Thursday, 15 September 2011

Book review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 320 pages.

Description: Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

Rating:

Book review: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Egmont Books Ltd, 280 pages.

Description: Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier.

But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.

Rating:

Book review: When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Headline Review, 336 pages.

Description: This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about secrets and starting over, friendship and family, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms.

It's the story of a memorable young heroine, Elly, and her loss of innocence-a magical portrait of growing up and the pull and power of family ties.

From Essex and Cornwall to the streets of New York, from 1968 to the events of 9/11, When God Was a Rabbit follows the evolving bond of love and secrets between Elly and her brother Joe, and her increasing concern for an unusual best friend, Jenny Penny, who has secrets of her own.

Rating:

Book review: Twisted (Pretty Little Liars #9) by Sara Shepard

My edition: Hardcover, published in 2011 by HarperTeen, 305 pages.

Description: It’s been a year since the torturous notes from A stopped and the mystery of Alison DiLaurentis’s disappearance was finally put to rest. Now seniors in high school, Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily are older, but they’re not any wiser. The Pretty Little Liars have more secrets than ever - twisted secrets that could destroy the perfect lives they’ve worked so hard to rebuild.

Aria’s jealous of her boyfriend’s new exchange student. Spencer’s getting a little too cozy with her soon-to-be-stepbrother. Hanna’s one scandalous photo away from ruining her dad’s Senate campaign. And Emily will do anything to get a swim scholarship.

Worst of all: Last spring break in Jamaica, they did something unforgivable. The girls are desperate to forget that fateful night, but they should know better than anyone that all secrets wash ashore... eventually.

Rating:

Book review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Random House, 349 pages.

Description: Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

Rating:

Book review: The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Harper, 307 pages.

Description: I had a life anyone would kill for. Then someone did. The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night?

And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

Rating:

Book review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

My edition: Paperback, published in 2010 by Definitions, 240 pages.

Description: In a single moment, everything changes.

Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family.

Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make -and the ultimate choice Mia commands.



Rating:

Book review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

My edition: Paperback, published in 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 592 pages.

Description: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Rating:

Book review: How To Leave Twitter by Grace Dent

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Faber and Faber, 208 pages.

Description: Three years ago columnist and author Grace Dent joined new social network site Twitter, mainly as a place to dump her surplus jokes, rant about garbage TV and post exclusive j-pegs of her hot new toenail-varnish.

But as every 're-tweet' and 'Follow Friday' saw her audience figures soar by tens of thousands, Dent found herself centre-stage in an all-consuming highly addictive social network revolution. One where the gags, gossip, scandal and backstabbing literally never stop. Here Dent takes a hilarious, acerbic look at what's really going on in Twitterworld; who's actually tweeting, who's really reading your tweets and what's behind the 140 character lies they tell.

She looks at the highs and grotty lows of twitter addiction, the shameless social climbers, the friends you'll make and the ones you can't get bloody rid of, the barefaced bragging, the shameful celeb-stalking, and the truth about 'twanking', twitter cliques, angry 'twitchfork mobs' and dealing with trolls.

Rating:

Book review: The Line by Teri Hall

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Speak, 224 pages.

Description: When Rachel and her mother move to Mrs. Moore's house-the one with the greenhouse, right next to the Line-Rachel starts questioning things.

There are so many rumors of horrible things that lie beyond the Line-in a place called Away-but no one dares to talk about it. And it's no use asking questions- especially of Mrs. Moore, who has always lived by the Line, or of her mother, who is just happy to have a place to stay, especially since Rachel's father died in the war.

But then Rachel comes across a recorded message-one that could only have come from Away. And the voice on the recorder is asking for help.

As things start to unravel, the question becomes, how far is Rachel willing to go to cross the Line and do the right thing?

Rating:

Book review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Voyager, 320 pages.

Description: Obviously, something went terribly wrong.

Genetic mutations have festered, reducing human longevity to twenty-five, even less for most women.

To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped, mated in polygamous marriages with men eager to procreate.

Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, a recent victim of this breeding farm mentality, has vowed to break loose from its fetters; but finding allies and a safe way out is a challenge she can only hope she will survive.


Rating:

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Review: Elixir by Hilary Duff

My edition: Paperback, published in 2010 by Simon & Schuster, 327 pages.

Description: Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea’s photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man—a man she has never seen before.

When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives—and their futures.

Review:

This book started out very promising: extremely well written (I'm not commenting on by who as I think the quality should be central in a review about the story, not the debate about whether it was ghost written or not) and mysterious from the start with the unexplainable appearances of the image on Clea's photographs.

However as soon as we were getting closer to the truth behind the mystery, the story started making less sense and it seemed more time was spent on building a romantic relationship between two characters that lack chemistry, rather than on developing the plot in a satisfying matter.

About halfway through Elixer dropped from a solid 9 to a hesitant 8 out of 10 and the open ending as well as the unbelievable change of Ben's character towards the final chapters made me reluctantly decide on the final rating. It's a real shame that this novel got dragged into the currently overhyped young adult paranormal genre - focusing on romance rather than plot - as it had a lot of potential.

