Monday, January 30, 2012

[Review] The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight {goodreads}
Authors: Jennifer E. Smith
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 02/02/2012
Publisher: Hachette: Headline [RRP $22.99]
Source: For review (thanks to publisher!)
Precautions: Violence | Sexual Content Profanity
Pages: 216
My Rating:
Good read

Summary:
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of Hadley's life. . .

Her father is getting married in London to a woman she's never even met, and she's just missed her flight.

Hadley has never believed in destiny or fate before. . .

But, stuck at the airport in New York, today is also the day she meets Oliver. He's British. He's cute. And he's on her new flight.

Set over twenty-four hours, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
My thoughts: 

~ Final thoughts ~

Smith manages to compose two likeable main characters whose instant attraction for each other is very, very sweet. You'll be rooting for the two to get together by the end of these 24 hours! Frustrating was the third-person present perspective, but once you get into the story, this detail isn't a dealbreaker. This book is all about the ifs. I can easily see this book being a movie--in fact, it has great resonances to many chick-flicks out there. If you enjoy a good, heartfelt rom-com, you'd better give this one a try!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

[Review] Prized (#2) by Caragh O'Brien

Title: Prized {goodreads}
Series: #2 in a trilogy [My review for Birthmarked]
Authors: Caragh O'Brien
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 10/11/2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Source: For review (thanks to publisher!)
Precautions: Violence | Sexual Content Profanity
Pages: 368
My Rating:
Fantabulously awesome Book!!!

Summary:
Fleeing from the corrupt society of the Enclave, Gaia Stone heads into the harsh environment of the wasteland with her baby sister, Maya. They survive only to be captured by Peter, a ranger from Sylum, a strange village which seems to have as many laws as the Enclave. And when the ruthless village leader takes Maya, Gaia is forced to stay and submit to the strict social code, or risk losing her sister forever.

Then Gaia discovers that Sylum has a secret; a deadly fever strikes down anyone who tries to leave, holding the villagers prisoner. Desperate to escape with Maya, Gaia is determined to uncover the truth about the sickness, whatever it takes. But when Leon is captured too, she is faced with another impossible choice: the boy who won her heart in the Enclave, or Peter, for whom she can't deny her growing feelings.

If Gaia is going to survive in this new world she needs to learn to trust her instincts, and her heart . . .
My thoughts: 

SPOILERS AHEAD-READ ON ONLY IF YOU'VE READ BIRTHMARKED.
Or you just want to read this review.

~ Final thoughts ~

PRIZED introduces readers to an alternative dystopian society where women rule. The stakes are made even higher as Gaia's baby sister is taken away from her. Gaia's decisions may not always be right, but the extraordinary character development she undergoes more than makes up for it. The love square exemplifies the troubles in a society where such a male-female ratio and female ruling exist, while also being entertaining and surprisingly fresh. Readers will relish in this delicious and readable sequel to BIRTHMARKED.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

[Review] Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me {goodreads}
Authors: Tahereh Mafi
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/11/2011
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
RRP: $17.99
Source: For review (thanks to publisher!)
Precautions: Violence | Sexual Content | Profanity
Pages: 348
My Rating:
Satisfying Read

Summary:
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.
My thoughts: 

BEAR WITH ME! 

At first my rating was a 5, then a 4. Now it's 3.5 and I'll tell you why. Taken at face value, if I go along with the ride, I could just say I really enjoyed Shatter Me. And I did. By the end.

If you're really into adventures that are heavily reliant on a romantic aspect, then you are going to love this. Mafi also tries extremely hard to be poetic and intricately detailed in her writing. Most of the time she succeeded. Other times it was grating and slowed the pacing right down. There will be examples.

These are my personal opinions and that's fine if you don't agree with me. Not everyone will. I liked the premise, but I felt that the execution never completely lived up to it, or the expectations I'd formed for it.

~ Final thoughts ~

Shatter Me is: a whirlwind adventure; an extraordinary battle fought between the good and the bad, the powerful and the weak, the damaged and even more damaged; an intensely written romance that will live up to any supernatural fan's expectations. Tahereh Mafi has written a strong debut novel that blends together action, romance and suspenseful drama that will surprise readers.

Monday, January 23, 2012

[Blog Tour] Fated by Sarah Alderson -- first chapter teaser


Hi there! I'm here starting off the blog tour for FATED, which is the amazing paranormal YA genius Sarah Alderson's sophomore book release, which comes out in Australia February 1st. I raved about her debut 'Hunting Lila' (see my review) and though I'm still reading 'Fated' I can safely say that her books do not disappoint!

'Fated' starts off with an action-packed sequence that will have you on the edge of your seat and wanting more! Enjoy this exclusive prologue and first chapter sneak preview! :)



