Friday, 31 December 2010

My 2011 Reading and Blogging Resolutions

And The Years Fade Away...

It's almost the end of 2010! I've been blogging for five fantastic months now and whilst I've got the ropes now, there are many things that I need to improve on so here are my 2011 goals to help me along :

Blogging and reading resolutions

  • To post my Coverlicious feature more regularly
I haven't done one of these for a while and I really enjoy featuring covers so it is something I want to do more often next year

  • To try and comment on as many posts I read as possible and generally be more outgoing in the blogging world
Recently I have been a bit of a lurker as I read a lot of posts in the short time I have left before leaving for school in the mornings so I haven't been commenting much. I know I smile when I recieve comments so I want to spread the commenting love! I always try my best to reply to comments on my blog on the commenter's blog but when I don't have a lot of time, I will always try to reply in the comment section.

  • To start up another feature/hold an event
I want to start another feature unique to my blog. At the moment, I have one or two ideas I'm thinking of and will be investigating more early next year. I can tell you that it is has something to do with authors so it depends if they would like to participate for one post.

  • To write some interactive discussion posts
As I mentioned earlier in my Friday Hop question answer, one of my favourite type of blog posts are discussions because they get people talking and make me think. I'd like to try and post some myself. What do you think about this?

  • To read more in my spare time
I've noticed a lot over the past weeks that I am spending more and more time blogging and reading posts but not as much time reading. I hope to read 50 books in 2011 and although this might not sound like a lot as I know that many of you read 100+ but for me it's a challenge. This year I don't know exactly how many books I've read since I didn't keep track of them until I started blogging in the summer but I am guessing about 40 at the most. I'm also aiming to make sure I post one review a week.

  • Read unread books that have been sitting on my shelf for a long time
Since starting my blog, my TBR list has grown incredibly as I know has happened with so many other bloggers too but I have come to realise that since I can't buy new books all the time as they are released, that I should try to concentrate on reading the books I already have on my shelf and the ones at my school library that have caught my eye. Of course, I will still be reading newer books but not all the time.

These are the books I need to read:

The Keeper's Daughter by Gill Arbuthnott-( library)
Witch Child by Celia Rees- (library)
Sovay by Celia Rees
Frederica by Georgette Heyer
Mermaid's Singing by Dilly Court
Deep Secret by Berlie Doherty
The Red Queen's Daughter by Jaqueline Kosolov

 I also want to read at least 5 books from The Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent Dyer as I have about 40 of them on my shelves and have been neglecting them because I can't review them as what I think of them is nearly the same for each book.

  • Have FUN!
I stress about a lot of stuff so I want to relax more! This applies to life in general and blogging. I'm going to try not to worry if I don't get a review posted one week or something like that- blogging is supposed to be fun (which it is!)

What are your New Year Resolutions?
Do you share any of mine? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Happy New Year-goodybe 2010!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

What I Got For Christmas!

This is a bit late but I wanted to share what books I got for Christmas to wrap up the All I Want For Christmas meme hosted by Danya @ A Tapestry Of Words that I participated. If you would like to see the books I feature in my posts that were on my wish list you can find them here (1) and here (2)

I was a very lucky girl this Christmas to find that I received nearly all of the books on my wish list . I certainly didn't expect this so thank you so much to my family!

My family were sitting around opening presents to exclamations of 'not another book!' whilst I looked at the pretty covers excitedly. What book lover doesn't love getting books for Christmas?!? After all, as the famous quote says, 'A book is a present you can open again and again.'

Here's what I got:

All of these covers are gorgeous, I couldn't decide a favourite!
I loved some of the surprise books- I've read two of the books in the Royal Diaries series by Carolyn Meyer and I'm very happy to be able to read the next two now. I'm also a fan of the My Story Diaries, written by various different authors as they introduced me to historical fiction. They've recently redesigned the covers and I have to admit that they are a lot more appealing although the old ones have more of a historical feel. I'm very intrigued as to reading Queen Victoria's fictional diary as (as some of you might know!) a favourite of mine since I was very little.

