Tuesday, 31 May 2011

1 Year Blogoversary Celebration: International Giveaway!

As a thank you to everyone who has supported me with the blog over the past year, I'm hosting an international giveaway! I've got a selection of ten books that the winner of the giveaway can choose one from and these are all books I've read that I would recommend though not all of them are favourites. A lot of them are YA historicals because that's the main genre I read but I hope you find something you would like to win amongst them :) Here's the list of 10 books that the winner gets to choose from:

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

The Other Countess

Flawless by Lara Chapman

Daughter Of Fire and Ice by Marie Louise Jensen

Daughter of Fire and Ice

Arabella by Georgette Heyer


Princess Of The Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

The Declaration

Montacute House by Lucy Jago

Montacute House

Drawing With Light by Julia Green

Drawing with Light

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend

Anastasia's Secret

Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap

Guidelines and rules of the giveaway- please read before you fill in the form

  • To enter you must live in a country that the Book Depository ships to
  • You must be at least 13 years old to enter *
  • You must be a follower of my blog to enter
  • Winners will be chosen by Random.org
  • The winner gets to choose one book before the above list
  • The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email notifying them before I pick a new winner
  •  I will not keep your information
  • The giveaway will close June 20th  EXTENDED TILL JUNE 26TH and the winner will be announced shortly after 
*If you are under 13 and would like to enter, please get your parents to email me with their consent at stephanieDOTreadsAThotmailDOTcoDOTuk

Extra entries

+1 Old followers (before 29th May 2011)
+1 spreading the word about the giveaway on Twitter/Facebook/Blogger ect. You can only gain one extra entry e.g if you tweeted and posted on your sidebar you can only get one. Of course if you wanted to do more than one out of the kindness of your heart then it would be much appreciated- thank you to anyone who spreads the word!



Good luck everyone!

Monday, 30 May 2011

1st Blogoversary Celebration: Why I Love Book Blogging!

As part of celebrating my first blogoversary this week, I thought it would be fun to share my favourite things about the book blogosphere. I've seen my fair share of blogging controversy over the past year and blogging hasn't always been easy but this list is going to be long because there are so many positive things that I LOVE! My life and reading has certainly changed since I started Books Are A Girl's Best Friend. So in no particular order here are my favourite things
about book blogging:

 1) The friendly community

Book blogging wouldn't be what it is without the wonderful and special community of people who are different in many ways but have come together to talk about what they love best... books! It is great to have people to share books with whether its squealing over a new release, obsessing over a favourite book/character or giving and receiving recommendations. Best of all, everyone was so friendly and supportive right from the start. That's what makes book blogging so fun...

Buddies <3

2) Finding out about books I might not otherwise not have heard of

There are quite a lot of books (particularly US ones) that I've read and enjoyed that I might not have discovered had it not been for book blogging. Before I used to just pick books from my local library, second hand bookshop or sometimes from Amazon suggestions, which usually meant I never read genres out of my comfort zone. I was running out of YA historical fiction but now I know about more books in the genre than I could possibly read. Almost every day I see a book I haven't heard of before when I open up my dashboard and it's fun to learn about upcoming releases in posts like Waiting on Wednesdays. Watch out for a list of books I might otherwise not have heard of later in the week.

3) Comments

Comments are the life and soul of a blog- who doesn't love getting comments? I wake up to read any comments in the morning before I go to school and it's a lovely feeling. I appreciate and read every single one of them and I try to respond when I can. Thank you so much to anyone who leaves a comment!

4) Recommendations and growing my TBR pile

Since I started blogging, my TBR list has grown extremely long because of all the fabulous book recommendations I've received from other bloggers - not that I'm complaining or anything ;) - and learning about upcoming books that I think I'd enjoy is very exciting. I used to just pick what took my fancy at the library, the second hand bookshop or from Amazon suggestions but now I can get a much better idea if I'd like the book or not from the reviews I see. Thank you to everyone who has recommended me a book over the last year :)

5) Giving recommendations of books I love to other people

This is the essential thing about book blogging- we review and recommend! It's great being able to share about books I love with other people and it's very rewarding to hear that someone has read and enjoyed a book I reviewed/ recommended to them.