Prologue

'Her name is Evie Tremain. She's seventeen years old. She lives in Riverview, California. Now go and kill her.'
    The stillness in the room erupted as chairs scraped the floor. There were a few hushed whispers, a stifled laugh and then the door slammed shut, cutting the noise off like a guillotine.
    Lucas stood slowly, taking his time. He didn't notice that the others had left the room, or that Tristan was standing by the window watching him. All his attention was focused on the photograph he was holding in his hand.
    It showed a girl - dark-haired, blue-eyed - looking straight at the camera. It was a close-up. He could make out the shadows her lashes were making down her cheeks. A strand of hair was caught like a web over one eye and in the corner of the shot he could see her hand, reaching up to brush it away. Her lips were slightly parted, like she'd been sighing just at the moment the lens snapped shut. Her expression was . . . Lucas paused. He wasn't sure what her expression was. She looked unhappy, or maybe just pissed off.
    She was a Hunter, though, so what did he expect? And this one had a history that would make anyone unhappy. Or pissed off.
    'Is something wrong?' Tristan asked.
    Lucas looked up from the photograph, then glanced over towards the door, realising that he was the only one left in the room. He looked back at the older man.
    'No, nothing's wrong,' he answered quietly.
    'Well, you'd best get going then,' Tristan said, his eyes not leaving Lucas’s face. 'You don't want to miss out on all the fun.'
    Lucas looked down once more at the picture of Evie Tremain, feeling momentarily ambivalent towards her. Then he scrunched the photograph up into a ball and dropped it on the floor. It didn't matter what lay behind that expression because soon nothing would. She was just another Hunter to be dealt with. Next week or next month there would be another. And then another. And dealing with Hunters was what the Brotherhood did.
    Lucas didn't look back at Tristan but he could sense his eyes burning into his back as he left the room. Moving away fast down the corridor, Lucas realised he could no longer hear the others. He was faster than any human – he knew because he'd had to outrun them many times - so it didn't take him long to reach the basement garage.
    There was just one ride waiting for him. Caleb and Shula were sitting in the front seats, the engine renewing, the back door flung open.
    'Come on!' Shula yelled. 'What's keeping you? There's a Hunter to kill and the others are going to beat us to it!'
    Lucas smiled and shook his head, ducking into the back seat and slamming the door shut. He let his head relax back into the seat and watched the speedometer climb as Caleb slammed the Mercedes out of the underground garage and onto the highway. Lucas stared out of the window. This stretch of highway was always quiet, but at night it was more so - there were only a few factories and gas stations for at least twenty miles in each direction. The Mission was a good base for the moment. Tristan had chosen well.
    'She's pretty.'
    Lucas turned his head. Shula was leaning across from the front seat, waving the photograph of Evie in his face. He grunted and went back to looking out of the window.
    'Think she'll put up a fight?'
    Lucas looked back at Shula. She was studying the photo intently, as though she could will it to life. Her raven-black hair was spilling over her shoulders, her skin glowing freakishly in the green dashboard lights. He almost smirked.
    Shula tried so hard to fit in and yet here she was looking as unhuman as a Shapeshifter midshift. He smiled softly. 'Let's hope so.'
    Shula grinned back, then kicked her legs up onto the dash and spun the volume dial on the radio to high.

Chapter 1

Evie Tremain was so busy inspecting the minuscule amount of change that had been deposited on the table, in the midst of a lake of ketchup next to the pile of dribbling plates, that she didn't immediately notice the man who had taken a seat at the table behind her.
    'Ev,' Joe called.
    She looked up at the sound of her boss calling and saw him indicate the table behind. She pocketed the change and spun around, remembering to plaster a smile onto her face as she did so.
    'Good evening, what can I get you?'
    The words died on her lips. The man at the table was staring right at her, evaluating her like she was discounted meat in the freezer section, his gaze travelling up and down her body. Evie shifted her weight onto one hip, resting her hand on it and waited for some eye contact.
    Not another one. She sighed to herself. And he was old enough to be her dad, which was really quite gross. She raised an eyebrow and waited until the man lifted his gaze to meet her own.
    'Can I get you something?' she asked, offering him a tight smile.
    He sank back into the booth, seemingly unembarrassed at having been caught checking her out.
    'Yes, please, I’ll have a soya decaff grande latte,' the man replied, without taking his eyes off her face to read the menu.
    Evie paused, hand still on hip, wondering whether she should bother pointing out that the menu had just one option for coffee. Filter. Always caffeinated. She didn't. She bit her lip, took the pencil from behind her ear and scribbled on the pad: 1 x coffee.
    'Coming right up,' she said brightly, and turned on her heel. She flipped the order down on the counter and Joe took it, peering at her scrawl. Then he reached for the coffee pot sitting on the hot plate behind him.
    'Was he giving you any trouble?' he asked, tipping his head in the soya latte customer's direction.
    Evie glanced over her shoulder. The man was looking out of the window now. He was about forty she figured, maybe older. Black, with a goatee. He was wearing a solid chunk of gold on the little finger of his right hand. Evie noticed only now she looked at him again that he was dressed kind of weirdly for round here. She looked closer.
    The last time anyone had worn a suit in town had been at her dad's funeral, almost a year ago. And this man was actually wearing a three-piece suit, complete with a cherry-red cravat that frothed at the neck, making it look like someone had stabbed him in the jugular. Apart from that, though, the suit kind of worked on the man. Or, rather, the man worked on the suit. She wasn't sure how.
    'Do you want me to serve him?'
    'Huh?' Evie turned back to face Joe.
    'I saw the way he was looking at you,' Joe said. 'Do you want me to serve him?'
    Evie smiled as she took the cup of coffee from Joe's hand and slid it onto a tray. 'No, I got it. I need the tips, anyway.'
    'Things can't be that bad, surely?' Joe asked. His grey moustache tightened around his lips like a caterpillar undergoing some kind of metamorphosis.
    'Nope. I just want out of here – you know that, Joe.'
    Joe pulled a face. The kind of face that Evie was sick of seeing. She grabbed the tray before he could say anything else and carried it towards the man at the table.
    'One decaff latte,' she said, lowering the tray. 'Grande,' she added, looking at the little cup Joe had given him. At the same moment the door opened and Evie's attention swung towards it. The coffee cup slid sideways.
    She heard Joe shout for her to watch out at the same time as she saw the boy in the doorway's eyes widen. Evie's arm shot out, rescuing the coffee cup as it bounced off the edge of the tray. She held it in mid-air, watching as the coffee stilled itself.
    She placed it down carefully on the table. 'Sorry about that,' she murmured, glaring over her shoulder at the guy still standing in the doorway.
    'Good reflexes,' the man said.
    'Huh, yeah,' Evie muttered, backing away towards the counter. Joe was there, watching her with that look on his face again. She shrugged at him. He scowled over the top of her head at the boy in the doorway, before turning his back and starting to wipe down the counter.
    Evie took a deep breath and pushed a loose strand of hair out of her face. She tried to tell herself to stay calm but she could already feel the heat rising in her lungs and scorching up her windpipe. She could feel her pulse quickening with the usual endorphin hit of rage.