The surprise books :)

I also got 2 Jane Austen DVDs. I have only read Pride and Prejudice so far (I didn't do very well in the Austen challenge I joined a few months ago!) but I'm planning to read the other Austen's in 2011. Until then, I can enjoy the adaptations :D

I'm really looking forward to reading these new books- they should take me a while to get through!

What books did you get for Christmas?

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Waiting on Wednesday:Sigrun's Secret by Marie-Louise Jensen

Sigrun's Secret
The beautiful cover!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming books that we are eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is: Sigrun's Secret by Marie Louise Jensen

'Their garments are black as night. They carry torches in their hands, darkness and anger in their hearts. They are coming.' When a dark family secret is exposed, Sigrun's peaceful life is shattered. Forced to pay for her parents' misdeeds, she finds herself exiled from all she knows - and from the boy she loves - for three long years. Yet more secrets lie ahead; not least the power Sigrun finds awakening in herself, seemingly passed to her from a mysterious amulet. Can she use her new-found gift to save herself and those around her from the dangers they face? And will true love wait until her return?

It is the sequel to Daughter of Fire and Ice, which I loved and was in my top ten books of 2010. It was left on quite a big cliffhanger, some of which the answer is hinted in the description but I am really looking forward to reading Thora's (the main character in the first book) daughter's story.

It is released on the 1st of January so not long to wait!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Best of 2010- My top books read this year!

2010 has been a wonderful year for reading for me as I've learnt about so many wonderful authors and books through blogging and been introduced to genres that I might never have tried before. I have chosen a top 5 and then another 5 of my favourites to make it up to 10. Within the two sections the books are in no particular order- it would be far too hard to choose! Almost all of my favourites are books I have read in the second half of the year after starting my blog, which is probably because I have been reading a lot more since then and because of the good recommendations I've had.

Note: Titles link to my reviews.

Top 5

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

A sweet love story that is loosely based on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty set in Medieval Germany . Rose Hathaway is a woodcutter's daughter who has been appointed by the town's healer and when Lord Hamlin, the heir to the kingdom is injured, she must tend to him.  When she falls in love with him, she knows that they can never be together for he is already engaged to a young lady who has been kept in hiding all her life.

This year I've discovered that I love fairy tale retellings and The Healer's Apprentice was such a sweet romance and I really warmed to the characters I also like the fact that it has Christian elements in it too. An amazing debut- all mothers and their daughters should read it!

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

A YA historical romance that is set in Elizabethan times- right up my street! Ellie lives with her father who is an impoverished alchemist and Will is a young earl who must marry well to save his family's estate and wealth after his father frittered away his money. Will William choose duty over his heart?

This is exactly the kind of book I would describe as being what I love to read- a YA Tudor story of love against all odds. I couldn't put it down and I'm so excited about the sequel, The Queen's Lady which is due to be released in January.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly 
Andi is a young girl living in New York and struggling to overcome her depression after the death of her younger. When she finds the diary of a young girl living through the French Revolution in an old guitar case on a trip to Paris, their two stories collide.

At first, I wasn't sure I was going to like Revolution but as I read on, I couldn't help but enjoy the intertwined story of Andi and Alex and it has made me want to read more books about the French Revolution.

In The Shadow Of The Lamp by Susanne Dunlap (review coming soon)

In 1864, sixteen year old Molly is a lowly servant in an upper class London house but she would do anything to change this. When she hears that the famous nurse, Florence Nightingale is looking for nurses to travel with her to the battlefield hospitals of the Crimean war, she takes the opportunity without looking back. Before she knows it, she is falling in love with a handsome doctor and a soldier.

I can't tell you how much I love Molly and her story. I very quickly warmed to her character and she is now on my list of fictional characters I would love to have as best friends. In The Shadow Of The Lamp is released in April next year and would be a wonderful choice for those of you who are participating in the YA Historical Fiction Challenge.

Matched by Ally Condie (review coming soon)

Seventeen year old Cassia lives in The Society; a place where officials decide who people love, where they work and where they die. She has always dreamed of finding out her perfect match but soon after she starts falling in love with another boy and she starts to question the world she lives in.

Matched took me to a new world which I am dying to find out more about and left me wanting to read more books in the dystopian genre.

