Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Review: Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great

I was sent "Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great" by Emma from Don't Lose My Place when she held a trial giveaway. All you had to do was ask for the book and you would receive. I've had this book a while but picked it up randomly. Basically, the book I was reading has been left in the car and there was this lovely book waiting to be read in the meantime. I also fancied reading something by Judy Blume as I've heard a lot of good things about Forever but never read it. I'm so thankful to Emma for sending me this and am really glad I decided to read it today! Here is the blurb for "Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great":

Sheila can do no wrong. Sheila Tubman is not quite sure who she is. Sometimes she feels like confident, brilliant Sheila the Great and other times she's secret Sheila, who's afraid of spiders, the dark, swimming and, most of all, dogs. When her family decides to leave the city for a summer in the country, Sheila will have to suffer everything from long-eared dogs to swimming lessons to creepy spiders. That's enough to drive any city girl nuts! If she can survive the summer at all, Sheila may be forced to admit that she's no supergirl.

This was a nice light read. It was fun and only took me just over an hour to read. Sheila is the main character and suffers from a wide range of fears, not that she would admit it. She is afraid of lightning from thunderstorms hitting her, spiders, the dark, swimming and dogs. Sheila also has a sister, Libby, who is older and spends her time dancing around, singing and acting like a mature and bossy sister. Sheila often lies to avoid admitting her fears. However, this isn't the best tactic and often leaves Sheila in embarrasing situations. There are some morals to this story but they are fun e.g. it's better to admit a fear and face it than lie about it. Sheila's confrontations with her fears though were really funny! The way she refused to admit she was scared made for fun reading. She also met some friends when she is sent on holiday, by the names of Mouse and the Twins. I like Mouse as she is a genuinely nice person. The Twins were okay but I didn't feel I knew about them as much as Mouse. Then again, it is a short story and is definitely aimed at younger reads.

The plot is pretty simple and aims for fun reading. A main part of the plot is Sheila's fears but there is also a great deal more going on. Sheila's family move in to a country house in the summer and Sheila and Libby decide to attend the summer camp that's run nearby. They both gain new friends and there is a sleepover near the end which was my favourite part to read! The sleepover was just really funny and now I want to have a sleepover! Sleepover at mine: for those of you who live outside of the UK, get a plane, hot air balloon, rowing boat or your preferred method of travel!

This book scores high for hookability. It was over so quickly, about 70 minutes of my time! For those of you who want a short, fun and light read, this is the book for you. If you are looking for something that's a little older, you might not enjoy this. I'm not doing a rating for this book as the last time I did a rating for a book that was too young for me (and that I didn't like) I had to deduct marks. And I believe that if I was the right age group I might have given it more marks. So it's up to you decide. However, this is a fun and short read and is good if you want to escape some of those books which deal with heavy topics.

I've loosely laid it out in sections: characters, plot and then hookability.

P.S. Hookability is a book's ability to keep you hooked (reading). Yes, I did make up that word :)

Monday, 27 July 2009

Sharing the Blog Love

Hi everyone,
I've discovered a few new great blogs that I love and thought I'd highlight! I love their content and I think you should visit them. You know you want to!

First up is:
Between the Lines
This amazing blog is run by Prodhi who has recently interviewed me for her blog. We met at the Hollow ARC competition where we commented our asses off for the last few hours.

Second of all is:
One Book Away from Heaven
I met Patt at the Hollow ARC competition as well! It's a great social event! Patt runs a superb blog which I know I shall be catching up on! I love the content.

Third and final is:
From the Heart
I may be doing a blogger interview for this blog (I'll email you when I return from work Scarlett). But I also feel that I should mention a fantastic competition that is happening on Scarlett's blog! It's also open to everyone! Head on over and check out Scarlett's superb blog.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Just a quick update...