    She turned furiously to face the boy, catching him just as he was about to speak. 'What?' she demanded, cutting him off. The boy shut his mouth and took a step towards her. He glanced around. The coffee shop was empty at this time of night, apart from the guy in the weird outfit. She was thankful. The whole town had already had their noses smashed up against the windows of their business. She didn't need any more witnesses to what had happened between the two of them.
    'What do you want? I'm working,' Evie hissed.
    'I know. I'm sorry,' the boy began, then stopped, staring down at his feet.
    Evie huffed impatiently, aware that her hands were curled into tight fists at her sides.
    'I just wanted to talk,' the boy said.
    'I have nothing to talk about,' Evie said, studying him, realising that her voice was shaking. If he looked up, if he looked at her with those hangdog brown eyes of his, if she allowed herself for one moment to feel sorry for him, then she would hate herself later. She turned her back on the boy and moved over to an empty
table to clear the cups and plates.
    She started stacking, aware that the boy had crept up behind her and was now hovering by her shoulder. She put the stack of cups down carefully on the table and turned to face him. 'Tom, I'm working. Please leave.'
    'OK.' Tom nodded. He was close to her, almost brushing arms with her. 'But later, after work, can we talk then?'
    She glanced up at the clock over the counter and saw that Joe was looking sideways at her, concern splashed all over his face. God, it was like living in a goldfish bowl without even a stone or some fancy plastic plants to hide behind.
    'Tom, why would I want to talk to you? You killed my best friend. The best friend you were also seeing behind my back. Or had you forgotten?'
    Tom took a step back, his face crumpling. 'Ev, it was an accident.'
    She took a step back. 'Oh, so you weren't driving?'
    Tom swallowed hard. It was a strangled sound. Evie hesitated for a second but all the anger and the hurt dammed behind the smiling waitress routine rushed to the surface. It made her cheeks and jaw ache; it made her whole body ache, until she felt like her muscles had calcified from the effort of holding everything she
was feeling inside.
    She stared now into Tom's familiar brown eyes, measuring the reaction her words had caused, thinking how strange it was that once upon a time she had run her hands through his hair, linked her fingers through his, had kissed him and thought it was possibly the best feeling in the world. It was strange because now she hated him.
    She drew in a breath. 'She shouldn't have even been in the car.'
    Tom dropped his eyes to the floor again. Evie felt the anger subside like a break in the storm. She was suddenly overwhelmingly tired. She just wanted to not have to go through this scene every day like she was living on repeat.
    She wanted to have someone wipe her memory clean. But seeing as she wasn't likely to get hit on the back of the head and wake up tomorrow with amnesia, the only alternative was to get the hell out of this small town filled with small-town people where the gossip about her and Tom had kept the knitting circle busy for so long they had knitted enough blankets to see the Salvation Army through a nuclear winter.
    She wanted to be able to walk down the street among strangers – people who didn't know her and who didn't look at her with crinkled eyes and tilted heads and ask her how she was doing with that strange inflection in their voices that made her want to scream until she was hollow.
    She wanted out. So she picked up the stack of cups, walked past Tom and set them on the counter. She kept her back to him until she heard the door jangle behind her.
    'You all right?'
    Evie looked up. Joe was standing in front of her, his face folded into a frown.
    She sighed. 'Yeah, I'm fine. I just. . . you know, I'm just sick of him apologising, as if an apology can ever make up for what he did.'
    Joe nodded, taking the tea towel from where he'd flung it over his shoulder and starting to wipe the counter. 'That kid's sure got some guilt to live with.'
    Evie glared at Joe. 'Well, he should be living with it in jail.'
    Joe pressed his lips together and nodded non-committally. "This one's sure taking his time,' he said, changing the subject and nodding his head at the man in the red cravat.
    Evie shot a glance over her shoulder. The man was still looking out of the window. 'Listen, if you want me to lock up, I've got it,' she said to Joe.
    'Are you sure, Evie?' he asked, taking the cups and placing them one by one into the dishwasher below the counter. 'Don't you have a home to get to?'
    'No, it's OK. I need as many hours as I can get.' She shrugged.
    'Still planning on leaving town, then?' Joe asked with a sigh.
    Evie considered his face before answering. He reminded her of her father, the same ridge-lined face and deep-set eyes, the same soft tone and silvering hair.
    'Sorry, Joe,' she said finally. 'I've got to get out. Only bad stuff happens here.'
    Joe nodded slowly. 'I hear you,' he said. 'Listen, if you get any trouble from this one,' he indicated the man drinking coffee, 'then you just call me.'
    Evie smiled at him. 'I've got it, Joe. I can take care of myself.'
    'I know, I know,' Joe said, reaching for his jacket on the peg behind him. 'One thing your father did right was seeing you could take care of yourself.'
    'Just one thing?' Evie asked, smiling, her eyebrows raised.
    'Oh, you know what I'm saying,' he mumbled. 'Your father was a good man, Ev Tremain.' He paused a moment. 'And speaking as his best friend I know that he'd be real proud of you.'
    Evie's stomach muscles contracted violently, forcing all the air out of her lungs, and leaving her feeling like she was underwater,drowning silently. She swallowed twice and tried to smile at Joe. He reached over and patted her hand before leaving.
    When she heard the clang of the door, she reached forward, resting her palms on the counter, and took a deep breath and then another. She pushed her hair back out of her face and straightened up before turning around with a smile.
    'Can I get you anything else?' she asked the man at the table by the window.
    He was looking straight at her, as though he'd been watching this whole time. Her back straightened and her shoulders tensed. The man's face suddenly split into a wide smile. 'Just the check,' he said.
    Evie ripped a page off her pad and went to place it in front of him, then hovered by the table with her arms crossed over her chest.
    The man rummaged for his wallet, then drew out two crisp ten-dollar bills. He dropped them onto the table and Evie frowned before looking up. The coffee only cost a dollar something.
    The man caught her eye. 'Sounds like you could use the extra tips,' he said.
    She narrowed her eyes at him. Nothing came for free. That had been one of her father and Joe's favourite sayings. Her dad would walk in here, pull up a counter stool and demand a free coffee. Joe would laugh, pour him one and tell him nothing came for free, before setting the bill in front of him.
    Evie stepped forward and, with her eyes still on the man, picked up the notes. She folded them and put them in her apron pocket.
    'Thanks,' she said, reaching for the empty coffee cup.
    'I’m opening a store just over the road there,' the man said. Evie looked at where he was pointing, over the street at Cardman's Old Bookstore. It was boarded up and had a To Let sign hanging off it.
    'Really?' Evie asked, unable to contain her surprise. Her mum usually knew everything going on in this town before the people it was happening to even knew it themselves, but she'd said nothing to Evie about a new shop opening up.
    'Yes, it's more of a boutique than a store, really,' the man said and Evie noticed for the first time that he had an accent, though she couldn't quite place it.
    'What kind of a boutique?' Evie asked. Her mother would want to know.
    'Clothing. Fashion,' he said. 'Seems like the one thing thistown is missing is some good fashion.'
    Evie studied him again for any sign that he was joking. 'Are you expecting to turn a profit?' she asked.
    The man threw back his head. 'Sometimes it's not about the money, it's about the dream,' he laughed.
    'Your dream is to dress the women of Riverview in couture?' Evie laughed. 'Good luck with that. This is a farming community, the only fashion the women here are into involves denim and leather – and probably not in the way you're thinking.'
    She shook her head and made to move off. Weird. This man was so weird. And so soon to be bankrupt.
    'You know, I'm looking for a sales assistant, if you're interested,' the man called to her back.
    Evie paused. She put the coffee cup down on the counter and turned to him. 'What are you paying?'
    The man shrugged. 'Thirty dollars an hour.'
    Evie's eyebrows shot up. Thirty dollars an hour? Was the man insane? That was almost four times what she made here.
    'Forty,' she replied, blanking her face.
    An amused smile seemed to be skirting the man's mouth.
    'Thirty-five.'
    She wanted to burst out laughing but she held it in, biting the inside of her cheek instead. 'Deal,' she said. 'When do I start?'
    'Tomorrow.'
    Evie thought about it. 'I work two other jobs – this one three evenings a week from five till ten and then I help my mother out in my dad's store on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Other than that,
    I'm all yours.'
    The man appraised her. 'When do you find the time to sleep?'
    'I m trying to save as much money as I can right now, so any extra work is good.'
    'Well then, Evie, I guess we have a deal. Tomorrow is Tuesday, so I'll see you at ten a.m.'
    She frowned at him. How had he known her name? She guessed he must have heard Joe or Tom say it earlier. 'OK.' She nodded.
    'Can I know who I'm working for?'
    The man stood and Evie stepped back involuntarily. He was enormous – solid muscle underneath his suit – and the seams    looked fit to burst on his inside thigh, not that she was looking.
    But she sure as hell noticed that he wasn't built like the farmers around here, who were wiry and tough – he was built more like a body builder.
'My name is Victor,' he said, holding out his hand. 'Victor Lassonde.'