A fictionalised story of Joan, the daughter of Elanor of Aquatine and Henry II, the King of England. She loves them both dearly but as she grows up and her parent's feuding continues, Jone begins to feel like a political pawn as she is forced into a loveless marriage to the King of Spain. Can she learn who she can trust before it is too late?

What I love about the Queen's Daughter is that it is very rich in description and detail but it doesn't saturate the story and Jon's emotions really come off the page.

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Grace Parkes has just give birth to an illegitimate child and taking the advice of a midwife, she travels to Brockwood Cemetry to slip her baby into the coffin of a rich lady to save the shame of a pauper's burial. However, she must try and forget all that and do all that she can to help her and her older sister , who is unable to care for herself, scrape enough money together to pay their rent and food. Little does she know that the Unwins, a group of funeral directors she met at Brockwood will have a huge effect on their life. Fallen Grace paints a vivid picture of the harsh realities of Victorian London.

Mary Hooper has been one of my very favourite authors for a few years now but I thought Fallen Grace topped her other books.

Drawing With Light by Julia Green

The story of a teenager making sense of the world and finding out more about who she is.Emily and her sister Kat never knew their mother, she left them and her father when they were very young.
They, and Dad's new girlfriend Cassy are staying in a tiny old caravan over the winter while their new house is being renovated. But when Emily finds out Cassy is pregnant, it sets her off thinking about her own mother. Why did she abandon them? Why does she never communicate with them? Did she love them? Whilst she searches for the answers, she finds romance of her own.

I don't read many contemporaries and Drawing With Light was really refreshing and poignant. Julia Green's writing really captures the delicacy of teenage emotions. Some of the descriptions were beautiful too.


Crown Princess Ani has a special gift: she can communicate with horses and birds. However, living up to her mother's expectations and speaking comfortably to people is something she can't master. When she is sent to a nearby kingdom and her servants mutiny against her, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl on the King's estate. Can she find the courage to reclaim her rightful place?

I am so glad that I have discovered Shannon Hale and her lyrical writing!

Daughter of Fire and Ice by Marie Louise Jensen

After an attack on her family, fifteen year old Thora is snatched by a cruel Viking chieftain, Bjorn Svanson to accompany him on a journey to Iceland because she is a valuable healer and midwife. However, when he is killed by a slave who wants to avenge his sister, she and the slave who she  has seen in recurring dreams, they seize the dead man's ship to escape. Thora knows it is her destiny to be with this man and they soon begin to care for each other deeply. However, when things don't go to plan, circumstances mean it is impossible for them to be together.

I love Daughter Of Fire and Ice because of its originality because not many YA historicals are set in Iceland and also because of the impossible romance. The sequel, Sigrun's Secret is coming out in January and I will be rushing to get it!

Best new authors I have discovered  this year

  • Anna Godbersen
  • Shannon Hale
  • Celia Rees
  • Melanie Dickerson
  • Carrie Jones
  • Susan Coventry
  • Julia Green
  • Eve Edwards

What are your favourite books of 2010?

Edit: sorry for the jumbled up state of the pictures and writing earlier due to technical difficulties. I've now fixed it!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope that all of my lovely readers have a wonderful Christmas enjoy spending time with their family and get lots of reading done over the holiday break!

I don't know which day I will be back but I won't be away for long. Before the New Year I will be sharing books I got for Christmas, my Best of 2010 reads, what 2011 releases I am most looking forward to and my New Year Reading and Blogging Resolutions.  I am off to start reading The Chalet School Christmas Story Book to get me in the Christmas mood!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

All I Want For Christmas Is... (Part 2)

All I Want For Christmas is a meme/feature held by Danya @ A Tapestry of Words that encourages bloggers to post about the books on their Christmas wishlist! If you haven't heard of it or participated yet, I'm sure it's not too late even though we are only a few days away from Christmas now so head over to A Tapestry Of Words and link up.

I really enjoyed doing part 1 of my All I Want For Christmas posts so here's another....

