31 August 2011


Dark Inside
Author: Jeyn Roberts
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
UK Release date: September 2011
Genre: Dystopian
Kindly sent by the publisher for an honest review

When the world is ripped apart by earthquakes, a terrible evil pours out and infiltrates the minds of the weak. The rest of humanity must fight to survive against these hunters who will stop at nothing to kill everyone left alive. Clementine, Aries, Michael and Mason go on their own journeys across North American finding friendship and love in a world that is filled with violence and darkness.

Review: In post-apocolyptic aftermath four young people face the changing side of humanity, and the resulting destruction and death. I honestly couldn't put this book down despite the fact that I was ridiculously scared when reading it. Each page was filled with violence and pure terror. This is truly a book for the strong of heart, and stomach. As each of the characters is faced with the horrifying baggers (killers), it's like being right there with them feeling the heart-stopping fright and unnerving suspense of whether they will be caught or survive. 

What I found really interesting was how each of the characters dealt with this violence and death - did they run away or stand and fight? Do they put their own life at risk for others or protect themselves at all costs? I liked the fact that each of the characters had their strengths and weaknesses and would react differently depending on the context. None of us knows how we would react in similar situations - I can only hope that I would be brave, but after three weeks surviving I'm not sure I could keep it up! In Dark Inside they can't hide behind normal everyday life, but their inner fears and true characters are bared for all to see.

Each chapter is written from the point of view of the four different characters Clementine, Aries, Michael and Mason, which helps move the story along and keep the fast pace flowing. I did struggle to remember which character was which at the start of each chapter, because so much happens to each of them. This is really just a small niggle though.

The 'disease' that infected the weak turning them into killers was pretty ambiguous. There is the implication that this has happened before to other cultures, but I'm still unsure what it is and why it happened at this precise point in time. I did like the concept of Nothing, able to give us an insight into the 'dark inside', and whilst I liked the ending I still what to know what will happen after. That little extra element of clarity would have really helped me get a better grip on the bigger picture.

Gripping and terrifying, Dark Inside is a compulsive read that will make you afraid of the dark and what lurks within.

Rating: 4*

29 August 2011


As I saw a few trailers for this film on other bloggers' sites, I thought I would do a mini review of this enchanting werewolf film.

Red Riding Hood
Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Written by: David Johnson
UK Cinematic release date: April 2011

Young Valerie falls for poor orphaned woodcutter Peter, much to the consternation of her family who want her to marry blacksmith Henry. But will anyone survive when a wolf starts attacking the village?

Sharing a director and Vancouver setting with the Twilight films, Red Riding Hood has a similar feel and aesthetic quality to the aforementioned vampire films. The medieval village, swathed in snow and surrounded by woods and mountains, is absolutely stunning and a perfect backdrop to this creepy love story.

And what love story would be complete without a love triangle? Since childhood Valerie has been in love with bad-boy woodcutter Peter, however she is now betrothed to Henry. I could certainly see why she would be attracted to the dark and wild Peter, but I have to admit I warmed to the thoughtful Henry.

Gary Oldman's character, Solomon, enters the village in imposing style offering to rid them of their wolf. Whilst his character was ambiguous at first - is he a good guy come to rescue the villagers and protect his children or a man just out for revenge at the cost of everyone else? - his acting as always was impeccable. In fact I couldn't fault the acting at all throughout the film.

As the film plot is very loosely based on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, I can see how some would be annoyed by the slant of the film, deviating from the original story by featuring a werewolf who is able to turn those it bites into wolves during the blood-red moon. I figure if you watch the film not expecting the fairy tale then you shouldn't be disappointed.

Who this werewolf is, is a big mystery throughout the film (thanks to all the actors wearing brown contact lenses or having brown eyes).

 Normally I can guess straight away who is the murderer or mysterious character, but I had absolutely no clue in this film until it was revealed at the end. This one will really keep you guessing!

Rating: 4*

If you haven't yet seen the film, here's a sneaky peek at the trailer...

28 August 2011


Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
UK Release date: 1999
Genre: Fantasy

When ordinary shop-boy Tristan promises the fair Victoria that he will bring back a fallen star from the magical and mysterious land beyond the Wall in return for whatever his heart desires, little does he know that his journey across the faerie land will lead him to witches, fighting lions and maybe even love. 