6) Reading outside of my comfort zone

Before blogging I almost never stepped out of my genre comfort zone for example I had never read a supernatural book. I've read about six over the past year because of recommendations and review books such as the first 2 books of the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead (yes, I will read the rest!) because of a recommendation from Jess from Jess Heart's Books, Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin and the Need series by Carrie Jones. This year I've joined the Read Outside Of Your Comfort Zone Challenge hosted by Danya at A Tapestry Of Words to help me.

7)  Writing regularly
I like to write but often I'm stuck for inspiration and blogging helps me to write often. Writing book reviews has really helped me to develop my writing over the past year in a fun way. If you look at some of my very early reviews then there is quite a big difference to my more recent ones. Thinking of fresh post ideas also helps develop creativity. I'd love to get a book published one day and book blogging helping my writing is an extra bonus!

8) Discovering bookish websites!

Before I started blogging I had no idea about websites like Goodreads and Netgalley. I only post a few of my reviews on Goodreads at the moment but it's so useful in keeping track of what I want to read, book releases and keeping a record of what I read. Being a UK blogger, Netgalley has enabled me to read some US ARCs like Bumped by Megan Mcafferty that I would never have had the chance to before.

9) Interacting with authors

I've had the wonderful opportunity to interview several authors and have them for guest posts over the past year and it's been great fun to hear their thoughts. Twitter also acts as a good way to talk to authors. I never imagined before that I'd have the opportunity to do this.

10) Finding out more about my future

I've always known that I want to go into a career to do with writing from quite young and this time last year I was set on being a journalist but book blogging has opened my eyes to the world of publishing. I've learnt quite a bit about it through publisher relations and posts from other bloggers such as The Story Siren's series of Q and A posts with publishing houses. I still don't know what I'll go into and I've still got a long time before I have to start making choices but I've find out more about a career that goes hand in hand with my love of reading.

11) Becoming more confident about reading

I'd never hidden the fact that I read but I used to be a bit embarrassed of reading at school if I wanted to read in the library for a bit but book blogging has helped me to become more confident about this and be proud of reading. It's because of this that I've joined my school book club and I'm so glad I did!

12) Becoming more tech-savvy

I'll never be a HTML wizard but whilst choosing a template, tweaking my blog design and other tech things I learnt how to do a lot of things which have come in handy. If you want to know some tech-tips then check out Small Review's tutorials! They're really helpful and informative- thank you Smalls.

13) Discovering awesome non book related things through chatting

It's brilliant when I discover a non book related thing through chatting on twitter or through the comments. One particular example is when I discovered a TV series called Lark Rise to Candleford through Danya from A Tapestry Of Words that I absolutely love- thank you! 

What are your favourite things about book blogging?

Sunday, 29 May 2011

It's My 1st Blogoversary!

Guess what day it is today? It's Book's Are A Girl's Best Friend's first blogoversary and I truly can't believe I've been blogging for a whole year! The phrase time flies when you're having a good time comes to mind....

It's been exactly a year since I wrote my first proper blog post (although I didn't start blogging properly until about 2 months after) on the 29th May 2010 after discovering a few book blogs but unaware of the community out there. I started blogging because I wanted to have an outlet to share my love of books as I didn't have any reader friends and I'm so glad that I did.

I never expected my blog to develop the way it has or even thought that anyone would actually read my ramblings let alone 'follow' me. Despite times not always going smoothly, right from the start the book blogging community has been so helpful and supportive and I never stop being amazed at your kindness. I've had an incredible year chatting with other people who love reading just as much as me, growing my TBR list at an astounding speed, trying new genres, taking part in events/memes and most importantly having TONs of fun talking about books! You can here more about my favourite blogging experiences later in the week.

