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Showing posts from January, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Book Club Picks

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Okay, before I start this, I should point out I've never actually been part of a book club so have only vague ideas about what kind of books are suitable. But why let that get in the way of a good top 10 Tuesday?!

1. Koh-Tabu by Ann Kelley - Hugely thought-provoking. I believe it's nearly two years since I read it and I STILL wonder about whether one decision of Bonnie's was right. This is an underrated gem.

2. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins - I have a feeling a lot of people will say this one, but it's hard not to. Intense, gripping, and asking some massive questions about moral choices.

3. Dreaming of Amelia (published as Ghosts of Ashbury High in the US) by Jaclyn Moriarty - I find Moriarty's 'scrapbook' style of throwing in all kinds of different writing - exam answers, journals, poetry, and goodness knows what else - to be phenomenal, and would love to di…

Monday Musings - Review of Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan

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(I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

The Leisure World Holiday Complex, with so many sports and games available, might be the holiday of a lifetime for some teens – but Daniel Lever certainly isn’t one of them. Dragged there by his dad, and feeling guilty over his role in his parents’ separation, Daniel’s expecting he’ll hate it, and his early experiences seem to suggest he’s right. Then he meets a mysterious girl who he’d like to know better – but why do her bruises keep getting worse, and does her watch really tick backwards? More worryingly, why can’t anyone else see her?

Adult author Edward Hogan makes his teen debut here with a real chiller. Capturing the central couple and the way their relationship develops brilliantly, he also keeps things tense and fantastically atmospheric right the way through this novel. It stands out as being really unique in its premise and Hogan makes the ghost parts work very well. I also found the way that …

Sunday Supplement: February YA Book Releases

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This time, I managed to actually do a look at the month ahead BEFORE we got several days into that month. Go me!

February 1st


The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin - Story of troubled girls healing in a special camp where they've been sent to recover from various issues, with a main character who self-harms, sounds incredible. This might be the one I'm most excited about.



February 2nd


Daylight Saving by Ed Hogan - I'm lucky enough to have read this ghost story already and found it to be an unusual, compelling and fantastically atmospheric read set in a wonderful location. Full review should be up tomorrow.



Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale - Contemporary tale of a girl struggling to cope with lies and omissions after finding out her 'mother', who's just passed away, wasn't really her mother after all. Some great buzz for this with comparisons to a young Jodi Picoult novel, and Jill Murphy at the Bookbag, whose opinion I generally agree with, liked it a lot.



Saturday Spotlight: The Breakfast Club by Kate Costelloe

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Saturday Spotlight is a new feature where I'm showcasing some of the books I've reviewed for The Bookbag by posting reviews here for the first time. I'm trying to use it to promote books which people may have missed originally. Like last week's, this one is more of an MG book than a YA, but I still really enjoyed it.


Billie and her three best friends have grown to love the breakfast club they've formed, meeting every Saturday morning to pass the time and discuss the week they've had. Mario's is the perfect venue for it - so it's a huge shock when they find it's closing down! In addition, Billie's mother is adamant that she shouldn't pursue the career in music she wants more than anything, and Billie can't understand why. Can the girls find somewhere else to spend Saturday mornings, and can they persuade Billie's mum that music is what really matters to her?

It was a really pleasant surprise to read such an engaging book by an author …

Friday Feature: Interview with Danielle Joseph

(People wondering why I'm posting a Friday Feature on a Saturday, I blame my internet! I thought it had posted yesterday but obviously not...)

I found Danielle Joseph's Indigo Blues to be a perfect 'fluffy' sort of read - two wonderful narrators, great supporting characters, and short and engaging enough to be devoured in one sitting. I was delighted when she agreed to answer a few questions.

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Love this question! When I first started writing YA I pictured an audience full of teens, mostly girls. Now I’m happy to say that I see everyone: boys, girls and adults too. I love how YA books are not only for teens.


2. I loved the way you told Indigo Blues using the alternating points of view of Adam and Indigo - did you find one of them easier to write than the other?

Thanks! At first I was trepidatious to write from Adam’s point of view, being a woman and all. However, once I started writing I felt very comfor…

Thursday Thoughts: Book Review of My Soul To Save by Rachel Vincent

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As always with my reviews of sequels, spoilers for book 1, My Soul To Take, ahead.

