Sunday, 29 April 2012

New Design!

YAY! I finally got round to designing a header for my blog! I know it's nothing fancy - just my questionable attempt at drawing scanned into the computer and tweaked slightly with 'Paint' - but I'm quite happy with it :)
What do you think?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Top Ten Favourite Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's theme is...Your All Time Favourite Book Characters!

  1. It's gotta be... Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games! I love The Hunger Games, and I love Katniss! She's so brave, fiery and inspirational.
  2. Verity/Queenie/Julie from Code Name Verity - I adored Julie; she was so witty, charming, funny, brave and SO CLEVER! (If you've read the book, you'll understand. If you haven't read the book...why not?!)
  3. Ron Weasley from (do I even have to say it?) Harry Potter! I mean, he's just hilarious!
  4. Constance Contraire from The Mysterious Benedict Society - Ahhhh! How can you not love Constance? She's EXTREMELY small and EXTREMELY clever, grumpy, stroppy and, as her name might suggest, very contrary, but you forgive her for all of that when you find out she's only TWO!
  5. Tris from Divergent - I love her for pretty much the same reasons as Katniss - she's brave, fiery and inspirational!
  6. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter - I love Luna's wistful aloofness and the way she is so intuitive and so blunt and honest.
  7. Mina McKee from My Name Is Mina - I love Mina's quirkiness and individuality; the way she thinks is so... clever and unique. And she's just a really sweet, happy person.
  8. Sherlock Holmes - Ever since I first came across Sherlock Holmes in an kids' version of several Sherlock Holmes short stories, I have marvelled at his awesomeness! The way he manages to piece seemingly insignificant details together to always produce the correct answer is ingenious!
  9. Noah Shaw from The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer - Umm, gorgeous much?!
  10. Alex from Hunting Lila - ditto above        

Who are your favourite characters? Leave me a comment and I'll be sure to drop by and check out your posts! :)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Book Review: Night School

Title: Night School
Author: C.J. Daugherty
Publisher: Atom
Pages: 454
Source: Borrowed (Thanks, Duwa!)
Tagline: 'When everyone is lying, who do you trust?'
 Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested.


This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers.

But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Its rules are strangely archaic. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch.

When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy

Allie Sheridan is just another troubled teenager being carted off to a school far away somewhere. Nothing particularly special. But there is something special, something strange, about the school she's being sent to - Cimmeria Academy. For one thing, why has Allie never heard of it before , and why can't she find any mention of it anywhere on the Internet? Things take a turn for the more mysterious when Allie arrives at Cimmeria. It's somewhat strange that she is there for the summer term - normally Cimmeria is attended in the summer only by 'students with promise' i.e. 'legacy' students - students whose families are connected to Cimmeria, and tend to be ridiculously rich, ridiculously gorgeous, ridiculously clever or any combination thereof. Allie is clearly none of these things so why is she here?

Things become even more mysterious when, whilst going through the Cimmeria Rules book, Allie reads:

 5.   Students in certain advanced areas of study take part in Night School to prepare them for life after Cimmeria, so you will sometimes hear them working late in the evening. Only very few select students are offered this opportunity; if you are not among them, you must not attempt to interfere with or observe Night School.
6.   The identities of those involved in Night School are secret. Anyone who attempts to find out their identities will be punished.

7.   ALL Night School activities are secret. Any member of Night School who tells anybody outside of Night School about those activities will be punished severely. 

It was this mysteriousness that compelled me to pick up this book in the first place, and it was what drove me to keep reading. I have to say, for probably at least the first three quarters of Night School, I was totally into it, enjoying the story (mostly) and desperate to discover what Night School actually was!

Sadly, and I don't want to ruin it for anyone - besides this was probably just me - but I personally found the disclosure of Night School to be somewhat anticlimatic...? Anybody else felt the same way? I don't really know what I was expecting to be honest, but the excitement went a little bit once I'd found out what Night School was.

