Tuesday 31 July 2012

Debutantes (Debutantes #1)

Debutantes (Debutantes #1) by Cora
Paperback, 532 pages

Published 2nd August 2012 by Pan Macmillan Childrens 

My shelves: arc-or-review, blog-tour, books-i-own, cover-appeal, currently-reading, historical, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, young-adult
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.

Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country.

But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever.

Buy this book:

My thanks go to Pan Macmillan for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Debutantes is going to be quite a challenging book for me to review. This is another book where I was quite honestly blinded by the beauty of the cover - just look at it, isn't it gorgeous? I did of course read the blurb and whilst I don't read all that much historical fiction, what I have read I have enjoyed, so I was excited to give this one a go.

I will admit that I wasn't immediately taken with this book when I started with it. It's a bit of a slow burner and rather than having much action or twists and turns at the beginning, we're introduced to the Derrington sisters (Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose), their family and friends. I really liked getting to know the sisters, they were all different and equally intriguing. I thought that it was great that each sister was following their own, independent path. I especially loved reading about Daisy and her passion for movie making! I enjoyed watching the sister's interactions together and I am curious to see how their relationships will develop during this series. I took a real fondness to each of the girls and appreciated their differences.

 I also enjoyed learning about the housemaids, though at some points the amount of characters did feel a little overwhelming. It wasn't confusing as such, but because of the amount of characters, it was difficult for them all to be given real depth. Whilst I did enjoy the relationships that were developing in the book - both the familial love as well as the romance, I found some of the relationships to be a little too quickly progressed. The romance certainly wasn't instant love and it did seem 'right' and natural, but I would've liked to see some more depth. Of course, there is lots of room for exploration of this in the upcoming books.

This isn't a particularly deep book, though it does have some family issues interwoven into it to satisfy those who do like some real issues incorporated into their books. The story wasn't very unpredictable, though there was a little mystery, but I thought it was good to have a slightly grittier subplot against the actual debutante ball. This book isn't one that I was shocked at, there were no huge twists and turns, but rather it was consistently enjoyable throughout. It was relaxed and moved at a nice pace. Personally, I do like my twists and turns in novels, but I wasn't disappointed when I found that this one wasn't very eventful. This is definitely a book to simply get immersed in and to relax with.

Although this wasn't a perfect book for me, it was a pleasant enough read and I think that it will appeal to most people who are fans of historical fiction and fans of Downton Abbey as well as young adults who simply want an easy read. I am certainly still intrigued enough and found the 1920's atmosphere and setting absorbing enough to want to read more. It will be exciting to see what happens next!

Sunday 29 July 2012

Stacking The Shelves and Showcase Sunday (12)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.

 Wow! I was so lucky to receive all of these brilliant-looking books this week! I am SO excited to have been sent Breathe - a dystopian by Sarah Crossan. I read her debut, The Weight of Water earlier this year and absolutely loved it. I'm hoping this will be just as good! I also received HAV3N which I'm reading for a blog tour. It's really good so far! Other YA books that I received are Heaven, Watcher, The Wild Song and a book I've been waiting ages to read - Pure. I also received four adult fiction books this week (I'm a very eclectic reader!) - Haven of Obedience, Fire After Dark, The Inn at Rose Harbor and The Au Pair! It looks like I'm going to be very busy!

 I made three swaps this week which I am really happy about! I haven't actually heard all that much about any of these books, but what I have heard/seen has been very positive. The books that I chose were Whisper, Dearly Departed and Revived.

 I recieved mail from the USA this week - a book that I won from it's author! 
A signed copy of Sleeping Tigers

Okay, once again I couldn't resist buying a book, but to be honest I have wanted this for AGES! Seriously. I am so happy that I finally bought a brand new copy. It's called Under the Ivy and it's a very big book that I'm really looking forward to picking up and devouring!

Thursday 26 July 2012

From the Review Pile (12)

 From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!


This week, I'm going to showcase Witch Crag!
I only received this book for review last week but I thought that I'd feature this book as it looks very interesting and hopefully you will all feel the same way. I hadn't heard anything of this book before I received it, so I'm wanting to spread the word. I'm quite excited to see what it's like! 

Witch Crag by Kate Cann
Paperback, 384 pages
Expected Publication October 4th 2012 by Scholastic

In a tribe where basic survival is the only priority, Kita must make a choice: to accept arranged marriages and being treated with less value than sheep, or escape and journey to the place that even the strongest men fear with their lives — Witch Crag.

But a common threat is facing the witches and sheepmen alike. The tribes must somehow overcome their prejudices and join together if they are to win a war that threatens to destroy everything they hold as good.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
Paperback, 532 pages

Published 26th April 2012 by Arrow 
(First published 5th September 2011)

My shelves: 
abuse, books-i-own, currently-reading, erotica, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, series-or-companions, too-much-hype
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house.
But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.
While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.