Review: Having already seen the film adaptation, there was inevitably going to be some comparison from the book to the film. I do love the film version and despite knowing the general gist of what happens, I still really enjoyed the book and its plot variations and twists.

Shop-boy Tristan might be rather naive in thinking that Victoria will marry him despite showing him little affection before, but I adored his positive nature. No matter what unusual and bizarre events happen in Faerie, Tristan is upbeat and determined. His fallen star Yvaine, however is cranky and grumpy. And who wouldn't be after being knocked out of the sky? Her relationship with Tristan is fraught with tension and disagreement, stemming form the fact that he takes her hostage to his romantic profession of love for Victoria. But slowly there relationship changes and develops in a very sweet and endearing way.

There are plenty of surprising, delightful and fantastic events, some straight from the pages of children’s nursery rhymes. The writing lulls you into the fairy story, enchanting you with tales and descriptions of the unusual characters, dramatic landscapes and histories of those living in Faerie. I have to admit I do love maps in fantasy books, and because Neil Gaiman's Faerie comes across as big and diverse I would love to have had a map to put places into context, but I understand that's just my unusual quirk.

Neil Gaiman purposefully aimed his fairy tale at adults incorporating a fair amount of sex, gore, and even one swear word. It did seem unnecessary and slightly shocking against the rest of the writing and without it, the story could have been perfectly enjoyed by children and adults alike. Saying this, Stardust is certainly one of the few books that I would consider re-reading again and again in the future. Just short of 200 pages and a standalone book, it can be picked up read for a fanciful diversion from the tedium of everyday life.

Stardust is an originally fantastical fairy tale filled with adventures beyond imagining.

Rating: 5*

27 August 2011


The latest chapter of Rémy Brunel and the Ocean of Light by Sharon Gosling is now out on Fiction Express. Each week I will be reviewing the new chapter of Rémy Brunel, an atmospheric historical fiction of a young circus performance and jewel thief.

Review: Chapter 6
Last week Thaddeus, Rémy and J snuck into underground passages in London trying to discover what Lord Abernathy is up to. I wasn't sure who to vote for to fall in the machine but was kind of relieved to find out it was Thaddeus, only because I think is he older and could probably handle whatever the machine throws at him. And boy, what a machine it is! Despite the window in the machine, Rémy can't see him at all...hmmm, intriguing!

Again we see a growing bond between Rémy and Thaddeus, as she doesn't want to leave him behind. Whilst it would mean she wouldn't be under his charge anymore, she obviously feels something for him. I really want something to develop between them, and I can't wait to see what happens!

Although they've discovered some strange contraptions and suits of armour and I have a very tiny inkling of what might these machines might do, really I have no idea of what Abernathy is up to. I love the growing mystery of how things fit together and how the circus and her curse tie into everything else.

This weeks choice to vote on is ... Who is standing before Rémy?

· The Professor
· Thaddeus
· Claudette

What do you think? What choice would you make? I think these choices are really great as they could help open the plot up again.

You have until next Monday to make your decision! Hop on over there now!

25 August 2011


Author: Meg Cabot
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: MacMillan Children’s Books
UK Release date: September 2011
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Kindly sent by the publisher for an honest review

Pierce’s life is turned upside down after a near-death-experience and an unexpected visit into the Underworld. The realisation that she won’t be going home hits her, and she escapes from John and the clutches of death. Returning to life with a necklace, the only proof that her visit to the Underworld was real, she finds that danger now follows her and her only protection is the man that she scorned back in the Underworld.

Review: When I first started reading Abandon it took me a few chapters to get into the story and Meg Cabot’s style of writing. I couldn’t quite get Pierce’s background story straight in my mind because her narrative flits regularly and rather haphazardly from the present into flashbacks of past events. With all this flitting back and forth, the plot feels like little happens in it, as events are a bit jumbled up. When I realised that Pierce suffers from ADHD, I figured the first person narrative would probably represent this and might go some way to explaining the jumpy writing style.

