Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Book Review: The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

Goodreads Summary:

In the right dose, everything is a poison. Even love . . .
Jessamine Luxton has lived all her sixteen years in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle, with little company apart from the plants in her garden. Her father, Thomas, a feared and respected apothecary, has taught her much about the incredible powers of plants: that even the most innocent-looking weed can cure -- or kill.

When Jessamine begins to fall in love with a mysterious boy who claims to communicate with plants, she is drawn into the dangerous world of the poison garden in a way she never could have imagined . .

My Review:

The Poison Diaries was a quick and thoroughly entertaining read.  The concept sounded fascinating to me and I definitely haven't read any other book like it.

I have to start by saying that the writing in this book is GORGEOUS. The imagery was lovely and I found myself enchanted by the setting and the atmosphere of the book. The words just flowed off of the page and I found myself flying through chapter after chapter, and when it was over I found myself wanting more. (Yay for the sequel!) Jessamine was quite a bland character to begin with but when she met Weed, he seemed to set off a spark in her and she became more gutsy and independent. Weed was a slightly odd but loveable character. I didn't really know what was going on with him at the beginning, but when I found out I was a little bit like "what the..?!" but Maryrose Wood definitely pulled off some plot twists that in the wrong hands would be totally unbelievable and cringeworthy. Weed had a lot to deal with but he really cared about Jessamine and was willing to sacrafice a lot for her. Their romance was sweet, and although it was quite subtle, there were some swoon-worthy moments!

I enjoyed the first 3 quarters of the book the most because the end got a little too dark for me. Some of the stuff that Weed had to do and witness I really didn't enjoy reading but it was over quickly and helped the reader to understand Weed and his character more. Near the end I got a bit confused but the last chapter wrapped it up, including a twist that I suspect many will guess but I didn't see it coming! The overall tone of the book was quite creepy and atmospheric and I look forward to reading the sequel. I really hope that
Weed has more screen (page?) time- I would love to know more about his background and 'talents'.

I would  recommend reading The Poison Diaries, especially if you want to read something that hasn't been done before with a huge dose of atmosphere and lyrical writing, just enough romance to keep a romantic like me happy and some un-expected turns. This book is part of a series but works well as a stand-alone too. I read this in a little over 2 hours so it's perfect for a rainy afternoon! 

Rating: A-
Cover: B+

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Book Review: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Goodreads Summary:

Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they?
When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie–a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance–mysteriously appears, she has one last request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, and Sadie cannot rest without it. Lara, on the other hand, has a number of ongoing distractions. Her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, her start-up company is floundering, and she’s just been dumped by the “perfect” man.

Sadie, however, couldn't care less.

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from each other along the way.

My Review:

Reading a Sophie Kinsella book is like snuggling up on the sofa with a cup of tea on a cold night. It's cosy and comfortable, and you know exactly what you're in for. I know it isn't YA but I was having a bad week and I wanted to read something cute, fluffy and hilarious which is exactly what this book was! Most of Sophie Kinsella's novels stick to a formula- whimsical twenty-something girl gets into a crazy situation, everything goes wrong but in the end they all live happily ever after. It works and it keeps me buying her books because I know it will be light hearted and won't leave me in a deep state of depression after I've finished it and Twenties Girl was no exception.

Lara is at the funeral of her 105 year old great-aunt Sadie, who she has never met, when suddenly a girl in her early 20s appears next to her. She is wearing a beautiful 1920s outfit and keeps asking where her necklace is. Lara figures out that it is in fact Sadie and resolves to help her great aunt find her beloved necklace.

Sadie is such a great character. She is bossy and can be a bit self-centred, but she helps Lara to come out of her shell and embrace life. She made me laugh out loud so many times and even though she drives Lara round the bend, Lara comes to think of her as a friend. I loved reading about Sadie's gorgeous 1920's dresses and learning about her past with a boy called Stephen, was the best part of the book for me. Lara is just as adorable as Kinsella's other main characters and being in her head is so much fun!

I also really enjoyed the cute relationship between Lara and Ed, even if my heart ached a bit for Sadie. Lara helped Ed loosen up in the same way that Sadie did for her, and the scenes with the Charleston lessons were so funny to read!

Sophie Kinsella is such a talented writer, and I think one of the things she does best is create a mystery with so many un-expected turns but it is still so believeable. I have been reading her books for years now, and she's definitely an author who I know will deliver time after time. So, if you're looking for something light and fun between heavier reads this book hits the spot perfectly!