Kaylee Cavanagh is a bean sidhe. When someone is about to die, she screams out for their soul. So when she's at a concert and teenage star Eden collapses on stage, she's not particularly worried. No urge to scream means Eden's still alive, right? Wrong... which means Eden had no soul to lose, having already traded it away for stardom. Plunged into a race against time to save the souls of those too stupid to hold onto them, Kaylee, Nash and Tod are forced to try and head to the Netherworld to stop the evil beings who are preying on young hopefuls.

I absolutely love Rachel Vincent's world building and it was great to find out some more about the bean sidhes, reapers, and the Netherworld here. She's a genuinely fresh voice in a paranormal genre which can sometimes feel overrun by vampires, werewolves, zombies and mermaids, and deserves full marks for originality. That said, I wanted to…

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fine Art of Truth Or Dare by Melissa Jensen

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"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:





Publication date: 16th February 2012

From Goodreads

Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating…

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.


Sat at my PC yesterday I was trying to come up with a topic for today's Top Ten Tuesday freebie, and saw a joke on Twitter about a guy having a closet full of action figures of Buffy, Wonder Woman and Supergirl - does that make him a heroine addict?

Look, I didn't say it was a GOOD joke.

Anyway, with that, I started thinking of some of my favourite ever heroines in YA fiction - and once I'd reached 7 or 8, thought "Hey, here's my top 10 for the week!"

So, without further ado except for a brief disclaimer...

Characters listed alphabetically by first name. As usual with lists like these, there are so many wonderful heroines I can think of that on another day I could have brought five different ones in and still been happy with my list - but that's part of the fun of making these!

Cammie Morgan - Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter - Cammie the Chameleon starts off as a …

Monday Musings: Book Review of A Tangle of Magicks by Stephanie Burgis

A Tangle of Magicks is the second in the Kat Stephenson series, spoilers for book 1 - published as A Most Improper Magick in the UK and as Kat, Incorrigible in the US - below.

As the Stephenson family flee scandalous rumours being spread by Kat's nemesis Lady Fotherington, they head to Bath to stay with snooty relatives of Stepmama - without eldest sister Elissa and her new husband, but with brother Charles, a chronic gambler, in tow. As bad as the family's problems in society are, though, they pale into comparison to Kat's magical misery, as the leader of the Order of Guardians banishes her when Lady Fotherington provokes her into losing her temper. With the Roman baths sizzling with wild magic, and danger seeming to lurk at nearly every turn, can Kat save the day?

I described the first of these Georgian adventures as spellbinding; if anything that would be rather understating it for this one. With a little over eleven months of the year to go, it's hard to imagine I&…

Saturday Spotlight: For The Record by Ellie Irving

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Saturday Spotlight is a new feature where I'm showcasing some of the books I've reviewed for The Bookbag by posting reviews here for the first time. I'm trying to use it to promote books which people may have missed originally. This one is aimed at a slightly younger audience than most of the books I review are, but it was still one of my favourites of last year.

Ellie Irving was kind enough to do an interview with me in November last year, which can be found here.


Luke is obsessed with records. He's so busy planning on breaking world records when he grows up, and playing world records DVD games, that he doesn't take much of an interest in what's going on around him. But that's about to change, because when the village of Port Bren is chosen to host a waste-incinerator plant his house will be demolished and the graveyard where his dad's buried will be destroyed – unless the village is too historically important for this to happen. How can they put thems…

Friday Feature: Interview with Helena Close

One of the most powerful novels I've read for some time was Helena Close's The Clever One, so when she agreed to do an interview I was absolutely thrilled to get the chance to ask her some questions.

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

I see dead people.. jk - .I see all age groups really - moms, dads, grannies, teens, twenty somethings. A good book should have no age limit - not that I'm presuming my books are good!!!


2. What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Read as much as possible. And write every day. Treat it like a job. Don't bother waiting to be inspired - learn the craft through hard graft and the inspiration will look after itself. Ignore the little voice in your head that tells you that you're rubbish - we all have one of those and we learn to ignore it.


3. If you could ask any other author any question, what would you ask and who would you ask it to?

It would be Cormac McCarthy - probably my favourite l…

Thursday Thoughts: Book Review of A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis

12-year old Kat Stephenson is about to try to save her family's fortune. Her brother's gambling debts have them on the brink of ruin, her father's reputation was damaged when he married her mother - a witch - and her stepmother's solution is to marry off Kat's eldest sister Elissa to Sir Neville Collingwood. What's a girl to do, other than turn to her mother's magic to try and get them out of this situation?