I love the concept of the Underworld and Furies, and I like John’s role in it. Based very loosely on the Hades and Persephone myth, John is now keeper of the Underworld and wants Pierce to stay there with him. John has bad-boy written all over his black jeans and scarred skin, but there are other qualities to him that make him likeable and attractive. I really want to know more about his background as well as that of the Furies, and hopefully these aspects will be explored in greater detail in the next book.

I feel sad for Pierce, because even after a near-death-experience her parents still care more about her not being able to get into a good college and pass her driving license. Despite the fact that her dad would willingly throw money at her and any problem in her way (his way of parenting), you can’t quite say that Pierce is a spoilt brat or materialistic. She rides around on a bike and constantly forgets her phone. The best quality about Pierce and the one that makes me like her and ultimately makes John like her, is her kindness and caring nature. She is always putting others first although sometimes her logic of why and how isn’t always the best!

Whilst the characters, particularly the secondary characters, aren’t that well rounded and well developed, the story and concept has a lot of merit to it, and I will certainly be following Pierce’s journey in Underworld, the next in the series.

Rating: 4*

23 August 2011


Lately I’ve found myself thinking a fair bit about fairy tales – I’ve been reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, the story of a young man travelling into Faerie; scouting around my family home for my copy of Grimms' Fairy Tales; and falling in love again with the little fairy tale of the three brothers who meet Death in The Deathly Hallows.

There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of agreement on the subject of what a fairy tale is, just that it doesn’t actually need fairies. So I started thinking, what does make a fairy tale?

·         Moral
Should there be a moral to the story? Does the hero or perhaps even villain need to learn a lesson or certain wisdom before he can gain the prize?

·         Magic
Most fairy tales that I can think of have some sort of inherent magic involved in them, whether it’s a witch casting a spell on a young prince or talking animals…magic of some form is involved. But does the story need magic to make it a fairy tale?

·         Myth
Are fairy tales based on some form of truth, whether it’s a tradition, legend, fable, or just an old wives tale?

·         Happy ending
Does every fairy tale have to have a happy ending?

I would certainly not say that a fairy tale needs all of these components to be a fairy tale, but I still can’t quite put my finger on what does make a fairy tale. Perhaps my problem is that I’m analysing it too much, and what defines a fairytale is more about the way the story makes you feel or what you think, rather than its content and structure.

What’s your opinion - what makes a story a fairy tale?

21 August 2011


Forgive my Fins
Author: Tera Lynn-Childs
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Templar Publishing
UK Release date: July 2011
Genre: Paranormal

Half mermaid and half human, 17 year old Lily has come to live on land with her aunt. With the pressing urgency of finding and bonding with a mate before her 18th birthday, Lily tries to confront Brody, the boy she has fantasised over for 3 years. But when there is a mix up of identity, Lily must decide whether she could bond with anyone else. 

Review: My favourite aspect of Forgive my Fins is the underwater mer-world, with its sea plants and food, own way of life and the beautiful colours. The underwater magical kingdom Thalassinia is set up perfectly and adds a brilliant contrast to Lily’s life on land. Lily’s narrative is infused with sea terminology and euphemisms, which I thought was endearing and reinforces that her natural environment and home is the sea. Despite being a mer-princess and having a tendency to be oblivious to others around her Lily isn’t stuck-up, as on land she has to tackle her fly-away frizzy hair and clumsiness, making her so much more personable. 

I automatically liked Quince. Sure he's your typical bad boy who rides a motorbike and is really the nice guy. But there is something instantly appealing about him. Perhaps its because he isn't perfect. In one particular scene he rescues Lily by hiding in a toilet cubicle with her, and it has such intimacy, thoughtfulness and that spark of sexual tension that I wish was in there with him!

I was a little uncomfortable about the idea that Lily would be happy to kiss Brody without even telling him about the bonding and being a mermaid, as it would have such a huge impact on his life. Without giving any 'spoilery' bits away, it seems a little cruel to inflict something so big on someone without their permission, even if you do think they might love you.

A big plus for me is that Forgive my Fins could be a standalone. Sure, there is a very short Epilogue which leaves a huge cliff-hanger for the next book but other than that loose ends are tied up so you could just read it on its own and be satisfied.