Rating: A
Cover: A

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Book Review: Finding Sky by Joss Stirling

Goodreads Summary:

When Sky catches a glimpse of Zed for the first time, lounging against his motorbike at school, she is drawn to him just like every other girl in Wickenridge. But Zed sees something special in her that the other girls don't have. Zed tells her they are both Savants - people with special powers like telepathy and the ability to see into the future. Not only that, she is a Savant too, and his soulfinder - meant to be together.

When a soulfinder speaks telepathically to her partner, it's like all the lights coming on in a building. You lit me up like Vegas. But for Sky it's just not that easy - she's a mystery to herself, haunted by nightmares from her past before she was adopted, and riddled with doubt and insecurity. Just when Sky is slowly coming round to the idea of being with Zed she is kidnapped by a family of criminal Savants. In a chilling twist, Sky and Zed's relationship is put to the ultimate test and the fate of those she loves lie in Sky's hands. Will Sky have the strength to embrace her power and be brave enough to control her own destiny, or will the dark demons of her past prevent her from realising her true potential?

My Review:

I picked up this book in my local Tescos, and having not heard of it or anything about it, I started it with an open mind. The blurb peaked my interest immediately- English girl moves to an American high school and falls for a bad boy who she can talk to in her mind. Sounds great, right? So why did this book fall a little flat for me?

Sky was an interesting character. She can't remember anything from before she was 10. She doesn't even remember her name! That's gotta be really frustrating but she's a pretty grounded and normal teenage girl, if a bit shy and un-trusting. I felt that she really came into herself throughout the book and I was really happy for her when she found out some things about her past.

Zed, and the whole of the Benedict family for that matter, were totally charming! I thought that Zed was a really cute character. He cared alot about Sky and I thought they had a really sweet romance, but I don't think it was as intense and sizzling as we were promised on the blurb. Though, I was glad that Sky didn't just except that an almost stranger was telling her that she was his kind of soulmate and she didn't just fall into his arms straight away- he had to prove it! Zed's character totally changed overnight when he met Sky due to her being his Soul Finder, and I was really interested to learn the history behind soul finders and Savants but it never happened! I was so shocked as to how little was explained about Savants and it left me totally confused. Maybe more explanation will come in the sequel about Yves?

One thing I did like was how the characters actually had a sense of humour and there were a lot of fun scenes in the book, something that can be quite lacking in the paranormal genre! Both Sky and Zed made me laugh out loud, particulary Sky's narration at the beginning of the book. Oh, and another thing I enjoyed was how when Sky couldn't handle things in real life she imagined them as pages on comic books. I really liked that quirk of hers!

One thing I didn't believe is how much her parents left her alone! They let her stay with a family who they had only met once for a over a week in a relatively new town to them. I don't think most parents would be too happy about that, but that fact that they had adopted Sky as a traumatised 10 year old should make them worry even more about her wellbeing. They always seemed to be out when she was at home which was a little too convenient!

Overall, while I did enjoy reading Finding Sky and I can see why some people love it, for me it was just an ok read. I probably won't be reading it again but it was a quick read and I might pick up the sequel to see where the story goes.

Oh, and kind of off topic but Sky moved to Colorado from Richmond-Upon-Thames which is fairly close to where I live! I just thought that was kind of cool as I love reading about people/places near me in books!

Rating: B-
Cover: C

Monday, 11 April 2011

Book Review: TimeRiders by Alex Scarrow

Goodreads Summary:

Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2029. Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, 'Take my hand ...' But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren't rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose - to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past. That's why the TimeRiders exist: to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world...

My Review:

I was so excited to read TimeRiders and it definitely didn't disappoint!

I have only read a few books involving time travel and I was worried
that the characters would be flat and one dimensional, just to carry along the action but that wasn't the case at all. I found myself really caring and worrying about what would happen to the characters, especially Liam and Sal.

One thing I especially enjoyed about TimeRiders was the history element. We got a glimpse at the assasination of John F. Kennedy which I found really interesting and I hope that in the next books the agency visit more important historic moments. I liked seeing how one small change in the past could make a huge difference to the present.

I found myself totally hooked on the story from page one! I did get a little bored in the middle when the focus shifted more towards Kramer but it was absolutely necessary to the story and the chapters that were written from his point of view were mostly short, so it was never long before we were back to the good stuff! I'm not really sure why I didn't enjoy the chapters about Kramer as much, but one thing I did like about it was how Kramer was an interesting villian who wasn't just downright evil- he was trying to make things better but went about it in a twisted way.

