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Currently reading: Vulture by Bex Hogan.

Saturday 31 December 2011

News Years Message

So here we are, in the dying hours of 2011. And what a year it has been. This year I think I've learnt so much about myself both as a person and as a reader. The books I love to read, and crave to read. I just wanted to say, thank you so much to all the amazing publicists and indeed publishers for being so generous and sending me so many freaking awesome books this year. I truly appreciate every book I am sent and still find it amazing that people want to send me books to hear what I have to say about them? It's crazy!

I have been thinking lately what I can do to Empire of Books this coming year. I definitely want to review more. Way way more. I think, in total, I only read about 50 books this year, and while that's not terrible, it is for me. In 2010 I read over 100 books so I'm down by half. A resolution for 2012 is to read so much more. And to enjoy what I read as well. At times this year I felt myself not really enjoying what I was reading and it stresses me out. Normally I love pretty much everything. Of course not everything literally, because some stuff is bad, naturally. I went through a readers slump more than once this year where I didn't really feel like reading - for one reason or another, work, family commitments and so on - and this went on for a length of time ranging from a couple of days to a whole month. But previously mentioned reasons have lessened, the pressure is off so I can try and read more.

I have actually set myself a target of 111 books. All the 1's. Don't ask me why. Originally I thought 100. But then I thought, no, I can do better than that... 110... But I like the look of 111 better than 110... so 111 it is. I am going to be keeping a list here, of all the books I've read throughout the year, and I've picked what I think will be a real corker of a book to kickstart my year, Will Hill's Department 19: The Rising. Might as well kick the year off with an almighty (and hopefully bloody...) bang. I did last year with Curtis Jobling's Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf, so why make a change?

Thanks also to everyone that continues to visit EoB, even though posts have been a bit sparse this year! Without you, and without this blog, my life probably wouldn't be the same as it is now. When I started this blog in February 2010, I was in a very bad and dark place, and this blog allowed me to find my place, my niche. I've spoken to so many amazing people, read so many amazing reviews which have led me to read the books which I probably never would of without the blogging community. The book blogging community is the best out there and I am so proud to be a part of it!

Here's to a stunning 2012 and I hope it kicks ass, big time! :D

Empire of Books Top 10 Books of 2011

2011 has been a very strong year in the YA fiction world. With some stunning debuts, sequels and conclusions, it's come and gone in a bit of a haze. I haven't read nearly as many books as I'd hoped to this year, and haven't reviewed that many either. But I have read some real corkers, and here are just a few of them, my top 10 favourite reads from this year!

10) Vampirates: Immortal War by Justin Somper.

Published in June, Immortal War was the stunning, and somewhat bloody, finale to Somper's awesome Vampirates series. In the battle for the oceans, no life is safe. I've always been a fan of this series and Justin definitely did not disappoint with this book.

9) One Seriously Messed-Up Week In the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Jack Sampsonite by Tom Clempson.

Winning the award for longest title of the year, and the book which made me giggle the most. The thing I love about this book is that it's so true - I know that's how me and my mates used to and I spose at times still do - we never really grow up do we? A hilarious book that I cannot recommend enough! 

 8) The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore.

The second of the Lorien Legacies, this book had be shouting at Sarah (the character, not it's UK editor at Puffin!) and nearly dancing with anticipation as I read it. A brilliant sequel that kicks ass.

7) Angel Fire by L. A. Weatherly.

I was bowled over last year by L. A's first book, Angel and this, the second book of the trilogy was one of my most anticipated titles of the year. Going into this book, I'll admit to being so nervous. But I needn't of been. Because this book blew me away. Like over the fields and far away away! So damn good! Can't wait for the third and final book, Angel Fever out in October (2012 that is...)!!!

6) Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough.

Seriously one of the creepiest books I have ever read, Long Lankin had my eyes super-glued to that page. When I try to tell people about this book, I just don't know what to say, how to sum it up. It's so good. Almost too good. It takes you away from where you are, I'll tell you that much, and it makes your guts feel all weird while reading it, like they're being tied into knot after knot after knot. 

