Tuesday, June 19, 2012

GIVEAWAY REMINDER and I'm going away for a bit!

I wanted to remind everyone of my the two giveaways currently happening on the blog. The first is a chance to win one of TEN copies of the wonderful fantasy book 'The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making' by Catherynne M. Valente. It is open to residents of the UK only and closes on the 12th July.  I have extended the closing date, so make sure you get your entries in - there's ten copies, so your odds are pretty good! Click here to enter the giveaway now! The second giveaway is one where you can get the chance to win 1 of 3 sets of the fantastic 'Vampire Blog' trilogy by Pete Johnston. The giveaway is UK only and ends on the 12th July. Click here to enter, and on the following links to read my reviews of the series: The Vampire BlogThe Vampire HuntersThe Vampire Fighters. You should definitely enter both giveaways -they are all brilliant books!

I also wanted to apologise for not posting as many reviews as I had hoped to this month! I had less time to read and review books than I thought I did :( I hope to review more books when I get back from my holiday, but I can't guarantee anything, as summer is busy as you all know ;) Which brings me onto my next topic - I am going on holidays for 2 and a half weeks tomorrow! To (hopefully sunny!) France, yay  :) So I won't be able to post anything in the next while, unfortunately :/ I don't think I'll be able to reply to e-mails or comment on other blogs either! I'll see if there is good internet access over there, and if so I will try and do a short post and reply to as many e-mails as I can :) I will be reading lots of books on holidays - eleven, I'm bringing! And I will also be reading whatever books my mum brings too so I'll be kept plenty busy by the poolside! which means plenty of review material for when I get back! I might do a 'Books I Brought on Holiday' when I get back too, for fun :)

So anyway, I will miss you all! I hope you have a good few weeks, and have fun if any of you are going somewhere nice for the holidays :) Don't miss me too much! ;)

Friday, June 15, 2012

REVIEW: The Vampire Fighters by Pete Johnson

Life has never been more complicated for thirteen-year-old Marcus. It's not easy trying to hide your secret identity as a half-vampire, avoid garlic at all costs, AND work up the courage to ask a girl out. Especially when that girl is vampire-crazy Tallulah.
Plus, Marcus's parents are still convinced his special power is going to arrive any day now. And they're trying not to show their disappointment every time another day passes and it doesn't appear - but Marcus is totally feeling the pressure.
As if that wasn't bad enough, a seriously creepy Winter Fair has arrived in town - and a number of terrifying attacks have started happening. Giles believes a super-evil sect of Deadly Vampires is behind them, and Marcus suspects an eerie ventriloquist at the Fair.
All Marcus wants is an easy life. But now it's up to him to save the day . . .

I love this series, and I think The Vampire Fighters was the best out of the three! It was a fantastic end to the trilogy. Of course, we were treated to more wit and hilarity as per usual, but The Vampire Fighters was slightly more serious than the other two books. Marcus acts on his romantic feelings, and the results didn't always go as planned...  I felt sorry for him  :(

I really didn't like Tallulah in this book! Marcus was nothing but nice to her, and she just threw it back in his face. She improved at the end though, and I can't help thinking that, although she is rude and obnoxious, her and Marcus go better together then he and Gracie. Don't get me wrong, I loved Gracie! I just think she wasn't as interesting a person as Tallulah. I was a bit disappointed by the ending...but not in the way you'd think from reading this paragraph! (this isn't a spoiler :) )

Pete's writing is addictive and easy to read as always. It didn't matter what was going on, whether Marcus was fighting a vampire or just walking down the street, it always kept me entertained! I read all three books in this series back to back in only a few of days. They are engrossing and absolutely unputdownable!

I am sort of undecided about the ending. It was quite cleverly done and was believable, but at the same time seemed a little too easy...and then the other part of the ending (if you've read the book you'll know what I mean) was frustrating, but brilliant! It left me thinking... . I wish there was another sequel, I will really miss this series! And I am dying to know what happens to the characters!

The Vampire Fighters is honestly a fantastic end to a wonderful trilogy! I'm so happy I gave these books a chance, they surprised me in a really good way! I will miss the characters, and the original storylines, the humour, and Marcus's trademark jokes :) If Pete's other books are anything as good as The Vampire Fighters (and I'm sure they will be), I know I'll love them! I can't recommend this series enough - if you haven't read them already, please do so soon - you won't regret it!

                                                       Rating: 5/5

Source: For Review - a massive thanks to the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.
Format: Manuscript
Pages: 272
Age group: 9+
Official Publication Date: 5th June 2012
Publisher: Corgi Yearling, an imprint of Random House
Challenges:  British Books Challenge 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Vampire Fighters blog tour - guest post and UK giveaway

Today I am absolutely delighted to welcome Pete Johnson, author of the hilarious Vampire Blog trilogy, to Bookster Reviews as part of the blog tour for his latest book, The Vampire Fighters, which is the last book the trilogy. The Vampire Fighters is published on the 5th June by Corgi Yearling. I have a brilliant guest post written by Pete about his writing experiences to share with you. Enjoy!

