Posts Tagged ‘Publisher- Simon and Schuster’

Buddy Review: Since You’ve Been Gone

This month Faye and Caroline divulge their deep dark secrets as well as their thoughts on Morgan Matson‘s newest novel, Since You’ve Been Gone.

since you've been goneThe Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.
But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.
Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?
Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

Posted by Caroline and Faye

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: May 2014
Format: Hardback
Pages: 449
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye & Caroline
Source: BEA14
Challenge: None
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Have A Little Faith

Candy Harper

have a little faithBeing fourteen is a minefield: with fashion dilemmas, teacher trauma, embarrassing parents and boy drama, Faith is just hoping to make it through Year Ten without too many disasters. But when she and her best friend Megs sign up to take part in an inter-school choir with the local boys comprehensive, Faith’s life gets even more complicated… just how is she supposed to concentrate on becoming the next Cheryl Cole when she’s trying to understand how teenage boys’ minds work?

My relationship with my book loving friends pretty much revolves around mutual book pushing and promotion. There are the books fellow bloggers recommend, there are those that they rave about, escorting you to the shops or your amazon account to supervise your purchase or if you are lucky (and trusted) they will lend their copy to you. Then there are books, which they adore so much that they buy nine copies, just so that they can give them away and share the adoration (Yes, I’m looking pointedly at you Jim of YA Yeah Yeah fame). Nope? It was a first for me too!

Have A Little Faith came in to my possession (Thank you Jim) at just the right time, feeling under the weather, with a particularly busy home life, I was in the need for something light and uplifting. Told in short diary entries over the course of a school term, it was perfect for dipping in and out of as my schedule allowed. Although if I had had the time there is no doubt that I would have devoured it in a single sitting.

Sniggering and snorting with laughter from the very first page I couldn’t help warming Faith and the cast of supporting characters. Sassy, intelligent and fun, Faith is a girl who believes that gossiping about her TV shows with her friends is as vital as breathing and that at aged thirty her teacher has one foot in the grave! At times obnoxious and superficial she has vulnerability and a genuine affection for those around her, which allows you to forgive her flaws.

For me the thing that stands out the most, aside from the humor, are the fabulous relationships. I loved the dysfunctional-functional family and the supportive friendships. The teasing, one-upmanship and, at times, antagonistic interactions also shone though with feelings of familiarity, warmth and love.

The plot itself is fairly simplistic and predictable and there is minimal character development (thank goodness, as Faith is perfect just as she is!), never the less it is a fantastic, fun read and I look forward to diving in to the sequel.

Verdict: If you don’t read this book you are missing out- just saying ☺

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: August 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Gifted
Challenge: British book
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Michelle Harrison
unrestSeventeen-year-old Elliott hasn’t slept properly for six months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Now he is afraid to go to sleep. Sometimes he wakes to find himself paralysed, unable to move a muscle, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around, while his body lies asleep on the bed. According to his doctor, sleep paralysis and out of body experiences are harmless – but to Elliot they’re terrifying. Convinced that his brush with death has opened up connections with the spirit world, Elliott secures a live-in job at one of England’s most haunted locations, determined to find out the truth. There he finds Sebastian, the ghost of a long-dead servant boy hanged for stealing bread. He also meets the living, breathing Ophelia, a girl with secrets of her own. She and Elliott grow closer, but things take a terrifying turn when Elliott discovers Sebastian is occupying his body when he leaves it. And the more time Sebastian spends inhabiting a living body, the more resistant he becomes to giving it back. Worse, he seems to have an unhealthy interest in Ophelia. Unless Elliott can lay Sebastian’s spirit to rest, he risks being possessed by him for ever, and losing the girl of his dreams

I acquired Unrest at last year’s Summer Scream Foyles event after having heard Michelle Harrison read a section of it and getting some serious goosebumps in the full blazing summer. Unfortunately my forever growing TBR pile meant that it had to be postponed again and again until…. Halloween rolled on. I put everything aside and immersed myself fully in the scary world on the night of witches, and boy what a scare!!!

I stupidly read it mostly at night after I finished work and couldn’t seem to manage more than a few chapters at a time as got too creeped out every time. Now I should inform you that I’m not much of a horror person. Scratch that, I’m just plain and simple not a horror person. I don’t watch horror and I don’t read horror. Michelle Harrison may have changed all that as I now hunt for another similar thrilling read!!