7/10

Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Hyperion, 287 pages.

Description: When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

Review:

This novel is an entertaining teen heist story in the likes of Leverage and Ocean's Eleven with an intriguing ending that makes me want to check out the next installment in the series.

The book wasn't anything groundbreaking, and the characters were all a bit cliche (the protagonist that ends up with two hot guys adoring her even though she sees herself as one of the guys, the gorgeously seductive girl, the clever computer geek, the bored rich kid, the butler, etc.), but the story was interesting and action packed and the main characters were all likeable in their own right.

In short: It was a quick and fun read and I definitely want to see more of Kat and her gang.

7/10

Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Poppy, 288 pages.

Description: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "the Duff", she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Review:

The first half of this book was just terrible. How the main character can possibly turn towards the one guy who keeps hurting her by using the word "DUFF" and have meaningless sex (at that age!) to get rid of all her so-called big problems were beyond me; I really thought it gave a wrong message to young girls.

However, about midway through I actually started to like Bianca and her story developed in such a way that I could finally understand why she felt the way she did. Of course it helped that the "mean" boy predictably turned into a very sweet and considerate guy and in the end all was well for everyone.

The DUFF is not the most extraordinary piece of literature every produced but surely entertaining enough and admirable for the fact that it was written by a 17 year-old.

6.5/10

Review: Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah

My edition: Paperback, published in 2009 by Scholastic, 240 pages.

Description: Thirteen-year-old Hayaat is on a mission. She believes a handful of soil from her grandmother's ancestral home in Jerusalem will save her beloved Sitti Zeynab's life. The only problem is the impenetrable wall that divides the West Bank, as well as the checkpoints, the curfews, and Hayaat's best friend Samy, who is always a troublemaker.

But luck is on their side. Hayaat and Samy have a curfew-free day to travel to Jerusalem. However, while their journey is only a few kilometres long, it may take a lifetime to complete.

Review:

Where the Streets Had a Name is a wonderful and unique young adult novel that was an eye-opener to me about the current situation in the Middle East. The subject matter is quite heavy but told in such a way that the book remains easy to digest. And it's surprisingly even funny at times!

A really great novel for teenagers as well as adults as it's fascinating to read a perspective on this situation, with real people you easily fall in love with, that isn't just a factual newspaper article.

8/10

Review: The Demon Collector by Jon Mayhew

My edition: Hardback, published in 2011 by Bloomsbury, 432 pages.

Description: In the time before time, Satan ruled the molten Earth, worshiped by his demons. One demon turned against him and imprisoned Satan deep in the bowels of the earth. When Satan escaped, as punishment, the demon's heart was torn from his chest and his body hidden deep in the polar ice. Only Satan knows where he lies. The heart is hidden elsewhere. If the two are brought together, the demon will be reborn and darkness will reign.

Edgy Taylor sees demons when nobody else can. Edgy thinks he is insane and expects to be carried off any minute. He is a prime collector, wandering the streets of London collecting dog muck for the tannery. The only thing Edgy is good at is setting and solving riddles, and evading his brutal and abusive master.

One night, when his master seems genuinely intent on killing Edgy, Professor Envry Janus intervenes. Envry takes him to the Royal Society of Daemonology where Edgy will now live. It is here, though, that Edgy discovers chance had nothing to do with their meeting, and that he holds the key to a deadly demon prophecy.

Review:

This is a wonderfully original children's book set in a world where demons, arch demons and even Satan are more than just myths and legends.

Edgy Taylor thinks he's just an ordinary boy with a gift of solving riddles until he suddenly finds himself running for his life and ends up at the Society of Daemonology. Once there he discovers the most extraordinary things and tumbles head first into a dangerous world filled with demons (some good, some bad), imps and even a snake of knowledge in the library. For the first time in his life he finds himself surrounded by actual friends, but unfortunately also by enemies and it is sometimes hard to define which is which. However, Edgy has to make up his mind fast and be one step ahead of his enemies as making the wrong move can be not only fatal to himself, but to everyone on earth.

The characters in The Demon Collector are well written, the story is action-packed and fast paced and the book will leave you guessing to the very end about the true evil in this world.

7.5/10

Review: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Sphere, 480 pages.

Description: Issy Randall can bake. No, more than that - Issy can create stunning, mouth-watering and divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. So when she's made redundant from her safe but dull City job, Issy decides to seize the moment and open up her own cafe.

Review:

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is an absolutely lovely read, filled with (mostly) likeable characters I just wanted to squish by the end of it. Especially Louise and Darny. And Austin, of course.

Not only is this a wonderfully sweet chick-lit, each chapter starts with a mouth-watering recipe which is a fabulous bonus. Unsurprisingly I wanted to start baking my own cupcakes as soon as the book was finished, and even that author Jenny Colgan caters too with a few extra chapters of recipes.

Highly recommended.