‘When you write, do you wait until you feel inspired?’ 
It’s a question I’m often asked. And it always makes me smile. For if I waited until I felt inspired, I’d never begin. As I can always think of a million things I’d rather do than write – really important things too like watching all those clouds in the sky floating past. No, I can only write one way and that is to start the moment I wake up and fool myself that I’m disciplined.

So by eight o’clock (sometimes earlier) I’ll settle down with a notepad and pen (yes, I still use one of those) and in an easy, relaxed way think about what I’m going to write today. This kind of loosening up is especially important when I’m writing comedy. For there’s a certain comic energy, vital for a humorous story which cannot be summoned – only wooed. 
When this comic energy nestles on your shoulder, it’s wonderful, fabulous, totally intoxicating. In fact, I can think of few more enjoyable experiences (No, honestly). But without it your prose feels heavy, lumpy and  dull.
When Spike Milligan was asked where his funny ideas came from, he said. ‘It’s an inspiration, but I know not from where. I suppose it’s me really but I can’t take any credit for it.’ That’s exactly how I feel. Great scenes – especially comic ones – almost always sneak up on you. Usually after you’ve spent hours chipping away at a particular moment and then suddenly it all just takes off. And it’s as if you’re witnessing it, not making it up. Often the very best scenes seem to have nothing to do with you.

I write all morning and then re-write in the afternoon. (Elmore Leonard once observed, ‘writing is all re-writing.’) And when I tell friends at the end of the day that I’m really tired, they just smile. Sometimes they’ll pop round in the day and find me walking round my garden. They don’t realise I’m plotting out a particularly tricky scene in my head and  that I sort out all my best plots when I’m on my feet, pacing about. (So apparently did Agatha Christie)

But I realise I am lucky now to be a full-time writer and to have the luxury of writing all day. It wasn’t always like that. Being a writer was my ambition from about the age of seven or eight. I was a very keen reader – thinking nothing of reading six books a week. Often I’d sit up for hours at night while the rest of the house slept, telling myself I’d read just one more chapter...

My all-time-favourite book when I was eight was ‘101 Dalmatians’ by Dodie Smith. So I wrote a fan letter to her, and not only did she write back, but we went on corresponding for over twenty years. In one letter she asked if I’d ever thought of becoming a writer as she was sure I’d make a good one. A question which changed my whole life.

But how to become a writer? Dodie Smith suggested I start by entering writing competitions (great advice which I freely pass on) and when I was twelve I won ten pounds. Dodie Smith told me the moment I got money for my writing was when I became a professional author. I won another ten pounds when I was thirteen. But the money wasn’t exactly rolling in after that, so I had to do other ‘proper jobs.’

But on Saturday and Sunday mornings I wrote stories, even a whole book, and for my efforts gained a magnificent collection of rejection slips. My friends told me being a writer was just a dream and it was time to grow up. But my family (and Dodie Smith) urged me on. I was briefly a teacher and took loads of notes about what I saw. I wanted to write a comedy about teenage life. I tried out my stories on the pupils and after a few drafts, it finally even made then laugh.

I worked and worked on this book, staying in every weekend to finish it. And it became my first published book – ‘Secrets from the School Underground.’ It sold moderately well. So did my next eight books.

It wasn’t until I wrote ‘The Ghost Dog’ that I had my first bestseller. Other books like How to Train Your Parents’ and The Vampire trilogy have gone on to become best sellers in over twenty countries.

But the basic experience of being a writer never changes. It is still me, first thing in the morning, faced with a blank piece of paper and trying to bring to life that imaginary world inside my head.

An old school friend of mine said to me recently. ‘In lessons you were always being told off for day-dreaming. But really that’s all you are doing now, isn’t it? only now you’re also getting paid for it.’

I hope to go on day-dreaming for a long time yet.


Thanks for that Pete! Now onto the giveaway! You can win 1 of 3 sets of all three books in the trilogy! All you have to do is read the rules and then fill in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making blog tour - guest post and UK Giveaway

I'd like to welcome the lovely Catherynne M. Valente to Bookster Reviews today with a fantastic guest post, as part of the blog tour for her book which has been recently released in the UK by Corsair, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I am currently reading and loving the book, and my review should be up soon! Here is Cat's brilliant guest post - I know you'll enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Twelve Words

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It is not the longest title in the history of literature, (that honor goes to Nigel Tomm) but I’ll tell you what, every time I type it, and I’m still typing and still typing and still typing, it feels like the longest to me.  The sequel is hardly shorter: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. What I have on my hands is a pattern—and I continually give thanks to my cover designers who manage to fit all those words plus my long name and a wyvern on a single book jacket.