5)  Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

Written in such a strange and enticing way, Blood Red Road is such a strong debut. Written purely in a dialect that takes a good few pages to really get reading smooth it was such a pleasure to read. Once you get the voice of the character narrating right, then you're off and away, and you know what? It's like watching a movie. So effortless, seamless. Brilliant. Really cannot wait for the sequel, Rebel Hearts due some time in 2012!

4) Torn by Cat Clarke.

Another stunning book from Cat. 2 in one year! First Entangled (which I wanted on the list but couldn't fit it in!! :() and now this! I cannot wait to read more!!

3) Divergent by Veronica Roth.

This book very nearly came in first place, in fact when I first wrote this it was. I've read it twice this year and both times it did exactly what I wanted. It took me away from everything and dropped me right in the middle of the factions with Tris and Four. This is perhaps one of the strongest debuts ever as far as I am concerned and it has certainly rivaled The Hunger Games. Divergent is essentially a dystopian novel, and since the success of Suzanne Collins and the Hunger Games trilogy, more and more dystopian books are being published. I've read a few but none of them even deserve to be in the same genre as Hunger Games. Divergent, however, does. In fact at some points it transcends the Hunger Games and just goes to that next level. I really cannot wait for book 2 of the trilogy, Insurgent, due in May.

2) Department 19 by Will Hill.

I was in two minds about including this book. I know it was published in March, but I read it last year, in 2010 and it almost didn't feel right. For me it was a 2010 book, but basing it on publication dates, it's 2011, so in it goes. And what a corker it is. I'm not going to harp on here. Everyone knows how I feel about this book, I posted my review a few weeks ago... Will gave me back the monsters I feared as a kid, so he has my eternal thanks! Book Two is at the top of the reading pile as I type. Boy I cannot WAIT! :D

And finally we come to number 1. There have been so many cool books and each one in this Top 10 would be a worthy number 1... but for me this year, one book stands out for the way it made me feel, and the emotions it envied when I read it... and so without further ado...

1) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Based on an original idea by the late Siobhan Dowd, Patrick Ness carved this stunning tale that tugged at my heart when I read it. It deals with a subject so many of us face - I myself have and I think that's why it took hold of me so much. Cancer is a devastating disease. Not just for the sufferer, but for their loved ones. Having to sit there and watch someone you care about ebb away is one of the most heartbreaking things to ever see and I have done it too many times for someone of my age. This book spoke to me in a way that as far as I'm aware, no other book has. It made me remember the pain as if it were yesterday, and it made me want to sit with the main character and tell him everything will be okay. And stunningly illustrated throughout... I just cannot say how much I adore this book. 

So those are my favourite books of 2011. The below are just some of those that narrowly missed out and I just wanted to mention...

I am so looking forward to seeing what 2012 has in store! There are already so many amazing books lined up. Sequels. Finales. New series. And then so much more undiscovered! Bring it on!

Empire of Books Top 10 Covers of 2011

As strong as the actual books themselves have been, there have been some cracking cover art this year. Ranging from the simple, elegant and beautiful, to the bold, eye-catching and sometimes, plain weird, there have certainly been some good'ens. And here, are my 10 favourites from 2011!

10) Witchfinder: The Last Nightfall by William Hussey.


9) The Death Cure by James Dashner.


8) Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough.


7) Scorpia Rising by Anthony Howoritz.


6) The Thirteen Secrets by Michelle Harrison.


5) Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick.


4) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.


3) Palace of the Damned by Darren Shan.


2) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.

1) Divergent by Veronica Roth.

All amazing covers as far as I'm concerned, but there is just something about the artwork for Divergent. Every time I see it I'm drawn in, wanting to see the world that is behind that burning emblem and and lies behind the image. That and it's shiny in real life, which adds another element to the cover. Below, are some notable mentions that just missed out on the Top 10!