The style of writing and the narration were laced with suspense, eeriness and mystery at every turn of the page. The suspense slowly built to a rising crescendo as small bizarre events occurred growing into bigger, more threatening and frightening events.

But no book’s complete without a bit of romance, which Michelle naturally provided as mystery and ghosts wrapped themselves around the budding spark between Elliott and Ophelia.
I very much enjoyed this book not only for the spook factor, which was delivered in abundance, but also because the characters themselves had depth and were seen to grow with every nightmarish situation. Amongst the ghost hunting, some own personal soul searching was done and it was lovely reading and watching these two characters grow whilst also facing some of our own worst haunting nightmares.

I never thought I would stumble across a horror that I would actually enjoy, let alone love but I am lucky enough to say that I most certainly have. Unrest possessed romance, eeriness, mystery and depth in equal and abundant amount. And I loved every goose-bump endured moment of it. I would even go as far as saying that although reading it at night petrified me and made me jump at every creak of my new flat, I would definitely read it again in the exact same conditions.

Verdict: Couldn’t have creeped me out or made me enjoy it more!!!

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: April 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 375
Genre: Paranormal, Horror
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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The Dream House

Rachel Hore

the dream houseKate Hutchinson and her husband Simon are Londoners, performing the balancing act of raising two young children in a cramped terraced house whilst holding down stressful full-time jobs. When everything starts to come apart at the seams they decide to uproot and move to the Suffolk coast. Sacrificing her career, her friends and her independence, Kate battles to make a new life for the family under her mother-in-law’s roof – while they search in vain for the perfect home. Months later, with Simon still working all hours and the strains of living with his mother beginning to tell, Kate is questioning the wisdom of their move. Then one evening, out walking, she stumbles upon the house of her dreams, a beautiful place, full of memories – but tantalizingly out of her reach. It belongs to a frail old lady, Agnes, and the two women become close friends. As Kate unravels the dying woman’s story she is amazed to discover how much it echoes her own. And as past and present intertwine, Kate is given the strength and inspiration to reforge her own life

I discovered Rachel Hore’s work through my Book Club and am now working my way through her works! This is her latest novel and yet again I couldn’t put it down.

This is the story of Kate And her family as they decide to quit the rat race for a peaceful life with more family time in Suffolk. However it will come as no surprise to know that the path to tranquility doesn’t run smooth. This ideal, placed under a microscope with added stresses and strains certainly is shown to be a bit of a mirage. Giving up one life for the dream of another is difficult and requires hard work and a bit of luck to make it come true.

But this is not even a straight forward move to the country. Maybe it would have been had Kate not come with so much baggage. She has had a difficult life since her sister died when they were both teenagers and her parents shut down. The impact of this is still rippling through Kate’s life. She struggles to deal with what happened and the repercussions it continues to have on her.

Once the family have arrived in Suffolk and settled living with Kate’s mother-in-law, cracks Kate has never realised exist begin to show. As Kate tries to get to grips with her new life, and the changes in her families life now they are away from London, she finds help and solace in a few places but in one particularly unexpected one as she meets Agnes. Agnes turns out to be a distant relative and, quite literally, lives in Kate’s dream house. Kate has dreamed about it and it is the complete picture of her perfect house. As Kate gets to know Agnes she learns to deal with some of the tragedies in her life whilst solving the mystery of Agnes’ own troubled life.

The two stories intertwine well with the narrative moving between the past and the present. There are quite alot if co-incidences in this story, but as Rachel writes strong, intelligent and relatable characters I was willing to overlook this. The air of mystery that pervades the book helps with this. It all feels as though it wil work out the way it is ‘meant to be’. At the same time, although elements of the story are what you might think of as predictable there was certainly enough for me in there that was not. Also when a novel is written with prose that paint’s a picture in your mind then I feel I can be even more forgiving.

I was really rooting for everything to work out for Kate and I enjoyed the fact that her journey wasn’t straight forward. There is a good cast of supporting characters too, and it was of particular note that Kate’s mother-in-law is one of the best and not cast according to stereotype. This time I was more gripped by the story in the present than of that in the past, but Agnes story was truly heart rending in places.