The mermaid theme is an interesting take on the paranormal and Forgive my Fins is a charming, fun and quirky summer read. 

Rating: 4*

20 August 2011


The latest chapter of Rémy Brunel and the Ocean of Light by Sharon Gosling is now out on Fiction Express. Each week I will be reviewing the new chapter of Rémy Brunel, an atmospheric historical fiction of a young circus performance and jewel thief.

Review: Chapter 5
This week sees Thaddeus and Rémy come together. Whilst they obviously don't trust each other they are finally talking, with the help of the Professor and little J. This chapter was quite a long one, with a fair amount of time getting everyone up to speed with what's happened to them so far and explaining their side of the story. There was a little danger that the plot would slow right down without any of the usual action, but the tension between Thaddeus and Rémy helped. You can see Thaddeus slowly warming to Rémy despite his belief that she is a cold hearted thief, and I really hope with all their similarities that something more will develop between them.
Having decided to investigate some mysterious goings on that Abernathy is involved in, Thaddeus, Rémy and J discover some very unusual contraptions. Unfortunately they get in a sticky situation with little hope of them all escaping!

This weeks choice to vote on is - Who falls into the machine?

  • Rémy 
  • Thaddeus 
  • All of them 
What did you think? I'm not sure I want anyone to fall in as I like them all! I'm really not sure what to decide. What choice would you make? You have until next Monday to make your decision! Hop on over there now!

Don't forget to visit
Juniper's Jungle and Bookhi to see their posts once voting has closed.

15 August 2011


Author: Lee Nichols
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
UK Release date: September 2011
Genre: Paranormal
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

When her parents leave on a business trip, Emma Vaile thinks she will have the time of her life partying and living without rules. Except her parents don’t come back and don’t answer her calls, and she is left in charge of the family shop. After her house party gets out of hand, she is taken into custody and set to be sent off to a foster family. Until her new guardian Bennett Stern rescues her and takes her to Echo Point to start a new school and learn gifts as a ghostkeeper that she never knew she had.

Review: Deception is absolutely jam-packed with mystery, suspense and an intriguing plot. Despite having been abandoned by her family and kept in the dark about so many things, Emma is a likeable, sparky character and one I can easily sympathise with for feeling neglected, betrayed and unsure of ghostkeeping.

As a ghostkeeper, Emma can either summon, compel or banish ghosts, although it turns out her gifts are rather unusual and link her to a powerful ancestor of the same name born over a hundred years ago. This ancestors’ connection to another ghost the Rake are really intriguing and it’s these secondary characters along with her newfound family that really stand out in the book and make it such an interesting and warm read.

I keep thinking of the ghostkeepers as ‘ghostbusters’ as they can banish ghosts, but really Lee Nichol’s concept of ghosts, wraiths and ‘life after death’ is much more developed and interesting.

In fact my favourite aspect of Deception is Emma’s relationship with her ghost family - Anatole, Nicholas, Celeste and the Rake. Unlike other ghostkeepers she doesn’t compel them to do things but treats them with respect and like they are old friends rather than servants. It’s really endearing when Emma and young Nicholas play Game Boy together, as Nicholas is such a sweet little boy and I love his childlike enjoyment of modern games and finding an older sister in Emma.

After moving to Echo Point, Emma finds herself caught in a love triangle with Coby and Bennett, both of whom she likes but for different reasons. As Emma puts it so well - "[Coby] was cool, smart, cute and reliable. The problem was, I liked him for all those perfectly good reasons, but I liked Bennett for no reason at all". I think this perfectly sums up that instant attraction and love for someone, as unexplainable but instinctive as it is. All the same I can’t help but feel for Coby who has everything going for him and is amazingly thoughtful and kind, but just doesn’t have that spark that makes him more than a friend to Emma.

I’m not sure yet what to make of Bennett as he turns hot and cold with Emma. The moments where he forgets himself and we see some connection between them are rare but really exciting and intimate when they do happen. For much of the time however he is aloof and distant, disappearing to do work for the strange organisation the Knell. The intention is definitely to keep us guessing about Bennett, so we can only wait to see what skeletons he has in his closet in the next book!