This blog wouldn't be what it is today without YOU so I just want to take this opportunity to say a massive

to everyone who has ever visited the blog, followed it, left a comment, entered a giveaway or helped and supported it in any way. You're amazing and I wish I could explain how much I appreciate everything- here's a virtual bunch of flowers! I won't name people but a particular thanks goes to my special blogging buddies :D

Here are some other posts I've got planned to celebrate my blogoversary
  • A giveaway (nothing awesomely big but a thank you for everyone)
  • Blogging Firsts and Facts
  • Why I Love Book Blogging- my favourite things
  • Books I might not have read without blogging

I would have liked to have done something extra special but school has been hectic recently. I hope you enjoy what I've got planned  :)

Here's to another brilliant year of book blogging!

P.S I'm still having a commenting problem so I won't be able to reply to anyone until it gets fixed- sorry.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Commenting problem and a quick note

This is just a quick note to say that I can't comment on anyone else's blog or reply to comments on here for the time being because blogger won't let me post because it says I'm anonymous when I try to comment even though I'm not. It's quite frustrating but I can still make new posts and update this blog though. Hopefully it will get sorted out soon but in the meantime sorry I can't comment on any posts!

Does anyone else have this problem?

I also just wanted to say that I don't know how much I'll be able to post this week because I have a lot of school work at the moment. It won't be for long and I have a surprise planned for this weekend but it would be good if you could bear that in mind. Sorry!

Coverlicious: Beauitful Cover Dresses #5 Forgiven by Janet Fox

Coverlicious is a feature here where I post anything to do with covers such as covers I love, look alike covers and cover reveals. This post is part of a Coverlicious series called Beautiful Cover Dresses.

Today's pick


Forgiven by Janet Fox (released June 2nd!)

Goodreads description:

Kula Baker never expected to find herself on the streets of San Francisco, alone but for a letter of introduction. Though she has come to the city to save her father from a cruel fate, Kula soon finds herself swept up in a world of art and elegance - a world she hardly dared dream of back in Montana, where she was no more than the daughter of an outlaw. And then there is the handsome David Wong, whose smiling eyes and soft-spoken manner have an uncanny way of breaking through Kula's carefully crafted reserve. Yet when disaster strikes and the wreckage threatens all she holds dear, Kula realizes that only by unlocking her heart can she begin to carve a new future for herself.

Why I think the dress/ cover is beauitful!

Similar dress and
girl running trend
I love this dress because the rich crimson colour really stands out against the muted brown background colours, the cream title and her way dark brown hair. It just looks so airy as it trails behind in the wind and the colour makes me think of forgiveness. The one bright colour also works really well for me because its simple and makes the pretty flounces of the dress more effective. The dress isn't intricately embroidered or patterned but this is what makes it so stunning in its own way.

 Girls running in covers might be quite common (think the Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell) but I think it has a lovely effect on this cover because it's been done really well because of the colour choices and the layout. It makes me curious as to why the girl is running and how this links to the title of Forgiven so it would definitely draw me in straight if I saw it in a bookshop.

The title's creamy colour is so much lighter than the other hues so it also stands out and it's a pretty italic font too. Yay!

The teaser sentence is a nice little addition because it also makes me want to read the book more and because it's placed behind the girl's flowing hair, it looks like its streaming along behind her.

I don't like the version of the cover on the left though with the added quote at the bottom because it makes everything look too busy and not as striking. I'm not sure if it's the finished cover but I hope it's not because I much prefer the one without the quote. Quotes are good but I would prefer it on the back jacket here.

What do you think of this cover?

Want to see more beautiful cover dresses? Visit the previous posts in the series.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

In My Mailbox 22/5/11

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren

Pretty spring mailbox.

This week I'm showing the books I've got over the past 2 weeks because I didn't do an IMM last week. Here's what I got:

The Resistance by Gemma Malley (thank you to ComaCalm for sending me it)

I've actually read this one and the rest of this dystopian trilogy and have the first book The Declaration already so I couldn't resist a lovely hardcover copy! It was written a long time before the new wave of dystopians flooding the book world and if you haven't read this series then I really recommend it

Daughter of Venice by Donna Napoli (thank you to ComaCalm again)

As you probably know if you're a long term reader, I love historical fiction and this one's set in Italy so all the better. I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like.

Girl 15 Flirting For England by Sue Limb (thank you to Bloomsbury)

I read this one this week and the antics of 15 year old Jess were pretty hilarious! Review to come soon.