Everlasting by Angie Frazier

Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.
On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic.
The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who—and what—matters most.
Beautifully written and feverishly paced, Everlasting is an unforgettable journey of passion, secrecy, and adventure.
Why: It sounds like such a passionate and touching  historical romance and I like the fact it is set in Australia. Also, the cover is so beautiful and romantic!
Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap:
'Will I never see you again either?' I asked, feeling as though I was about to jump off a high mountain peak and hope to land without hurting myself. That's how impossible everything seemed at that moment, no matter what I did.
'Perhaps we will meet again,' Sasha said, softening his voice. 'But you must see that it does not matter. You have so much ahead of you. It's your choice now. Choose the future! Choose life!'
For Anastasia Romanov, life as the privileged daughter of Russia's last tsar is about to be torn apart by the bloodshed of revolution. Ousted from the imperial palace when the Bolsheviks seize control of the government, Anastasia and her family are exiled to Siberia. But even while the rebels debate the family's future with agonizing slowness and the threat to their lives grows more menacing, romance quietly blooms between Anastasia and Sasha, a sympathetic young guard she has known since childhood. But will the strength of their love be enough to save Anastasia from a violent death?
Inspired by the mysteries that have long surrounded the last days of the Romanov family, Susanne Dunlap's new novel is a haunting vision of the life - and love story - of Russia's last princess.

Why:  I loved Susanne Dunlaps new 2011 book In The Shadow Of The Lamp and although I don't really know that much about it, I've always been fascinated by Anastasia's story.

Princess Of The Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.

Captivating from start to finish, Jessica Day George’s take on the Grimms’ tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses demonstrates yet again her mastery at spinning something entirely fresh out of a story you thought you knew.

Why: I've recently read a few fairy tale re-tellings and loved them and the Twelve Princesses is one of the less well known Grimm's tales. Isn't the dress gorgeous!?!

After Christmas I will be doing a post telling you which books I did get for Christmas so look out!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Book Review: Entice by Carrie Jones

Goodreads Summary

Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever. But that's not quite how things have worked out. For starters, well, Nick is dead. Supposedly, he's been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it's taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla?
And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there's that other small problem: Zara's been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn't just turned. She's Astley's queen.
Thank you very much to Bloomsbury UK for providing me a copy of Entice for review. If it hadn't been for that I would probably never have read this series!
I really enjoyed the first two books of this series but Entice took it up a whole step- I *loved it!*
Right from the beginning, it's action packed but Carrie Jones manages to include a lot of character development too.

Zara would do anything to save her boyfriend Nick, who has been sent to Valhalla, a a mythical place for warriors whatever the consequences.  The only problem is, she has no idea how to get there and even has doubts about whether Nick is even still alive. At the end of Captivate, she turns into a pixie when she finds out that it is the only way she can save him. Yet, she knew that taking the plunge into becoming one of the race she hates could mean that her family and friends turn against her. She even wonders if Nick will still love her and accept her as a pixie when she is one of the very race he despises. In Entice, I began to see the effects of what she has done and Zara is scared of what she is and might become.  She also has to deal with conflicting emotions over love and difficulties as those closest to her find it difficult to accept her as a pixie. Throughout, she remains grounded as she is determined to use her pixie powers for good to protect her town and those closest to her. I admire Zara for what she has to cope with and how she still remains strong.
Astley, the pixie who turned Zara made a different impression on me this time than in the last book, where he was very mysterious.  He is the pixie King of a group of pixies fighting for good in Maine and Zara is now his Queen. However, he has trouble convincing Zara that he can be trusted and will not betray her people despite the negative experiences she has had of pixies so far. Throughout most of the book, I felt the same as Zara; feeling trust in my heart but knowing in my head that there could be something suspicious about. Although, he could have forced Zara into things or done something to prove he is right but he lets Zara make decisions and form opinions in her own time without control or interference and this made me respect him as a character. What swings the balance for Astley is that he goes out of his way to protect Zara and is always kind, understanding, gentlemanly and brave. He also understands her desire to bring Nick back from Valhalla and tries his best to help her with this whilst sacrificing any chance he might have of her loving him. I was glad to see Zara growing closer to him but I still haven't decided who I want her to end up with in the end.

Towards the end, I did begin to wonder if getting Nick back would be worth the many sacrifices along the way but this didn't ruin the book for me at all.