Deception is a fun paranormal story about ghostkeepers, leaving plenty of questions left unanswered for Emma and setting the scene for Betrayal, the next in the Haunting Emma series.

Rating: 4*

13 August 2011


The latest chapter of Rémy Brunel and the Ocean of Light by Sharon Gosling has been published on Fiction Express. Each week I will be reviewing the new chapter of Remy Brunel, an atmospheric historical fiction of a young circus performance and jewel thief.

Having enjoyed Chapters 1-3 so much, I couldn't help but look up Sharon Gosling. Sharon began writing for magazines in the science fiction and fantasy genre, and has also written audio dramas. Her first novel, a paranormal romance, was published in 2010 and was written under a pen-name. I'm so curious as to her pen-name and what book she wrote as I really love her writing!

Rémy Brunel and the Ocean of Light by Sharon Gosling

Review: Chapter 4
This week we're introduced to the Professor. There is something I instantly love about nutty professors. Perhaps it's fond memories of Doc from Back to the Future; and this professor doesn't let me down with his wild hair and mad inventions! I can't wait to see what contraptions he comes up with and how they might help Thaddeus escape from further trouble!

Both Rémy and Thaddeus have decided to take matters into their own hands and do a bit of investigating for themselves, although in very different styles! However Lord Abernathy is well protected behind his fancy London house that won't be easy to sneak into. When the pair meet, what will happen next? I'm undecided this week, as I know I really want them to meet properly, but I also like a bit of mischief and want to see what might happen if things go awry. It's exciting to have choices!

Here are this weeks choices to vote on:
  • Thaddeus arrests Rémy and J, and takes them both back to Scotland Yard. 
  • Thaddeus agrees to listen to Rémy’s story, and takes them back to the Professor’s workshop. 
  • Rémy kicks Thaddeus hard enough to make him let her go, and she runs. 

What did you think? What choice would you make? You have until next Monday to make your decision! Hop on over there now!

11 August 2011


West of the Moon
Author: Katherine Langrish
UK Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
UK Release date: March 2011
Genre: Historical fantasy

West of the Moon is an abridged version of three separate books, all following young Norse boy Peer Ulfsson after the death of his father, a revered wood craftsman. In the first story Peer is take away by his two uncles Baldur and Grim who set him straight to work in their mill at Trollfell. With only his dog Loki as a companion Peer is lonely and dejected, but soon he makes friends with young and wild farm girl, Hilde. When the uncles take Hilde’s younger twin siblings as a gift for the troll king, Peer and Hilde try to rescue the twins by entering the trolls’ underground lair.
In the second story, with his uncles gone, Peer leaves the mill to live with Hilde and her family and work on their farm. When Peer discovers the abandoned mill is working at night, he tries to find out who is using the mill and why. During his investigations he has to face Granny Greenteeth, a scary water witch who is looking to steal a child for her own.
In the third story, the arrival of a new long ship tempts Hilde and Peer to travel to Vinland to explore the unchartered country. They soon realise that they have set sail with a crew of outlaws and won’t be returning home for many years. Afraid of their Captain and his wild son Harold, Hilde and Peer struggle to come to terms with their new home in Vinland, the threat of natives and mythical creatures, all whilst trying to find a way home.

Review: The setting for the three stories is a Viking Age settlement several hundred years ago, when America was still unchartered territory and men still went-a-viking. Encompassed into the story are Norse legends and myths, including trolls, water witches and the nithing – a shy but friendly house elf that cleans and tidies for a bowl of gruel. When young Peer and Hilde travel to Vinland, they encounter ‘skraelings’, better known as Native American Indians, as well as other mythical creatures including Yetis. This combination of historical fact and mythology adds both reality and magic to Katherine Langrish’s beautifully crafted world.

Admittedly I was hesitant about what might happen in the story when I realized that Vinland was on the verge of being explored and how the skraelings might be treated. To my great relief, the story handled the invasion of Vikings in a balanced but realistic way, looking at a multitude of points of view from the bully Harold who viciously kills innocent skraeling, to the curious and superstitious natives.