Look out for my Top 10 books later today! :D Also, check out my Top 10 Covers of 2010!

Sunday 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

If you're reading this right now (and it is actually Christmas Day, you're not just late)... get off your computer/laptop/iPod/iPhone/iPad/Blackberry/other (delete as applicable) and get back to the turkey, the telly, your family (and your presents)!

Haha! Joking! MERRY CHRISTMAS guys! Hope everyone has a great great day! A very merry one! Hope you all get what you want (lots of books, right?!). Eat lots of yummy food, watch loads of crap telly (spose I'll have to sit through Doctor Who or I could break out a new DVD... DVD it is!

Anyway, yeah, Merry Christmas! Enjoy yourself wherever you are! And for those that don't celebrate Christmas, hope today is just as good a day as any other! :)

Thursday 22 December 2011

The Haunting of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck [Review]

Written by: Ian Beck.
Published by: RandomHouse UK.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 3rd November 2011.
Rating: 4.5/5.

Official synopsis: "A magical, enchanting tale, with stunning illustrations that will transport you into another world.

Flame-haired Charity Delafield has grown up in a vast, isolated house - most of which she is forbidden to explore - with her fiercely strict father. With only her kindly nurse, Rose, and her cat Mr Tompkins for company, she knows very little of the outside world - or of her own family's shadowy past. What she does know is that she is NEVER to go outside unsupervised. And she is NEVER to over-excite herself, because of the mysterious 'condition' that she has been told she suffers from.

But Charity has a secret. All her life, she has had the same strange dream - a dream of a dark corridor, hidden somewhere in the house. Then, one day, Charity stumbles across the corridor. It leads to a door . . . and suddenly she realises things are not quite what they seem."

Set in the heart of winter in 1903, The Haunting of Charity Delafield is an enchanting little book which takes the reader from their surroundings deep into the hidden world of Stone Green Hall and the dark, forbidding forest that surrounds it, to the unknown. All her life, Charity has wanted to know what happened to her mother, what really happened. Deep down she has never believed the story that her mother died when giving birth to her, and she is determined to get to the bottom  of the mystery.

Shunned by her father, a prisoner in her own life, Charity's day to day life is regimented and planned down near enough to the minute. She knows that she'll wake, her keeper, Rose, will set a fire, brush her hair and then it is time for lessons. Day in, day out, Rose's life is dull, and sad. She's told time after time that she has a condition, but never told what exactly that condition is. This for me really captured the time in which the book was set. Although people were no longer persecuted for being a witch, there was still a strong fear of the unexplained, the irational, or what is deemed to be irrational, and did whatever they could to avoid it. And unfortunately for Charity, it seems that her condition may be a little deeper than that of a medical nature...

But Charity knows that she is not mad. And when the riddle begins to unravel she'll stop at no cost. Along the way, she meets Silas, a young sweep-boy, he is the first person she has ever met outside of her own home, she has never left the grounds... and he helps her search around the house for clues. Before Silas, the only real friend that Charity has ever known is her cat, Mr. Tompkins who is a delightful character despite the fact that he can't talk!

While really aimed at a younger audience, I really do feel that older readers will love the story just as much too, it has a charming quality to it that draws you in and keeps you reading, especially when the book picks up in the last 50 pages when the quick-fire conclusion takes place.

This book is beautifully written. It reads so smoothly and naturally. Ian has worked done wonders with this little book alone. The words flow so well together and the illustrations at the start of each chapter have all been exquisitely made. That coupled with the beautiful cover art, with its foil effects and Christmas feel make it a perfect winter read. 

My thanks to Lauren over at Random House for my copy of this wonderful little book!

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: TimeRiders: Gates of Rome

Published by: Puffin UK.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 5th Feb 2012.

Official synopsis: "Project Exodus - a mission to transport 300 Americans from 2070 to 54AD to overthrow the Roman Empire - has gone catastrophically wrong. Half have arrived seventeen years earlier, during the reign of Caligula.

