Thursday, June 30, 2011

Publisher Giveaways! (Australia only)


I remember really enjoying Winter Flings last year, and actually winning a book! The fun thing about this giveaway month is that you don't know if you win, until it arrives on your doorstep!

This is for Aussies only, and is provided by Hachette Australia.

Hachette publishes some great titles, so I'm excited to see what'll be up for grabs. Remember fellow Aussies, to enter every day you want to win the book that's on offer.

We know that the first book, on offer TOMORROW (01/07), is Heist Society.

Check with the Date A Book Facebook page for more details as they come, and good luck! ♥

Over at BTL, an Alaska prize pack is being given away!
 Includes the book, a poster, and a cute brooch!

To enter email with your details and tell them in 25 words or less why you would like to read Alaska.

For more details, click HERE.


"Tell us in 25 words or less which jacket from our June teen newsletter you prefer and why."

The contest ends at midnight, so hurry up!


Also, every week on Friday, is a giveaway on their FACEBOOK page.

[Review] Jessie ♥ NYC by Keris Stainton

Title: Jessie Hearts NYC {goodreads}
Author: Keris Stainton
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 01/07/11
Publisher: Orchard Books (Hachette)
Source: Publisher for review
Age: 13+ Slight sexual scene
Pages: 250
My Rating:

Jessie's just arrived in New York, hoping to forget about her awful ex.

New Yorker Finn is in love with his best friend's girlfriend.

They might be perfect together, but in a city of eight million people, will they ever find each other?
My thoughts: 

Wow, what a quick read! At only 250 pages (and the font is HUGE) it was just really easy to power through right to the end. I'm surprised by how I enjoyed this book. I've always had this pre-existing fascination with New York City, and I think this book is just perfect for those who share that same interest.

Jessie Hearts NYC is told in omniscient third-person alternating narration, between Jessie who is getting over her breakup and living the dream in New York for the summer, and Finn who is in love with his best friend's girlfriend. The "hook" of this book is - ARE THEY GOING TO EVER FIND EACH OTHER? I personally believed there was a bit more to it than that.

I must say that the cover on the computer just does not do justice for the real cover. The gold is SHINY and really stands out. I love the detail that is put into the cover as well - there are buildings that are "lit up", and the title and author are incorporated in the signs. Really nicely designed. The spine of it is much of the same, and looks great on the shelf.

The characters in this book are really endearing, no matter how undeveloped they might be. I mean, you get some insight into what is going on with the characters, as well as some future plans and histories of the main two characters. But I was really curious as to why Jessie's best friend came along with her, what was her family life? What are the circumstances surrounding her that led her to go with her friend? I think there was just that lack of background knowledge. I wanted to really know them.

I will say that the plot was pretty predictable. Once I knew a bit about the characters, I knew what course the events would go. It reads very much like a familiar chick-flick. Not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're in the mood for a hugely fun, funny and spunky story.


Live in Australia?
Fishpond * | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depositor


Author Site

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

Challenge: ---

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

[Review] Alaska by Sue Saliba

Title: Alaska {goodreads}
Author: Sue Saliba
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 27/06/11
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Publisher for review
Age: 14+
Pages: 180
My Rating:

mia's heart made a sound that no one heard
except for mia
late one night when she woke from dreams into darkness.
ethan was asleep beside her, and em was a forest away.
outside it was night and dark and alaska.the sky was upside down.

When Mia follows her sister halfway across the world to Alaska, she discovers that love can be found in the most unexpected and beautiful of places. But can Mia find the courage to follow her heart in Alaska? And what if the one you love is not all that you wish them to be?
My thoughts: 

The first thing someone should notice when looking at this book is, "Wow! What a cover!" Really, just look at it in person. There is a subtle shininess in the bronze colouring. There is such attention to detail that it's one of those books that I could just stare at for minutes on end. And the barcode at the back is integrated in the cover image, which is really neat and blends in astonishingly well. Also, the cover features three animals - a deer, an owl and a wolf. They're all actually siginificant to the plot, which I found a nice surprise.