Here's the line-up for the rest of this blog tour!
24th January: Words on Paper - First Chapter Hosting
25th January: Novels on the Run - If you could control your Fate themed interview
26th January: Shiirleyy's Bookshelf - Video review
27th January: Tales of the Inner Book Fanatic – Fated Top Trumps and Fated Cast Battle Off
28th January: She Known as Jess - Grazia-esque magazine interview with the Fated cast
29th January: Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me Giveaway - 5 copies of Lila and Fated with posters!
30st January: Book Probe Reviews - Host video message to Aussie fans from Sarah
31st January: Sarah Alderson live facebook chat on Read Me Love Me Share Me
1st Feb: Eleusinian Mysteries - Evie and Lucas Q&A
2nd Feb: The Rest is Still Unwritten - Wise words interview from Sarah.

About the Book ('Fated')
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Blurb: 

IF YOU CAN'T CHOOSE WHO TO LOVE,
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST?

Lucas Gray is half Shadow Warrior, half human, and a member of the Brotherhood - a group of assassins tasked with killing the last purebred Hunter on Earth before she can fulfil a dangerous prophecy. That Hunter's name is Evie Tremain. 

Evie is seventeen-years-old, a waitress, and has just discovered she is the last in a long line of demon slayers - and an unwilling participant in a war between Hunters and Unhumans that has raged for the last thousand years.


About the Author (Sarah Alderson)

Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the non profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. After several months in India, Singapore, Australia and the US, they settled in Bali where Sarah now spends her days writing by the pool and drinking lots of coconuts.
She finished her first novel Hunting Lila just before they left the UK, wrote the sequel on the beach in India, and had signed a two book deal with Simon & Schuster by the time they reached Bali.
A third book, Fated, about a teenage demon slayer, which was written during their stay in California, will be published in January 2012 by Simon Pulse (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). She is currently working on sequels to both series of books.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

In My Mailbox (61): Christmas!!!