Also, adding to my non-craziness about the end, it seemed that Allie was supposedly in great danger and had to run/hide around the school to get away from someone...? I don't know if this was as a result of my inattentiveness due to my decreased interest in the book towards the end of it, but I never really got quite what all the fuss was about. I got that there were some bad guys or something, but I never really knew just quite why Allie was supposedly in so much danger.

It's a shame that the end of Night School kind of ruined it a little bit for me, but I did enjoy the rest of it quite a lot. There was a delicious love triangle involving Allie, Sylvain (charming French guy) and Carter (moody, mysterious guy) and LOTS of amusing and witty banter, however, almost a little TOO MUCH, I'd say. It seemed to me at times that Allie was unnecessarily sarky, which annoyed me slightly.

I just want to share a couple of quotes that I particularly enjoyed:

"You don't. Ignore somebody. For weeks. And then. Ask them. Personal questions. You. Arsehole."
Silence fell as she concentrated on not speaking to him.
 And then...

"Is my lady ready for her escort?" he asked as she walked up.
"Your lady could murder a bacon sandwich," she said.
"How ladylike of my lady."

I may have had a few minor disagreements with Night School, but please don't be deterred from reading it because it was actually, overall, an enjoyable and amusing story.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Awesome Atomics!

So, yesterday I did a post about how, not long ago, I received my first ever book for review in the post and how VERY EXCITING it was! (You can see that post here) And so, today, I want to tell you about how that book came to be in my mail; I am going to tell you about Atomics, an awesome thing I recently discovered, and something that I think some of you guys might be interested in.

Atomics is a program run by Atom publishing for teens in the UK, giving anybody who loves reading the opportunity to read and review books before they are released.

Does that sound awesome or what? I was SO HAPPY when I found out about Atomics because I had come across things like the 'Simon & Schuster Pulse It' program before that is only open to residents of the US and Canada and the Random Buzzers website where, although anyone can partcipate, you have to live in the US to be able to receive books from them, and let me tell you, I was SO ANNOYED that I didn't live in the US! Even though, I do love England :)

Anyway, Atomics is a great program and it's so easy to join - the only conditions are that you are between 12 and 18, live in the UK and love reading! Whenever, they have books available for review, they send an email to everyone who is signed up and if you are interested, you simply email them back telling them so. They then choose, out of everyone who has replied, several people who will be that month's reviewers!

I signed up at the end of March and I was really excited when, in April, I got the chance to review Sarra Manning's new book, Adorkable, which is to be published in May. I was so happy to be picked to review it - and I have already finished reading Adorkable, which I loved!

If you want to sign up to be an Atomics reviewer, or you just want more information, head over to their website here.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

My first ARC! (sort of...?)

Just before I start my post, a teensy digression...
OMG! You have no idea how happy I was when the Blogger sign-in screen actually came up when I typed in the url today! Because, you see, for the past FOUR days (okay, that really doesn't sound like very long but it FELT like a LOT longer) I have been majorly frustrated because everytime I tried to get onto Blogger I was greeted very rudely with a 'Problem Loading Page' blah blah blah. Needless to say, I have NOT been happy. But now I am because Blogger's working again, and the world has righted itself, and everything is just tickety-boo!
Okay, digression over. So...

It's always really exciting when you get a new book, right? I always get so excited when I get a new book. Now, it's doubly exciting if the new book in question was sent to you by a publisher (!) and triply exciting if the book hasn't even been published yet! And, if it's the very first time that you have received a new book for review in the post? Well, then that makes it quadruply exciting!

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I received a lovely book-shaped package in the post the other day - as soon as I caught sight of the postman heading up our driveway through the window, I leapt up and opened the door before he even reached it. I could barely contain myself as I eagerly scrambled to open the parcel and then - ah! There it was! - in my hands I was holding my very first (sort of) ARC!

Now, I guess you might be wondering why I'm calling it a 'sort of' ARC, and that would be because I'm not really sure whether if it actually counts as an ARC. I know that ARC stands for Advance Reader Copy (or something along those lines) and the book I received was an advance copy (it's due to be published in May) but I was under the impression that ARCs were specially-printed copies just to be sent out for review, not finished copies, and the book I have definitely looks like a finished copy. So, really, my question is: if you get sent a copy of a book in advance for review, but it's a finished copy, is it classified as an ARC? I don't know, I'm just curious, really. Anybody - please feel free to enlighten me and share your thoughts regarding this question in the comments section below.