Although the plotline is fairly simple, there is intrigue, peril and a few twists and along the way. A sense of darkness and impending danger surfaces in each of the stories, when Peer and Hilde enter the trolls’ underground lair and later when they discover they are stranded with a pirate crew and unpredictable captain. With the threat of mythical creatures lurking all around, this helps carry the stories along and keep them flowing at a steady pace.

The stories are set around Peer and Hilde, and written in a dual narrative. At first Peer is very much a victim – when his father dies from an infected wound he is taken in by uncles who he’s never met before and put straight to work. You can’t help but sympathise with the horrible circumstances he lives in and the cruel way he is treated. Peer is often a reluctant hero, being brave to impress the free spirited Hilde. In the third story, he undergoes a slow but steady transition from boy into young man, eventually standing up for himself against the bully. It is these little flaws and his transformation that makes Peer believable, likeable, and worthy of fighting for Hilde’s love and attention.
Unlike Peer, Hilde is a headstrong young girl not afraid to go into the trolls’ underground lair to rescue her family or to travel to Vinland, however it is this stubborn and impetuous nature that leads her and Peer into trouble. As we see their developing relationship from both perspectives, you can’t help but feel for Peer who has to compete for Hilde’s attention and fight against her perception of him as a brother.

The nithing, a friendly house elf, is my favourite character and reminds me very much of Dobby the house elf from Harry Potter. Hiding in the rafters of the house and coming out only at night, he tidies and cleans in exchange for gruel and butter. Treated badly by the uncles, the nithing gets on well with Peer as well as Hilde and her family, and moves to their farm to hide in their roof and help clean. His role expands with each book and in the third story he plays a part in helping tackle the bully Harold. His character brings humour to the stories, taking on new names such as ‘nithing the sea farer’ when Peer tells him he is the first nithing to travel by boat.

West of the Moon blends Viking history and mythology, drawing you into a captivatingly different setting for a fantasy story. A refreshing read, Katherine Langrish is certainly an author to keep an eye on!

Rating: 4*

8 August 2011


Fallen Grace
Author: Mary Hooper
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
UK release date: June 2011
Genre: Historical fiction
Kindly sent by the publisher for an honest review

Orphaned sisters Lily and Grace struggle to survive in Victorian London, selling cress to keep a roof over their heads. At only 16, Grace is a fallen woman and must find a way to bury her stillborn child. In doing so she finds herself crossing paths with the Unwins, unscrupulous funeral directors who will not only save her from the workhouse but also try to rob her of much more.

Review: From the very start I was drawn into Grace’s world and her struggle to care for herself and her sister. Despite all the hardships and blows she suffers, Grace carries on and perseveres. Vulnerable, determined and plucky she shows a remarkable strength of character, and is one of the few characters I’ve come across that really tugs on my heartstrings. Told primarily from her perspective, Fallen Grace is a compelling story about this sweet young girl.

With a child’s mind, her sister Lily tries desperately hard to do the best, but is taken advantage of at every corner. As pawnshops and con artists trick her out of money for their own benefit, it made me think how hard it must have been to live in such times if you weren’t savvy and constantly vigilant.

The portrayal of the Unwin family and their funeral business is dark, sinister and slightly macabre. Emotionally blackmailing grieving families into paying beyond their means for a fancy funeral, they scam and scheme money from anyone they can. When Grace turns to them for help you instantly realise that they are truly manipulative and wicked people.

Victorian London is wonderfully portrayed in all its filth and finery. Little snippets at the start of each chapter from Dickens and newspaper adverts help build a picture of the splendor the rich live in as well as typical Victorian life and going-ons. There is a stark contrast between those living in poverty with no shoes on their feet and searching the streets for litter and those from the upper classes riding through Hyde Park in carriages and fine clothes. Rather than the romantic view of the rich, Fallen Grace looks at both sides and gives a very realistic and captivating perspective of daily life.

Mary Hooper obviously did a lot of background research into the historical element as they were so many facets of London and Victorian life that I never even knew about such as the different mourning stages and the steam train taking coffins to a cemetery outside the city. These details really help bring the story alive by adding authenticity and make me imagine what piece of history I could be walking past everyday as I walk the streets of London.

A delightfully dark and gripping read full of Victorian London slums and splendor, and the plight of Fallen Grace as she fights for what is rightfully hers.