Liam goes to investigate, but when Maddy and Sal attempt to flee a kill-squad sent to hunt down their field office, all of the TimeRiders become trapped in the Roman past.

Armed with knowledge of the future, Caligula is now more powerful than ever. But with the office unmanned - and under threat - how will the TimeRiders make it back to 2001 and put history right?"

The fifth book in Alex Scarrow's incredible TimeRiders series, Gates of Rome looks set to take the series to all new, and outstanding heights as we travel back to Ancient Rome. 

The cover work you see before you is perhaps one of the best covers I've seen in a long time. Such strong imagery and colours. I love it! I've read the first three books in the series, with the fourth The Eternal War, currently high up in my "to read" pile. The series look stunning together and with this one added it's only going to look even more impressive.

Each book just gets better and better and I really cannot wait to see what Alex has in store for us... well, after I've read Book 4 that is!!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Casper Candlewacks In Death By Pigeon by Ivan Brett [Review]

Written by: Ivan Brett.
Published by: HarperCollins Children's Books.
Format: Paperback.
Rating: 4/5.

Official synopsis: "Casper Candlewacks is the only boy with any sense in a village full of idiots… a hilarious debut novel from the funniest new voice in young fiction.
But don’t just take our word for it! Jeremy Strong has hailed it “a funny and engaging debut”.
Most villages have an idiot but Casper's village is full of them. So being bright makes poor Casper something of an outsider. When famous magician the Great Tiramisu curses the village, Casper's father is blamed and sentenced to death by pigeon. It's up to Casper and his best friend to find the magician, reverse the curse and save the day.
A riotous tale that proves all you really need in life is a buggy that runs on washing-up liquid and a couple of boys to crash it."

Set in the fictional village of Corne-On-The-Kobb which is jam-packed full of idiots. Aimed primarily at a younger audience, the book says 9+ on the back (hey, so I'm only 10 years out then not too bad... 11 next week but who's counting?!) but I found it to be an entertaining and hilarious little read, from an exciting new author. 

It all begins when the Great Tiramisu pays the village a visit and in a heated moment, Casper does something he later comes to regret. Soon we find Casper the hero as he must save the day, and ultimately his dad, from killer, human-flesh craving pigeons!

It's fast paced so sure to capture the attention of even the most reluctant of readers.

A lot of work has obviously gone into the book, with more laughs than you can shake... well... a corn on the kobb at... and there are even some inuendo's in there if I'm not mistaken (probably am, I've got a brain like a sieve and probably imagined them...) which will give older readers a little chuckle too. The characters are a great little bunch. Lots of one liners, and they have some hilarious names. My favourite has to be Mayor Ratsbulge. Amazing. Ivan has done a great job in setting up Casper's world. And from an author who is just 2 years older than me, it only adds fuel to the fact that you can be published at any age and still not compromise on quality. I really am looking forward to seeing what is next in store for our hero...

Well not much longer to wait. The second book The Claws of Crime is out on 5th January! Excellent! And with a third book, Attack of the Brainiacs! due next April as well, 2012 looks set to be a good year for both Casper and Ivan!

Monday 19 December 2011

2012: Books of Interest (Part 2)

When I started to make the last post I hadn't thought I'd find so many books I'm excited for! 2012 is shaping up to be such a good year for YA fiction so I guess we spread into Part 2!

We jump forward to August as at the moment, I can't think of any books in May - July... Annoying but I'm sure there'll be plenty. I just can't think of any at this second. Ha...

Anyway... AUGUST will see the release of the third book in Pittacus Lore's Lorien Legacies. Titled The Rise of Nine it is so far away that no cover art or synopsis has been released! But then that's how the rest of this post is going to pan out... None of them have covers or synopsis' and one doesn't even have an official title yet!!