The best way to describe this Georgian romp is, appropriately, spellbinding! Kat is an absolutely fabulous heroine - vivacious, witty, and incredibly loyal to her family. The supporting cast is wonderful, most of them appearing to have stepped right out of a Jane Austen novel, with Kat's stepmother and the awful Sir Neville, who lost his first wife in rather suspicious circumstances, being two of the most entertaining. Kat's relationship with her sisters also stands out as especially good - somewhat mothered by them, it's a great portrayal …

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books For People Who Don't Usually Read Non-Fiction

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Apart from YA fiction, my other great love when it comes to books is non-fiction. I thought I'd take this opportunity to recommend 10 that readers may enjoy. (All of these are 'adult' non-fiction but, apart from the gambling theme of book 2, there's little to stop them being suitable for teens.)

1. The Boys of Summer - Roger Kahn - Virtually three books in one, this starts as an memoir of sportswriter Kahn's childhood in Brooklyn, moves on to his time covering the legendary Dodgers team for which Jackie Robinson broke the color line, and ends up by tracing that team in retirement. Outstandingly well-written and a wonderful portrayal of some colossal figures. Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, the title inspired one of my all-time favourite songs.

2. Breaking Vegas - Ben Mezrich - While Mezrich's Bringing Down The House (filmed as 21) is the more famous of his gambling book…

Teaser Tuesday: A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis

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

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"You would think, if he wanted to make a good picking, he would aim for the top.

If I found out that he had wasted his time attacking some completely impoverished family in full moonlight while we were driving down that whole long, shadowy road full of possibilities, I would... well, I would be seriously disappointed."


From A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis (published as Kat, Incorrigible in the US)

Monday Musings: Book Review of The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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Young Max Carver moves with his family to a small town on the coast, to a house which once belonged to a brilliant surgeon. From the time they set foot there, though, something doesn’t appear to be right. Max finds an overgrown garden full of creepy statues, his father discovers a collection of old home movies, and one of his sisters is haunted by mysterious dreams while the other hears strange voices. Then, Max meets Roland, another youngster, and finds out about the evil being who is the Prince of Mist…

This is Zafon's first novel, published 20 years ago in Spain but only translated fairly recently, after the massive successes of his two adult books, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game. Originally a YA book, it is now being marketed as a crossover, and while it has markedly less lyricism of his two most famous works, there are enough atmosphere and thrills to keep the most demanding reader satisfied. If anything, it's perhaps too chilling to be a recommendation …

Saturday Spotlight: Book Review of The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan

Saturday Spotlight is a new feature I have planned where I'll showcase some of the books I've reviewed for The Bookbag by posting reviews here for the first time. I'm trying to use it to promote books which people may have missed originally - I can't believe I've not actually posted the review for this one here before given it's one of my very favourite of recent years, and I've been lucky enough to interview Savita, but guess I haven't.


Sam's just moved to a new school yet again, but this time he's made a good friend really quickly. He and Lloyd get on so well together that they're spending time with each other after school a lot - until they make one horrible mistake and end up trapped in a car speeding far away from their hometown, with a strange and creepy driver. Once they reach a big house, Sam is quickly separated from Lloyd - can he figure out a way to escape alive?

This is a phenomenally tense book right from the start, as a car pul…

Thursday Thoughts:Book Review of Indigo Blues by Danielle Joseph

High school senior Indigo briefly dated an older boy called Adam. He took the relationship more seriously than she did, and she broke it off. He moved away... and that's the end of that, yes? Except... the reason Adam moved away was to become a rock star. Suddenly, he's top of the charts with a song about the girl who broke his heart. Indigo just wants to forget their relationship, but how can she do that when half her school, and several journalists, want to hear all the gory details about the pair of them?

First things first, this is a light read. It's fluffy, there's not a huge amount of stuff happening, and there's no real sub-plots - it focuses fairly narrowly on how the pair have been affected by the break-up and by Adam's rise to fame. (I mention that because I've seen a few reviews which criticise it for being too shallow.) Taken for what it is, though, it's a lot of fun. It features two engaging narrators, with Adam and Indigo taking it in turn…

Waiting On Wednesday: The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

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"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:





Publication date: January 24th 2012 by Disney-Hyperion (on Goodreads, anyway. Amazon UK is light on info so not sure when it's making it over here.)