Rating: 4*

6 August 2011


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where you can list all the books you desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.

My choice this week is steampunk Lady of Devices. I saw this book a few weeks back on Books and Things blog. You can find Melissa's review of Lady of Devices here. I checked on Amazon, and it is currently only available to download, so I may have to wait until I've saved enough up for a Kindle before I can read this one.

Lady of Devices: A steampunk adventure novel (Volume 1) by Shelley Adina
Published May 2011 by independent publisher CreateSpace

London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices . . . 

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .

5 August 2011


If you haven't yet been over to Fiction Express, then let me quickly explain how this interactive e-fiction website works. Each week a new chapter is written by the author and you get to vote on how you would like to control the plot. You can read the first chapter for free and then after that you buy credits to read the rest, so you can buy the full book for £5.90.

Currently up is Rémy Brunel and the Ocean of Light, an atmospheric story of a young circus performer. Each week I will be reviewing the new chapter of Remy Brunel here at My Book Journey.

Rémy Brunel and the Ocean of Light by Sharon Gosling
No-one performs on the circus trapeze like sixteen-year-old Rémy Brunel. But when the circus closes for the night, Rémy leads another life, as a cat burglar and jewel thief. Forced by the evil circus owner Gustave to attempt the theft of one of the world's most valuable diamonds, Rémy thinks it will be just another heist, but when she meets determined young detective Thaddeus Rec, her life changes forever.

Here is the link to read the first chapter.

My review: Chapters 1 - 3
I have to admit I was a little uncertain of reading from my computer, as I don't even have a kindle or any e-book reader. But once I started reading the first chapter, I got straight into it.

I instantly liked Remy. Brought up learning how to work the trapeze and pick locks, she dreams of escaping with her friend Claudette and her friend's little girl. Remy’s talented, very confident but also caring. You can tell that something is going to bring her and Thaddeus together and when she is on the verge of getting caught by him I might want to her to get caught just so she can met him!

Gustave, owner of Le Cirque de la Lune, is cruel and greedy making Remy and others do his bidding and steal precious jewels for him. Everyone at the circus has a story, and I can't help but wonder what Remy's story is. We learn that her parents were cursed, but why and what was the curse? Gustave blackmails Remy into doing as he wants in exchange for information about her parents. Which leaves her all alone and on the search for Lord Abernathy. Is he a fragile old man or is there more to him?

Thaddeus, the only one who knows what is going on and can help her, is at this very moment in a pickle of his own. And it's up to us to decide what happens to him to next.

The fast and interesting plot brings you straight in, and I devoured each page in seconds. I also like the fact that you can pick where the story goes next, and it must certainly be a challenging task for the author to wait on readers' decisions before writing the next instalment! Here are this weeks choices to vote on:

  • Thaddeus knocks Collins out and escapes. 
  • Unable to punch his partner, Thaddeus tells Collins to take him to the cells as ordered. He’s innocent and he has to trust the law. 
  • A man appears – the Professor – and knocks Collins out with gas. He and Thaddeus escape together. 

What did you think? What choice would you make?

Head on over to Fiction Express to vote on what should happen next!
Fiction Express are kindly offering 5 lovely winners credits to read the full Rémy Brunel.
The deadline is Friday 19th August.
Just leave a comment below!

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

4 August 2011


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Quirk Books
UK release date: April 2009
Genre: Zombie, Historical fiction
Kindly sent by the publisher for an honest review

In order to fight the blight of zombies plaguing 19th century England, the Bennet sisters have been trained in the deadly arts of fighting unmentionables. However all their mother can think of is seeing her daughters married off to rich and handsome men. Whether Elizabeth will find the haughty Mr Darcy a suitable prospect when she has set her heart to killing zombies is another matter.

Review: Seth Grahame-Smith took on the hard task of reworking a well-known classic fiction by Jane Austen and adding in zombies. Imagine the Bennett sisters in their ball gowns slaying zombies. I can imagine many a Jane Austen fan might blanch at the thought, but oddly enough it works. To start it is a little difficult to adjust to changes and additions to the story but as you get further into the story it takes on a life of its own.