In ALASKA, 18 year old Mia has followed her older sister from the now-hopeless Melbourne to Alaska. Em has her own family now, and Mia feels as though she's been left in the dust. But then she finds love, and it's more real and frightening than anything she's ever experienced before. Trouble is ahead, when a certain project threatens the life she's wanted more than anything to have -- quoted, "a passionate story of love, family and the power of the natural world."

I loved how atmospheric the prose was - it leaps and bounds, free from the restraints of capital letters and rules. There is also this quiet intensity about it that invites you into Mia's world, into Alaska. The very setting of the book makes it a great winter read, a clever decision on Penguin's part to release it right on the cusp of winter.

Saliba's characters were surprisingly well-written given the length of the book. There was potential for a detachment with the main character, Mia, due to the third person narration. But Saliba wrote with her voice and thoughts in mind, and it was as almost as though she were in fact telling the story. I found Em, Mia's sister, a bit perplexing. Her behaviours towards their mum and Mia, and her 'new family': Terrence and Christian, show the complexities in relationships and what family can mean to one person as opposed to another. I loved the way Saliba delves into this topic, especially because family tends to take a spot behind romances, and that was so not the case, at least for me.

Ethan remains mysterious for the majority of the book. I kept shifting my opinion towards him, and even after finishing the book I'm not sure just HOW I'm supposed to think of him.

ALASKA is a prime example in exploration of the intricacies in regards to family, love, home and belonging. Its quiet prose both captivates and vividly illustrates the atmosphere that would be expected of the place of Alaska. The characters, beautifully developed and realistically portrayed - nothing is absolute in a person and perceptions change. I have no doubt that Sue Saliba's deftly crafted book has the power to inspire young adults to find themselves in their own Alaska.


First lines:

"mia's heart made a sound that no one heard
except for mia
late one night when she wrote from dreams into darkness."

Favourite quotes:

"mia looked out at the road as they drew closer to em's house. the trees were almost sticks. winter was approaching. change was relentless."
(p. 82)

"if only it would scream loud enough, if only it would not fade. she opened the door to em's house and the silence frightened her. nothing to be afraid of, she thought. she remembered the forest and then she thought again: yes, there was much to br frightened about. there was also something to be joyful and courageous and strong and hopeful about. yes, it wasm't one or the other - it was both and all of these things. dark and light mixed together."
(p. 97)


Live in Australia?
Fishpond * | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository


Author Site
Q & A with author at Between the Lines
Interview at 'Where the writer comes to write'

Other reviews
inkcrush | The Book Gryffin | Skye


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

Challenge: Aussie YA Challenge

Monday, June 27, 2011

Daily Dose (8)

Daily Dose Monday is a weekly meme, hosted at Good Golly Miss Holly, a fellow Aussie book blog. The meme features images that inspire. Hope you enjoy this week's pictures!

The theme this week is:

Lock & Key (not Sarah Dessen!)


Surround me with rain clouds {}

What a win! {}

Saturday, June 25, 2011

[Review] What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Title: What Happened to Goodbye {goodreads}
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 02/06/11
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source: For review from publisher
Age: 13+
Pages: 400
My Rating:

Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?
My thoughts: 

My first Sarah Dessen book, and I found it a delight to read. The prose may have been a bit longwinded at times, but it was a light read that engrossed me from the first page. I loved the symbolism and the cheesiness. I enjoyed the conversations between daughter and father, and daughter and mother. The whole "changing identities" with the names with each move seemed really realistic, and I could definitely see why Mclean would have done that.

The book sounds simple, and I think it's that simplicity in the plot that allowed me to just relax into it. There wasn't any new world or concept I needed to conjure up in my head. It was all there, and just easy to read. The prose is beautiful, inspired and written with careful precision. There's definitely a lot of detail, as is the usual with contemporary. A refreshing change for me, actually.

I love that Dessen tackles this "problem" from an all-round perspective, meaning that the divorce between Mclean's parents not only affected who she knew. It also distorted the real her, because it was too painful to keep on being Mclean. Her friends and family and sense of place and "home" and all of that -- she forgets what those things really mean. And the ending is really nice because of that revelation.

The cover! Love it. The different little things that are just spilling out of the suitcase that are relevant to the book? How brilliant is that? It also sets the right tone and mood to the book, in my opinion.