For me, the best part of Entice was the ending because it was so full of suspense and has left the story very open for what happens next. I couldn't put it down and I can't wait for the fourth book in the series now!
I think that all those who loved Need but were disappointed by Captivate should give the series another chance as Entice surpasses it.

A Quick Question: Are you Team Nick or Team Astley?

Saturday, 18 December 2010

In My Mailbox! 18/12/10

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren that encourages bloggers to share the new books they have got this week whether it be though the library, their mailbox or anywhere else....                        
Snow mailbox! <3
I thought the photo of a snow covered mailbox is very appropriate for me today as that's what my garden looks like at the moment (although it's not my garden!). A winter wonderland!               

From my school library:

Matched by Allie Condie
This one is a new arrival at the library and I'm so glad that I got there first to reserve it so I can read it over Christmas. There has been a lot of hype about it so it's great to be able to read it finally. I've started the first few chapters and I'm loving it so far!

The Pale Assassin (Pimpernelles Series) by Particia Elliot

This will be one of the books for The Bookette's British Book Challenge I'm taking part in. It's set in the French Revolution, which is a period I've wanted to read more about after Jenniffer Donnelly's Revolution.

For review (thank you to Bloomsbury):

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

I don't really know much about this one but it is supposed to be a paranormal retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. I like the shiny red cover!

This week I finished reading Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen and Entice by Carrie Jones, both of which I really enjoyed and started to read Matched by Alli Condie today.

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

All I Want For Christmas Is... (Part 1)

All I Want For Christmas Is... a feature held by the lovely Danya at A Tapestry Of Words where bloggers spotlight the books that they are hoping to get for Christmas. I have enjoyed looking at every one's picks and thought I'd join in myself this week.  I'm starting to feel very Christmassy now as it's snowing outside right now- YAY!

My picks (more than one because it's so close to Christmas now). All summaries are taken from Goodreadrs.

Cate Of The Lost Colony by Lisa M Klein:

Lady Catherine is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite court maidens—until her forbidden romance with Sir Walter Ralegh is discovered. In a bitter twist of irony, the jealous queen banishes Cate to Ralegh's colony of Roanoke, in the New World. Ralegh pledges to come for Cate, but as the months stretch out, Cate begins to doubt his promise and his love. Instead it is Manteo, a Croatoan Indian, whom the colonists—and Cate—increasingly turn to. Yet just as Cate's longings for England and Ralegh fade and she discovers a new love in Manteo, Ralegh will finally set sail for the New World.
Seamlessly weaving together fact with fiction, Lisa Klein's newest historical drama is an engrossing tale of adventure and forbidden love—kindled by one of the most famous mysteries in American history: the fate of the settlers at Roanoke, who disappeared without a trace forty years before the Pilgrims would set foot in Plymouth.

Why: I have had my eye on this one ever since I chose it as a Waiting on Wednesday pick and it's YA historical. I love stories set in Queen Elizabeth I's Court and the Roanoke mystery sounds so interesting.

The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K Madigan

Lena has lived her whole life near the beach — walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves — the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf. But her father — a former surfer himself — refuses to allow her to take lessons. After his near drowning years ago, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport. Yet something keeps drawing Lena to the water . . . an ancient, powerful magic. And one morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman — with a silvery tail.
Now nothing can stop Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove. And soon . . . what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life forever.

Why: I love mermaid stories and this cover is beautiful!

Prisoners In The Palace by Michaela MacColl

London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza's dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady's maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant's world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?

Meticulously based on newly discovered information, this riveting novel is as rich in historical detail as Catherine, Called Birdy, and as sizzling with intrigue as The Luxe.

Why: I have loved Queen Victoria  and the Victorian era ever since I visited her holiday home Osbourne House when I was two. That and the world below stairs at the time has to be a brilliant combination!