I've caught up on a few blogs but my reader is still above 1000. But I've been catching up on reading anyhow. I have made blog-related plans though. On Wednesday, I have an entire day off. Sreet Jazz is over for the summer so I don't have to get ready or do anything. I can spend a few hours catching up on blogger and then post a review. I don't like being disorganised. Then I shall continue reading. So Wednesday shall be a fun day for me. No work, just time to relax. I'm looking forward to Wednesday :D

I should come up with a snappy name for it:
Winding Down Wednesday
Wing-It Wednesday

Ahhh, the names are crap. If anyone who reads this can think of a better name, just comment.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Review: The Agency: A Spy in the House

You may have noticed that I haven't reviewed anything in a long time. I confess, I was in a reading slump. Thank you Y S Lee (the author) for getting me out of it. Here is a blurb of The Agency: A Spy in the House:

Mary Quinn leads a remarkable life. At twelve, an orphan and convicted, she was miraculously rescued from the gallows. Now, at seventeen, she has a new and astonishing chance: to work undercover for the Agency.

It is May 1858, and a foul-smelling heat wave paralyzes London. Mary enters a rich merchant's household to solve the mystery of his lost cargo ships. But as she soon learns, the house is full of deceptions, and people are not what they seem - including Mary herself.

The plot centres around Mary, an intelligent and adventurous girl. I can't read a book unless I like the main character. I should also mention that this book is set during the Victorian times. Mary is a Victorian tomboy. She grew up around boys before the tragic loss of her father. As mentioned in the blurb, she was saved from the gallows and has recently been enlisted at The Agency. Mary has her first task: to work undercover as a female's companion and gather information about the girl's father. After all, who would be concerned by a female?

I feel that sexism is portrayed in this book. Mary continues to break the inferior stereotype of women in this book that were common in the Victorian times. She's not uncivilised, she knows how to act properly in society and does so in her position at the house. But I love that there's this side to her that people are too narrow-minded to acknowledge. Another character, Angelica, is Mary's companion. Angelica comes off spiteful and nasty and a bit one-dimensional. However, as we learn more about her, there is clear character building. We are slowly introduced to her story and why she acts the way she does amidst Mary's quest to find out the truth. There is but one other character I want to introduce you to, Mr James Easton. He appears to be quite a minor character at the beginning but his importance in the novel becomes significant after a short while. I liked James because he is outspoken, charming and intelligent. He cares for his family and can be at times, a real gentleman.

The plot was interesting and the mystery surrounding the ships intrigued me. I love detective novels and the way you have to wait until the end to find out the truth. It's just one adventure. But this isn't a simple case of who-dunnit. The story twists and often leads to dead-ends whilst you are intrigued by sub-plots. This book got me out of my reading slump and I think this is a book to be read out over two days. I don't usually put reading estimations in as everyone is different. However, with detective-style books, I prefer to mull over the information at night and then find out the truth the next day.

Characters - 10/10 (breaks stereotypes)

Plot - 8/10

Hookability - 8/10

Total - 26/30

Just thought I'd add this is the first in what I believe to be a gripping trilogy.

Happy Birthday to Diane!!

Happy Birthday Diane!

You're an amazing person and like an older sister!

Go on over and wish her a happy birthday at The Book Resort :)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Want to win an ARC of The Hollow?

I thought you did!
For those of you who don't know, The Hollow is written by Jessica Verday. Here is the blurb:

When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special.

Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her -- one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

Sounds good, doesn't it? So here is how you can win:
If you head over to Lee Verday's blog, here, then you can enter to win an ARC of The Hollow. All you have to do is comment, and you can do it multiple times. And if you want to, you can say that I sent you to enter me for another competition that is happening on the blog e.g. Kate from Another Book Blog-Whore sent me. Good luck everyone!

Apologies, Again.

Argh, I've done it again, I've fallen behind on blogging. I hit a reading slump for a couple of weeks but I'm back on track, so if you sent me a book, I shall be reviewing it soon. And thanks for having more patience than I do. I also need to catch up on my Google Reader. I've had so many apologies posts. I've got my first summer job (yay!) and am getting used to working at 7:00 for three hours and then three hours later in the evening. They do three hours shifts and you could be doing a multiple amount(they don't all start at 7:oo, that was an example of one of them). But anyway, it's a good job and it's so much easier getting up in the morning (compared to when it was for school) because I'm getting money for being up early!