From Goodreads

It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in.


And then you're dead.

When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces w…

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors I Wish Would Write Another Book

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's is a fabulous one - ten authors, either debut ones, those taking a break, or those who are sadly no longer with us, who you'd love to write a new book.

I've tried to leave out any authors who've got newAs confirmed on Goodreads/Amazon etc, or have told me a bit in interviews about the stuff they're working on. So that explains the lack of people like Curtis Jobling, Gillian Philip, Savita Kalhan, Will Hill, and Ellie Irving, despite me being desperate to read the next books by all of them. Order is just the order in which they sprang to mind.

1. Megan Miranda - Yes, I've got someone whose debut novel was published last week on here. But what a debut - chilling, beautifully written, and completely gripping, I'll definitely be on board for her second when it comes along.

2. Robert Cormier - Sadly not to be, as Cormier passed away 12 years ago. I always found him…

Monday Musings: Review of Department 19 by Will Hill

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Does the world need another vampire book? I have to be honest, before reading this, I would have said no, not really. Does the world need another MG/YA vampire book? Still thinking no. Does the world need an MG/YA vampire book where the good guys carry T-18 pneumatic metal stake launchers, are led by descendants of the heroes of Dracula, and include Frankenstein's monster?

Well, when you put it that way...

I picked this up when it was reduced on Kindle the other day after seeing a fair amount of buzz about it but not really reading many reviews, and this has to be the best £1.99 I've spent for a long, long time. (Sorry, back up to £4.49 now - but still a bargain at the price!) It follows reluctant hero Jamie as, teaming with the monster (who now calls himself Frankenstein to honour his creator) and the ultra-secret Blacklight department, he's thrust into a world he knows nothing about in order to try and find the vampire who's kidnapped his mother. It's got great …

Sunday Special: Book Review of Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk by Curtis Jobling

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As always, spoilers for books 1 and 2 below.

Fairly major ones, at that.

Just so we're clear...



At the start of Shadow of the Hawk, our heroes are in disarray. Drew, having bitten off his hand to escape Vanmorten and the undead, is in captivity, about to be forced to fight as a gladiator. The Staglord Manfred and the Wereshark Vega, two of the three remaining members of the Wolf's Council, are on the run, spiriting Drew's mother to safety. And Hector, the third of the Council... oh, Hector!

The young Boarlord is a changed man from the one who was such an innocent in the first book in this series. Haunted by the vile of his brother Vincent, Hector has become increasingly paranoid, unable to decide who he can trust, and Shadow of the Hawk sees him fall further into the darkness. It's a stunning piece of character development from Curtis Jobling - as is the way that Vega, the Prince of Pirates, continues to grow into a more honourable and loyal man than the trickster he …

Saturday Spotlight: Review of Koh Tabu by Ann Kelley

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Bonnie MacDonald is thrilled to be going to a beautiful tropical island with the rest of the Amelia Earhart Cadets, especially as the only adult present will be the incredibly glamorous Layla Campbell, nicknamed the Duchess, who treats them all like adults. But the dream holiday becomes a nightmare - after landing on the wrong island despite dire warnings from the boatman who took them there, a storm kills him and one of Bonnie's friends and wrecks the boat, leaving them trapped with no-one knowing where they are. With the Duchess shining rather less brightly as she’s revealed to be practically useless in the face of danger, it's left to Bonnie and her friend Jas to try and keep the remaining girls alive and find a way to be rescued.

This is a truly spine-chilling story, mainly because it always seems completely believable. It's set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War - the girls are the children of soldiers based in Thailand - and as well as being stranded on the isl…

Friday Feature: Top Ten to come in January

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After seeing a few fantastic previews of books for the month ahead, I figured I'd start doing a monthly one. With my usual sense of timing, I only came up with the idea yesterday, so some of these are already out - sorry about that!

Click on the titles to go to Goodreads, with more info.

3rd January


Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk by Curtis Jobling - Epic fantasy fans NEED to be on board for the third in this amazing series. (Check out my Waiting on Wednesday post for more details.)



Cracked by K.M. Walter - Contemporary debut about two teens in a psych ward sounds absolutely amazing.



Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler - Rumour has it that this is worth it for the cupcake recipes at the start of every chapter alone - but it also sounds like an excellent romance.



Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook - Gothic mansions, hot stepbrothers, and possible ghosts? Sign me up...