Buy this book:

Okay... I wasn't going to read this. After reading the first few chapters of the first book, Fifty Shades of Grey, I told myself that I wouldn't continue the trilogy.  Obviously I lied to myself - I went out and bought the second and third book only days after finishing the first. I'm not sure why, but I can't help but want more - maybe it's because I've never read anything like this before - it is something new.

At the beginning of this book, I was absolutely cringing. Not because of the sex scenes, but because of the writing. Some of the phrases used in this book are seriously cringe-inducing and I found myself grimacing when our main character, Ana, was talking about her 'inner goddess'. However, once I had adjusted to the writing and just concentrated on what was actually going on, I did find myself getting lost in the story again, flicking through pages at top speed. This book certainly had more of a plot than the first one - rather than just sex scene upon sex scene, there was actually an alright story behind it too. We get to learn a lot more about Christian's past in this book which was all quite predictable but still quite interesting. There were certainly more serious issues addressed in this book. There is actually so much packed into this one that it'd be hard to mention everything. I do think that some of the issues/situations should have been explored more as I felt a few felt casually dismissed.

I think that although the relationships and actions of the characters aren't entirely realistic, they are somewhat interesting. Once again, both Ana and Christian had their faults and certainly weren't totally likeable characters. Like many others, I do find Ana to be quite pathetic at points, her actions sometimes childish. To be honest, I can live with her though - she may be a pushover, but I'd imagine that a lot of people in her situation would react the same way. Christian is ...Christian. He's still charming, mysterious, seductive and attractive despite his sometimes scary attitude. He doesn't seem to be as controlled by his 'sadist' feelings, but they are clearly still there. I thought it was good to see him work through his psychological problems - it was nice to actually have more of a focus in this book rather than just all of the sex scenes. Of course there was plenty of steamy sex scenes again and more visits to Christian's playroom.

I am giving this two and a half stars because that's simply what I feel that it deserves overall. The writing is certainly not great and I'm not a fan of the whiny main character. Despite that, it has still managed to get me hooked. Some people will be charmed by Christian and some will find him simply abusive. Some people will find reading about a BDSM relationship uncomfortable. Like all books, some people will like it and some people just won't. I have mixed feelings yet I still want to read more...

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Angels and Demons (Robert Langdon #1)

Angels and Demons (Robert Langdon #1) by Dan Brown
Paperback, 620 pages

Published 2001 by Corgi Books
(First Published 2000)

My shelves: 
adult-fiction, better-than-expected, books-i-own, cultural, currently-reading, historical, movies-or-tv, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, series-or-companions
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
When a scientist is found brutally murdered, Harvard professor Robert Langdon is asked to identify the mysterious symbol seared onto the dead man's chest. Realising it must be the work of the Illuminati - an ancient secret brotherhood sworn against Catholicism - the race is on to prevent a tragedy.

Buy this book:

When I was hunting for a story that was based in Rome, Italy, this is the one that stood out like a sore thumb. It is one of those books that it seems like everyone has read, or at least seen the film adaptation of... everyone apart from me! I didn't really want to read this book - I was actually dreading it. I am not a big fan of mystery or crime books, so I didn't think that this book would be for me. I also thought that the book would be one huge info-dump. Nonetheless, I picked it up and gave it a go simply because it was set in Rome. I am so, so glad that I gave this book a chance as I was completely blown away.

There was a lot of information provided the history of Rome and the Illuminati in this story, but rather than feeling overwhelming, it was simply fascinating - I couldn't get enough information and it has made me want to look into the Illuminati more. I really can't describe how interesting that this book is - on almost every page I was learning something new without feeling as though I was having a history lesson. Dan Brown is amazingly clever in the way that he links all of his facts together. Reading this on the plane home from Rome was a real treat - Brown led me around the city through this book and taught me lots about its history. 

Whilst I doubt that the events that occurred in this book are going to happen anytime soon, it was quite realistic and as I've mentioned, Brown fabricated this story very impressively. The characters didn't have particularly amazing personalities, but they were strong and they interacted well. I did like our main character, Langdon, my fondness for him growing as the story progressed. I loved Vittoria Vetra too - a bit kick-ass and very brave. We were of course introduced to lots of other characters, though they were all well defined and it was easy to keep track. There were a whole load of twists throughout the book, some a little predictable but thankfully, quite a few that weren't too. The book was generally fast paced though I did feel that there were brief sections where it lagged. 

It did take me a little while to get into the book as it's not my usual genre, but once I did adjust to it, I was hooked. This wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it was certainly one of the smartest which is what made it so good. I can't wait to read more of Dan Brown's books and I hope that I like them as much as I liked this one.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (11)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
Showcase Sunday is a meme hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.

 I received some absolutely GORGEOUS looking ARC and review copies this week, just look at how beautiful they all are! I received Dark Eyes, Debutantes  and The Dark Glamour - seriously, how nice are those covers?! I also received the interesting sounding Ocean of Secrets, Witch Crag and an adult fiction book, Sworn Secret.