If you'd like to join in and post about what you want for Christmas head over to A Tapestry Of Words and link up!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Book Review: Captivate by Carrie Jones

Summary (from Goodreads)

Zara and her friends knew they hadn't solved the pixie problem for good. Far from it. The king's needs grow deeper every day he's stuck in captivity, while his control over his people gets weaker. It's made him vulnerable. And now there's a new king in town.
A turf war is imminent, since the new pixie king, Astley, is moving in quickly. Nick nearly killed him in the woods on day one, but Zara came to his rescue. Astley swears that he and Zara are destined to be together, that he's one of the good guys. Nick isn't buying it, though Zara isn't as sure -- despite herself, she wants to trust the new king. But it's a lot more than her relationship with Nick that is at stake. It's her life -- and his.
My review and thoughts  
I read Captivate straight after Need so it was very easy to get engrossed in the story and its characters again. It begins shortly after the first book Need and we find Zara and her friends facing more problems with the pixies as the needs of their King grows everyday as they remain shut away. Zara is plagued by guilt at this the decision she was forced to make to protect everything that means a lot to her as she fights for the freedom of individuals contained through Amnesty International. However, her boyfriend Nick finds it hard to understand when he feels such a hatred for the pixie race.
A lot of the story is focused on the relationship between Zara and Nick and how it grows as they spend more time with each other. I like both the characters and think that they fit each other well but I think that their romance was a little too soppy at points and after a while I became annoyed by Nick constantly calling her 'baby.' Although, like most couples enjoying first love obstacles soon form in their way and I found myself rooting for them.
Zara remains much the same quirky character and maintains the same distinctive narrative voice of Need and I really connected with her emotions and struggles throughout the book as she makes difficult decisions that will affect her life and the ones of her closest friends and family.
 However, the characters that I found most interesting in this sequel were Issy and Devyn because I felt there was a lot more character development for them. Issy matures a lot and experiences for the first time the teenage feelings of what seems to be unrequited love whilst Devyn seems to change from a geeky teenager to a young man.
One of the two new characters, a mysterious pixie called Astley who is convinced that Zara is destined to become his Queen puzzled me.  He stirred the plot up and provoked new feelings in Zara but I didn't feel that I knew enough about him to judge him as a character.  I got the impression that he was meant to be a rather sexy character that would make readers re-think how they want the story to go. There are so many big questions left for me to ponder- can he be trusted? Whose side is he really on?  It is almost as if Carrie Jones created this effect deliberately to make readers wanting to know more. If so, it certainly did the trick!
With the successively gripping events that move the story along, Captivate is a very good 'middle' book that sets the scene well for the third book in the series Entice where I think the tension that has been building in the past two books will come to a head.
Verdict: Captivate picks up very well from Need and delivers with changes that put the future of the plot in doubt. It lacks some of the more creepy scenes in Need but for me this was made up with the emotional turmoil that the characters face. Unlike other fans in the series, I can now read the third book in the series, Entice almost straight away!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

British Books Challenge bought to you by the Bookette

As a British blogger, I was delighted to find and sign up for The British Books Challenge 2011 that is being hosted by Becky at The Bookette (the first challenge she has hosted).  I think it's a wonderful idea and will hopefully give lots of support to British authors.

The Challenge

Any books written by British authors whether they are old or new and in print or out count for the challenge, any genre and aimed at any age group count for the challenge.

I am taking part in the Home Grown category for the challenge, which is for British Bloggers. The aim is to read 12 novels for the challenge, which I hope I will be able to reach.

There is also a category called International Friend for bloggers living overseas who want to support British authors.

To find out more information about Becky's challenge, go to the sign up post HERE!

My list

At the moment this is very sketchy and will change a lot but here are a few  British books I hope to read for the challenge:

Witch Child by Celia Rees
Mary Hooper’s new book (title to be confirmed)
Books from Chalet School series by Elinor M.Brent
Alice in Love and War by Ann Turnball
The Queen’s Lady by Eve Edwards
Marie Louise Jensen- Sigrun’s Secret
The Pale Assassin by Patricia Elliot
The Traitor’s Smile by Patricia Elliot
Georgette Heyer novels novels

Becky has also planned some amazing prize pack giveaways  for each month of the year, sponsored generously by different UK publishers, which is very exciting.

I invite you to join with me in this challenge and head over to The Bookette!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Guest Post: For all fans of the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead!