Verdict:Yet again Rachel Hore has produced an intriguing tale spanning two totally different lives and times that still shows how, in so many ways, the issues we face through our lives don’t really change with the passing if time. People still try and sometimes fail, love and sometimes suffer and battle and sometimes give everything to reach their dreams.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher:Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: Nov 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 480
Genre: Contemporary romance, Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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Walking Disaster

Jamie McGuire

walking disasterHow much is too much to love?
Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.
In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. Just when he thought he was invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.
Every story has two sides. In Jamie McGuire’s New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes

Despite a mountainous TBR pile of review books, I could not contain myself, or my grabby hands. As soon as I discovered that the eARC of Walking Disaster was available to request on Netgalley, I was online like a shot, clicking request and crossing every digit and limb. Needless to say I was delighted to have my request accepted.

When I first read Jamie McGuire’s Walking Disaster, I found myself torn. On the one had I loved the hot romance, the bad boy alpha male, whose “relationship history” read like the phonebook, falling for the “good girl” who won’t take any crap. On the other, I found elements of Travis’ behaviour self destructive and at times disturbing; the drinking, the women, the jealousy, the violence (although I would like to clarify now that at no point does he direct that violence at Abby).

The attitudes and the behaviour are not ones that I would tolerate in my own life, nor would I support this kind of relationship among my friends, but when it comes to fiction – pass me my pom-poms. But then that’s kind of the point, it’s fiction, a romantic fantasy -the bad boy redeemed by the one woman he loves – and in my case a guilty reading pleasure.

Walking Disaster is very much a companion novel, in that I don’t think that it can be enjoyed as a novel in it’s own right. The author assumes that you have read Beautiful Disaster, dropping you straight in to the story without setting the scene, or introducing the characters. In some cases events are eluded to but not described or explained.

Despite knowing exactly what was going to happen, I found Walking Disaster to be just as compelling a page-turner as its partner. I enjoyed experiencing the relationship from Travis’s point of view, and many of the behaviours and events I felt uncomfortable with from the first book were less problematic for me approached from Travis’s perspective.

Jamie wraps up the series with a sweet, if perhaps a little far-fetched, epilogue. It was nice to get a glimpse of the couple in the future. To see that they had grown together as a couple and had managed to maintain a relationship after the trauma induced, life changing decision they made at the end of the original book.

Verdict: An absolute treat for Travis Maddox fans, but do not attempt to read this if you haven’t already enjoyed Beautiful Disaster.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Publication Date: April 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 432
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: Mature YA/New Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: None
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The Worst Princess

Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie (illustrator)

the worst princessBored of your run of the mill princess?
Tired of the traditional princess-finds-her-prince tale?
Looking for a princess with a bit more bite?
Then this is the book for you.
Forget about pretty dresses, fairytale weddings and grand balls, Princess Sue is all about adventure, mischief, and making unusual friends.
She really is the worst princess!

I have a daughter. A dress wearing, pink loving, cover everything in glitter, girlie girl whose ambition she when she grows up is to be a princess. As a former tree climbing, den-building , tomboy (with the scars to prove it), I have to admit that at times her choices in bedtime literature are a little trying. Princesses, colourful fairies, ballet dancers and kittens have featured in all of her recent selections. So when I first laid eyes on The Worst Princess, I rejoiced silently that I might just have found something we could both enjoy.

High top wearing Sue knows the score. If she hangs around her tower, enduring the loneliness and boredom, and grows her hair long enough, her prince will come. Then she can say bye bye to her tower prison and HELLO to a life of action and adventure.

Unfortunately for our modern princess, her Prince is not so clued-up, informing Sue that “Dragon-bashing’s not for girls”. Well, there is no way that our feisty red head is going to swap her tower for another kind of prison. She has a life to live and she is going to enjoy it!

Teaming up with the afore mentioned dragon, Sue rejects the life of a pampered clothes horse and sets about creating her own adventures and finding her own happily ever after.

Told in clever, humorous rhyme, with complementary illustrations, the characters voices and mannerisms are so distinctive that, rather than be read aloud, The Worst Princess begs to be performed.

Verdict: A little bit of mischief and spice to counteract all of the sugar and niceness of traditional princesses. It will be enjoyed by future princesses and grown up tomboys alike.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: April 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: Early reader
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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Keith The Cat With The Magic Hat

Sue Hendra

keith the catMeet Keith.
Keith is a cat with a magic hat – or at least, that’s what the other cats think. But when Keith’s hat falls off one day, it seems that magic is still possible after all!

