovers and also find a new blog to 'follow.'  To get involved all you have to do is post your blog link and visit several other people's blogs- I'm very excited about that!

At the moment, I'm still organising and setting everything up on the blog so come back for more soon or 'follow' me to keep up to date on new posts. Feel free to post a link for your blog in a comment to and I'll take a look :)

I hope you enjoy reading my current posts and that my blog shows that it's never too young to book blog as I'm only just into my teens!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Exclusive Sophie Mckenzie interview!!!!

I am very excited to be posting an interview with the  award winning author Sophie Mckenzie that I got when she visited my school last year. After delivering a brilliant talk about her books and the way she writes them, I brought several of Sophie's books and got them signed. Also, I got to eat lunch with her along with the school Book Club and got to know more about her and her books. I thought that she was a very friendly person!

Here is the interview:

Where do you get the inspiration for your books?

It varies, but for Girl Missing I was on a missing children’s website and I came across a photo of a boy called Ben when he went missing and another of him using age progressing technology. I began to think about how this boy would feel if this boy was looking at these photos when he was older and thinking ‘is that me?’ I also take ideas form different situations and subjects that I am interested in.

What is your favourite book that you have written?

It’s almost like choosing between your children but I would have to choose Girl Missing and because I have spent longer with the characters as a part of the series, the Set Up (which is part of the Medusa Project series.)

What was your favourite genre of book when you were a child?

Adventure books

How old were you when you began writing stories?

How long does it take you to write your books?

It usually takes about 4 months.

Why did you start to write?

I started to write because I love both reading and writing stories.

Who designs the covers for your books?

The art director in the publishing house who would commission an illustrator and choose the colours and typeface

How do you feel when your books win awards?

When Girl Missing won The Red House Book Award it was amazing, the most special thing ever especially as it was my first book and it was so unexpected. Also it is different to the other awards because The Red House award is the biggest where the readers

themselves judge it.

What did you want to be as a child?

I wanted to be a writer but I never imagined I could do it. I also wanted to be an actor or a singer.

What sort of books do you like to read?

Exciting books like adventures and thrillers, which also have a relationship and romance in it. A bit like my books!

How do you feel when you see your books on shop shelves?

At first it was weird and always very exciting. It also gives you a big kick and there’s nothing to compare it with.

How long did it take you to get your first book published after writing it?

I wrote ‘Girl Missing’ in 2 months and then I sent it to an agent who found a publisher and it was published within 2 months.

Where do you like to write?                         

I like to write at home.

How do you get in the mood for writing?

I don’t really have to get into a special mood to write, I just get up and start writing once my son has gone to school

What do you use to write?
I use a desktop computer or a laptop like most writers nowadays. It is much easier than writing on paper and paying someone to type it up for you.

What is your favourite thing about being an author?

In the mornings I can just get up and make sure my son gets to school but then I could go back to bed if I wanted to.

What was your favourite subject at school?


What are your tips for aspiring young writers?

My top tip would be to read a lot but if you check out my website there are lots of other tips too.

Recently Sophie won another two awards, this is what she says about them on her website:

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Excellent news! Blood Ties has just won its tenth regional award (to add to the national Red House book award) from the lovely voters in the Grampian region of Scotland! And The Set-Up has been awarded both the Portsmouth Book Award (which Blood Ties won last year) and the North East Book Award (yrs 7 & 8)!

I’m very excited - and delighted that both books are proving so popular with readers!!!!

If you want to know more about Sophie and her books visit these websites:Monday, May 17th, 2010

She also has a Facebook page:!/pages/Sophie-McKenzie/355619419770?ref=search

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Chalet School Series by Elinor M Brent Dyer

This is a series that many adults now read and loved in their childhood, along with many other boarding school books. Unfortunately, now the series is out of print and copies of some of the books are quite rare and expensive. Luckily, my mum started to collect her collection again (after they were given away when she left home) when they were published for a time by Harper Collins and my school librarian's mother kindly gave me all the books that she had two copies of.

The School at the chalet:

 Madge Bettany's plan to start a school in the Austrian mountains seems very exciting to her younger sister, Joey for she is to be the first pupil. Neither of them is able to imagine how such a small idea will change their lives so completely.
Amazon description:

When Joey Bettany's sister Madge sets up a school in the Austrian Tirol, Joey is among the first pupils. From its small beginnings it grows rapidly, enjoying all sorts of exciting adventures and mishaps. Joey, effectively an only child because Madge is twelve years her senior, is always ill during the English winter. Madge's solution to Joey's health problems is to start a school in the Austrian Tirol. At first there are only a handful of pupils, but soon the numbers grow, with children coming from all over the world. Joey is always the central character, in this as in many of the other 60-odd books in the series. There are alarms and excursions in which she takes part with interest, wonderful descriptions of the spectacular local scenery, hilarious antics of one sort or another, and plenty of near disasters in the mountains. The School at the Chalet is the first book in an ever-popular series that was first published in 1925.
The first book, The School at the Chalet is about Madge Bettany and her younger sister Joey as they go out to the Austrian Tirol to start an English school. It is set in the heart of the Tirol pass, surrounded by many mountains in which clusters of chalets can be found by the lake, where the Tyrolean people live. With the help of the kindly families who live near the school, they start the term with a few pupils, some native to the country and others friends of the Bettany's who came out with them.

The series is all about the school life and the thrilling adventures and difficult scrapes that they find themselves in. Each of the girls has a distinct personality but one of the main characters is Joey Bettany, a wild and impulsive girl who has a big and warm heart inside.

The books were written and set a long time ago and the story is very quaint and innocent with unforgettable characters that have me hooked on the books! I think that although the story uses somewhat old fashion phrases and languages, the stories are just as captivating and charming as they were when they were first publishing. Some may say that young girls today won't enjoy them but I love them and think that it would be great if the series were published today and adult fans were able to introduce their girls to the series.

The plots are full of fun, mischief, danger and mystery and of the 8 or so books I have read out of the total 62, the plots are never repetitive or dull.

I reccommend the first book for anyone to try for if you like it, you will be hooked on the rest of the series!!!!!

There is even a Facebook group page specially for fans of the Chalet school! Take a look:

 The Robin and Joey  Bettany with the Menches for Christmas (Left)