Anyway, either way, it was still very exciting for me to receive a hard copy of a book for review for the very first time! The book, by the way, was Adorkable by Sarra Manning, which is coming out on 24th May. You can see the Adorkable cover (which is actually totes adorable!) and a summary of the book on Sarra's website here. I have already read Adorkable and LOVED it, so sometime in the near future there will be a review up here!

I was going include a bit about ATOMICS in this post because that is how I got a copy of Adorkable but this has gone on longer than I thought it would, so I will do a short separate post about ATOMICS a little later on this evening...or maybe tomorrow morning, because I am planning on watching The Voice. Or I could watch TV and blog at the same time...but we'll have to see whether or not my brain can cope with that! :)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

So, this week's theme for Top Ten Tuesday is 'Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers', but, having only been blogging for just over a couple of months, I don't really feel qualified or experienced enough to be giving other people advice, which is why I'm not going to be doing this week's TTT. I look forward to dropping by everyone else's TTT posts though, and seeing what top tips I can pick up!

Sunday, 15 April 2012


Well, isn't this exciting! It seems to me like everyone in the blogosphere has Twitter and/or Facebook and then there's just little old me who doesn't even have a single clue how to use them so I've made a start on fixing this problem and...

The Book Parade is now officially on Twitter!

Woohoo! Feel free to check out my page here and feel free to follow!

Hopefully Facebook will be on the way soon! :)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Book Review: Blood Red Road

Title: Blood Red Road
Author: Moira Young
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 492
Source: Borrowed (school library)

'Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.'

Okay. I have one word for you. WOW. WOWWOWWOWWOWWOW! I mean, I had vaguely heard that Blood Red Road was really good, and I knew it was the winner of the 2011 Costa Children's Book Award (that little titbit of info was written on the inside of the copy that I borrowed) but Blood Red Road still blew me away!

My heart was literally pounding as I was swept away across the Dust Lands to join Saba on a high-tension, action-packed adventure. Blood Red Road was written in a very unique style - completely in dialect, lacking in any quotation marks and not really separated into distinct chapters - more like a continuous account of Saba's journey, a new section beginning with each new location she reached.

Here's a little chunk from the beginning of the book to give you an idea of what the writing was like:

'Everythin's set. It's all fixed.
The lives of everybody who's ever bin born.
The lives of everybody still waitin to be born.
It was all set in the stars the moment the world began. The time of yer birthin, the time of yer death. Even what kinda person yer gonna be, good or bad.
You cain't change what's written.'
I suppose some may be troubled by the whole book being written in dialect, but I found it no problem at all. I love how different it was! It made you feel like you had definitely made the transition into a completely different world from ours. Everything flowed really naturally and, personally, I think it made me feel closer to Saba, as if I was really in her head and part of her world.

Now, Saba is what you call a fiery character! When what she calls the 'red hot' takes over, she is practically invincible - a real fighter. She's not a typical 'perfect' heroine, though, in fact she's pretty much the opposite of perfect. Rude, sassy and rather horrible to her nine-year-old sister Emmi (Their mother died giving birth to Emmi and Saba has never been able to look past the fact that her mother would still be alive if it wasn't for Emmi) we should probably not like Saba at all, but somehow I felt myself drawn to her character and I couldn't help admiring her guts and strength. Her character did change and develop along her journey, though, and it was nice to see this.

And Jack. Jack is the perfect match for Saba. Witty, charming and mysterious, I fell in love with him straight away. As did Saba, really, even though she refused to admit it for a LONG time.