My wife bought this one for me as a joke Christmas present, as I share the protagonist’s name. The cover proudly proclaims that it’s “From the creator of Norman and Barry”, so Hendra clearly has a liking for traditional British names.

The book tells the story of Keith the cat, who one day has an ice cream cone dropped on his head. There’s no explanation as to where the ice cream comes from – perhaps it drops from space or pops in from an alternate universe. However, I have made a careful analysis of the artwork, and I believe that it is a three scoop vanilla, strawberry and chocolate cone with a flake and sprinkles.

Keith’s friends tease him about it, and to cover his embarrassment, he claims that the ice cream is in fact a magic hat (the flake conveniently fulfilling the role of a magic wand). He begins to perform tricks, all of which are simply coincidences, but his feline friends lap it up (pun intended).

Eventually, the cats are chased up a tree by a dog and they ask Keith to magic the dog away. Whilst thinking, the ice cream drops off Keith’s head and lands on the dog, who is then chased away by a swarm of very happy looking wasps. Keith is then pronounced the cats’ hero.

It’s only on a second reading that I noticed that the wasps gradually build up throughout the book – a clever bit of visual foreshadowing. In fact the art work is consistently excellent – bright colours and bold shapes with some nice characterisation on the faces.

The only niggle for me is the morality of the tale. On the one hand it shows a character who triumphs through his resourcefulness, but on the other it shows that lying can be a successful strategy. I’m not convinced it can just be called pretending or make-believe as the other cats seem to fully believe Keith’s assertion that the ice cream is a magic hat and he never says otherwise, even when they are in danger. Whilst lying arguably has real life benefits in some instances, I’m not sure this is the sort of lesson I want my three and four year olds to learn just yet.

Verdict: A bright colourful and fun story, with some curious morality.

Reviewed by Keith

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: July 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Keith
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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Sarah Rees Brennan

Kami Glass is in love with someone she’s never met – a boy the rest of the world is convinced is imaginary. This has made her an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she doesn’t complain. She runs the school newspaper and keeps to herself for the most part – until disturbing events begin to happen.
There has been screaming in the woods and the dark, abandoned manor on the hill overlooking the town has lit up for the first time in 10 years. The Lynburn family, who ruled the town a generation ago and who all left without warning, have returned. As Kami starts to investigate for the paper, she finds out that the town she has loved all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets- and a murderer- and the key to it all just might be the boy in her head. The boy who everyone thought was imaginary may be real…and he may be dangerous.
Kami talks to Jared in her head, it doesn’t seem strange to her as it’s always been that way. Others think she is a little strange she tries to hide her conversations with the boy she assumes is her imaginary friend. Then the Lynburn family return, the family that ruled the town in the past, the family that the town does not seem happy to see again, a family with a past full of secrets and mysteries. Suddenly the boy in Kami’s head, Jared, is in front of her and on face value seems to be the most dangerous Lynburn of them all.

Unspoken is a brilliant atmospheric, gothic piece, but at no point does it take itself seriously.The dialogue, especially that of Kami, can be wonderfully witty and sarcastic whilst staying on just the right side of feeling forced.There are some group scenes and misunderstandings that had me laughing out loud, not something that happens all that often to me when I read.

Sarah Rees Brennan has managed to find a perfect balance between creepy and comedy. The comedy halts any idea of the pretentiousness trap that gothic literature can sometimes fall in to.The humorous sections also break up the tension, but in a good way, I often don’t cope well with books that ratchet up the tension, the needing to know can often make me give up, but that was not the case here. I needed to know but could wait to find out.

Unspoken is mainly told from the point of view of Kami, though occasionally we see what is happening through Jared’s eyes.Though this isn’t made obvious the writing style changes enough that it is easy to recognise most of the times it happens. Kami and Jared are very definitely the main characters but that hasn’t stopped the author building up a set of very believable characters who are all very different. Even characters that aren’t seen often have definite individual characteristics. The ending didn’t leave me hanging to the extent that others books have, but I will be watching out for the time that the second book in the trilogy comes out.

