Monday, 28 July 2014

Noggin by John Corey Whaley - Extract!

Summary from Goodreads

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.



CHAPTER SEVEN

A PLACE LIKE HIGH SCHOOL

Going back to school was something I never thought I’d have to deal with. By the time I elected to be a science experiment in Denver, I’d been out for about nine months, including summer break. My teachers sent me assignments for a while, back in the January before I left. Some of them even put little Get well soon notes inside, but I didn’t really see the point of doing anything, and I guess that eventually became everyone else’s attitude because the assignments stopped and my parents quit asking me about them.

I never really liked school the first time around. I didn’t hate it. I wasn’t bullied or anything. I had plenty of friends and I got along with most of my teachers— the ones who weren’t Mrs. Lasetter, that is—and even though I wasn’t all that great at things like math, I studied enough to make okay grades. I just never liked being there. I used to lie in bed every school night I can remember and be filled with this massive dread that I had to wake up and do it all over again. If it weren’t for Cate and Kyle, I don’t think I’d have tried as hard as I did. I used to think about how easy it would’ve been to turn into one of those dropouts who has to get a shitty job somewhere around town and never grows up.

But that dread, that dislike, it had nothing on how I felt the morning of my fateful return to Springside High.

Of course, I’d never had to walk into school with photographers and news cameras lining the sidewalk out front either. It wasn’t enough that I was about to enter a school full of complete strangers, but I had to do it as the famous miracle boy everyone’s been seeing on TV.

“They can’t go inside,” Mom said to me. We were sitting in her car in the roundabout drop-off zone in front of the school and watching the dozens of reporters waiting for me to show up. There were curious students standing all around them, and I saw a few smiling for the cameras as they walked past.

“Shit,” I said.

“Travis.” Dad turned around from the passenger seat and looked at me. “Give them a few days and they won’t care anymore.”

“You think?”

“I know,” he said with confidence. “Just duck your head down, don’t say anything, and walk inside. If you don’t give them anything to use, they’ll go away.”

“Be boring,” Mom added, a smirk on her face.

It was loud. With the countless reporters yelling questions and the other kids looking on from their little huddled groups, it was such a chaotic and stressful scene. I was wearing one of the scarves Mom had bought me because it was cold enough and because I thought maybe she’d been right. I wasn’t ready for the kind of attention these people wanted to give me. The whole time I was burrowing through the crowd, all I could do was imagine a zoomed-in photograph of my neck on national television.

The school secretary couldn’t stop giving me that look, that “I can’t believe it’s really you that I’m talking to right now” look when she printed out my class schedule in the main office. I also caught her staring down at my neck. She wanted to notice an inconsistency in the skin tones, to gossip about the freak science-experiment kid who had just walked onto campus. Even though I was embarrassed and felt like I’d just run through a battlefield, I thought about lowering the scarf to give her a quick glimpse of it. It wasn’t going away, after all.

Before I could do that, though, Principal Carson ran in and put an arm around my shoulders. She smelled exactly the same as always, like Irish Spring soap.

“Travis Coates! What an outstanding kid!”

“Hi.”

“Travis, what you’ve done. Your story, it’s just . . . it’s so inspiring for us all.”

Then Principal Carson was crying these little tears and wiping them away with the back of her left hand. Her fingernails were shiny red, and she was wearing a ring that looked to me like she didn’t even need this job. Maybe she’s for real, I thought. Maybe she loves kids that much.

“We should get a picture, no?” She perked up, still wiping tears and snorting as she breathed in.

“Really?” I asked. But I knew Principal Carson was for real when the secretary stood up and pointed her cell phone toward us.

Then Principal Carson waved her arms out to invite everyone standing around in the office—the staff, a few random students, and a PE teacher—to join us. Maybe they’d planned the whole thing because it didn’t take long before I was sandwiched between them and forcing a smile for the camera.

“I’m probably late for class,” I said, attempting a move for the door.

“I’ll walk you, sweetie,” Principal Carson said.