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren, and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie! Participants are required to tell all about what they've received in the mail--anything bookish!

~~~~~

Sunday 22nd of January 2012 ~ Notes

This is my first IMM post since/after:
  • My desk collapsed (and I've actually got a book tower to support it :P)
  • Christmas
  • 2011
  • All the author-blogger crap that's been going on
  • SOPA and stuff
I got some really great books! I hope you did too. So, here we go. :)

Also, for anyone who celebrates, it's Chinese New Year tomorrow! Hoorah. I'll be going out for lunch or dinner with my family tomorrow, and that's why I'm up late formatting this stuff like a chump. I'll update this post with the "since last imm" segment and links if I don't finish it.


* All release dates go in the format (dd/mm/yy)

* Any books I have already read will have a sort of mini-review and the rating I have given it up now until written.

* = Up for swap

Review tk = a review for this book will be posted on the blog soon


For Review:


  • Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Feb 2012, Allen & Unwin, Requested) 
  • Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Feb 2012, Allen & Unwin, Requested)
  • Spoiled by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (Feb 2012, Allen & Unwin, Requested)
  • Fracture by Megan Miranda (Jan 2012, Bloomsbury, Requested? ~ review tk!)
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith (Feb 2012, Hachette, Requested ~ currently reading!)
  • Advent by James Treadwell (Feb 2012, Hachette, Requested)
  • Pure by Julianna Baggott (Feb 2012, Hachette, Requested)
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Jan 2012, Penguin, Just showed up -- review tk!)
  • Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (Jan 2012, Penguin, Just showed up -- next up!)
  • Wonder by R.J. Paolini (Feb 14 2012, Random House, Just showed up)
  • Fated by Sarah Alderson (Feb 2012, Simon & Schuster, Requested -- currently reading!)
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Feb 2012, Simon & Schuster, For giveaway!)
  • Everneath by Brodi Ashton (March 2012, Simon & Schuster, Just Showed Up)


-------




Won:


[I read the UK version that I got from my Secret Santa in 2010 but I'm so glad I have both UK and US copies now :) Thanks Felicia @ The Geeky Blogger] (review tk)


Christmas Gifts (=D):

  • Sea by Heidi R. Kling
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (reread it from christmas day <3)
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
  • God is in the Pancakes by Robin Epstein <33 (review tk)
  • Blood Red Road by Moira Young (I was swept away! Review tk)
I really can't get over these books! They're so so so pretty I'm glad I got to read half of them before I had to turn back to review books. :P

Bought:
  • Don't Breathe A Word by Holly Cupala (review tk!)
  • A Million Suns (#2, Across the Universe) by Beth Revis -- currently reading!
  • The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wassermann (sounded too good to pass on!)

----------------



Q: What February 2012 releases are you waiting on?

For me, I've got the following in my budget:
  • The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (HC)
  • Orchards by Holly Thompson (PB)




Happy Reading! Comment with your IMM links.


Since last IMM...

(<-- most current)

Will be updated.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Maria V. Snyder Author Chat!

Click to go to the Harlequin Teen Facebook page!
Anyone who has delved into the YA genre should, at the very least, know who Maria V. Snyder is. The big component that runs commonly through all her novels, so I've been told, is her heroines--they are strong and independent and powerful. Bold. Stubborn. Amazing.

Having only read Touch of Power myself {review link}, I can't personally proclaim that Snyder's other books are awesome, but I can say this: CHECK HER OUT!

And now an impromptu poem . . .

For all you Aussies,
this coming Friday (27/01),
make sure to tune in to HarlequinTeenAus at Facebook!

Even if you haven't read her books.
Or if you've only read one.

Regardless, you could:
Ask about her life.
Ask about her breakfast.
Ask about her shoe size.
Ask away!

I'll be there.
Will you?


Saturday, January 14, 2012

[Review] The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross--book one in the Steampunk Chronicles

AU cover
Title: The Girl in the Steel Corset {goodreads}
Authors: Kady Cross
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/06/2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen // $19.99
Source: Publisher sent for review
Precautions: Clean Mild violence, mild romance
Series: #1 in the Steampunk Chronicles
Pages: 388
My Rating:
Amazing read

Summary:
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one - except the thing inside her...

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But not all Victorian girls have a darker side that makes them capable of knocking out a full-grown man with a single punch...

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that makes Finley special - makes her one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities; Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist - the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help - and finally be a part of something.
My thoughts: 

~ Final thoughts ~
Kady Cross has taught me a valuable lesson: steampunk is cool! Cross introduces an X-Men-esque concept to historical (1897) London in a captivating story that will appeal to YAs and fans of historical fiction and the supernatural. Even at 388 pages, I'm sitting here wishing there was more; I'm so glad that this is the first in a series, because I don't know how I'd be able to say goodbye to these delightfully dazzling characters so soon.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

[Review] Cinder by Marissa Meyer--Book one in the Lunar Chronicles

* check out the "extras" section for giveaways! *

Title:
Cinder {goodreads}
Authors: Marissa Meyer
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 29/12/2011
Publisher: Penguin UK: Puffin
RRP: $16.95
Source: Publisher sent for review
Precautions: 11+ - Mild violence/death
Series: #1 in the Lunar Chronicles
Pages: 370
My Rating:
Good read

Summary:
(From AU/UK pb)

A forbidden romance. A deadly plague. Earth's fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER
, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future. Is she brave enough, and strong enough, to help save everything?
My thoughts: 

~ Final thoughts ~

Cinder is a grippngly intense sci-fi/dystopian reimagining of the well-known Cinderella fairytale. It's got the basics that make the ever-popular fairytale, but Meyer has cleverly turned it on its head.

Cinderella-'Cinder'-is a cyborg and a talented mechanic, whose prince charming is charming indeed; whose community is riddled with a deadly plague, as well as ongoing threats of war against the Lunars; whose identity is a complete mystery. And it is her true identity that may just be the savior of New Beijing and the world as they all know it.

All in all, CINDER is not to be missed! The first book in the Lunar Chronicles is action-packed and full of interesting ideas with an ending that will leave you wanting more.


~ MY THOUGHTS (in full) ~

If I do have children (if the Big Guy doth let it be so), and more specifically a daughter, this would be the type of book I'd love for her to indulge in. It's got so much appeal to girls, but Meyer's 'version' is much grittier and fantastical, with a heroine that kicks butt!

Cinder has great talent and inner-strength that shines through and through. Not even that--she's different in a way that makes her instantly exiled and unpopular, and while she never completely embraces these differences, readers will be able to sympathise with her insecurities.

Prince Kai is kind of your average pretty-boy Prince Charming. He's got the easygoing attitude and he and Cinder share similar ideals about the world. Even in the face of adversity, he tries his best to stand his ground. Readers will be sure to fall for Iko, Cinder's android buddy, and Peony, Cinder's (nice) stepsister--but you'll wish you hadn't after the events that unfold.

What also sprung out at me was the whole backstory with the Lunars and the New Beijing Commonwealth society. If you thought that cyborgs and androids in a Cinderella re-imagining was far-fetched, you'll be even more blown away when you are introduced to the Lunars. They're, quite literally, out of this world and insane!

Of course there is a romance between Prince Kai and Cinder, but there are barriers that disable them to be together. I'm totally rooting for them though! Even from chapter one I wanted them to end up together because they're just so cute, and two is better than one. :P

What didn't agree with me was the fact that I was able to guess a lot of the [ZING!] moments due to its predictability leading up to a moment. Also, the ending just left me with a strange feeling ... like it's unfinished and there's meant to be a special chapter latched on at the end. There is a sense of oncoming action and struggle, but we only get to see the lead-up to it, which is frustrating since we have to wait another year to find out what happens next!

The third person narrative worked fine enough, and I was able to feel Cinder's thoughts and feelings with ease. It took a couple of chapters to get the hang of the writing style.


Quotes:

* from the UK ARC and may differ to the final version

First lines
"The screw through Cinder's ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle. Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw one gritting twist after another. By the time it was extracted far enough for her to wrench free with her prosthetic steel hand, the hairline threads had been stripped clean.

Favourites
(Peony will be joining Cinder and Iko as they go to the junkyard looking for machine parts)

"Reaching out, Cinder pulled her [Peony] back. "Careful, your dress."
     Peony surveyed her skirt, then the grime-covered shelves, then waved Cinder's concerns away. "Really, can I [come]? Sounds exciting.
"
     "It sounds dirty and stinky," said Iko.
     "How would you know?" said Cinder. "You don't have scent receptors."
     "I have a fantastic imagination."

(p. 33)
Buy:

* cheapest Australian e-store price

AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS

INTERNATIONAL READERS


All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

Extras:

Trailer




Other reviews of 'Cinder'

Alpha Reader: 4/5 stars {link}
inkcrush: "a wild ride" {link}
Nice Girls Read Books: 5 stars {link}
Stacked: "one buzzed novel that totally delivers" {link}



I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: 2012 Debut Author Challenge

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

YA Historical Fiction Challenge 2012 & January is for the past


I'm such a fan of historical YA fiction, and I'm glad that Sab over at YA Bliss seems to feel the same way, since she did make this challenge a reality. I've already started off the year on good terms with my historical YA books, so I've deemed January 2012 my personal month for historical YA. With a couple others sprinkled in.

Level 2, I choose you! (because it rhymes)

This means that I solemnly (well, actually I'm giddy because I love HYAF) swear that I shall read at least 10 historical YA book in 2012.
Level 2: 10 books
My list so far includes (own | read | intend to own in 2012):
  • Plain Kate/Wood Angel by Erin Bow
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (re-reads count . . . right?)
  • The Girl in the Steel Corset (#1) by Kady Cross
  • The Luxe (#1, Luxe) & The Lucky Ones (#3, BYT) by Anna Godbersen
  • Vixen & Ingenue (#1, #2) by Jillian Larkin
  • Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  • What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
  • Faithful by Janet Fox & Forgiven (#1, #2) by Janet Fox
  • In the Shadow of the Lamp by Suzanne Dunlap
  • Emerald by Karen Wallace
  • Guardian of the Gate & Circle of Fire (#2, #3, Prophecy) by Michelle Zink
  • When We Were Two by Robert Newton
  • Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
  • The Jewel and the Key by Louise Spiegler
  • Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
Progress count: 3/10

I'm a paperback book buyer, so lots of HB releases in 2012 will be part of my 2013 Historical YA challenge. ;)