If you haven't already been reading Ink and Paper Specials, here, then you should. It's for Sex in Teen Lit month. This is going to be among the first blogs I catch up on (I was so looking forward to this month but have been really busy recently). One hour of sleep last night and I was working at 7:30, and ill. But that's no excuse (I seem to be full of them). My parents are back from holiday so I can relax, I got 10 hours sleep last night and don't start work for a few hours yet. I'm ready to read! So I'm going to eat my Weetabix and catch up on my reading/blogging! I feel so much better today and so much more energised. I've missed you lot!
P.S. I'm not ill anymore (McDonalds must have medicinal properties, or I needed the sugar.) I can't believe it was the first meal I could keep down last down.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Congratulations to Lisa Mantchev!

This post was originally done the release date of "Eyes Like Stars" and I wanted to congratulate Lisa Mantchev. I can't wait to get this book. I had it as a previous WoW post :)

I made this picture. It's the normal picture, with a blurred background and the words "Released" and "Get Your Copy Now".

I made this in Picnik (a really fun editing site). I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to make this picture, I haven't blogged in so long and had this as a draft. Anyway, a belated congratulations to Lisa Mantchev!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

I have quite a few books for my WoW post today:

The Keepers' Daughter by Gill Arbuthnott
Ten years ago, Alaric, leader of the Shadowmen, killed many of the Keepers - the teachers and bearers of ancient knowledge threatening his barbaric rule. Now rebellion is flaring up in the Archipelago again and the Shadowmen are out hunting for keepers once more. Fourteen-year-old Nyssa and her uncle, Marius, descendants of the Keepers, must flee, but there is a greater reason that Nyssa is in danger - on her skull is one half of a strange tattoo, three lines of writing in a strange unintelligible script, the Legend of the Keepers.

Borders says this book hasn't been released but Amazon says it has :S

The Thornthwaite Inheritance by Gareth P Jones
Ovid and Lorelli Thornthwaite have been trying to kill each other for so long that neither twin can remember which act of attempted murder came first. But whoever struck first, trying to take each other's lives is simply what they do. Until one day a lawyer arrives at their house to take stock of its contents, and his accompanying son attracts their attention. Soon a new battle evolves - one in which the twins have to work together to solve the mystery of their parents' deaths. Can Lorelli and Ovid overcome their old animosities, and will they ever get to finish that game of chess?

Borders also says that this hasn't been released and Amazon reckons it has. It looks really good anyhow.

Quicksilver - Samira Osman

Three children, born on different continents, are mysteriously connected by the power of ancient leylines. What cosmic force brings them to an ordinary London suburb to fulfil a prophecy written in pre-history? Will it explain why their parents have vanished? And the chilling secret of who they really are?

Too Close to Home - Linwood Barclay
When the Cutter family's next-door-neighbours, the Langleys, are gunned down in their house one hot August night, the Cutters' world is turned upside down. That violent death should have come so close to them is shocking enough in suburban Promise Falls, but at least the Cutters can console themselves with the thought that lightning is unlikely to strike twice in the same place. Unless, of course, the killers went to the wrong house At first the idea seems crazy. But gradually we discover that each of the Cutter family has a secret they'd rather keep buried. What was on that old computer teenage Derek and his friend Adam Langley had salvaged? And where is it now? What hold does a local professor and bestselling author have on Eileen Cutter? And what does Jim Cutter know about Mrs Langley that even her husband didn't? To find out who killed the Langleys and why, everybody's secrets are going to have to come out. But the final secret - the secret that could save them or destroy them - is in the one place nobody would ever think of looking...

And two books I don't have but really want (they are out now but when I tried ordering them, they said they couldn't get any after two months of waiting):

-Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

-Quidditch Through the Ages

I've just decided that I shall get the above two books with some Waterstone's vouchers my sister is giving me! Yes, now I just have to wait for the vouchers to come. Waiting, waiting, waiting, argh, I'm not a patient person! Waiting, waiting, waiting...

EDIT TO ADD: Prophecygirl (Jenny) from Wondrous Reads has told me that "The Keepers' Daughter" and "The Thornthwaite Inheritance" are out. Yay!
And I forgot to say that Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.