I was surprised by how much of the original text was kept and that the plot was very much the same, however adapted as it is, it’s amazing to see how well the zombie element fits into the original plot. It didn’t distract from the story of the Elizabeth and Mr Darcy but very much added another layer to it. Soldiers are employed to wipe out unmentionables, training in the deadly arts is another way for higher society to condescend those below them, and the plague itself can be seen as a metaphor in the case of Charlotte who is inflicted during her marriage to Mr Collins.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes the humour, wit and irony that Jane Austen infused into her characters and kicks it up a notch. There are some real humorous and comic moments that will have you smiling in twisted glee. Indeed Elizabeth is sassier, cheekier and even more brazen, but completely in keeping with her true character.

I also can’t help but think that Seth Grahame-Smith gave some characters their just deserts, and who could blame him. His cutthroat approach to dealing with malevolent characters certainly brings them down a peg and you can’t help but smile and agree.

Having studied the book in school and appreciated Jane Austen’s wit and irony, I can see how well the zombie element adds to this. But I can easily imagine that those new to the story entirely may find zombies and 19th century social satire a rather odd mix especially when faced with the original language and focus on women marrying and social standing.

Humorous, romantic and gruesome, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes the best of the original story and gives it an entertaining zombie injection.

Rating: 4*

1 August 2011


Thanks to Carly over at Writing from the Tub for giving this one to me :)

Author: Megan McCafferty
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
UK Release date: August 2011
Genre: YA, Dystopian

The year is 2036, and the HPSV virus has rendered everyone over the age of 18 infertile. Fertile (fertilicious) girls are hot commodities able to sell their babies for up to 6 figure sums.
Melody has spent every waking moment following her parents guidance and instructions to make herself as profitable as possible so she can professionally bump and sell her baby to another couple. But when her identical twin Harmony turns up from Goodside, trying to convert everyone to God and sex after marriage, things start to go wrong.
Bumped is a gripping look at a world where childbirth is a business, and the choice to have and bring up your child with someone you truly love is out of your hands.

Review: Right from the start Bumped is different. Everything revolves around sex and pregnancy (aka bumping and pregging), from the trimester divisions in the book, the setting and new slang language used by characters.

The first few chapters I found totally bewildering as I got used to the terminology such as reproaesthetic and breedy. But once I got into Bumped, I realized what an amazing concept McCafferty had come up with. The little details such as extra folate in cafeteria food really add to the whole setting and teenage pregnancy issue. On top of this is a very technology based future, and as a whole Bumped is a very fast and bubbly dystopian, different to anything else out there.

The point of view switches between two identical twins Melody and Harmony, who were separated at birth. In Otherside, Melody was groomed by her parents to professionally sell her babies, whilst in Goodside Harmony grew up being indoctrinated into unerring faith and sex after marriage. Despite these differences, both find themselves trapped in situations to do what is expected of them and not what makes them happy.

Whilst you might not automatically think that the popular and pretty Melody is the nicest person, I really felt for her when things start to fall down around her. Harmony, perhaps trapped in a situation she couldn’t escape from, made me feel sick. I couldn’t figure out if she was innocent and naive or just plain selfish and evil.

With such a controversial issue as 11 and 12 year olds getting pregnant and selling off their babies not to mention the over-the-top language, I can see why some people don’t like this book. But looking at the issue from different ideological perspectives (selling your child to pay for university, waiting to have children after marriage, or gasp – having sex for fun) adds a thought-provoking element about when sex and pregnancy is right. In Otherside society sex isn't seen as pleasurable or intimate in its own right but merely as a means of getting pregnant, which is really kind of sad. It's also scary to think that 'commercial' childbirth at 11/12/13 years is expected and glorified, and the idea of wanting to keep your own child is seen as shameful.

Bumped is a sassy dystopian full of jaw dropping moments and controversial ideas, that makes you think again about sex and pregnancy.

Rating: 4*


Firstly I want to say thank you to everyone who visited My Book Journey and entered my one year anniversary. I'm grateful for everyone who takes the time to read and comment on posts, and I will always try to return the lovely comments that you leave :)

Without further ado, the winner is.....

Congratulations, and again thank you to everyone for following and entering!