If you're planning on reading ANY of the following books, or you're participating too, please do friend me on Goodreads! I'd love to discuss and share opinions on historical YA. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

[Review] Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

Title: Tempest Rising {goodreads}
Authors: Tracy Deebs
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/09/2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
RRP: $15.99
Source: Publisher sent for review
Precautions: 12+ - Violence and slight gore
Series: #1
Pages: 340
My Rating:
Satisfying

Summary:
(From the UK PB)

Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her Californian home and hang out with her boyfriend. But Tempest is half mermaid and, as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide if she really does want to ttay on land or if she wants to give herself to the ocean like her mother did before her.

When she meets Kona, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities also hint at an other-worldly life, the lure of the sea becomes too strong and Tempest finds herself in the midst of a battle for survival. The entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

Is she brave enough, and strong enough, to help save everything?
My thoughts: 

~ Final thoughts ~

In 'Tempest Rising', expect an evocative depiction of underwater life, that highlights the characteristics--both serene and deadly--of a world so foreign. This glorious setting wraps itself around a tender story that is told by an irritating heroine whose inane naivety does more harm than good in her actions.

What shines through in this book is its vivid imagery and setting--this is a great summer read--as well as the satisfying amount of focus on oceanic mythological creatures. The exploration of betrayal and grief, family and friends, identity and self-discovery, belonging, home, love, come through in every single page.

Recommended for paranormal fans. If you're a fan of surfing, the beach and ocean, or mermaid stories this book is worth picking up. Overall I wasn't blown away, but it's not bad by any means, and I do wish to continue reading on.

MY SYNOPSIS

Tempest, 16-going-on-17, is a beach critter whose heart resides in the surf. She's just an average teen, until one day while surfing she loses balance on the board and almost drowns due to the obvious wipeout. Tempest NEVER wipes out. On the verge of losing consciousness, she seems to grow a tail underwater, giving her the ability to make it back to the surface within a second.

Tempest can't explain what happened that day--at least not to her friends and gorgeous surfer boyfriend. But she can't ignore the changes that are going on. Like her mother, who disappeared five years earlier, Tempest is part-mermaid. She has a choice: stay on land with all that she knows, or join the world that her mother (supposedly) left her to become part of.

An ancient battle of intense hardship and turmoil beckons her. She may just be the answer to help stop the war that has gone on far too long. Her name isn't Tempest for nothing.



I've always loved being near or in water, so books that are set at the beach or in the ocean are welcome anytime. Deebs' portrayal of the underwater world evoked in me a desire to go scuba-diving or something. I'd love to see the "phosphorescent shades of blue and green and red and yellow" that light up and can be seen for miles (167). The descriptions are beautiful and were never sparse or in excess; there was always just the right amount of visuals.

The plot unfolds pretty quickly--I can say I was never bored. The book mentions and describes mermaids, selkies and other sea creatures which just made the whole setting more believable. I liked that Tempest focused on mermaids being the only part-human sea creature, because I'm sure that's what many people know only of. There are some deadly and evil creatures in the book, capable of doing nasty things. Think along the lines of decapitation and impalement. Action and peril persist for the last half of the book, with the first half setting a good foundation of what comes later. I deem this book 'unputdownable' for the last half of the book.

There is a love triangle, kind of, in this book. But it's not like the whole two-guys-fighting-for-the-girl. The girl, Tempest, is already with someone--Max. They have a rocky on-and-off relationship, but there are grounds of deep trust and caring laid out firmly. Until Tempest meets Kona, a mysterious surfer guru whose skills are phenomenal. I can't say I loved the romance aspect of this book, but I was satisfied with the way Tempest's relationship with Max ended up. As for Kona . . . I don't know. I wasn't swept away by their romance or anything. It was a tad too insta-romance-y for my tastes, but I'm sure others found it all irresistible.

I liked the characters, for the most part. I don't even want to talk about Tempest too much, since she irritated me way too many times, but she's a bit of a Mary Sue and whiny and immature. And now, a list of characters I enjoyed:

- Tempest's surfer guy friends ~ With them, Tempest is just one of the guys. I'm mentioning them collectively because they don't have established, distinct personalities or backstories--they're pretty minor characters.

- Tempest's dad ~ He's got such a chilled personality (like Raymundo from Rocket Power!), and is also faithfully dedicated to his wife, despite her leaving him. He's got that unyielding strength that is pretty beautiful.

- The enemy!!! Haha. Well, at least they kept it interesting.

What continued to disturb me about this book was the writing style. It's in the choppy rhythm of the sentences. Example: "The humming inside me grew worse, took over me, until I felt like one huge, vibrating guitar string. I didn't know what it was, hadn't felt anything like it before." (265) The little sentence additives (the extra details within the commas) clawed at me. These sentences actually read like song lyrics (try it). It would have been fine if they didn't find their way to nearly every single paragraph. I only noticed this in the second half of the book--I actually liked the way the first half was written.

One thing I'm still deciding on is the ending. I'm thinking I didn't like it that much. There really wasn't too much consideration on her family, and the way it was written, it felt a bit all over the place and hazy. Or maybe that was just me.