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors (thank you to Bloomsbury)

This one looks like a cute, fun read.

Precious Norman Honour by A.L Stumo (thank you to the author)

Another historical-yay! It's based on a real siege that's happening in the 12th century told through the eyes of a young girl. It sounds right up my street so I hope I enjoy it.

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Book Review: Bumped by Megan Mcafferty

Goodreads Description

Bumped (Bumped, #1)
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

My review

Having read several dystopian books I’ve really liked this year and enjoying interviewing the author, I was really hoping that I’d love Bumped . There has been a lot of controversy around the blogosphere about Bumped with a divide between people who loved it and people who thought the book wasn’t for them. Unfortunately, I fell into the latter category.

I had a really hard time getting into Bumped because of the unfamiliar slang of the dystopian world Megan Mcafferty created. Instead of building up the atmosphere bringing the world to life, the words like ‘rilly,’ 'reproaesthetic' and ‘neggy' just confused me and ended up sounding forced. So rather than adding to my reading experience they became an unwelcome frustration because the talk was hard to follow. I think this could have been helped by a glossary at the back for the made up vocabulary because even having finished the book I'm not sure I could completely explain all the terms.

Melony and Harmony made a nice contrast to each other because of their vastly different personalities and backgrounds, which meant I was able to see their world from different points of view. This was helped by the story being told from both their points of view in alternating chapters. I liked the idea of Harmony being bought up in a religious community because it balanced out against the rest of the materialistic society but I did find the way she wanted to share her religion all the time with everyone she met rather annoying at times and it showed religion in a bad light. Melody's relationship with Zen was a high point in the book because it was the only one that seemed to have true depth and the banter between them added a lot of humour to the story.
The twins did develop throughout the course of the book but I just didn't feel a connection with them and this particularly affected my enjoyment. I think this could be because I just wasn't able to picture them in my head and they almost didn't feel like real people.

The topic of young teenage girls getting pregnant for profit was always bound to be controversial and the book did succeed in making me uncomfortable but also slightly curious about the dystopian world. It was very thought provoking because it made me think about some of the issues with teen pregnancy we face now. Despite this and the interesting premise, I found the extremely casual sexual talk and  drug references a little too much considering my age and this put me off so I'd only recommend it to the upper end of the YA market. I think I'd have enjoyed the plot more if these issues had been dealt with in a more serious way instead of making it fun spirited because it would have hit my emotions harder.

However, I must say that the idea was a very original one and I applaud Megan Mcafferty on daring to take a risk . The society presented in Bumped is different from other dystopians I've read because it didn't have a controlling government and I think this gave it a lot of scope for the characters because they had more of a grip on their future. I also found that this made the society seem scarily believable to me because it's closer to what I know and could imagine happening, which was what gave the book an almost creepy atmosphere. To get the bigger picture of the society as a whole, I would have liked to have seen more adult interaction within the book (even though I know it's a teen centred society) and have known more about the infertility virus that hit the world.

Verdict/ Quick Read: Unfortunately Bumped didn't live up to its exciting premise for me because I couldn't connect with the characters well and the teen speak bogged the story down. Despite this, I was impressed at the originality and the thoughts it provoked so I won't forget it easily. It wasn't the book for me and I don't think I'll be reading the sequel but I would still encourage you to try it if the premise appeals and you like dystopians because I know so many people who have loved it!

Rating: 2 stars

Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me a review copy via NetGalley

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite supporting characters

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke And The Bookish

When I first read this week's topic I thought it was an excellent one but when I got down to writing the post, I couldn't actually think of all my favourite minor characters (I think it's to do with information overload because of school revision) but here are 6 of them :

1) Hana in Delirium

Hana had an interesting influence on the main character Lena and I loved their complicated best friend relationship.

2) Freida in The Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent Dyer
Frieda is amongst the girls here!

Frieda is one of the main character Joey's best friend and she always comes Joey down and gets her out of scrapes- always a good friend to have around.
The real Marie

3) Mashka (Marie) in Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap

Mashka was actually a real person and she was a great supporting character in Anastasia's Secret because she had a lovely sisterly relationship with Anastasia and helped me to get an insight into the other Romonov girl's thoughts too.