To celebrate the release of the last book in the Vampire Academy series, Last Sacrifice and my UK giveaway of either the first or last book, I am delighted to introduce the lovely Jess from Jess Hearts Books to tell us more about the series and why it is her favourite.  Welcome Jess!                 

The Vampire Academy books are by far my favourite vampire series and are one of my favourite paranormal series of all time. Vampire Academy is highly original- something you may not expect with the amount of vampire fiction out there at the moment- but Richelle Mead creates a brand new enticing world, with a brand new take on vampires to go with it. The Vampire Academy world has three types of vampires. Strigoi- the traditional bad ass vampires, immortal, evil, blood thirsty and ancient these vampires are feared and are the most powerful of their kind. Then you have Moroi- vampire royalty these vamps are not immortal and are I guess you would say “the good vampires” they only feed on willing human donors and are highly beautiful. Moroi vampires also inherit a power with one of the elements. Strigoi can feed off Moroi and can change them into Strigoi and the royal families are fast fading because of it, so they have Dhampires- half vampire, half humans- train to fight Strigoi and protect Moroi royals to keep the vampire race alive. There are so many layers to this world and the different vampires and I love how the Moroi’s magical connection with the elements plays a big part in the story.
The main character of Vampire Academy is our heroine Rose whose a Dhampire training to become guardian and protector to her best friend Lissa a Moroi princess. The first book in this series sees Lissa and Rose returning to St Vladimir's- a school for Moroi and Dhampires- after being on the run. Upon their return Rose gets assigned to Guardian Dimitri to help her catch up with her training as a guardian and Dimitri, oh what can I say about Dimitri? The man is smokin’ hot! He’s a hot blooded Russian, bad ass god and the only reason you wouldn’t fall for him is if you’re not a red blooded woman. Dimitri’s the ultimate bad boy with a kind sensitive soul and is one of my very favourite male characters in YA fiction to swoon over. Between Rose and Dimitri and their attraction to each other you can literally feel the sexual tension sweltering off the pages. They are one hot couple and I can think of no two characters more perfect for each other. As well as Dimitri I have a huge girl crush on Rose. She’s feisty, sassy, smart and strong and can more than hold her own against the big bad Strigoi. She’s certainly no Bella Swan, head strong and confident girls of all ages will look up to and respect her and ultimately want to be her. Lissa gets into all kinds of trouble on their return to school and Rose proves to be the perfect best friend to her with the girls having a very special, unique bond that you will learn more about if you read the books!

This series has everything, it’s original, fast paced and has one of the best plots I’ve ever come across. Having read all of the books in this series including the highly anticipated Last Sacrifice I’ve come to feel like the characters are old friends and I’m very sad to see Rose and Cos story come to an end. Reading Last Sacrifice was definitely a very bitter sweet experience for me! I have thoroughly loved and enjoyed every minute I’ve spent within these books pages and if you pick the books up I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them too. Vampire Academy is one of those series where each book is better than the last and probably more than any series I’ll ever read I would highly recommend these books to all paranormal lovers. I can’t begin to do this series justice. I love it so much and know that if you start and carry on with this series you will too. I’ve read a lot of great vampire fiction and for me Vampire Academy by far excels all of them. These books should come with a warning “read these and prepare to say goodbye to your current favourite series because this is sure to take its place!” But don’t take my word for it try them and see for yourself! ;)
For those who have read this series you may be interested in my recent review for Last Sacrifice which can be found on my blog here. Thanks for having me Stephanie!"

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here Jess! It has been a treat to have you. I hope other people enjoy reading them as much as I have. I'm so glad to hear that each book gets better and better. I was gripped by the first book in the series that transported me into another world and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series soon.
I really recommend if you are interested in the series, that you also read Jess' wonderful spoiler free review of Last Sacrifice that she mentioned. Jess is a brilliant fellow UK blogger who started blogging at the same time as me so whilst you are there, be sure to check out the rest of her blog!

Reminder: I am holding a UK giveaway of either Vampire Academy or Last Scarifice (you choose) by Richelle Mead with 3 winners  that ends on the 31st December. To find out more, visit the post here!

These are the new UK covers that have been designed to celebrate the Last Sacrifice release. I love them!

I'm also interested to know: what do you think the future for vampire fiction is?