Liam was my favourite character. He was saved from drowning aboard the Titanic and thrust into modern day New York, which was completely alien to him and yet he lapped it all up. He was way in over his head at times but he handled it well and his friendship with Bob was very touching. I also really loved Sal! She is only 13 and finds herself living at the same time her parents were children, experiencing things she had only ever heard about as history. I thought it was so sweet how much she cared about Liam and Alex Scarrow did a really good job writing Sal, as I found her reactions spot on to how a young girl would actually behave in the situations that she was put in.

Another thing I love is how the cover matches the book perfectly. The Liam, Maddy and Sal on the cover, look exactly how I imagined them in my head! Everything on the cover is exactly as it is in the book and I find that rarely happens, so it definitely wins brownie points with me!

I am so glad I finally picked this book up after seeing it everytime I went into Waterstones! I hear there are going to be 9(!) books in the series and I couldn't be happier about that! I will definitely be reading every one! TimeRiders is an exciting book about time travel, consequences and friendship. It had me on the edge of my seat, flipping through pages at times and then a few pages on, I would be on the verge of tears. I would definitely recommend grabbing a copy as soon as you can!

Rating: A+
Cover: A

Monday, 4 April 2011

10 Good Things On A Monday: Ten TV Shows That Always Cheer Me Up

10 Good Things on a Monday is a weekly feature hosted by Brush Up On Your Reading. My 10 Good Things On a Monday this week is:

TV Shows That Can Always Cheer Me Up

10.The Big Bang Theory- This show is so cute! Sheldon cracks me up, Penny and Leonard are too sweet and it's always so silly. I always end up laughing goofily when I watch :)

9.Gavin and Stacey- Gavin and Stacey is such a sweet and funny programme. It's about two 20-something's Gavin- who lives in Essex, England and Stacey who lives on Barry Island, Wales who start talking on the phone through work and after months they finally meet and get engaged. (Not a spoiler- this happens within the first 2 episodes!) It's a really feel-good show with a sweet romance and Smithy, Nessa and Uncle Bryn always have me laughing out loud.

8. The Tudors- The last episode of the Tudors was shown this week and I'm really gonna miss it! It is full of scandal and I love anything to do with the Tudor period. Plus, there are some pretty fit guys in this. Hello, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Henry Cavill!

7. Extras- This show is genius! It's about 2 extras, Andy and Maggie, who are trying to become proper actors. It is so funny and some of the scenes are proper cringy! Loads of famous faces have appeared in it too from Orlando Bloom to Kate Winslet to Ben Stiller. Comedy gold!

6. Keeping Up With the Kardashians- I love watching this show. I have always been a little bit obsessed with reality shows (it started with Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica and Big Brother). It lets me escape my life and go in to the glamourous lives of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe. They always make me laugh and I love seeing them being normal and arguing at home!

5. The Middle- This is one of my new favourite programmes. It's about the Heck family who are just as crazy as most families in real life are! Axl and Brick are so funny, and Sue is probably one of my fave characters of all time. She is so sweet and happy and determined, even when she gets rejected by every club she tries out for. Such a sweet show!

4. Glee- How could I do a post about TV shows that always cheer me up without including Glee?! This show is just so bloody cute and I defy you not to have a smile on your face through it! Love the songs and Finn is a total fittie! My name is Natalie and I am a total Gleek!

3. Doctor Who- Call me a geek, but this is one of my top shows of all time. It has time travel, it has killer robots and it has a nine hundred and something year old time lord who changes his face! Amy Pond is one of my favourite companians and it's not just because she has the most beautiful coloured hair (Seriously, where can I get hair that gorgeous?)

2. Friends- No TV show list would be complete without Friends! I must have seen each episode a dozen times and they still crack me up. Especially ones where Ross gets drunk or Ross gets a spray tan. I love Ross!

1. How I Met Your Mother- Oh, HIMYM, how I love you. My new favourite tv show of all time. Barney is legen-wait for it-dary, Lily and Marshall are so cute, Robin is totally cool and Ted is a sweetheart! I seriously love every one of them. The show ALWAYS cheers me up and I only hope when I'm older I have a group of friends like them.

This has been so much fun- leave a link if you've taken part in 10 Good Things On A Monday!

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Goodreads Summary:

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.
Printz medalist John Green returns with the brilliant wit and searing emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

My Review:

Paper Towns is the first book I have read by John Green and I am fairly certain it won't be the last! This novel was everything I was hoping for and so much more. I'm finding it really hard to write this review becauase I loved it so much and I really want to do it justice.