4) Felix in Frederica by Georgette Heyer

Felix is a little rascal and gets himself into many escapades that would usually never occur in Regency London. He added a lot of fun and humour into the book and I loved him because of it.

5) Iris in House Of Secrets by Jennie Walters

Iris was a loyal and fantastic friend to the main character Olive when she was new at being a housemaid and without her events would never have turned out the way they did.

6) Becky in The Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

Becky is the servant girl who lives in the attic with the main character Sara and I like Becky because she cheers Sara up, makes her more optimistic and still believe that all girls are princesses.

What are your favourite supporting characters?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Book Review: Flawless by Lara Chapman

Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads description

Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny-all right, enormous-flaw: her nose. But even that's not so bad. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame.

On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do-she agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking?

This hip retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac is filled with hilariously misguided matchmaking, sweet romance, and a gentle reminder that we should all embrace our flaws.
My review
Sarah Burke is a new high school senior with long blond hair, blue eyes and gets top grades. While that description might make her seem flawless, Sarah sees herself as anything but because of her enormous nose that seems to attract the wrong kind of attention wherever she goes. She has learnt to accept it as part of herself and can't quite bring herself to have a nose job like her mum did to fix the same affliction. When a new boy arrives at her school, it changes everything....

Without a doubt, what I loved most about this book was the characters because I often find that contemporaries set in high school (out of the few I've read) often feature cliched characters such as the popular mean girl or the dumb blond. In Flawless, each of the main characters Sarah, Kristen and Rock were really well developed with believable flaws  so I was able to relate to each one of them and I couldn't help but grow to love them. The protagonist Sarah is witty, smart and exceptionally well organised but has many insecurities about herself because of her abnormally large nose that often holds her back. I was able to understand her feelings about this perfectly because every teenage girl feels insecure sometimes and this has been a big topic in the media over the past few years. I loved the close friendship that she shared with her best friend Kristen who she agrees to help get the attention of Rock despite having strong feelings about him herself. This showed what a loyal friend Sarah was because she would do anything for Kristen's happiness and puts their friendship before guys.

Although blind to Sarah's feelings for Rock, it was clear that Kristen was a fantastic friend too who was always there for Sarah. I really liked how she would stick up for Sarah when people made fun of her nose and was protective of her. She was the party girl of the two with model like looks and a fabulous fashion sense but just as lovable in her own way!

Rock was absolutely gorgeous and I'm not surprised that both girls in the book were after him! He was smart, witty, handsome and best of all he loved literature and reading. Some guys in YA books can be quite shallow and there characters are under developed but this wasn't the case with Rock. I loved his banter and some of the things he said- totally cute! Also the dates that he thought of were so romantic. Although I do have to point out that he wasn't an unrealistic perfect character and did have character flaws.

I think that the issues of being learning to be happy and comfortable about yourself and your body, loyalty and boyfriend problems were handled really well because they were a subtle theme throughout the book that left me with a message that acted as food for thought but it was never pushed onto me or became preachy. I like this because it makes the reader realise it and work it out for themselves. A nice little addition to this was the famous quotes to do with how beauty isn't perfection and other topics like that at the beginning of each chapter. I'm going to copy some of them into my new quote book because I like them so much. Here's an example of one of my favourite quotes in the book:

'The absence of flaw in beauty is itself a flaw.' Havecock Ellis

I hadn't heard of the story of Cyrano de Bergerac before I read this retelling and I looked it up after finishing the book and I think it's been adapted really well for the twenty-first century.
Lara Chapman's writing was fabulous and there are many hilarious one liners in the book that seem very natural and not forced. This is her debut and she writes like she's already an experienced bestselling author so I can't wait to see what she writes next!

Verdict/Quick read:  Flawless lives up to its name with well developed characters, witty one liners and of course a gorgeous guy- the perfect combination for a high school set story! Every contemporary fan should have this debut at the top of their reading list and even if you're not usually a contemporary fan (like me!) then I still recommend it.

Rating: 4.5 stars