Verdict: Creepy and atmospheric but at the same time laugh out loud funny. Believable characters and a very enjoyable read.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: August 2012
Format: eARC
Pages: 336
Genre: Supernatural, Gothic Mystery
Age: YA book review
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Netgallay
Challenge: None
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Aliens Love Underpants (Boxset)

Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

Aliens Love Underpants
‘When aliens fly down to Earth,
They don’t come to meet YOU…
They simply want your underpants
I’ll bet you never knew!

Dinosaurs Love Underpants
‘Dinosaurs were all wiped out,a long way back in history.
No one knows quite how or why,
Now this book solves the mystery…

Aliens in Underpants Save the World
‘Aliens love underpants,
It’s lucky that they do,
For pants helped save our universe.
Sounds crazy but its true!

These three board books, presented as a boxed set were a birthday present to my now 3 year old last month. To say we pretty much know them off by heart now is an understatement!

The books are wonderfully chunky, around A5 sized and pretty toddler proof. Each book is told in rhyme as seen above which makes them very readable and appealing for little ones, and they are, quite simply, hilarious! Hat’s off to Claire Freedman and Ben Cort for these wonderful stories about Aliens, Dinosaurs, and their mutual love of underpants!

Joshua giggles away and enjoys pointing out all the hilarious things he sees on the pages, for example, Dinosaurs wearing lots of underpants on their legs, on their heads, on their horn’s etc and trying to rip them off of each other in a huge fight over underpants (that’s how dinosaurs were wiped out, in case you didn’t know!). These books I’m sure will also appeal to slightly older boys too, who will love all the underpants talk!

The illustrations are just lovely, also funny and bright and Joshua asks for these books to be read at most bedtimes currently.

Verdict: A great addition to the preschooler’s bookshelf. A really funny and enjoyable set of book

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: 2009
Format: Board Books
Pages: 32 each
Genre: Picture Book, Sci-Fi
Age: Picture Books, Early Readers
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book
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The Night Before Christmas

Clement Clarke Moore, Pop up by Robert Sabuda

Award winner Robert Sabuda brings Clement Clarke Moore’s classic tale of The Night Before Christmas to life in this festive pop-up edition, sure to become a perennial family favourite

As the mother of a young family I enjoy passing on old family traditions and creating new traditions for my own family. One tradition I am keen to foster is the enjoyment of festive books in the lead up to Christmas. More specifically I intend to bring together a selection of Christmas book for us to enjoy together as a family. Packing them away with the Christmas decoration in the new year and bringing them down from the loft each December.

I’ve decided to start my collection with a timeless classic, The Night Before Christmas. Moore’s gorgeous descriptive prose evokes strong childhood memories of lying wide awake in bed, butterflies in my stomach, straining my ears for the sound of, sleigh bells, the clip clop of hooves or even a deep chuckling ‘HO HO HO!’, the anticipation of possibly meeting Santa, was almost as exciting as the promise of presents. n fact The Night Before Christmas is probably the cause of these Christmas fantasies!

Reading it again, to my children, I am able to appreciate the skilled poetry. It is a beautiful sounding poem that you cannot fail to enjoy reading aloud. The description transports you completely as the story unfolds in your mind “And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.” But also an enormous sense of fun and a smidge of cheekiness. The idea of Father Christmas winking to acknowledge the narrators presence before going about his work and the description of the man himself “bowl full of jelly” will appeal to any child’s naughty streak.

This Particular edition is accompanied by the awe inspiring creations of Robert Sabuda. As the owner of another Sabuda creation, Alice in Wonderland (an intricate, marvel using Lewis Carroll’s text and the original illustrations – I highly recommend it), I jumped at the opportunity to own some more of this artist’s work. This level of paper engineering is an art form.

The 3D creations are indeed mesmerising, but I felt that overall the illustrations lacked something. With Alice in Wonderland I feel as though I am discovering something new with each viewing. In comparison, The Night Before Christmas appears deceptively simple. Perhaps this has more to do with Sabuda’s clever use of the original Alice in Wonderland artwork. The use of simple shapes and a limited colour pallet in The Night Before Christmas certainly focuses the spotlight on to the cleverness of the engineering.

Verdict: This cleverly constructed edition of a festive classic is a worthy addition to my Christmas collection. I would also thoroughly recommend you check Sabuda’s other work

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: April 2010
Format: Hardback
Genre: Christmas, Classic, Pop Up
Age: Early Readers
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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