Quotes:

First lines
"I was ten the first time I saw her. I remember this clearly, because my mother left exactly two weeks later--on my eleventh birthday. (Prologue)

Favourite lines
"I still don't know what possessed me to do what I did next. Ignoring the rain, ignoring the cold, ignoring my chattering teeth and half-frozen appendages, I climbed out of the car and let the rain and the wind wash over me.
       It tore through my hair, whipped against my tender skin until tears of pain rolled down my face. Lightning rent the sky, flashed above the ocean like a bomb exploding mere moments before thunder shook the ground. And still I stood there, refusing to get back in the car where it was safe.
       My name isn't Tempest for nothing." (p. 49)
Buy:

* cheapest Australian e-store price

AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS

Fishpond * | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

INTERNATIONAL READERS


All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

Extras:


US Cover
Other reviews of 'Tempest Rising'

The Story Siren: "Tempest Rising is FINtastic!!" {link}
Books with Bite: 5 stars {link}
Nice Girls Read Books: 4 stars {link}
IB Book Blogging: 4 fairies {link}







I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: ---

Monday, January 9, 2012

[Review + Giveaway] Sister, Missing by Sophie McKenzie

Title: Sister, Missing {goodreads} 
Authors: Sophie McKenzie
Publication: January 2012 (AU/UK)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
RRP: $16.99 
Source: For review (thanks to publisher!)
Precautions: 11+ - Violence, guns, relationship (clean)
Pages: 250 (ARC copy)
Series: #2, sequel to Girl, MIssing {review}

My Rating:

Summary:
It's two years after the events of Girl, Missing and life is not getting any easier for sixteen-year-old Lauren, as exam pressure and a recent family tragedy take their toll. Lauren's birth mother takes Lauren and her two sisters on holiday in the hope that some time together will help, but a few days into the holiday one of the sisters disappears, under circumstances very similar to those in which Lauren was taken years before. Can Lauren save her sister, and stop the nightmare happening all over again?
My thoughts: 

* this is the sequel to Girl, Missing ~ if you have not read that book, you have been warned that there are spoilers in this review *

~ Final thoughts ~

I'm surprised--I found myself deeply moved by the end of this book, the sequel to 'Girl, Missing'. The dramatic and thrilling plot, the twists and turns, and the more well-rounded and developed characters really demonstrate literary development made on McKenzie's part.

MY SYNOPSIS

Lauren Purditt has figured out a system with her two families--her adoptive and her paternal, and it works most of the time. Two years later, Lauren takes her little sister Madison to the beach . . . and loses her. The events of two years ago are happening all over again, because if Lauren knows anything at all, she knows that Madi isn't just lost--she was taken.

Her American, birth mum is distraught, left in tatters by the situation. Her new boyfriend Rick, is supportive and eventually takes charge of the situation, having had experience in crime cases in the past. Lauren is convinced the kidnapper is Sonia Holtwood, the very same villain who almost killed her two years ago who was also let out of jail recently. Could history be repeating itself? And just what does the offender want from her?



MY THOUGHTS

Sister, Missing
held my attention from beginning to end - I was simply not able to let go of the story and the twists and turns that came with it. I was kept on edge the whole time. In my opinion, the suspense was written much better in this book than its predecessor.

Lauren is just as stubborn and selfish as she was in the first book - in her pursuit in finding and rescuing her little sister, she does the following (and this is just the tip of the iceberg): ignores her other sister's outward expressions of grief and worry--instead she berates her when she attempts to make nice; runs directly into trouble, unarmed, without a plan, endangering her best friend as a result.

The other characters we met in 'Girl, Missing' that we also see in 'Sister, Missing', were much more likeable. Even Shelby, who used to abuse Madison. Especially Shelby. It felt like, by the end of it all, that Shelby had grown as a person, and we as readers really know her.

Jam and Lauren have been maintaining a long-distance relationship for two years, and Lauren has concerns that their fire has died down. When he arrives, he appears more distant and distracted, and Lauren has doubts about his feelings for her now. Their interactions are sweet and their relationship is sure to enchant younger teens.

The writing matches the pacing, so for that it's not that complex. The sentences are cut short so as to keep the flow going. This makes for a really quick read. The ending is bittersweet and also leaves room for questioning and further thought as to what may have happened afterward.

I was worried that I would not like this book at all, but this book's ending was its saving grace. Overall, the plot points were much more suspenseful and had me on edge at all times. I really just could not put this book down! If you're looking for a quick YA thriller, give this series a try. I might actually miss a couple of the characters--they really grew on me!



Trailer:



Buy:

* cheapest Australian e-store price

AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS
Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

INTERNATIONAL READERS


All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

Giveaway:

Aussie only.

The first one to comment with "I love thrillers!" will win:
  • Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie (Finished copy)
  • Sister, Missing by Sophie McKenzie (ARC)
  • Various YA swag, whatever I have that features thriller/mysteries
I will e-mail the winner, so make sure to provide your e-mail address when you comment!


* I'm very behind on my giveaways, which I will work out soon *
Extras:

Developing the characters in Sister, Missing
Sister, Missing playlist




I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: ---

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