Blood Red Road was a red hot novel - amazingly exciting and amazingly...well, just AMAZING! I love dystopians and this has definitely made its way onto my list of favourites, up there with the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent!
I am crazily excited for the release of Rebel Heart, the sequel to Blood Red Road, which is apparently going to be 30th October THIS YEAR!! I can't wait! And even more exciting news... the film rights have already been bought! It will be VERY interesting to see them bring this story to life, I think.
Have I told you that you should read this yet? No? Well I'll tell you now. YOU HAVE TO READ BLOOD RED ROAD. NOW. 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Penguin
Tagline: 'Truth will become legend'

"Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias' death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets."

So, Legend brings us yet another dystopian world to explore. This one is the 'Republic Of America', a country fighting a perpetual war against the neighbouring 'Colonies'. The country, as a result, is very militaristic - all the best jobs are involved with the military and all the best students are sent to the best universities where they train to become soldiers because 'better soldiers make for better chance of victory against the Colonies.'

Every child takes a Trial at the age of 10, and this test will determine the rest of their lives. A mix of physical and academic tests, the Trial measures a child's ability and each person is then given a score out of 1500. The education and opportunities you will receive in life depend on your score - it's the difference between university and a successful, happy life or being barred from school and destined to a life in the slums. And those who fail are taken away from their families and sent to labour camps for the rest of their lives.

A perfect Trial score is practically unheard of; only one person has ever achieved it and that's our story's heroine - June. This makes her somewhat of a prodigy and she is the only fifteen-year-old senior in a university meant for sixteen and up. She is very lucky - as well as being smart, she is from a wealthy district.

On the other end of the spectrum is our other protagonist, Day, the Republic's most wanted criminal. He's from the slums and he failed his Trial.

Legend alternates between Day's and June's perspectives and we find that, despite their differences on the surface, they are actually quite similar - both very brave and fiercely loyal to their families.

In my opinion, it took a little too long for June and Day to actually meet, I was waiting for the bit where they finally met each other and this didn't happen until nearly half-way through the book.  Also, I didn't feel like I was sucked into Marie Lu's dystopian world - it never really felt completely real to me.

However, Legend was fast-paced and full of action and a very exciting read. I wouldn't say I loved it but I definitely liked it a lot. It was full of twists and turns and mysteries - where do the children who fail their Trial really go? What's really behind the plagues that keep breaking out all over the Republic? And the biggest question of all for June - is the country and government that she trusted and believed in so much, and fought so hard for, really what it seems?

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Book Review: Code Name Verity

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Pages: 441
Source: Borrowed from library
Tagline: 'I have told the truth'

'I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do. That's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine - and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I'm going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France - an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.'

Code Name Verity is an intricately-woven story of friendship, truth and lies. It is a deeply emotional book - it made me laugh, and it made me cry - as well as very thought-provoking, showing a glimpse of the ruthlessness of a side of war that we don't often think about - all the covert undercover work that went on behind the scenes.

Despite this, Code Name Verity managed to be a very entertaining read and I grew to really love the characters of Maddie and Queenie (not her real name, but several names are used for her in the book and I'm going to refer to her as this for the purpose of my review because it is the one that you know her by for the longest, I think.)

Queenie was just so dynamic and seemingly fearless - a real free-spirited character - and I think I viewed her with the same awe and admiration that Maddie probably did. Actually, I'm going to quote Maddie's description of her best friend because it is just perfect:

"Gloriously daft, drop-dead charming, full of bookish nonsense and foul language, brave and generous."
Queenie loves pretending and she's good at making up stories, which is why she is in the Special Operations Executive, and it's clear that she really is excellent at what she does (apart from the fact that '[she has] no sense of direction; in some of us it is a TRAGIC FLAW', which led to her being captured by the Gestapo after being in France for less than 48 hours, simply because she'd looked the wrong way before crossing the street.) Anyhow, this excellence of hers becomes even more clear at the end of the book! (I won't say any more because I don't want to spoil it!)

The first part of the book is Queenie's written account for her captors and her voice is so engaging and entertaining to read. In little chunks, she tells us hers and Maddie's story - a touching tale of true friendship. However, I must admit that I sometimes found bits of the stories from the past that Queenie was telling a little bit...boring, what with all the talk of aircrafts and flying and whatnot. (It's okay, though! It was only the odd occasion! And anyway, looking back, having finished the whole book, I can guarantee that it's worth sticking it out to get to the end!) 