Don’t Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala - Drama about a girl suffering in an abusive relationship and running away sounds AMAZING.


5th J…

Thursday Thoughts: Review of The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

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For as long as she can remember, Belly and her brother Stephen have holidayed in Cousins Beach with her mother, her mother’s friend Susannah, and Susannah’s two sons Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly lives for these summers – even if Conrad and Jeremiah only ever seem to see her as the young tag-along. This summer, though, she knows that’s going to change…

I’d read a lot of great reviews of this one, and I think perhaps my expectations were raised a bit too highly before starting it. I wanted to love it – but just couldn’t, really. There’s no question that Jenny Han is a talented author writing some lovely prose at times, but I found Belly to be a rather vapid narrator – immature, bratty, and seemingly willing to trample over other boys’ feelings to get close to the guy she wants. I appreciate that probably makes her a really realistic character for a girl of her age dealing with hormones and growing up – but it didn’t particularly make her someone I liked reading about. Perhaps because of he…

Waiting on Wednesday: Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk by Curtis Jobling

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"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


BEWARE SPOILERS FOR FIRST TWO WEREWORLD BOOKS!

From Amazon

DREW FERRAN, THE RIGHTFUL KING OF WESTLAND, IS TRAPPED.

Enslaved by the Goatlord Kesslar, young werewolf Drew finds himself on the volcanic isle of Scoria, forced to fight in the arena for the Lizardlords. With the help of an unlikely ally, he must find a way to break free - but who has ever managed to escape?

Meanwhile, Hector the Wereboar flees the forces of the Catlords. Now on board the pirate ship Maelstrom, the enemy's net is closing in. Haunted by the spirits of the dead, Hector is soon left wondering who the true enemy is . . .

Book three in the Wereworld fantasy-adventure series from Curtis Jobling, the award-winning designer of Bob the Builder. Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf was shortlist…

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I'm Excited To Read in 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today's is an awesome one, picking the ten books bloggers are most looking forward to in the upcoming year. I found it insanely difficult to narrow it down to 10, and have left out a few which I'm doing Waiting on Wednesdays on over the next couple of months, just to try and spread the word about as many of the fabulous-looking upcoming releases as possible!

Links go to Goodreads as there's very little on Amazon about a few of them.

January

Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom - YA contemporary about a girl who gets ditched at prom by her best friend, and spends the next morning trying to figure out how she ended up dateless. Sounds fun and frothy, a perfect light read.

Night School by C. J. Daugherty
- After her brother runs away from home and she gets arrested, Allie gets sent to the mysterious Cimmeria Academy. No computers or phones allowed, and then there's the secretive Night …

Monday Musings: Review of New Girl by Paige Harbison

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Note: I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

There’s a new girl at the exclusive Manderley Academy. Everyone knows, though, that she’s only there because Becca Normandy… isn’t. Becca disappeared mysteriously at the end of the previous school year, and the new girl is taking her place. Both in school, and with Becca’s friends – and perhaps even the boys in Becca’s life. Perhaps she shouldn’t get too comfortable, though… because the rumour keeps going around that Becca’s coming back.

First things first, I should mention that this is a retelling of Daphne DuMaurier’s classic Rebecca – but having never read that book, I’m coming into it cold, and just looking at it as a stand-alone.

Secondly, I have to say that the start of this one wasn’t particularly promising. We’re asked to believe that the new girl (who remains nameless until nearly the end) had parents who uproot her from school with a year to go because of a wish she’d expressed when she was 13…

Sunday Special: New Year's Blogging Resolutions

Firstly - happy new year, everyone!

Secondly, decided to make some resolutions to help me improve my blogging. I figure if I actually make them public, I'm (slightly) more likely to stick with them, so here goes...

1. Post at least 3 times a week. I’m aiming for a minimum of a Tuesday Top Ten, a Waiting on Wednesday, and one review – either a new one or a ‘Spotlight’ at the weekend – every week. That has to be doable, doesn’t it?

2. Review at least three quarters of the YA books I read. There are books I read last year which I really liked, but didn’t get round to writing a review for. I wish I had, because in a couple of cases there doesn’t seem to have been much talk about them and it would be great to help some awesome authors get the recognition they deserve.

3. Get more interviews – I had a fabulous period earlier in the year then kind of tailed of. Aiming for one a month, I think.

4. Read more blogs. I keep deciding I’m too busy to read blogs then waste hours doing somethi…