10/10

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

My edition: eBook, published in 2011, 398 pages.

Description: Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Review:

Across the Universe was an absolutely fascinating read about a space ship that sets off from Earth and has been traveling for several centuries to reach a substitute planet to live on. Some people from our time have been frozen and are stored to be awoken on the new planet and use their knowledge to make it habitable. Others are several generations down the line from the original people populating the ship. Cue a girl from our time accidentally waking up and being thrown into an environment that is vastly different than what she is used to.

And despite so many young adult novels at the moment the main focus isn't a Mary Sue main character chasing a perfect boy, instead it's on the differences between the girl Amy, from our time, and the people living on the ship that do not know what Earth really was like. For instance, they have never heard the sound of the ocean and are unfamiliar to diversity of races.

The only reason I did not give Across the Universe a 10 out of 10 is because it gets very predictable, very fast. Most revelations I saw coming a few chapters ahead and the biggest one of them all I figured out straight away. Nonetheless the future it's set in and the political games played are mighty fascinating, making this book definitely worth a read.

8/10

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

My edition: Paperback, published in 2004 by Vintage, 272 pages.

Description: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger's Syndrome.

He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour's dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

Review:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a lovely little novel giving the readers a fascinating insight into the mind of a boy with Asperger's Syndrome, Christopher, as we follow him on a journey that starts out with him trying to find out who killed Wellington (the dog of one of this neighbours) but rapidly evolves into Christopher uncovering a much bigger mystery in his own life.

Author Mark Haddon has used an unique approach in his novel as it is told from the point of view of his autistic main character. This results in many breaks during the story as the boy elaborates on mathematical problems, maps out his environment and includes a wide variety of drawings and lists that allows him to distract his mind when he is faced with an unknown or challenging situation.

I do not know how accurate the descriptions of Christopher's thought process and reactions to the world surrounding him are, but I think it's fair to say that the book reads realistic and the unique concept works very well.

8/10

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Review policy

Would you like to know a little bit more about this blog and its author first? You can read all about me here. Now you know what some of the key focuses of this blog are, as well as my stats, read on for specific review policies for key categories.

Books

I read mostly literary novels/book club reads, young adult titles, and non-fiction. At this time I do not accept self published novels, eBooks, audio books, graphic novels, books for children under the age of 12, and adult novels in the following genres: erotica, sci-fi, crime and horror. Book reviews are cross-posted to Twitter, Google+, Goodreads (top 1% reviewer), Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Waterstones.com (top 50 reviewer) and Bookbridgr.com. Want to work with me? Email me a press release for the the book you'd like me to review as well as the publication date.

Theatre

I review theatre both in London's West End and on the fringe (Zone1-3 only). My main passion is musical theatre but I also frequent plays so am open to hearing more about those as well. If you'd like me to review your musical or play in central London, please email me a press release and available dates and I'll respond to you as soon as possible.

Events + Travel

For invites to blogger events, PR showcases, new openings in London, and national and international destinations please include the date(s), time and location in your email outreach, as well as a press release if available. 

Food & Drink

I'm a real foodie and love trying out new scrumptious places. All cuisines will be considered; from Lebanese and Italian to quintessentially British afternoon tea. As I'm located in the UK's capital, I'm currently only accepting invites to central London restaurants, but I do travel so if you're based elsewhere you can email me and I'll keep the details on file. If you have a new food or drink item you'd like me to give a go, feel free to email me a press release for consideration.

Beauty

There is a wealth of beauty products and brands out there that aren't available in high street shops and because of that people don't necessarily know about them. Reading blogs is the perfect way to discover new soaps, scrubs, nail polishes and other exciting products. As I have a dry skin I'm particularly on the look-out for body lotions and creams that can counteract the dreaded 'flaky skin', but as you can see from past reviews I consider other products for review as well if you pop over a press release first.

Contact

I am PR-friendly and if you work on a show, brand, book or destination that you believe aligns with this blog and readership, do email me on pagetostagereviews@gmail.com.



About & Contact

I'm a 30-year-old Dutch girl living in London and I spend the majority of the hours outside of my day job devouring books, going to the theatre, and growing my blog with great content and photography. While I don't cover all the shows I see or books I read, I do highlight those I love so I can help spread the word about them. If I was given the opportunity to review something, I will of course always cover that on my blog in an honest, in-depth blog post.

Over the years my tastes have understandably changed and so has the focus of this blog, which now also contains content around lifestyle. This includes products I love, blogging events, London top tips, and restaurants and destinations I've visited that I highly enjoyed and would recommend to my readers.

As of April 2016 on average I receive 7,500-10,000 visits a month and I've been eyeballed over 850,000 times on Google+
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You can also find my reviews on Woman's World (for which I used to be the editor for my day job), Novelicious, Lovereading, Realreaders, Handbag and in Heatworld Magazine.


Contact

I am PR-friendly and if you work on a show, brand, book or destination that you believe aligns with this blog and readership, do have a look at my review policy and then contact me on pagetostagereviews@gmail.com.