All around the characters were just great. They all varied in certain quirks and characteristics. I found myself getting a bit attached to the main characters (Mclean, her dad Gus, Dave) as well as some of the secondary (Deb, Opal, ~Riley).

As others have mentioned, would've liked a bit more of a romance. I did like Dave though. Their conversations are cleverly executed, realistic.

The length can be a bit overwhelming, and it was perhaps a bit too much. This goes with the longwindedness of the book at times. 400 pages, and while there is an immaculate amount of detail in the book, it felt a bit slowgoing at times. However, as I said before it was a nice and relaxed read, and I felt like I was reading it at a good time.

The ending felt a bit too simple. I just sat there wondering "THEN HOW COME ALL THIS WAS SUCH A BIG DEAL 50 PAGES AGO?!?!), because it all got resolved too easily? Anyone else felt that way? But other than that, I just loved this book.

What Happened to Goodbye is an elegantly crafted, carefully written book that teens can relate to: not quite knowing who you are and how you fit in the world. If I had been handed this book when I was a reluctant-to-read young teenager, I would have been pleasantly surprised.


Live in Australia?

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository



Author Site

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

Challenge: ---

Friday, June 24, 2011

[Giveaway] Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher PAPERBACKS w/ teaser for next book - INTERNATIONAL!

The news: 

To celebrate the paperback release of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, I've been lucky enough to SHARE the amazement with you! Yes that's right - a giveaway!

Supplied by the lovely folks over at Big Honcho Media are TWO paperback copies of Thirteen Reasons Why. The special thing about these paperbacks is that they include a teaser for Asher's new book (that he only wrote half of!, ARC pictured left).
On May 12, 2011, Penguin launched the 13RW Project at, as a place for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why to record their thoughts, stories, videos and photos relating to the book, and to view what other readers from all across the country have shared. Each review is logged on a map to show the many locations that viewers are posting from, and all content is shareable through Facebook and Twitter.

There are plans for this Project to be taken internationally in the future. I'll be happy when I can post my own review snippet on the site! It's a huge thing, and trust me - you're going to want to be a part of this. Hundreds of people have already taken this in and have participated.

The book: 

My review

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why {goodreads}
Author: Jay Asher - seriously, he's funny as cheese! {site}
Publisher: Razorbill (Imprint of Penguin)
Release date: 20/06/11 {buy it!}
Pages: 288

About the book:

Thirteen Reasons Why is the story of a girl named Hannah Baker who takes her own life. But before she does, she records several cassette tapes explaining why and sends them to the people she feels pushed her toward that decision. The story is told from the point of view of Clay Jensen who spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah’s voice as his guide. He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself—a truth he never wanted to face.

The anti-bullying anthem was published in hardcover in October 2007 by Razorbill, and quickly became a word-of-mouth favorite among teenaged readers with fans claiming, “This book changed my life.” The novel has been on the New York Times children’s hardcover bestseller list for 65 weeks, foreign rights have been sold into 30 countries and it has been acquired by Universal Pictures and will star Selena Gomez.

About the author:

Jay Asher lives on the central coast of California with his wife and son. His favorite part of being an author is speaking with his readers at schools and libraries across the country. 

The giveaway: 

  • Run date: 24/06/11 - 02/07/11
  • Prize: x2 New paperback copies of Thirteen Reasons Why
  • Location: International!
  • Requirements: None.
  • Extra entries: +1, spread the word (Twitter, Facebook, blog post or blog sidebar)
  • All entrants must be aged 13+, and address is asked with entry so that winners can be sent their prizes as soon as the contest ends.
Good luck everyone! Fill out the FORM to enter.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

[Review] Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queens {goodreads}
Author: Libba Bray
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 01/06/11
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Source: For review
Age: 14+ Sexual scenes, language and mild violence.
Pages: 400
My Rating:

Teen beauty queens. A lost island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email.

And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives deep in the heart of every girl, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness.

Oh, the horror, the horror!

Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.
My thoughts: 

Beauty Queens was insane. Think about the most primped up, preppy and clueless beauty pageant girls, stranded on a deserted island. How do they survive life without technology and loving people at their beck and call? With beauty products of course! The premise of this book, and the crossover of LOST and Lord of the Flies really drew me towards this book. I didn't really have any expectations of the book that weren't met, because what I was expecting was an entertaining, satirical outlook on popular culture and the accepted tropes in modern-day society. That's what I got, and while I think that Libba Bray delivered with a book that very much so agrees with my own views, I don't know. Perhaps there was just TOO much poking fun that it became silly.

The plot moved along pretty slowly, but the writing style was such that it moved along at a good pace, if that makes any sense. Much of the first half of the book is filling in with back-stories for the girls (Adina is my favourite, if you want to know), and the girls surviving the crash and using whatever has been salvaged from the crash for a purpose. It gets interesting when it actually becomes apparent that there will be some kind of evil people who reside on the island ...

The girls and characters are by and far in Beauty Queens. The thing I liked was that these girls have actual dreams and interests that are apart from their beauty pageant expeditions. One loves to dance, another loves to lead others. And another flat-out hates beauty pageants and all that they stand for. All of these girls had something to prove, and it takes a life-threatening plane crash for them to realise how shallow Miss Teen Dream is.

I'm not saying this book is for everyone, but I did enjoy reading it and for me there was a lot to like.




Live in Australia?

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository


Author Site

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

Challenge: ---

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (31)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

(in order of release date)

Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight {goodreads}
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date (dd/mm/yy): 02/01/12
Publisher: Poppy

Why am I waiting on this?

Beautiful cover, and it has a "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist", "Amy & Roger's Epic Detour) vibe to it. I'm thinking this is going to be a totally cute and fun contemp read!

Title: The Future of Us {goodreads}
Author: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Release Date (dd/mm/yy): 21/11/1
Publisher: Razorbill

Why am I waiting on this?

Jay Asher: awesome guy. Everyone seems to love him. Haven't read any of Mackler's yet. Can't wait for this book - it sounds different and thought-provoking.

Anyone read any of these in advance?
I'd love to hear what you thought!

Thanks for visiting my weekly WoW post. ♥

Comment with your WoW post and I'll check it out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

[Review] Winter's Shadow by M.J. Hearle

Title: Winter's Shadow {goodreads}
Author: M.J. Hearle
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 01/06/11
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: ARC from publisher
Age: 14+
My Rating:

Blake Duchamp...

He's all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim's Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes. Ever since he saved her life.

But Blake isn't all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly. Something dangerous. In his attic is a secret he would kill to defend, but Winter seems to have a special ability to make him forget his duty. And he is her only protection against the gathering darkness.

The only problem is, to protect Winter, Blake must risk exposing her to an even greater danger. Himself.
My thoughts: 

One of the best paranormal I have read, hands down. Hearle's originality in creating this exhilerating tale, about supernatural creatures that I have never heard of before, is really something to be commended. While the cover suggests a typical paranormal, I believe that this author stepped it up and pulled Winter's Shadow way above many of the recent popular paranormal YA books.

I love that this is written by an Aussie author, because this just made me proud to be an Australian. It may not be set in an Australian place - in fact, it felt to me more American than anything else - but Winter's Shadow is a stimulating, intuitive novel with a storyline that wouldn't let go. I was flying through the pages with such ease . . . with 400+ page books I usually struggle keeping interest, but by the end of the book I was just hoping that there was more.

The whole book is written in third-person omniscient narration, which seemed to be a very clever decision. Despite that objective perspective, the actual voice was easily read and relatable to any average teenage reader. It really is just a great example of what I find great about [(some) paranormal] YA - fastpaced and illustrative, and full of the impact needed to support the booming storyline.

I'll admit that the beginning really gave me too many opportunities to drawn on comparisons with other paranormals out there. There's the attraction-at-first-sight thing happening, as well as the mysterious new guy in school. However, after the plot picked up it was easy to forget and just get lost in what problem Winter would run into next.

Winter felt like a genuine character, with some real development throughout the book. I liked her, and found her actions and thought patterns reasonable enough. I loved that she was clumsy, and that she was consistently "unpopular" (no love triangles, I mean!). Her friendship with Jasmine was also nice - Jasmine is so different to Winter but they complement each other well. At times I found her hard to stand, but she was a great secondary character because she offered support for her friend and their friendship follows a "typical" trend. That's not to say that I didn't want further development of the two - believe me, I did. I hope that in the sequel (!) we'll be able to see more.