So why did I saddle myself and my hardworking graphic designers with a twelve word title?

Well, it started out as a joke.

Fairyland, which is how I tend to shorten the title to save my fingers, began as a book-within-a-book in my adult novel Palimpsest. It is the favorite childhood novel of the protagonist of that work—I wanted to create a book for her that felt like The Wizard of Oz or Narnia or A Wrinkle in Time, but instead of porting the sometimes regressive messages of those books into my own,  give her a children’s text that was about embracing the magical world, not escaping it to get back home as soon as possible.  To amuse, mainly, myself, I drew with broad strokes the feeling of an old children’s novel from the 1910s or 20s: the generic Fairyland rather than the very specific secondary worlds popular in fantasy now, an arch, knowing narrator, a whimsical, wide-eyed style with what would nowadays be considered a high vocabulary. It was meant to be a loving pastiche of those novels—right down to a long, unwieldy title that the current trends of one word titles would reject. (Of course, I had no way of knowing at the time that a new trend was on its way—titles that began with the phrase “The Girl Who” led by Stieg Larsson. Ah well. There is nothing new under the sun.)

As my original intent did not involve ever writing or publishing Fairyland (the author is identified as H.F. Weckweet in Palimpsest), I didn’t think much about such a crazy title—many things an author commits in text simply amuse the author. I don’t think I really expected anyone to say “A HA! This is a pastiche of pre-WWI children’s novels!”

But as happens when you deal with fairies, the world had other plans. Fairyland became a viral juggernaut when I began posting it online and a great success in print, and now I’m stuck with my twelve-word title. But the funny thing is, people tell me all the time that they bought the book because of the title, that they love knowing so much about the story right up front, and the anticipation formed by reading and wondering when the circumnavigating is going to kick in. The novel quite literally does what it says on the tin, and I like being so bald with my literary intentions. It’s a challenge to come up with new ones (Fairyland is a five book series at the moment) since there’s really no formula to it other than long, active verb, conjunction, secondary clause. It’s like a puzzle. I’m working on the third book right now and I have pieces of a title but it hasn’t quite come together yet.

Titles are difficult—I suspect they’re difficult for everyone. Unless it falls into your head with a blinding light of awesomeness, it’s very hard to find a set of words to stand for the story as a whole. Fairyland, which began as a joke, ended up being a rather sly and neat solution to the problem—say what you’re going to do and then do what you say.

Thanks for that fab post Cat! Now onto the giveaway! You can win one of TEN (10) copies of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making! Isn't that exciting?! All you have to do is read the rules and then fill in the Rafflecopter below.

- Open to UK entrants only
- Prizes will be sent out by the publisher
-Neither me or the publisher are responsible for any prizes lost in the post
- Giveaway closes on 18th June 2012 at 12:01a.m. - results will be announced in the next couple of days. Sorry for the short entry time, but I will be going on holidays on the 20th for a few weeks so I want to announce the winner before then!
-To enter fill in the Rafflecopter below

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

REVIEW:The Vampire Hunters by Pete Johnson

On Marcus's thirteenth birthday his life changed for ever. That's when his parents told him the shocking truth: he's a half-vampire. Any notions that this could be cool went quickly out the window—he's been attacked by an evil vampire bat, had huge cravings for his best friend's blood, and nearly died from eating a pizza (half-vampires aren't great with garlic). Writing his secret blog is the only thing that’s kept him from going completely crazy. As if life couldn't get any more complicated, there have been some vicious attacks in the local woods. Vampire-mad Tallulah (definitely not Marcus's girlfriend) thinks a super-vampire is behind them—and she's desperate to prove it—with a mysterious chain that's supposed to glow red hot when a vampire is close by. Marcus has a horrible feeling the chain's going to turn red-hot any day now.

I knew I was going to like The Vampire Hunters because of loving The Vampire Blog, and I was right! I can't decide which one I like better, they're both brilliant. It was exciting and unpredictable, and of course, filled with the fantastic Marcus's trademark humour! If it wasn't for Marcus constantly cracking jokes, I don't think I would love this series half as much :)

We were introduced to a couple of new characters in this book, most notably Gracie. I really liked Gracie, possibly more than Tallulah! Tallulah is very cool and all, but she is so moody that it gets on my nerves sometimes! She annoyed quite a lot in this book. Gracie is really lovely, funny, and genuine! She's a great friend and it was great for Marcus to have a half-vampire friend that he can really be himself with! She was a brilliant new character, my second favourite  - after Marcus of course! Oh, Marcus. Hilarious as always! I loved him in The Vampire Hunters possibly even more than in The Vampire Blog, because of the way he dealt with things. He is able to make his slightly more than cringeworthy episodes, like his 'blind date' at the cinema, and the couple of times he started to roar uncontrollably, light and funny. He is confident but not arrogant, and was all-round, a well developed and likeable character! 