Anyway, Queenie's story was interjected with snippets from the present and what was currently happening to her. I, personally, found these bits more amusing in general. Despite the torture she's withstood or, as she euphemistically puts it, 'the, ah, stressful circumstances' she's been put through, her fire and fighting spirit remain and she stays, for the most part, chatty and upbeat. She has a tendency to forget she is not writing this for herself and the results of this are rather funny. For example, one time, after viciously insulting von Linden, the man for whom this report is being written, she suddenly realises and writes -

"Oh my God, why do I do it - again and again? I HAVE THE BRAIN OF A PTARMIGAN HEN. HE WILL SEE ANYTHING I WRITE."

Overall, Code Name Verity was a very enjoyable and moving read. Queenie and Maddie were such likable, real characters and they truly were a sensational team. Reading their story, I almost felt like I was there, a part of that sensational team with them.
And the ending was...perfect. Bittersweet, but I wouldn't have wanted it to end any other way. After reading this, I had that satisfied feeling of having just digested a really great book. Seriously, it's well worth the time.

In my opinion, the best line of the book was...(and I'm going to have to hide this because it's a MASSIVE SPOILER, so only highlight if you have read the book!!!) … 
 'She never told them ANYTHING.'

Maddie's realisation of what Queenie had really done made me so happy. And I admired Julie even more for being so clever. I have to say, I did wonder at times about the usefulness of the 'confession', but it all made sense at the end!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Top Ten Books To Read in One Day

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's theme is...Top Ten Books to Read in One Day!

Now, I often read books in a day if I get absolutely hooked on them because, quite frankly, I cannot concentrate on anything else until I finish that book! Seriously, I might reluctantly tear myself away to eat or do homework or practise music or something, but whatever I go off to do will be half-heartedly done because I am just itching to get back to my book!

But enough of that! Here's my list!

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  3. Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
  4. Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
  5. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
  6. Harry Potter (any one of them, although it may be hard to read the fifth book in a day...) by J.K. Rowling
  7. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
  8. Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
  9. Finding Sky by Joss Stirling
  10. Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
What are your Top Ten Books To Read in One Day? :)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Yay! An award! :)

I'm lucky enough to have been presented with the Versatile Blogger Award, courtesy of Heather from Into The Cuckoo's Nest. I'm honoured that you thought of me for this Heather, and thank you SO MUCH! It means a lot to me! You guys should all go check out Heather's blog; it's really great!

Now, the rules for this one are:

1. Thank and link the blogger who awarded you 

2. Share 7 random facts about yourself

3. Spread the love by passing the award to five other   bloggers, and be sure to let them know

So...7 random facts about myself? Let me see...

  1. I play the piano and the violin, sing and have sort of started to teach myself the saxophone.
  2. I LOVE Taylor Swift! Seriously, I love every single song of hers that I have heard. And I have heard A LOT. There isn't a single song of hers that I don't like.
  3. I have been in two professional stage productions of the musical The King and I - one when I was five, and one when I was seven. (I played one of the king's children)
  4. I don't swear. At all. Ever. Not even by accident!
  5. I was head girl at my primary school.
  6. I love netball. (I know that when I went on holiday to the US some of my relatives hadn't heard of it so, for those of you who don't know, netball is similar to basketball, only, in my opinion, better! Although I know I am probably in the minority for thinking this. The fundamental difference is that you can't bounce or move with the ball.) I play GS (Goal Shooter) on my school team.
  7. I have wanted to be an author ever since I was five. (And I know this because I have kept a diary since I was five! Although, I haven't always been very good at writing frequently. Well, I have never really been very good at writing frequently, but I do try to write more often now.)

Now, without further ado, here are the bloggers I would like to pass The Versatile Blogger Award on to...

  1. Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading In the Rain***
  2. Lea @ ***LC's Adventures in Libraryland***
  4. Laura @ Stranger Than Writing...
  5. Kristy @ A Little Shelf Of Heaven  

So, well done you guys, and I look forward to reading your 7 random facts! :)