Now, onto Blake. I actually read this pretty blindly. I didn't read the synopsis (mostly because it wasn't attached with my ARC), or any reviews, SO expectations towards him were pretty minimal going into this book. The meeting scene between Winter and Blake was really endearing. It was by no means a steamy kind of paranormal romance, but there was something deep growing between the two of them that I enjoyed. I enjoyed seeing their closeness and bond and passion progress.

The last 100 pages. Absolutely edge-of-your-seat crazy! I found the ending and resolution a tad bit rushed, and I didn't feel as teary as I believe I should have. Nevertheless, I just could not stop reading, and it really flew as quickly as if it were on a movie screen.


PS. THERE IS A SEQUEL! The ending suggests that there should be a sequel, but my suspicions were confirmed by M.J. Hearle himself on Goodreads. This is definitely a book that you'll want on your bookshelf - see for yourself whether the hype is well received!

If you liked: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink - what I've read. What I haven't read, but am assuming will be for those who have - Die for Me by Amy Plum, Sisters Red by Jackson


First Lines

"Madeleine Bonnarie fled beneath the flickering street lamps of Rue Descartes. Victor was coming. She could no longer hear him, but ran on, afraid of what she might see if she turned around - Victor lumbering through the darkness, breath fogging in the cold night air. Her husband was nothing if not persistent. It was how he'd first won her heart, and now Madeleine feared this persistence would drive him on until he caught her, and stopped its beat forever."

Favourite Lines
"Apart from the low hum of Jessie's engine, the streets seemed eerily quiet, as if the town has opened itself up for her and Blake alone. They didn't pass another car or pedestrian as they rode past the jetty, didn't see any othe rlights cutting through the shadows ahead.
The night was theirs."
(p. 214)

"'...a life with no end loses meaning. Death defines life.'"
(p. 289, Blake)


Live in Australia?

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository


Author Site

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

Challenge: Debut '11 Challenge, Aussie YA Challenge

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Blog Turns One! {+ giveaway}

It finally happened! My blog has been around for a whole year! :D

Although I haven't always been the world's best blogger out there, I'm so appreciative of all the support all of you have given me. My old and new readers -- even if you never commented I hope that at least one of my words has moved you in some way. This blog started out as just a way to express my feelings about the books that I read and to keep track. Now, 12 months in, it still serves that purpose -- that and so much more.

In 12 months:

I have posted (and not deleted) 290 posts.
75 of those posts were reviews, of which 13 were given 5 stars.
Hosted a handful of fabulous giveaways
Been featured in several fellow blogs
Gushed about upcoming releases 30 times (Waiting on Wednesday)
Gushed about new arrivals to my shelf 32 times (In My Mailbox)
Disclosed 17 teasers for books I was reading (Teaser Tuesday)
My Goodreads to-read and wishlists have risen to scary amounts
I have met some awesome authors, both online and off!

And the list goes on! But you don't really care about all that, so let's get onto what this means for all of you. Blogoversary = Giveaway! Hehe, what an amazing word.

You're all familiar with this logo, right? Well, I figured Hey, I'm an Aussie blogger - no matter how little Aussie books I actually get around to reading - so I'm going to assert my Aussie-ness! So. To support the Aussie Lit love that has been going around lately, I want to give away ONE Aussie title to ONE lucky reader!

I have taken the liberty to decide which titles you will be able to choose from ...
  • To make this easier for me, I've only chosen titles that are also available to buy via TBD (or other internationally shipping e-shops). HOWEVER, if the winner choses to support the Australian economy, and lives in Australia, they can choose another bookshop. ;)
  • All paperbacks.
  • In case of series, only first book's picture is shown below.
  • Cover images may vary from those posted below.

  • International, as long as The Book Depository ships to you.
  • Starts on 18/06/11 and ends on 30/06/11
  • Extra entries for GFC followers (+2), Twitter followers (@cc9309, +1) and if you spread the word anywhere (+2). Remember to include links for proof!
  • Fill in the FORM to enter!
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