So... to SEPTEMBER... which see's the launch of a brand new series from (quite possibly my all time favourite author...) Michelle Paver! The series is called Gods and Warriors and is set in the Mediterranean. Still pre-history but a lot nearer to our time than the adventures of Torak, Renn and Wolf in Paver's phenomenal Chronicles of Ancient Darkness which took place in the ancient forests of Europe... At the moment there's no title for Book One. All that's known is this brief summary which Michelle released herself as a teaser: 

"The setting will be the Mediterranean, in the Bronze Age, a few thousand years after Torak’s adventures. It is such a rich, spectacular, exciting world to inhabit (and one I’ve loved since I was a child) – a time of chariots, ocean-going ships, slaves, warriors, myths and magic. My main character is Hylas, a goatherd, a thief and an outsider. His story starts in the mountains of Greece where in a single night, his world is overturned, setting him on a journey that will take him far from the mountains and across the seas. Like Torak, Hylas will form lasting bonds with animals... A dolphin, a lion cub and a falcon will all weave in and out of the stories."

Want! Now!

And finally we come to OCTOBER the third and final book in L. A. Weatherly's Angel trilogy will be released. It's called Angel Fever, and that, at the moment, is all we know!

Also in OCTOBER, or quite possibly NOVEMBER (date not yet set in stone...) Walker Books will, at last, be publishing Oblivion. The fifth, and final, book in Anthony Horowitz' epic, thrilling, and damn right addictive Power of Five series, it looks set to be the most explosive book he's written yet. It's already sitting in at over 160,000 words, and he's not even finished yet! Blimey! I remember reading an interview that Anthony did years ago, when Raven's Gate, the first book in the series, came out and he said it'd bee 800 pages long. He wasn't kidding!

And now he's released the first chapter as a Christmas surprise for his readers! How cool (check out my post about that here), but it only has me even more excited wanting to read the next 790 or so pages!

So those are my picks for what is to come in 2012. I can't wait to see what I've missed, and stuff yet to be announced. 2011 has been a real corker, but I think 2012 is about to kick some ass!

Sunday 18 December 2011

News: Cover Image for Darren Shan's final Larten Crepsley revealed!

Ok, so I am rediculously, monstrously late on this one. Just never saw it, thanks to the lack of internet when we moved. Anyway, I've seen it now and boy do I love it! This, ladies and gentlemen, is the cover for Brothers to the Death, the fourth and final book in Shan's incredible Saga of Larten Crepsley. The cover for the previous book, Palace of the Damned, has to go down as my favourite Darren Shan cover ever, and now this one is coming just slightly behind! Check it out below, and the book is available in April! :D

(N.B, this is the cover minus the title artwork and of course, Darren's name art too... That is to follow.)

Cover of the Week: In Darkness by Nick Lake

Written by Nick Lake, an editor at HarperCollins Children UK (this bloke is responsible for publishing so many books that I love, so he's reached Godly status already...), In Darkness is set around the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake which we all were horrified by last year. I have the book currently sitting on my "To Read" pile, and the cover actually in the flesh is stunning. Bloomsbury have done an amazing job! So eye catching and I love the colours used. I don't think the jpeg does it much justice!

Really cannot wait to read it. Check out the official synopsis below...

"In darkness, I count my blessings like Manman taught me.
One: I am alive.Two: there is no two.In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, a boy is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital, thirsty, terrified and alone. Shorty is a child of the slums, a teenage boy who has seen enough violence to last a lifetime, and who has been inexorably drawn into the world of the gangsters who rule Site Solèy; men who dole out money with one hand and death with the other.
But Shorty has a secret: a flame of revenge that blazes inside him and a burning wish to find the twin sister he lost seven years ago. And he is marked. Marked in a way that links him to Toussaint l’Ouverture, the Haitian rebel who led the slave revolt and faced down Napoleon to force the French out of Haiti two hundred years ago.

As he grows weaker, Shorty relives the journey that took him to the hospital, with a bullet wound in his arm. In his visions and memories he hopes to find the strength to survive – perhaps then Shorty and Toussaint can find a way to be free . . ."

It's out in hardback on 5th January and sounds like a corker!