Quentin, or Q, has been pretty much in love with his next door neighbour Margo since they were kids. 9 years after they last hung out, Margo sneaks into Q's bedroom asking for a ride. Q thinks that after their night together everything will change between them but Margo doesn't show up for school the next day which leads Q to go on a wild goose chase after Margo and leaves him questioning everything about who she was and who he is becoming.

Margo is such a fascinating character to the reader, and to Q. She is Queen Bee at school, without being a total bitch. She can get anyone to do anything for her because they want to please her and be around her. She's a free spirit and will do anything she thinks is fun, no matter the consequences which is why quiet, sensible Q is so drawn to her. Margo and Q are such awesome characters. They are flawed and unsure and real. Q will stop at nothing to try and find Margo, in two senses- where she is and who she actually is. Q realises that Margo is different things to different people and everybody she knows has a set version of her that they have built up in their heads.

I loved Margo. She is so much fun and although she pushes Q out of his comfort zones, she doesn't do it to be mean. She tries to get him to loosen up and is ultimately trying to help him. She is the crazy, unattainable girl who comes up with the best schemes but there is a whole other side of her which she hides from everybody. She is deep and thinks about things a lot- probably too much. Margo feels like she can't be herself and feels very trapped in Florida which she describes as a paper town.  She may come off a little selfish, but seriously, what teenager isn't? I think she and Q compliment each other perfectly.

My favourite parts of Paper Towns were that first night Q spent with Margo in his mum's minivan and the road trip that Q and his friends take near the end of the book. I love every one of Q's friends, and Ben in particular provides a bunch of comic relief when things start getting too serious.

I found myself checking how many pages were left until the end of the book frequently because I was so desperate to find out how this would end. The plot slows down a bit in the middle but it is totally necessary to build the mystery and leads perfectly to the climatic conclusion.

John Green crafts such real and complex characters which totally make the book what it is.. I've heard that the main characters in his other books are very similar to Q and Margo so I really can't wait to see how they compare to Paper Towns. 

Paper Towns is such a joy to read and I whole-heartedly suggest reading it sometime soon if you haven't already.

Rating: A+
Cover: B+

Sunday, 3 April 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and I am so excited to be taking part for the first time!


Angel by L.A Weatherly: I've had my eye on this book for ages but the cover really creeps me out haha! The premise of the book sounds really interesting and original though, so when I saw it in a 3 for 2 offer in Waterstones I just had to buy it. I might have to hide it at the back of my bookshelf at night though so I don't get freaked out by the girl!

Warriors of Alavna by N.M Browne: I hadn't heard of this one before I spotted in the shop. It sounds so good! It's about two students who are on a school trip and get sucked back to Britain in 70AD. It reminds me a lot of the film Timeline which I love a lot so hopefully it will live up to my expectations. The girl at the counter had read the series and couldn't praise them enough, so fingers crossed I'll enjoy them!

Time Riders by Alex Scarrow: I have seen the Time Riders series in the YA section for so long but though they wouldn't interest me. So on Saturday when I was looking for a book to complete my 3 for 2 offer, I was pleasantly suprised when I read the blurb. It sounds so awesome- I can't wait to get stuck into this!

Paper Towns by John Green: I have wanted to read Paper Towns for ages. I started reading last night and oh my gosh, it is so freaking good! I'll try and finish it tonight so look out for my review sometime this week. (I really hope the ending doesn't disappoint!)

So that's what I got this week :) What did you guys get? Leave me a link to your IMM!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Book Review: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter

Goodreads Summary:
The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it's a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn't have a code name?

Cammie Morgan may be fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti), but the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she's doing something riskier than ever—she's falling in love.

My Review:

This book is so much fun! Who hasn't been bored during school and daydreamed about being a spy? Well, at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women the girls don't have to because their lessons are preparing them for life as spies.

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You is a cute, fun, smile-enducing novel that despite being 308 pages long is a quick read. It reminded me a lot of St Trinians with a bit of Princess Diaries thrown in. Nothing too serious but very entertaining and I could definitely imagine seeing this on the big screen.

I really liked Cammie as the main character. She could take down a grown man in seconds but when it came to actually talking to normal boys, she was pretty clueless. Cue the other Gallagher Girls- kick-arse Bex (love her!), slightly geeky and loveable Liz and the new girl in school, boy-expert Macey. I loved reading about the gadgets and I could totally imagine the action scenes in my head. I'm glad Cammie got to experience life outside of being a spy with Josh, and I really hope he is in the next books!

I know I am a late-comer to this series, but I'm definitely going to have fun catching up with the sequels!

Rating: A
Cover: A+
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