I have to admit, I did not guess the twist in the end! I should have suspected it, after what happened in The Vampire Blog, but I just didn't think! I like it when books surprise me though, and it was a good shock!

I read The Vampire Hunters in under a day. It is quite short, but also absolutely unputdownable. I raced through it, it was so addictive and I enjoyed every minute of it. I didn't want it to end! I can't recommend this series enough! Read it, then give it to any child you know :) And then let me know, did YOU guess the ending, or am I the only idiot who didn't?! ;)

Rating: 5/5

Source: For Review - a massive thanks to the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.
Format: Paperback
Pages: 264
Age group: 9+
Official Publication Date: 2nd June 2011
Publisher: Corgi Yearling, an imprint of Random House
Challenges:  British Books Challenge 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Letterbox Love #4

Letterbox Love is a new weekly meme, hosted by Narratively Speaking. It's a great way of sharing what books you receive every week, and I'm delighted to be taking part!

For review:
Between The Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer (ARC)
I was so excited for this book because I loved 'My Sisters Keeper' by Jodi Picoult. I have already read it and it's amazing! Review to come soon. Thanks Hodder and Stoughton

Starters by Lissa Price
I'm so excited for this one! It's supposed to be amazing! And the cover is so cool :) Thanks Random House.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (ARC)
This sounds great, and the ARC cover is awesome, thanks so much Bloomsbury!

Shattered Dreams by Ellie James
I had never heard of this or the book below before they turned up, but ooooh, I cannot wait for this, it looks awesome! I keep staring at the cover...it's so pretty!!!

My Family and Other Freaks by Caroline Midgley
This sounds like a fun, cute read, I'm looking forward to starting it. Thanks to Quercus for this and Shattered Dreams.

Torn by Amanda Hocking
I loved Switched, so I'm really looking forward to Torn! Thanks for this Macmillan.

Sorry for the sideways-ness :L

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
I keep hearing that this is incredible, and it was only €4 on Amazon so I had to get it! The cover is actually gorgeous :)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. :D I'm so happy to finally get this!!! Yay :) Divergent was (obviously) AMAZING so I of course had to buy this :) I would be reading it now but I have to read books for blog tours! :/ oh well!

What books did you get this week? Leave me a link and I'll drop by!

REVIEW:The Vampire Blog by Peter Johnson

Marcus has just found out he’s a half-vampire, just like his parents – though he only just found out they are too. He doesn’t know how to handle it and like everything else in life he tries to make a joke out of it. Until weird things start happening to him. His breath grows foul he starts craving blood and worst of all Vampires exist - and there’s one after him. Vampires love the taste of half-vampires “in season” which is what Marcus is whilst he’s changing from a human to a half vampire. Can Marcus keep away from the vampire and get over his terror of become half a monster?

 I was a bit hesitant about reading 'The Vampire Blog' before I began it. I thought it wouldn't really be my thing and would be a bit too 'boyish'. How wrong I was! The Vampire Blog is a hilarious, entertaining and gripping book. I finished it in just over a day and really enjoyed it, a lot more than I though I would!

Marcus (or 'Ved'!) was the protagonist and was so funny! He was a typical 12-year-old boy, confident and sarcastic, and he was always cracking jokes which drove his parents mad but made me laugh! I really liked Marcus and I think he would be easy for boys about 10-13 to relate to. His cousin Ryan was very annoying, I didn't like him at all! I liked how Marcus was always making fun of him :) Tallulah was awesome, she was a little bit weird and moody but very likeable!

I liked the way it was told in blog entries, it was a fun and appealing way to tell this great story! The Vampire Blog had such a fun idea and it certainly wasn't a wasted one! It wasn't a super original novel, but the author added interesting half-vampire and vampire trivia, which was fun to read about, and made the book more unique. 

I don't think I'm giving this book justice in my review. It is a really amusing and enjoyable book, which I found very hard to put down. Marcus is impossible not to like, and so is this book! The Vampire Blog is an engaging, funny, adventurous novel, and I think all boys and girls from the ages of 9-12 will love Marcus and his humorous (and even a little scary...) tale!

Rating: 5/5

Source: For Review - a massive thanks to the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.
Format: Paperback
Pages: 229
Age group: 9+
Official Publication Date: 27th May 2010
Publisher: Corgi Yearling, an imprint of Random House
Challenges: ABC Reading Challenge, British Books Challenge