There was clapping when we stepped into Mrs. Lasetter’s geometry class. Even that battle-ax was standing behind her desk and smiling as kids started getting up to pat me on the back, shake my hand, and hold their phones up in front of us to snap quick photos. I was sweating now, nervous with all the eyes on me and all the attention. This was harder than I’d thought, and it made High School Round One seem so easy. Back then I could hide away and talk to the handful of people I chose and then go home. This was just getting ridiculous. I managed to say “Thanks” over their collective noise, and I took a seat in the front corner of the room. As soon as I sat down, I felt like everyone was looking at me, staring at my head and wondering if it were at all possible for it to fly

right off or roll down one of my arms. Principal Carson was still standing at the front of the room, and she held one hand up to signal for silence.

“Boys and girls, I hope you understand the privilege that has been bestowed upon you. You all get to witness one of the greatest miracles of modern science right here at Springside High. What an amazing day!”

And then more clapping and even a few cheers rang out from the students. I closed my eyes and clinched my fists while forcing a smile. I wasn’t prepared for this, and it was becoming pretty overwhelming. Then one kid from the back yelled, “NOGGIN!” like he was trying to start a group chant with it, but the whole room fell super quiet instead.

“Hatton!” Mrs. Lasetter barked. “Apologize! Now!”

“Sorry.”

I turned around to see a skinny kid with glasses and blond, almost white hair slumping down in his desk. He looked at me with this sincere regret on his face.

“No.” I stood up. “It’s fine. I like it.”

“You like what?” Lasetter asked. She’d always hated me, and I could already see it coming back. I thought about succumbing to that look she gave me, the one that had always made even the most defiant students lower their heads in shame. But I was back, and even though

I just wanted to run away and hide, defying her was the best moment of my new life.

“Noggin. It has a nice ring to it.”

“He was being rude.”

“But I liked it. What’s your name again? Hatton?”

He perked up and nodded his head. He was smiling now but still looking over at Lasetter with a cautious expression, unsure if he’d be punished for going along with me.

“I always wanted a nickname. Thanks.”

“How do you like that, kids? What a fantastic attitude this young man has! And after all he’s been through!”

Principal Carson clasped her hands together and sighed deeply.

“Speech!” one kid shouted from the back of the room.

I looked up at Mrs. Lasetter, and she was clenching her jaw so hard she’d have to take an aspirin later.

“SPEECH! SPEECH! SPEECH!” they all started shouting.

Then Principal Carson looked at me, looked right down at me and into my eyes, and I knew I had to do it. As much as I just wanted to be boring, like Mom said, I knew they weren’t going to let me. I

mean, it couldn’t be that bad, right? So I stood up, waited for them all to settle down, wiped sweat from my forehead with the back of one arm, and spoke.

“It’s good to be back here,” I began. “It seems like just yesterday I was walking these halls, even though it was with a different set of legs and all.”

And they laughed. Thank God they laughed. There were even a few “awesome”s whispered from the back.

“I just hope I haven’t forgotten everything I learned five years ago. It would be a shame if I can’t keep ahead.”

Nothing. Not one murmur of a chuckle.

“Get it?” I asked. “Ahead?” I pointed to my skull.

They laughed again, even harder this time. And it could’ve been that they just didn’t know what else to do, but it didn’t matter. I realized, in that moment, that maybe I could do this. I could be this new person. Lawrence Ramsey had done it. Hell, I saw him in a luxury car commercial just the day before. He was cashing in on this whole “Miracle of Modern Science” gig, and he’d only been conscious for a few months longer than I had.

But as comfortable as it felt right at first, while they were laughing and looking at me with this strange excitement, it still wasn’t right. It only took me a few seconds to snap out of it and remember that the last time I was in that classroom, I’d just been diagnosed with a deadly illness and my best friend had been sitting right beside me.

After I sat back down and Mrs. Lasetter continued writing notes on the board for a while, the bell rang to dismiss class, and my new fellow students lined up to shake my hand on the way out. Principal Carson had stepped back in and stood proudly beside me, even once leaning down and whispering into my ear something I’ll never forget.

“I’ve never seen that woman get so mad. Well done, young man.”

The last kid in line was Hatton, who opted for a high five in place of a handshake and said I was already the coolest guy he’d ever met.