Only one swap this week, but it was a really good one in my opinion! I'm a huge fan of LGBT themes books, so I have had this on my wish list for a while!

 Two very different purchased books this week - I finally gave into buying a copy of The Little Prince which I really want to re-read. I also hit lucky finding a second hand copy of Romanitas to satisfy my new found love for Rome!

 All in all, a very good week! What books did you get?

Thursday 19 July 2012

From the Review Pile (11)

 From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!


This week, I'm going to showcase Escape!
This is an adult book rather than a young adult one, and I would like to branch out and start reviewing a wider range of books on this blog - especially more in the adult fiction genre. I've only read one other book by Delinsky, but I devoured it in one sitting, so I'm hoping that this one will be just as good!

Escape by Barbara Delinsky
Paperback, 201 pages
Published April 2012 by Corsair

Emily Aulenbach is an idealistic young lawyer who once dreamed of representing victims of corporate abuse. Instead, she now spends her days in a cubicle arguing victims of corporate greed out of their rightful claims. She no longer connects with much in her life, period, with the exception of three things--her computer, her BlackBerry, and her watch. One day, she snaps. Without telling anyone where she is going, she heads north to Bell Valley, New Hampshire, the small town where she spent a life-altering summer during her college years. There, she will set out to forge new relationships with lovers, long-lost friends and the person she once wanted to become...

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Why We Broke Up Review & GIVEAWAY!

Scroll to the end of this review to enter my INTERNATIONAL giveaway of one paperback copy of this book!

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Paperback, 354 pages

Expected publication: 6th August 2012 by Electric Monkey
(First Published 27th December 2011)

My shelves: 
arc-or-review, books-i-own, contemporary, cover-appeal, currently-reading, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, really-good, title-appeal, young-adult

Description via Goodreads:
This is the box, Ed. Inside is everything. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket from Greta in the Wind, a note from you, a box of matches, your protractor, Joan's book, the stolen sugar, a toy truck, those ugly earrings, a comb from the motel, and the rest of it. This is it Ed. The whole story of how we broke up.

Buy this book:

My thanks go to Electric Monkey for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

As soon as I heard about this book from American book reviewers, I began wishing that it'd be released here in the UK. My prayers were answered by Electric Monkey and I was so unbelievably excited to start reading this book as soon as it came into my home! I didn't know all that much about the book - the short blurb doesn't give that much away, but I liked it that way - It was fantastic to discover more about Why We Broke Up as I worked my way through the book.

Sleeping is my favourite thing to do, yep - even more so than reading. However, this book stole my sleep from me. It takes quite a lot for me to stay up flicking through pages, but this one managed it. There was something  about this book that was just so compelling and made me want to keep reading just one more page. I wanted to know what happened next, what Min was feeling, just exactly why they broke up.

The book is written as a letter from Min to her ex-boyfriend, Ed, explaining why they broke up, using a variety of objects (illustrated by Kalman). It is a very simple concept, but I absolutely loved it. It really made for an interesting and heartfelt story. I did connect with Min, though I did have my reservations about Ed from the moment they entered a relationship. The reason why Min and Ed do break up is quite predictable but to be honest I don't think that matters because, in truth and as Min explains, there were several things that contributed to their eventual split.

The characters that were included in this book were very strong - even those who were only mentioned sporadically. I really liked Al and Lauren, Min's closest friends. It was interesting to see how her relationship with Ed affected her friendship group. I really loved the bond between Min and Al and I really felt for Al as he became distanced from Min. He is genuinely one of the nicest, kindest characters I have come across. I did like Min too - I thought she was quite easy to connect with - she was a generally likeable character. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the way you look at it!) I didn't really fall for Ed - although to a lot of people he may seem near perfect, he just didn't sit right with me and I found him to be a bit immature.

If you've gone through a break-up as a teenager, then I think you'll appreciate this book. It feels real and although it doesn't feel overly intense, there is definite feeling behind it that runs quite deep, the fact that it is written in epistolary form only adds to this feeling. I think that the emotion behind this book is very interesting, though hard to put into words. It is quite easy to relate to, in my opinion, though I think every reader will have a different experience with this one. 

I haven't read any of Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket)'s previous books, but if he does write more young adult contemporary reads like this one, I would definitely pick it up. I also really enjoyed the illustrations - they simply added some extra enjoyment to the reading experience. I have found this book difficult to review as I do think it's really quite personal - everyone has their own individual pasts and I think that will affect how you read this book. For me, this book was addictive, different and extremely enjoyable.

This is one of the most enjoyable books I've read for a while, so I thought that I should offer you the chance to read it too! 

One winner. 
One brand new paperback copy of Why We Broke Up

All you have to do is fill in the Rafflecopter form below!
Good luck!
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