“I was supposed to be boring today,” I said.

“No way, man. Noggin,” he said proudly. “Superstar.”

A Note from the Author

This selection is Travis' first day back at school.  More importantly, it's the first time we meet Hatton, who actually becomes a very big part of the story---but, originally, I intended to only have Hatton in this one scene.  Problem was, I liked him so much that I had to expand his character.


Saturday, 26 July 2014

On the Cover #50


On The Cover is a feature I am going to doing every now and again. I will pick one book cover that sticks out, is really interesting or just beautiful - I particularly like a book cover that has a stunning landscape.
 
I think the cover of a book is very important, it's the first thing a person sees and some of the time it's the reason why a person will pick a book up and read the back. I will just pick a book that catches my eye from throughout the week.
 
So come on Book Cover Lovers, share with me your favourite book covers.

My Pick This Week:

Shiver the Whole Night Through by Darragh McManus



Summary from Amazon UK

After months of bullying and romantic heartbreak, seventeen-year-old Aidan Flood feels just about ready to end it all. But when he wakes up one morning to find that local beauty and town sweetheart Slaine McAuley actually has, he discovers a new sense of purpose, and becomes determined to find out what happened to her. The town is happy to put it down to suicide, but then one night Aidan gets a message, scratched in ice on his bedroom window: 'I didn't kill myself.' Who is contacting him? And if Slaine didn't end her own life ...who did?

Paperback: 208 pages 
Publisher: Hot Key Books (6 Nov 2014)

My Thoughts

OMG! This cover is sooo freakin' awesome! It's screams chilling, sinister, menace  and the yellow against the black is ever so striking. Would I buy this book based on it's cover? Hell yes! On a serious note though...read that summary - I need this book in my life!

Have you seen any beautiful covers on your travels this week? 


Monday, 21 July 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Summary from Goodreads

A shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing; The Handmaid's Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.

Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess. Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities.

Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity – until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other’s jeopardy – and salvation.


Paperback, 368 pages
Expected publication: September 4th 2014 by Walker Books Ltd

My Review

Aw man! This was total first book perfection for me and I really can't sing it's praises enough! Amy Ewing is a debut author to seriously watch!

I love that I've never read anything quite like this before, it really is quite unusual. The world building is complex and ever so inviting - I really loved how disturbing normal had become for the characters living there. The storyline is so imaginative that I revelled in each minute detail.

Main character Violet is a highly memorable and very strong heroine. She is beautiful, talented, caring and also intelligent. Her journey from a poor girl to a prized surrogate for the Duchess of the Lake in the Jewel is a dangerous one full of shocks, thrills and so many big twisty turns. Getting to know her was a real treat.

There are so many fabulous characters crammed within these pages. I particularly enjoyed the Duchess herself, she is a vile, self-centred creature but she had moments of something softer breaking through...really that was more disturbing as you never quite knew what to expect. Another fascinating character is Lucien, you never get much of a read on him but you will want to, very intriguing.

Another thing that really added to the story were the girls' abilities in the Augeries. They were trained in 3 Augeries and scored in their performance as a selling factor. A little added magical extra - which I LOVED!

OMG - that ending!! *huffing face*

The Jewel is a kick-ass debut that truly had a little bit of everything. Stand-out characters, a twistingly dangerous plot set in a thrilling cut-throat world filled with surprise at every turn. We see the beginnings of a forbidden romance which had the sizzle factor. I just want...no need the next book already!

5 / 5 Stars

*Special thanks to Walker for the review copy*


 

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Spell of Summer by Dianna Hardy

Summary from Goodreads

Words can change everything, but can they change your destiny?

Meredith is leading a straight-laced life in London with her straight-laced fiancé, determined to forget her reckless, wild-child past. They're about to get married.

Jamie is an old, poetic soul with a broken heart returning home to Cornwall to get his life back in order.

What binds them?

One chance meeting thirteen summers ago; one innocent spell spoken after one perfect night...

And now history is unravelling; the past and present, merging...

Words can change everything, but can they change your destiny?

And in the messy world of magic, what part does love play?

It's summer all over again, but the spell has only just begun.

Full length, contemporary romantic fiction, written in British English.


Paperback, 332 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Satin Smoke Press
 
My Review
 
The Spell of Summer is quite a bit different from Dianna Hardy's usual works. I went into it thinking it was going to be a light and fun summer read and while it was those things on occasion, it had a whole lot of emotion and some darker issues that were handled with a lot of care.
 
Main character Merri, is acting out the straight and narrow life with her fiancee. Her wild child days firmly behind her, she is looking to the future and her upcoming wedding. Something forces her back to the town she grew up in, with her best-friend Candy. She stumbles upon, Jaime, her first...and most memorable...
 
It seems fate is pushing the pair together - but where are they truly destined to be?
 
I really loved Merri and Jamie's journey. They are both broken in their own way and need an escape, which they seem to find in each other. Merri has a lot of dark parts in her past that still haunts her present, but being with Jamie seems to ease her suffering. The little magical kick to the story was really natural and believable - which I really appreciated.
 
The secondary characters are also very strong and I found myself immersed in their back stories. Candy has had it tough and finding out about her was a bit of a shock but it pushed home the positive point that there is love out there for everyone - if you only choose to open your eyes to it.
 
I really enjoyed the ending. The epilogue was a favourite though and I think there could be another story to be found there...
 
The Spell of Summer was a tough read for me in places as it's so raw and utterly true to real to real life, where things rarely run smoothly and things are so complex. The characters are so down-to-earth and I really liked each for their differences. Dianna always manages to touch me with her writing and this one was no different, I felt a LOT! This beautiful book proves that Dianna really can turn her hand to anything!
 
4 / 5 Stars
 
*Special thanks to Dianna for the review copy*
 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson - Cover Reveal!

I'm so excited to share the amazing cover for Sarah Alderson's new book today. It's called Conspiracy Girl and it looks AWESOME! Be sure to check out the little exclusive teaser at the bottom!


Summary from Goodreads

Everybody knows about the Cooper Killings – the Bel Air home invasion that rocked the nation.

There was only one survivor - a sixteen year-old girl.
And though the killers were caught they walked free.

Now eighteen, Nic Preston - the girl who survived - is trying hard to rebuild her life. She’s security conscious to the point of paranoia and her only friend is a French Mastiff bulldog, but she’s making progress. She’s started college in New York and has even begun dating.

But then one night her apartment is broken into and the life Nic’s worked so hard to create is shattered in an instant.

Finn Carter - hacker, rule breaker, player – is the last person Nic ever wants to see again. He’s the reason her mother’s killers walked free from court. But as the people hunting her close in, Nic has to accept that her best and possibly only chance of staying alive is by keeping close to Finn and learning to trust the person she’s sworn to hate.

Fleeing across a snowbound New England, frantically trying to uncover the motive behind the murders, Nic and Finn come to realize the conspiracy is bigger than they could ever have suspected. But the closer they get to the truth and the closer they get to each other, the greater the danger becomes.

To survive she has to stay close to him.
To keep her safe he has to keep his distance.


Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: February 19th 2015 by Simon & Schuster

Exclusive Excerpt

Collapsing to my knees, I stare wide-eyed at the door. Three minutes, I tell myself. The armed response unit will be here in three minutes.
The door is reinforced with steel. Nothing, no one, can get through it. The security guy told me my apartment was as safe as the President’s nuclear bunker. Even so, my whole body is locked rigid and a sob is blocking my throat. The room is starting to close in on me.
Glass shatters somewhere in the apartment and I shrink back against the bed with a whimper, drawing my knees to my chest. Oh god. Not again.
---

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #71


 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
 
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas


Summary from Goodreads

Three teens venture into the abandoned Monroe estate one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder?

Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful of faces…


Paperback: 336 pages 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (14 Aug 2014)

Why This Book?

*clears throat* have you guys read Dangerous Girls? OMG I'm still reeling from that book, it was edgy, thrilling and the ending was explosive! Abigail Haas is a fantastic writer and I seriously can't wait to dive into Dangerous Boys. I actually squealed a little when I found out about *squeee* :)

What are you 'Waiting On'?